It is very difficult to underestimate the amount of social pressure we put on university freshers. We tell freshers that these will be the best years of their lives, and that this will largely be down to the friends they make.
We say the friends you make now will be your best friends, better than home friends, they’ll be your lifelong friends. There is an expectation that at least some of these friends will come in the form of your flat or hall mates. Forced proximity, drunken nights out and shared anger over that one person who always drinks other peoples’ milk (you know who you are) supposedly creates unbreakable bonds.
Tales of how your older friends, or parents’ friends, met their best friend in the kitchen of their uni flat on the very first day of freshers when they both had the exact same Sainsbury’s basic spatula create an expectation that is unlikely to be fulfilled.
Statistically, you will not be put in a flat with the people who you are destined to end up in a nursing home with. If you are – fantastic! Lucky you.
So, what happens when the expectation falls short of the ideal? Or, what happens when you actively don’t get along with your flatmates? If you genuinely don’t like each other and have an uncomfortable living situation?
Well, the first option is to switch accommodation. Anyone can apply to switch accommodation; however applications are only accepted at least six weeks after the start of the academic year (you also have to pay a £50 fee if you switch).
This one is a bit luck-of-the-draw, though. I know someone who walked into Pollock reception and had switched by the time she walked out, and someone else who applied to switch but was put on an endless waiting list.
If you have special circumstances it will be easier as you are moved to the top of the waiting list and are allowed to apply at any time not just after six weeks, but just know that the choices offered to you in this situation tend to be more limited – last minute accommodation is often further out or less desirable than others. However, if the people you are in a flat with are genuinely making you unhappy (past stealing your milk), this is definitely a recommended option – tell your Residents’ Assistant (RA) about the situation and they will do everything they can to help. Don’t sit and suffer in silence.
However, if your flatmates are just annoying or you like them but simply don’t get on that well – don’t let it ruin your university experience. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s true. There are lots of chances to meet a range of friends from societies, courses and people you bump into in the toilets of Why Not. You can also make friends continuously throughout your time at university, not just in freshers.
It is probably also fair to say that your school mates who appear to have made best friends with their flat (or just best friends in general) are probably exaggerating. It is near impossible to make these kinds of friends in the first few weeks of university.
So, to freshers who don’t like their flat or hall mates now, wait at least a couple of weeks. Give it another go. But don’t stay in a situation you don’t like, and don’t force friendships that won’t work because it’s not worth it. Don’t brush it under the rug if your flat or halls are making you unhappy. Reach out to the university because at the end of the day they are there to help.
Actually, maybe reach out to them a couple of times, because whilst I’m sure the University of Edinburgh does have our best interests at heart, we all know they are not the best at admin.
Image: Naveen Kadam via Flickr