Your Room

Your bedroom is your space at uni (or part of it if you live in an American college style dorm). It’s where you sleep, where you’ll sometimes work, where you’ll unwind with a book, game or hobby and sometimes where you’ll share laughs love and memories with friends, family, fraternal/sororal relations or significant others. So you should take time to make it your own right?

Okay, some of the rules (particularly in private or university managed houses) usually disallow you from glueing stuff to the walls or customising your furniture to within an inch of it’s life, there are usually a few small mercies we’re allowed to achieve.

Build a Photo Wall

photowall

The Many Memories of a fellow housemate

Everything seems to have a camera in it these days, with some people never failing to miss an opportunity to get that amazing selfie. Of course our phones, computers, tablets and digital photo frame can show us these memories so long as you have power, and storage space somewhere (and an internet connection if it’s in the cloud).

So why not go lo-tech and create a good old photo wall?These can be anything from lightweight custom canvases to an arrangement of¬† favourite band posters, to simple 4 x 6″ (10 x 15cm) prints collaged together on a pinboard or tacked up on your wall with temporary adhesive (like a certain coloured tac).

Sites like Snapfish often offer free prints alongside regular orders, with HP branded products such as laptops often offering shortcuts to the Snapfish site. For US customers anywhere in the world TargetPhoto offer a printing service that you can have shipped anywhere or pick them up at your local Target store (if you have one). If you’re reading this in October 2016, they even have an offer on for the next 2 days for shipped photos, simply use the code “OCTPRINT” to get 25% off (Not Sponsered ūüėČ ). If you’re one of my Canadian (or US) readers, there’s also the online only Posterjack. If you’re a UK or Europe customer, don’t forget online shops such as Photobox offer great deals too as well as most Jessops and Boots shops in the UK often offering a short wait photo printing service that can be developed from SD Card, Optical Disk or good old film.

Set up Some Lights

Lighting. Own Work

Having lights up all year is another excuse not to have to unravel them again at Christmas.

This one is commonly associated with girls – possibly due to the various shapes, but I think there’s nothing wrong with any person having lights set up. Be it fairy style lights similar to what you have on a Christmas tree to rope lighting found at your nearest electronics shop. If you have screws already embedded in your wall (if not, check with your landlords first!!!) , why not recycle their use with a hung up neon sign?

Usually with a little inexpensive touch, you can create a little charm to your space, though if you’re sharing with someone, best to check with them first before you turn your room into a mini Blackpool or Las Vegas.

Add Some Inspiration

My old quotes in Year 1.

My old quotes in Year 1.

Sometimes, the wise words of others can serve as inspiration during troubled times or when you’re stuck on an assignment. Having quotes in your room, whether shop bought or printed yourself, much like your photo wall are a good way to show off what keeps you ticking and can often help remind us who were are and what we connect with.

I myself have had a number of quotes from Churchill’s famous “Let us Go Forward” poster, epiphanies that have come to me on nights out (or in) to quotes from calendars and programs with words of wisdom from writers and scholars past.

Whether it’s a holy book verse, a well known saying or something out of literature, add a little cultural touch to the walls you haven’t covered in pictures. As you complete your assignments, you may even find some great ones targeted at your work, or useful for a later project, so stick these somewhere safe too! If you can’t stick anything up, procure a whiteboard and write yourself a new one every week or month.

Adorn With Trinkets

Shotglasses. Own Work.

These double shotglasses had more than one way of providing merriment.

Thankfully as students, most places come furnished to some degree, saving you a large amounts on item cost. However, this not being your own furniture, means you need to think of other ways to inject your personality into your temporary abode. To complement your walls of pictures and posters, it’s always worth bringing along some ornaments to uni or showing off stuff you’ve found whilst out shopping or exploring during term time. Be this a Newton’s Cradle you found in a retro shop (a favourite of my halls bedroom), some fossils and pebbles you found on a beach trip, ornaments you brought back from a holiday down to your super rare guitar you’ve had since you first learned to play in school. These if anything are the main focus on presenting your personal domain as, well, yours.

Social Animal? Associate Your Lair

My Old Room. Own Work

My original games/cinema/work setup in the second half of my first year.

If you live in a communal space without a set common room, you can make people identify a place as yours with the psychological art of association. For instance, in the film ‘Bad Neighbours’ Teddy’s room in the fraternity house was associated as “The Lion’s Den” (or Tiger if you’d prefer to follow the picture!) and was the central safehouse and secondary point of control for powering the party system.

Likewise in my own experience in halls, we often created our own entertainment space and all had our own ‘function’ style rooms in addition to the common kitchen, using our environment to our advantage. For instance my friend Pete’s room was the second biggest on the floor and so was used for many night out activities, Xbox 360 gaming as well as spare time hang out space, whilst my other friends Craig and Sam were the gaming spaces for Playstation 3 and 1/2 respectively. Being the tech geek I was the alternate Xbox room or film night space (having a laptop, monitor and dual speaker system helped) for larger numbers, whilst the “girls floor” corridor was used for smaller group settings.

If you and your friends need somewhere to hang and don’t fancy hitting the town and party houses, play to your strengths and offer to host your low-key activities and hopefully get chance to make friends and attend others too.

A Comfortable Workspace

My bedroom workspace today.

My bedroom workspace today.

One thing you might need to do at some point is of course your assignments and if you don’t want to spend your time in the library or study space, your room is a great place to get on with it. Of course not everyone likes to spend all of their time at their desk, so make a space that you feel most comfortable in, be it on your bed or in a bean bag. If you do prefer a desk, make sure you set your space out in a comfortable and productive environment, with the stuff you need most in the right place. If your desk isn’t big enough, don’t be afraid to get creative – you never know what you can achieve with a few extra bits from your local Target or Wilko like shop can help extend your space (as a graduate, I’m currently writing this post on a converted wardrobe desk, which proves creativity should never stop). The most creative I’ve heard so far was my regular work partner who set up his printer in his unused sink and spread out the rest of his Music Tech setup on top of his in-room fridge, leaving his desk as room for his Macbook!

So how have you all set out your spaces? Have you been allowed to go wild or had to come up with creative hacks to make your room your home away from home? Feel free to share a comment down below!

Mike

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Moving Into a Student House or Apartment

Moving into a student house or apartment, be it as a newbie to University or a returning student, can be a life changing experience. If you’ve never lived on your own in a house before, it’s a great opening to adult life. If you have, then prepare for a totally alternate lifestyle!

Most people have been at uni for at least a year will often move into a house with people they know, though that isn’t always the case and can sometimes end up like fresher’s that don’t choose halls and will move in with complete strangers. Whatever your circumstance, here’s X tips to help you either make & stay the best of friends and brothers/sisters or at least co-exist peacefully as housemates.


Have At Least One Gathering

It’s important to get ¬†know the people you’re going to be living with for the next year, even if it’s just a little bit about them such as they’re name, ¬†their course and an idea of ¬†their daily habits so you’ll know what to expect.

It doesn’t have to be a huge thing in you or they aren’t especially social. ¬†Something as simple as drinks in the kitchen or a common space for a couple of hours will start you off nicely.

If you’re concerned about breaking the ice, ¬†perhaps suggest an activity such as watching a film in addition, ¬†playing a video/board game or

Physical a game such as football or pool/billiards (whatever you prefer).

The better you get to know your housemates,  the larger chance you will have of potentially increasing your social circle,  less of a chance of loneliness or isolation and a foundation on which learn to work together to live together easier.


Make a Rota

Accomodation needs maintenance to keep it in shape and since you’re living in a shared space, ¬†it only makes sense to split the work on the areas you share fairly. Many households benefit ¬†from a basic maintenance rota.

It can be as simple as a cleaning rota for the common areas. If you’ve grown to become a family away from home you may wish to apply to this or add other activities such as cooking or shopping (in the case of my housemates in our first ¬†year together we ¬†made a weekday cooking schedule and fended for ourselves over the weekend).

Try between you to stick to it and make amendments for those struggling to ensure you’re all contributing fairly. ¬†Once the process builds ¬†momentum you’ll find the workload better than managing a large place on your own and you’ll breeze through landlord inspections much better.


Agree Some Ground Rules

To ensure everyone gets the respect they deserve and people’s schedules don’t clash a few basic unwritten ground rules don’t go amiss. Most of them will probably be part of your contract anyway and many of them are common courtesy ¬†so it may be be as simple as negotiating together locally so you’re all on the same page.

Typically most people will agree on noise levels and times (many contracts specify no noise leakage to the outside world after around 11pm), cleaning up what is made messy,  agreements on sharing the TV if you have one in a common space,  decisions on house parties or gatherings.

If you’re struggling, ¬†searching online or speaking to your parents or accomodation officer should provide some inspiration.

Once you’ve all agreed, ¬†use your head when you go about you day and remember which rules take priority. ¬†It may be acceptable now and again to turn a blind eye (since nobody like a grass), ¬†but breaching contract rules and law can lead to more serious discipline from your accomodation officer, ¬†landlord or even the police.


Communicate the Important Stuff

If you’re going to introduce an important change to the ecosystem of your home which as getting a pet (good luck getting one allowed in university managed accommodation!), if you’re bringing someone to stay or ¬†if you’re moving out. If it’s going to have an impact on your other housemates lives, ¬†it’s only fair to give them a heads up, ¬†rather than giving them an unexpected surprise.¬†

Communication is also important at the management level too. If you are a resident ¬†warden or fire warden, ¬†give your housemates plenty of warning if you’re going to test something such as the electric RCD fuses or the fire alarm and likewise if a problem occurs in the house, ¬†voice these concerns to your warden or landlord. ¬†Likewise if something happens and work is required in the house/apartment building ¬†whilst you’re ¬†a tenant your landlord or accomodation office should provide notice to you that contractors and/or their representatives will be visiting. If this communication doesn’t occur, ¬†either party can end up in serious trouble, ¬†so keep the lines open and everyone in the loop.¬†


Split the Bills

If you live in accomodation where your bills aren’t covered, ¬†you’ll usually only receive one bill for the property.

Just like the cleaning rota, ¬†unless someone is running up the meter with an entertainment system built for a small nightclub, ¬†the bills will be fair game between you. There’s several ways to achieve this and it’s ususally easiest to automate the process through direct debit and run everything on a fixed monthly rate (which if you use less you’ll all get back just as equally in credit). So whether you wish to pick a utility each and pay each other the difference or you set up a house “kitty” and an elected treasurer or took on turns you pay it manually each month.

A creative approach is to set up a payment system like PayPal where each person pays said “treasurer” ¬†each month into their PayPal (not bank account) as credit, ¬†then you pay off your bills through this virtual kitty. You could use a pay book or maybe use a spreadsheet package like Microsoft Excel, ¬†OpenOffice/Libre Office Calc ¬†or Google sheets to track people’s payments and ensure nobody is falling behind. If you choose to do it this way though, ¬†make sure there’s some credit in there first each month ¬†and everyone has contributed ¬†or your treasurer will have a hefty withdrawal from their bank account!


And finally…

Have fun! Uni is one of the first times you’ll be able to move in strangers and move out lifelong friends so take advantage of the opportunity to make new friends and enjoy the experience of living on your own (bit at the same time not in your own if your sharing with others) and – ¬†if your going straight from college or sixth form ¬†– ¬†begin to learn what it is to ‘adult’ each day.

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