Students decide to move out for university for a myriad of reasons: to experience independence, to explore a new city, to escape a dysfunctional (or particularly loud) family, or simply when commuting is inconvenient or impossible.
Whatever your reason for flying the nest, here’s the lowdown on what to expect from flat life in the first weeks… and what to do about it!
Depending on which accommodation you choose, you could be sharing with anywhere from three to as many as seventeen other students in your flat/corridor. You will meet dozens of people within your first few days -whose names will often escape from memory seconds after the handshake- and this can feel incredibly overwhelming, even for very sociable people.
If you find yourself kicking back in your room a lot instead of in the communal area of your flat, as I often do, buy a door stop and leave your door open occasionally to let people know you are still open to socialising.
A friend of mine was trying to explain to me an intriguing physics theory last week. Being a Literature student, quantum physics is clearly not my forte, but the basic idea was that atoms can technically shift to another dimension, though the probability of all of the atoms of an object undergoing this shift at the exact same time is extremely slim, so it is unlikely for objects to simply disappear.
This is not the case with tea towels. In my experience, teaspoons and tea towels undergo this dimensional shift on an irritatingly regular basis. Seriously. Buy LOTS of them.
You’ll be lucky to be sharing a flat with someone on your course. In my case I don’t think they could have put a more diverse mix of people in one flat if they’d tried, and it really is a good thing.
It is well worth doing a bit of Googling to find out more about your flatmates’ subjects if they’re studying something with which you are entirely unfamiliar; it makes for better conversation if you can show interest in the things you know interest them.
Hands-down my favourite aspect of uni so far has been meeting people from all walks of life and learning about their backgrounds and beliefs. I mean, we had a few people over for a movie the other night and just between the four of us we had a practicing Muslim, a Greek agnostic, a vegan following Buddhist philosophy and an atheist. Needless to say we talked all the way through the movie.
The diversity is amazing but can lead to serious disputes when controversial topics are discussed, particularly when alcohol is brought into the mix. So if you are planning a flat party (or are subjected to one inadvertently, as I was on my first night) save hot topics for more sober conversations.
Moving out, like most aspects of university, is all about finding independence and learning what works for you. People can advise you on what issues to anticipate and how you can solve them, but you’ll probably still end up in a cat fight over whether or not Ross and Rachel were in fact on a break, and drying your dishes with a bath towel.