I’m lucky. Although I’m not best friends with every single one of my flatmates, we generally get along. This tends to be the case for most university flats, but there are, unfortunately, always exceptions. Whether you’re a fresher, a finalist, or somewhere in between, tensions in a flat can have a significant impact on your university experience as a whole. It can often feel like you’ll be painfully lonely if you don’t get along with your flatmates, but hopefully these tips will assure you that that doesn’t have to be the case.
Remember you’re not alone
First off, don’t worry. You are not the only one struggling, as much as it might seem like every flat gets along apart from yours. University brings together people from a variety of backgrounds – this can be a blessing, but also a curse. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet people from around the world, with different upbringings and opinions from your own. But this can also make you feel isolated, as though no one understands you or where you are from. If you do feel like your flatmates are from Venus and you’re from Mars, hopefully you’ll find the thought that you’re not the only one struggling a comfort.
I might sound like a broken record, but before you roll your eyes and stop reading, there’s a reason why everyone raves about societies. They really are the easiest way to meet likeminded people – you’ll have at least one thing in common.
If you’ve already tried a society and it wasn’t for you, give a few more a go. It can be a bit of trial and error but in my experience, societies love to welcome new members and they want everyone to feel included.
If you, like me, are the kind of person to feel a bit apprehensive about joining a society especially so late on in the year, have a look at their Facebook pages or try to find a member who can meet up with you for a coffee or a pint. This might make you feel more confident to head over to larger events like circle or a pub crawl. If they know you’re new or you’re feeling a bit awkward, most society members are likely to come over and have a chat. Before you know it, you’ll know everyone there.
Get to know your course mates
Don’t neglect having a chat with people on your course. I have to admit, I’m not the best at talking to people in lectures. As fresher’s week increasingly seems like a distant memory, people have begun to find where they like to sit or who they meet outside of the lecture theatre. However, seminars or labs can be much easier places to strike up a conversation because you’re likely to recognise a few people and they ought to know roughly who you are even if you might not have spoken before. It’s also a smaller group of people and can be a lot less intimidating.
Be civil with your flatmates
When you have friends outside of your flat, it can be a lot easier to cope with and be civil towards flatmates you don’t click with. You can go to your other friends flats for movie nights and spend a bit of time in a separate environment. There is always the option of moving flats, but this can be difficult and take a long time, and there’s a chance you won’t get along with them either. And, in term 3, you might want to avoid the hassle of moving flats. My best advice is to try to keep it sweet with your flatmates. This isn’t always possible, but if you aren’t going to be best friends, just accept that. Try and come to a consensus to be civil about taking the bins out or keeping the noise down on weekdays. You don’t have to spend an excessive amount of time with your flatmates, but it’s fairly essential to your wellbeing (and theirs, frankly) that you maintain the peace.
Let people know how you’re feeling
Know that you are not alone. It’s normal to not get along with everybody, and personally I believe the best way to combat feeling isolated or facing struggles with flatmates is to have other people you can lean on: friends, family, anyone. If you’re really struggling, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Living away from home, being at university shouldn’t fill you with dread or make you miserable and no one wants you to be unhappy with your living situation. After all, they call them flatmates for a reason.