Moving away from home to go to university is a new and exciting experience. Meeting new people is always exciting, living away from home and the freedom that this brings is something to look forward to and simply learning new things makes life so much more interesting. There is, however, a potential pitfall and that is getting on with your housemates. Be this in Halls, where you probably don’t know anyone at first, or when you move into your own place with course mates, there is always the potential for conflict and disagreements, especially as everyone will have had a different background and perhaps different priorities. In this blog we will take a look at some of the common stumbling blocks and what you can do to ensure that everyone gets on as best as possible.
One of the great things about university is the diversity of the people you will meet. Be that cultural, gender identity, regional background and even family background. Everyone is different, everyone has different views on life and each one of us is fully entitled to their views on life even if you don’t always agree. This is not a bad thing and it will really enrich your life, so embrace those differences and learn from them. Of course, differences can lead to spirited debate and that is perfectly normal if done respectfully and with a view of understanding where the differences come from. You don’t need to agree but do respect the other person’s views.
Show common courtesy
It can be tempting, when living with others to take each other for granted and that can lead to the loss of some common courtesies which can over time lead to friction. Always make sure to knock before entering someone else’s room, always ask before borrowing things, give people privacy if they are on the phone and give them space in general if they need it. These basic courtesies will go a long way. The simple rule and it is a cliché, is to treat others as you wish to be treated.
Set ground rules
As dull as this might be when young and free from your parents’ watchful eyes, setting ground rules of behaviour will help everyone get on. Things like washing up or cleaning rota or agreements on playing music into the night, paying rent and bills and even putting out the rubbish or how tidy to keep the property are all areas of potential contention. Making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to helping out around the place and also how to behave will reduce tension no end.
Even with the best ability to embrace differences or setting ground rules, there will always be things that niggle. Don’t let them become a problem and don’t vent your frustrations behind anyone’s back. It is always best to confront the issue early, rationally and respectfully. Yes, it might be awkward and uncomfortable at first but letting things fester and build up will only make it harder to sort. Communication is key!
As with anything else in life we can’t always have our own way all the time and in a house with several people, as best as possible, everyone’s needs need to be catered for. To that end, be prepared to compromise. Sometimes what is good for the majority, but not for you is the best for everyone.
Quite often the most issues arise in the first few weeks or months of living together as everyone adjusts to their new environment. Patience is needed here and things will settle down given time, understanding and patience are key.
Moving into a property with people that you’ve never lived with before, even if you are friends, can be a real test but it can also be the most rewarding experience from which you make friends for life. Working together to make sure that the friendship is nurtured rather than ruined is an important part of that. By just following these few tips, life together should be a lot of fun. Enjoy it!