There are many pros and cons of sharing a flat amongst university students, but there are a few golden rules that one must remember in order to thrive. It is important for me to mention that I live in a flat with ten other students, at Urbanest Westminster Bridge. I have my own room with private bathroom, and we all share one kitchen. Those variables are worth mentioning because they can change wildly your living experience, in a good and bad way. Your experience may vary depending on the amount of people and amount of space you have, but the following rules apply across the board. Allow me to explain:
No matter what you might have heard, size matters. There is a positive and a negative side to sharing a flat with a smaller or bigger group, but there are always a few things you should know. Sharing a kitchen with a fairly large group of people can be a lot of fun; whenever you need to take a break from a big assignment, you can always drop by the kitchen and be sure to meet someone to have a chat with, on the weekends there is always something going on, and if you are craving a burger at 2 o’clock in the morning, somebody will always join you on the hunt for the magical night snack. However it is not all perfect. When sharing a flat with just a couple of people, it is very easy to share things (like kitchen appliances) and even buy groceries and cook together. That is simply impossible with a lot of people. In fact, you are going to have to really make the best use of your space, and clarify everyone’s space amongst your flatmates. In the same way you can shop together when sharing a flat with a couple of people, that becomes impossible with a larger group of people. Furthermore, for a healthier and cheaper, shopping smartly and often becomes crucial.
When eleven students share one kitchen, no matter how tight of a cleaning schedule is set up, no matter how clean each individual might be, no matter how many promises and deals are made it will get messy. In these situations there just has to be a bottom line; busy kitchen counters and sinks can be accepted, but hygiene is a must. Take the trash out. Every hour you let it sit and overflow, simply turns into more time spent cleaning, and can expose your eating space to smell and hygiene problems. Putting a couple of plates away or swiping crumbs off the table is a lot easier than eliminating the flies and smell caused by a pile of old garbage. I know that it can get hard to have everybody follow a schedule, after all our student lives can get pretty hectic, but be sure to talk to your flatmates (avoiding passive aggressiveness) and keep your flat habitable.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of having a good time while sharing a flat. Some of your flat mates are going to become extremely close friends of yours, some maybe not so much, especially if you share a flat with a large group of people. You do not have to be best friends with all your flatmates, however it is crucial to have a nice, respectful and open line of communication with all of them, even if you see each other just a couple of times in the kitchen. Help each other out when possible and avoid being passive aggressive and I assure you that you are going to have a much more relaxed environment and enjoy your time as a student a lot more.
You should expect your flatmates to be respectful, just as you should respect them, their things and their spaces. Allow me to give a few tips, especially regarding a couple of typical situations that can get out of hand fairly quickly. You must clean up after yourself in order to have everybody else to do the same. Do not be that person that is quick to point out everybody else’s mess, but leaves a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. There might be a few times in which you need just a little bit of milk, or need to borrow a glass, always ask to borrow anything that is not yours, and if you take someone else’s kitchen utensils, wash them and put them back once you are done. It would also be good to return the favour next time your flatmate is asking to borrow something.
It’s Friday night. It looks like you are bound to have a boring night in, watching Netflix. Suddenly, a knock on your door. Your fairly inebriated flatmate hands you a drink, demands you go out with him, and simply won’t take no for an answer. No matter how many problems living with a group of people can create, it is in moments like those that make it all worth it. Especially in a very social accommodation like Urbanest Westminster Bridge, there is always something for you and your flatmates to do. This is a great way of enjoying your student life and partying hard, while making some great memories with your flatmates.
The years that you spend as a university student will be some of the most memorable in your life. Your flatmates will play a big part in that. You will meet people from all sorts of different background that will play a big role throughout your university years. The apartment you live in is obviously a place in which you are going to spend a lot of your time, one in which you should feel safe and comfortable. In order to have the best possible experience within you flat, you must be careful, respectful, and most of all have fun.
This is a guest blog by urbanest Westminster resident, Stefano Perversi. He is currently studying International Politics at City, University of London.