The living is easy

How to make friends - not enemies - in your new home

Moving into halls of residence at the start of your first term is a big step: for many of you it will be the first time you’ve lived away from home and had to fend for yourself. With that in mind, we’ve put together some dos and don’ts to familiarise yourself with before you unlock the door to your new life for the first time...

Do...

  • Knock on your neighbour’s door at the first opportunity. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to turn out to be your soul mate, but you’re going to be living next door to them for the next year so the sooner you break the ice the better. They’re in the same boat, so they’ll appreciate the effort.
  • Have a wander around your new surroundings. It’s a good opportunity to find out where the likes of the laundry room, dining area and JCR (Junior Common Room) are located, and chances are you’ll bump into some fellow freshers to say hello to on your travels.
  • Find out when the cleaners come round: you don’t want to pick the morning they appear to have a lie-in and then have a smelly room for the next week!
  • Get everything unpacked. The sooner you have some familiar things around you, the sooner you’ll start to feel at home. Put some posters on your door and play some of your favourite albums; not only will you enjoy it but before you know it you’ll find something in common with the people around you.
  • Make sure your halls know you have arrived! There is normally a final registration process; ask at reception if you’re unsure.

Don’t...

  • Do anything you’ll regret for the next year in your first week. For example, if you have a particularly mischievous sense of humour, make sure that no one is going to take offence at your favourite practical joke. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be yourself, but try not to let over-enthusiasm get the better of you.
  • Think you don’t need a TV licence. If you have a television in your room then you do; your halls’ TV licence only covers televisions watched in a communal area. Visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/students.jsp to find out more.
  • Feel that you can’t ask for help if you feel homesick or in any way unhappy. Your halls should have an on-site welfare officer who is there for your benefit, or you can approach your student union for advice. If you want help from someone outside of the university, there are organisations such as Nightline (www.nightline.org.uk), which is specifically for students, and The Samaritans (www.samaritans.org.uk), which is for anyone who feels distressed or upset. Don’t forget that your parents and good friends are never far away either.
  • Go home for the weekend at your very first opportunity. While it might be tempting to be back in your old room and munching on your mum’s cooking, it’s better to spend time settling in to your new home before you head back. Plus, that way, it will be even more exciting when you do.
  • Panic, whatever you do. You’re at university to learn and enjoy yourself, so concentrate on doing that and generally you’ll find that everything else falls into place. Have fun!
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