How to make (and keep) friends in uni halls

BA (Hons) Business & Human Resource Management student, Graciete, shares her tips on how to make friends in university accommodation and resolve conflicts.

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Meet Graciete

I knew how to be approachable and respectful to others, but when you are living with strangers, there are more things to consider.
Photo of Graciete Silva Da Rosa
Graciete Silva Da Rosa
BA (Hons) Business & Human Resource Management

Like any other student going to university halls, it was my first time living alone. Living alone provided me with the freedom and independence I had never experienced before. Especially because I had just turned 18, this was my first step into adulthood. I was so excited about decorations and buying new cooking sets for my room that little did I know about basic living rules in halls. Of course, I knew how to be approachable and respectful to others, but when you are living with strangers, there are more things to consider.

Something extremely important about living in student accommodation that people don’t talk about as much is how to live with strangers and how to be a good flatmate. Reflecting on my experience, I am going to give important tips to make friends and resolve conflicts with your flatmates.

Communication is key

Communication is the centre of any relationship, regardless of the closeness we have with that person. Knowing how to express ourselves to others and being able to listen is a powerful tool to tackle conflicts. Being self-aware will help you better understand what type of communication skills you need.

For example, a people-pleaser would prefer to let the other person do whatever they want in the false pretence that they are avoiding conflict. When in reality that conflict has already started. So that person would have to practice assertiveness. Or a confrontational person who is ready to 'fight' often intimidates and imposes their beliefs on others. This person would need to practice listening to the other side before jumping to conclusions.

Generally, being self-aware would allow you to be honest with you, and to have empathy to others while being assertive. Improving the overall communication and relationship with others.

While living with your flatmates, any small thing can quickly escalate into a huge fire, so it's important for you to set clear expectations of how everyone wants to live in the flat. The main goal of communication is to avoid feeding into petty arguments. Common arguments often start over chores in the common area. So make sure to have a conversation with your flatmates from the beginning about common area rules. Establish clear expectations on how the common area should be shared.

Respect each other's differences

People have different values and upbringings, so it's important that everyone has a say in the decision-making of the rules. For example, whether or not to share your domestic electronics or kitchenware. Another rule could be cleaning the kitchen every time you cook in terms of wiping down the counter. Equally, if you can’t or don’t want to wash your dishes straight away, take them to your room. That way, the kitchen wouldn’t accumulate dirt, and if you are in a rush, you don’t have to clean your dishes right away; by putting them in your room, they are not in another person's way. Also, decide who takes the trash out each week and make a schedule that suits everyone.

Overall, regardless of how your rules look, it's important to set expectations for everybody in the house. Through a simple and chilled conversation, you can avoid problems becoming bigger. Ideally, this conversation would happen within the first week in the flat because people are more willing to be good flatmates and to get to know each other. Note that the point here is to make sure that everybody is aware and participates in the house rules. Mainly, keep an open channel and always communicate in the daily or weekly basis about any changes.