While it’s normal to wonder about who you will be living with and how you will all get along or who you’ll have to chase for utility bills, we want to assure you that it won’t be as hard as you think. In fact, there are a whole bunch of things you can do to make sure that you and your new flatmates become firm friends.
Connect in advance
Most universities now have social media for new students to meet the people they will be living with before the start of the year. Joining these groups before you arrive at uni will help you to establish connections, helping you feel more confident and at ease when you get there. While not everyone from your flat might be on these groups, you will also meet other people from your halls, and so expand your network of friends beyond your flat straight away. This will take the pressure off worrying about what your new flatmates will be like, as you will feel assured that there will be other friendships for you at uni too.
We promise, this one is not as cheesy as it sounds. Note: we are NOT recommending that you get everyone to sit in a circle with name tags on. Instead, think of games such as:
If you want to get things off to the best start with your flatmates, get there early on move in day and make sure you’re free to help others move in too. By getting stuck in to helping with the lifting and carrying, you have a great natural icebreaker which will diminish the initial awkwardness of small talk. As you’re helping them move, you might spot something (say a book, poster or instrument) in their stuff which might reveal a shared interest or, at very least, will give you a talking point.
Another way you can help out is just by being mindful that moving day is usually emotional for everyone. People will probably want a bit of alone time with their parents before they leave, so be respectful of this and don’t expect your flatmates to all be in a socialising mood straight away.
Keep your door open
Nothing says ‘stay away’ like a shut door. If you want to make friends with your new flat mates fast, keep your door propped open while you’re in there. This will signal to everyone that you’re open to getting to know them and hanging out. This is especially important if your flat doesn’t have a sitting room, and you may want to consider setting up a small chill out zone in your room where you can invite your flat mates in to socialise.
Hang out in the communal areas
Having an open door is all well and good, but make sure that you’re not just waiting for people to come to you. Make a particular effort to hang out in the communal spaces, such as a living room or the kitchen (any space where you know you will bump into people). Even though you will have a desk in your room, for times when you don’t need to concentrate so hard, try doing some of your work in communal areas too.
This will show that you are approachable and like your flatmates’ company. Just remember not to take up too much of the communal space with your stuff, and make sure that you’re there primarily to socialise rather than study (asking people to be quiet in the communal areas so that you can concentrate would not be fair). Also, remember that studying at the kitchen table might be annoying if people are trying to cook around you – so choose your times wisely – nobody wants pasta in their textbook!
Try to organise group activities for your flat straight away. Whether it’s going to do a food shop together, arranging a flat warming dinner, exploring campus and the surrounding area or heading out for a fresher’s-week night out, doing things together and making shared memories will help you to bond like nothing else.
Manage your expectations
Just remember that everyone is different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get along. It’s not guaranteed that you will get along with your flatmates, but taking proactive steps to establish friendships with your flatmates should help you to settle in quickly and start making the most of this new experience. If you ever feel isolated or lonely in your student accommodation, make sure that you speak to someone and take care of your mental health; so many students suffer in silence until they realise that speaking out is the first step to making it better.