Starting college can be extremely daunting, especially if, like me, you fly the nest and move away from home for the first time. Secondary school and college are so, so, so different. In school, every single move you made was watched by the powers that be (they must have been fans of The Police). Freedom was an abstract concept that seemed far too out of reach. But that illusive freedom comes into reach when you start college. And for some, that independence is a gift. But for others, that independence is terrifying because, like many of us Irish folk, you might have been a bit sheltered while still at school. Thanks Mam.
If you’re entering college with your friends and don’t have enough dollar bills for campus accommodation, contact the accommodation office of your college. You may not get on campus accommodation, but chances are they’ll have a list of local landlords registered with them. If you can afford it though, I highly recommend taking campus accommodation for your first year. You’ll be with other first years who are equally as nervous and messy as you are, and it’s the easiest way to get to know people. You can bond over your shared love for Netflix binging and strange fetishes, and start building your social circle for college.
When moving in with anyone you’re taking a huge gamble. You could get an insomniac who can only sleep with the “soothing” sounds of a whale “singing”. You could also get a total hermit who leaves you passive aggressive notes on your door asking you to keep your music down. Even your closest friends can turn out to be absolute nightmares to live with., the list could go on forever. Trust me. But whether they keep telling you to keep it down, or they don’t understand the concept of washing up, you need to try ad cope with who you get.
When you live with other people you’re no longer living under your parents’ rules, but that also doesn’t mean that you can suddenly live completely by your own rules and disregard plain good old manners. You need to respect your housemates, listen to Aretha. She knows her shit. If you’re planning on having a house party, be sound and let your housemates know in advance.
Also, seriously, don’t eat your housemate’s food. Just don’t. At least try not to, and have a plan to replace whatever you eat as quickly as possible if you do decide to steal that last pack of Tayto in their cupboard. On your head be it.
Compromising with housemates is the big one. Like many relationships, it’s all about give and take. Generally, it’s great to agree to all clean up after yourselves. But the big jobs like taking out the bins or sweeping need to be divided. It’s very rare that you’ll be able to divide jobs up perfectly evenly; I’ve found the best solution has been to make a group chat and (politely) ask the person whose turn it is to do their job. And give them passive-aggressive sass until they agree to do it.
This is another big one. If you have an issue with something your housemate did, you’re a thousand times better off telling them about it politely. People react much better to politeness than to ignorance and indirect Tweets. Think about it this way, someone is going to be way more willing to listen to you when you’re nice to them than when you’re rude and defensive.
And if all else fails, you end up stuck with a person you simply despise, you just have to tolerate them. Do what you can to stay out of their way and ignore any passes they make in an attempt to provoke you. You’ll be stuck with them for the next 4-9 months so saves yourself the stress and be the bigger person. It might not be as appealing to be the bigger person but it’s an ability that will help you later on in life when you’re stuck with irritating co-workers.
Educate yo’self. Make sure you know your rights as a tenant. Citizen’s information has all the information you need to know. Protect yourself. No matter where you go be sure to take pictures of as much of your house as you can, and email them to yourself to prove a time and date. This will bode very well in your favour if your landlord tries to do one over on you and make you pay for damage that was already there when you moved in. I know this isn’t always easy but when possible, have an official lease agreement made up. Unless you plan on wrecking the house this will protect you from any vindication from a landlord.
If your landlord starts being a difficult a-hole, the first thing you should do is contact your college’s accommodation office and ask them for advice. They may even be able to blacklist particularly bad landlords (mwahaha). In fact, before you move into a place it’s best to ring your accommodation office to make sure the landlord isn’t blacklisted already. Ain’t nobody got time for that. The respect thing applies here too. If you respect your landlord, then chances are they’ll respect you too. Although landlords are no exception to being horrible either, and sometimes you just land yourself a bad one, and you have to grin and bear it.
So to sum up; just be a nice person. It’s not worth the hassle of being sneaky and sassy to people you’re going to spend the majority of your time with. Remember your manners, and off you go. Time to fly the nest!