Dealing with Living in Halls of Residence
In my first year, like the vast majority of other new students, the prospect of moving into halls is exciting. You’ve heard stories about how you will find your friends for life, cooking together, nights out, and generally having fun. With the added bonus of security, laundry facilities, not having to worry about paying your bills – halls on the tin seem like the best option.
In my first year, I lived with three guys and two girls – one of whom is one of my closest friends today as I near the end of my second year. Two of these guys were Spanish, and so the cultural differences provided exciting challenges. As time went on, I found myself becoming more assertive, more sure of myself, organised. For the first time in my life, I was budgeting and I was planning more than I ever had done. There were sometimes stressful situations with minor personal clashes with conflicting timetables and routines – something to be expected when living away from home with five strangers, but overall it was an experience which I look back on with a sense of pride and sentiment.
Overall, it seemed only natural that in my second year, I would move back into halls and carry on as normal. This time I decided to live in a female only flat as I wanted to respect my partner back in Birmingham – being in a long distance relationship is also what encouraged me to move back into halls as the content insurance and security meant I could go home each weekend and know my things were secure. This time though, things were not as they used to be.
I am often described as a quiet individual who keeps to themselves, and I also have dyslexia which means general conversation can be difficult at times. This is something I have come to understand and in the first month of moving back into halls, I explained so as any issues could be avoided.
Over time though, I became isolated from the flat when various rumours and accusations were made about me. The support I received from the halls manager was exceptional, and overtime the matter was resolved although some issues were brought forward which are currently on-going: for someone in their second year, there have been times this year where I have considered leaving halls or university all together. However, the one thing that living in halls has taught me is to be thick skinned, and to not take other people’s judgements to heart so much as opinions about you will always be made.
It’s also taught me how to deal with issues in the working environment, and how communication and honesty really are always the best policies to live by. The support I have received from the staff at the halls of residence and from my lecturers has maintained my confidence within myself.
This article is not to draw attention to any sort of issue, but it is the opportunity for me to give you three tips when dealing with halls:
1) Don’t stay silent about any issues and speak to someone. University is the place where you grow and flourish, and no one should feel as though they have the right to bully or isolate you in your living area.
2) Sit down with your flatmates regularly, whether it’s for a meal or a cup of tea as this will help to overcome any bridges and obstacles within the flat. It’s also a great way to ask everyone if they are happy in the flat and sort out any issues that might be occurring.
3) Stay focused: halls are a great way to meet new people and make new friends, but ultimately you are working towards achieving to the best of your ability. It may be hard if you are having issues, but there are support networks around you and your room can be your own safe haven where you are in charge of what happens.
Halls are great in some ways, but making new friends can take time and understanding each individual’s needs and routines is essential to a happy, calm and relaxed living environment.