Starting university: a guide for students

White curve
Living with new people

You will learn a lot from the new people you live with - a lot about yourself and what you can tolerate. You are likely to all have different habits and ideas about how things should be.

The best-case scenario is that you will all get on well, cook for each other and go out together sometimes, and keep the house tidy enough to avoid needing pest control!

However, you may not get on with one or all of them. Their behaviour or habits may be irritating and affect how you feel. If this happens, try to talk to them - it’s your home too.

If they continue to behave in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or if you find that you’re feeling anxious and locking yourself away in your room to avoid them, speak to someone. Your warden, residential advisor or accommodation officer needs to know what is happening and how it’s impacting your mental health. If things can’t be resolved, it may be possible that accommodation can be changed for you.

From day one, try and make your room exactly how you want it to be: a safe and comforting haven to retreat to and relax when you need it. If you are stressed and need some time out, lock the door, listen to music or contact your friends or family for a chat.

In general, students tend to fall into one of two categories:

Optimist or worrier diagram

The Optimist

New people are exciting. Meeting and getting to know each other will enhance your university experience.

Meeting new people is enriching; relationships built in the early days of university can last a lifetime. Remember though that you won’t get on with everyone and not everyone will get on with you. That’s ok.

Men lending on bike on his phone

The Worrier

It’s normal to worry about learning to live with new people - sharing a toilet and kitchen with people you don’t know takes some getting used to!

If you are ‘toilet shy’ then play your music while you’re in there and invest in some eco-friendly air freshener; try and make a joke and put you and your housemates at ease.

Feeling uncomfortable going into the kitchen can have repercussions on your wellbeing. If you are too nervous to cook properly, you won’t eat well and your health will suffer. Just say hello to others, check the cooker is free and then get on with preparing your meal.

It’s worth remembering that not everyone has good hygiene standards. Do your own dishes and wipe down surfaces after yourself: this may encourage your housemates to do the same. Poor hygiene and messiness can become a major source of irritation and can turn into passive-aggressive messages in the inevitable group chat. If it gets too much, speak to your warden or accommodation office.

Parties are a big part of student life. Even if you hate the idea, you should attend parties to meet others: you can stay for as long or as little as you need. Have a plan of who you can talk to, and how you will get away if you start to feel overwhelmed. People-watching can be a helpful strategy, as can playing on your phone for a bit if you feel nervous.

Try to avoid drinking too much to alleviate your anxiety; it may leave you feeling regret and down the next day.

Guy at laptop drinking coffee

Resources

Resource

Starting University

A resource for young people about to start university

View resource
Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

View resource
Resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

View resource

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