How to get along with your housemates

Three tips for living harmoniously with other students

Living away from home encompasses plenty of chaos. The challenge of cooperating with
housemates is constant, for both the Fresher spying on neighbours from across a Halls
courtyard and the nine fourth-year friends moving into a three bedroom house. University
accommodation is often portrayed as a great place to make friends for life. While college
culture thrives on these friendships, they are often not easy to build in close living quarters.
Trinity News is here with three simple rules to help remove cohabitation tension and turn
flatmates into friends.

Rule #1: Open mind, open door

“University is a delightful place which offers the opportunity to abandon stereotypes and get to know people from diverse backgrounds.”

Privacy is valuable, but simply keeping a bedroom door open for a couple of hours, at least
during the first few weeks of College, can bolster the feeling of community in an apartment.
University is a delightful place which offers the opportunity to abandon stereotypes and get
to know people from diverse backgrounds. Housemates from Meath, London, and Kansas all
bring interesting experiences with them to Dublin. The only way to unearth these stories is
through conversation, and that never happens in the comfort of solitude. Alumni connections
from College are valuable, but good friends are better yet. Bear the annoyance of cleaning
your bedroom and leave that door open.

Eating in communal spaces is another fundamental way to begin simple conversations with
the people in your house. Yes, Netflix is calling from the bedroom. Yes, pot noodles are
difficult to eat gracefully in front of an audience. However, it is worth the struggle to eat in the
kitchen and ask your exhausted medical student flatmate how their week has been. For
those students who do not have time to clean their rooms, eating and studying in communal
spaces is an excellent way to touch base with the people around them.

Rule #2: Clean, darn it

“In order to leave the door of a bedroom open or spend quality time in communal spaces,
cleaning is non-negotiable.”

In order to leave the door of a bedroom open or spend quality time in communal spaces,
cleaning is non-negotiable. Keeping the bedroom clean from day one of Freshers’ Week can
set the tone for the entire year. Baskets and hangers are key tools to help with this. Baskets
for socks, scarves, and dirty laundry stop piles of miscellaneous clothing from accruing and
beginning to smell. Hangers are ideal for the small, expensive apartments that Dublin offers its university students. Hanging clothes will save drawer and floor space, which is particularly
useful in shared rooms. It also prevents wrinkles, which is great, unless the Arts Building
grunge look is in vogue.

Apartment decor is important, because if a bedroom is a pleasant space to be in, it is
easier to find the motivation to keep it clean. Choose a relaxing colour scheme for the room
and stick to it. Put a comfy throw, pillow and a fuzzy blanket on the bed. Buy a plant for the
window, and keep it alive for as long as possible. Simplicity is the key to a peaceful space,
so channel Marie Kondo and spark joy by donating clothes and useless items to charity, and
recycling used papers. Redecoration does not need to be expensive, either. A little price
comparison and shopping around for home goods, especially in charity shops, will keep your
wallet happy.

Basic kitchen cleaning prevents you from receiving little pastel sticky notes from irritated
housemates. Letting a pan soak for more than 12 hours is excessive, and sometimes food in
the fridge turns green and must be binned. Hoovering once in a while can prevent critters
and furry friends from moving in to the already crowded apartment. Spray bleach and throw
around some kitchen rolls in the bathroom every so often; this will work wonders. Think of
that little plant thriving in your window, and live up to its expectations.

Rule #3: Go out to Dicey’s

“Flatmate relationships need to grow beyond the confines of an apartment…”

This is crucial. Going out is crucial, that is, not necessarily going out to Dicey’s Garden.
Flatmate relationships need to grow beyond the confines of an apartment, and occasionally
this requires nights out on Harcourt street in the spitting rain, waiting for that one housemate
who forgot her ID. It is often uncomfortable but hugely important to escape what is known
and be open to trying new things when you receive an invitation. New worlds of niche
College events are available to explore with friends, from society meetings, to Pav
gatherings, to informal study groups in the library. Those chats in the apartment kitchen over
pot noodles are often when such invitations arise.

Take the initiative to invite flatmates out, too. Exploring the library as a Fresher is more fun
with a pack of people. Shopping is always better with friends. When lunchtime rolls around,
remember those flatmates and Whatsapp the group to see who is about. This incrementally
nourishes friendship, and eventually leads to local, national, and international invitations to
visit flatmates in their homes. Nothing can beat free lodging on a holiday abroad with friends,
except for lifelong connections and international contacts. In spite of all this, no pressure.
Sometimes flatmates need their space, too.

Brigit Hirsch

Brigit Hirsch is the current Deputy Student Living Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister English and Philosophy student.