Living in halls is a unique experience as you come together with all sorts of completely new people. In an ideal world, you'd get along with everybody and have the finest chefs and the cleanest people ever sharing your kitchen. Just in case that doesn't work out, here are some handy tips for being a good flatmate. And while we focus on halls here, everything mentioned is applicable if you're living off-campus. Especially the fire alarm part.
Clean up after yourself
There's nothing worse than the flatmate who takes their pot noodle to their room and leaves their dirty fork along with half of the meal on the kitchen worktop. Chances are the cleaners in halls won't move it for you, so take responsibility and tidy up when you're finished in the kitchen.
BUT don't be too much of a clean freak – okay, you might be used to a spotless kitchen and never leave a single dish dirty, and that’s great. The sad truth is not everyone in your kitchen will have the same habits as you, and you can either let it bother you or you can just get on with things. Somebody left their pot by the sink? They'll clean it later. If it starts to grow legs and walk around, then you can justify getting annoyed.
Ask before you borrow
So you're back after a long day of lectures ready to tuck into a bowl of cheesy pasta, only you look in the kitchen to find your pot is dirty, while half your pasta and your unopened packet of cheddar have disappeared. Little things like this get irritating really quickly. Don’t subject your poor flatmates to this miserable feeling – if you really fancy that pasta and nothing else will do, just ask!
Keep noise at a reasonable level
While it may seem like a great plan inviting your mates back to your room after a few drinks at the Union; your flatmates probably won't appreciate being woken up by you. If you do have people over, try to keep the noise at a respectful level. It’s always nice to pre-warn your flatmates - this will save you a lot of side-eyeing and shade being thrown your way the next day, and potentially a noise complaint from the wardens. Bear in mind the University's rules on noise curfews in student accommodation:
"There is a noise curfew after midnight Sunday to Thursday and 01:30 on Friday and Saturday. After these times, please keep the noise down but be considerate at all times and remember that others may have exams or a coursework deadline even if you don’t. You may be subject to disciplinary action if you don’t comply with this."
If you have an issue with your flatmate, tell them. Speaking to your flatmates face-to-face when a problem crops up stops it resulting in passive-aggressive notes on the fridge or awkward encounters in the hallway. Be an adult about it! They might not even realise they’re bothering you. There's no point in moaning in a secret WhatsApp group behind their back. Just tell them!
Don't be that person who sets off the fire alarm
It’s really, REALLY annoying, especially when it’s the dead of night. Halls can be a tight-knit community; people talk, and eventually, everyone finds out who has done it this time! Your warden will give you loads of tips for not setting the alarm off, and a lot of them are common sense. You might want to wear your warmest pyjamas in the first few weeks.
Some last-minute tips from Heriot-Watt Halls Veterans:
Consider introducing a bin rota for taking out your kitchens refuse bags. OR just grab one with you whenever you leave the flat! It’s really not worth making a big deal out of.
Don't be selfish with your fridge space, give everybody their fair share!
Don't forget about what food you've got in there. Coming across mouldy tomatoes and lumpy milk is DISGUSTING but also avoidable with a little bit of planning.
Don't just walk into your flatmate's room, knock first! (This is for your own good as much as it is theirs.)
Chances are halls will be your first experience of living away from home. These tips will set you up for all the other shared accommodation experiences you will have in your life. Still, there’s nothing quite like halls… *thinks back fondly*