Moving to the UK as a student is exciting. Aside from learning new skills at university, living in a new country offers plenty of learning experiences, from mixing with new international friends or building an enjoyable lifestyle throughout your course. For most it may be the first time moving out from the family home. In this article, we’ll take a look at the different experiences for students who opt to share accommodation or those who choose to live alone.
Talk to one another
You may have had the opportunity to share a flat or accommodation with friends, or perhaps you opted to share the space with new coursemates. Either way, the first thing to remember is to always communicate with your roommates or housemates. Some groups of students prefer to communicate digitally, so a Telegram or Whatsapp group will help, to just iron out any household issues or ground rules when living together.
Others may choose a public board or notice board in the house – just to set rules on house chores, emergency contacts or student service. Clear and transparent communication about what is allowed or not welcomed is important, so get that sorted early in your stay.
Are there ground rules?
Sharing a space is about respecting each other’s cultural differences and agreeing to a common ethos where all of you can live peacefully. Being accommodative or patient is key in sharing a dwelling together, and for those who enjoy socialising, this may be a better option for you.
Setting house rules eases the awkwardness if you’re living together with friends for the first time or having to share the accommodation with new coursemates. It’s nice to be nice at university and sharing is of course caring but be sure to establish what is acceptable and what is not, and everyone should follow the rules.
Eating someone else’s food without their permission or using appliances without consent, is a big no-no. Always ask first. Personal space is important, so be mindful. Depending on the group, some housemates will chip in for general household expenses – where you share cleaning items, coffee or tea, or share the cost of utility bills. It is highly recommended you sort this out when you move in to avoid any misunderstandings.
Keeping things tidy and clean
This often goes without saying but truth be told, we all have different standards of cleanliness. If you have been used to living with domestic help or a cleaner, then living with others means that you’ve got to learn to keep common areas clean and tidy. If your roommates want to share the cost of hiring a cleaner, that’s fine, so long as everyone is agreeable to it. Or set a cleaning timetable so everyone can be responsible for their part of living in the same space. You want to maintain harmony in the household and avoid arguments, so set the standards straight when you move in. Students may have the reputation of being messy, particularly if they are living on their own for the first time, so this is the time for some adult-ing.
Giving everyone space
You may have moved in with your friends from your home country, or have hit it off like a house on fire with your new roommates. Being mindful and respectful to others is key to living with other people. Prayer times, dietary requirements or certain cultural practices may be novel or new to you, but keep an open mind when sharing the space with others from different backgrounds. Some roommates enjoy parties, so be considerate when you plan them, or some like to have many people over to hang out for meal times or study groups. Be clear about what is acceptable practice, say quiet times or cooking utensils and even refrigerator space. It all comes down to open communication.
Perhaps being in groups isn’t your thing. You enjoy freedom and independence, and for many students, being away from home at university is the start of adulthood. As you’re living independently, you can start to get a feel for making your own decisions and doing what’s right for you. So when the time comes to navigate life beyond university, you’ll have plenty of confidence to do so.
Going solo – socially?
Living on your own does not mean you choose not to have friends, perhaps you have clear cut boundaries set between a busy university social life and a quieter time at home. In between cramming for exams or rushing for project deadlines, you may feel that home is a place to recharge alone. It does not mean you dislike being with people but perhaps you prefer to choose when you want to enjoy the social perks of university. Being at parties elsewhere could be your preference, and you’d like to come home to enjoy some peace and quiet on your own.
Kitchen wars and cleanliness
Needless to say, you live on your own terms when you choose solo accommodation. How tidy you keep the house or how much cooking you do, is all up to you. There could be fewer arguments or putting up with others, or simply a cleaner flat. You’re free to also express your style in common areas, and it’s your personal choice to have loud music (without upsetting the neighbours), or a quiet night. At university, you’ll meet people from many different walks of life – each with unique qualities and preferences. Staying on your own in private accommodation means you can meet new friends without the risk of clashing in shared housing.