Nine Rules For Your First Days In Student Halls

Almost three years ago, on this very day, I moved into my university dormitory, and it still remains amongst the most stressful things I have ever done. The move from Isle of Man wasn’t the difficult part, but the anxiety that followed was. When meeting strangers you have agreed to reside with, the initial interaction can be tense, uncomfortable, and bizarre. Here are some essential tips to help you navigate the first few days smoothly.

1. Avoid Prying on your New Roommates

The eagerness to place the profile pictures with real faces and get introductions out of the way on move-in day may make you hover. However, there is no need to familiarize yourself instantly with each new flatmate. The last thing someone carrying boxes needs is to be bombarded with questions about their course or if they’ve brought a kettle.

2. Keep Conversations Light

Small talk on the first day should be as mundane as possible without inducing boredom. Good small talk subjects could be where they come from, whether they like Game of Thrones, or how many shots of own-brand vodka they can do while standing on one leg. However, asking them to proofread the cleaning rota you’ve been working on is a less pleasant topic.

3. Be Friendly

When the time is right, the best way to combat the panic about making friends with everyone is to do exactly that. Instead of isolating yourself with the first few people you speak with, give each person in your flat some of your time and attention. You’ll end up using that polite voice you use for formal occasions and visiting family members, and the whole experience will likely feel like one of those odd mingle exercises you did in GCSE French. You didn’t sign up for college to take it easy, so be charming and push past it.

4. Don’t Fret over Missing Out

I arrived later than most on the first day and was instantly worried that I’d missed out on the first flat party. This wasn’t the case, and even if it was, it’s not worth worrying about; you have an entire year with these people. Relax and take it easy, congregating to talk about accents and A-levels on the first night of freshers’ week is part of basic human instinct like hunter-gathering or procreation.

5. Don’t Panic and Ask for Assistance

If someone has already taken your room, or you’ve been left out of the list, or your key isn’t working, don’t panic. On move-in day, universities are usually very efficient, but with such massive administrative challenges, mistakes can happen.

Freshers’ week has a lot of pressure to be the most enjoyable time you’ll ever have from the start, but the reality is that most experiences are mixed; you’ll feel homesick with the good parts. Freshers’ week wasn’t the most enjoyable time I had during my first year; the meeting with my flatmates and genuinely spending time together was much more enjoyable.

6. Never Leave a Dirty Pan to Soak

Wars have been started for less. A messy kitchen is the immediate source of the first breakdown in those insanely friendly first-term relations. Do you know what is simpler than trying to cover up used plates with an art project? Cleaning them.

7. Keep an Open Mind

The people you are paired with in dorms are improbable to be the people with whom you have most in common. You’ll usually find those who share your interests in your course or societies. However, even those with vastly different backgrounds or interests may become crucial people in your life. I happily lived with a group of my initial flatmates throughout my three-year degree because we all did different courses, led different schedules and lived very different lives. While I would never recommend forging close friendships with kitchen appliances, a toaster and blender can provide cheerful small talk.

8. Stay Occupied


Being a team player is important in all aspects of life, including in your relationships with your neighbors. If you notice your neighbor struggling with a severe hangover, consider assisting them with hydration, vitamins, food, or cleaning supplies. Remember, you never know when you may need their help in the future. Stay connected with the latest news and advice for students by following Guardian Students on Twitter: @GdnStudents. Additionally, explore exciting graduate career opportunities on Guardian Jobs.


  • ewanpatel

    I'm a 29-year-old educational bloger and teacher. I have been writing about education for about six years, and I have a B.A. in English from UC Santa Cruz. I also have a M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. I teach high school English in the Bay Area.