Living with your peers at uni when you don't have parental support at home

Students sitting together

Getting to know lots of new people while living without parental support was daunting for Andrew, so here's his advice for making the most of the extra independence

  • 18 June 2021
  • 5 min read

As an estranged student, finding and making friends was even more important when moving in with new people.

Moving to university was my first experience of living with a group of people. It felt a bit strange, and takes a while to get used to. But while getting to know lots of new people was daunting, it was also rewarding. So I want to share my advice for making the most of the extra independence university gives.

Before you arrive at university

When you first move to university, it's likely you’ll be in university or private halls of residence. Meeting new people can be scary, especially if you’ve moved to a new city. Try and establish connections before you arrive.

Accommodation providers like Unite Students place you in a chat with your future flatmates. It’s a good idea to use this chat to talk to your flatmates before you arrive. If you can’t make contact with your flatmates before you arrive, make sure to start getting to know them within the first couple of weeks.

Give everyone you meet a chance. For example, if you need anything from the shops, ask someone to go with you, it's a great way to start getting to know your flatmates. It’ll also give you peace of mind to know who you get on with and who you don’t.

When I first moved to university, I promised myself not to judge people too quickly, I gave myself at least 2 weeks to get to know everyone. You’ll find that people will surprise you, people you’ll never have met in the wider world will become some of your closet friends. University halls are normally made up of flats from 6-12 students, so there’s a good chance you’ll like someone.

Living with flatmates can be one of the best times of your life. Your first taste of independence can be exciting but don’t underestimate the challenges you’ll face along the way.

Andrew, estranged student

Sharing your living space

If you find things don’t go smoothly whilst living in halls of residence, or in your private student house, the best thing I’ve found you can do is to have an open and honest chat with your peers about the problems you’re experiencing. I can’t stress how important it is to share how you’re feeling with the ones around you, remember, no one is a mind reader.

Sharing a living space with others can be tough, you might feel like you’ve lost your privacy, or you don’t want to socialise all the time and it's perfectly okay if you want to be by yourself from time to time. We’re not all wired the same way. If flat or house sharing really isn’t for you, then some universities offer 1 person flats that you can look at before you make any final decisions.

Students chatting together

Share how you’re feeling with the people around you

Embrace the challenge

University brings a whole host of challenges, it can be easy to forget that you're not alone and there will be people there for you.

If all else, your flatmates won't be the only people you’ll meet at university. There is a large variety of clubs and societies, and you’ll also meet people on your course. So, don’t despair if you didn’t meet the flatmates of your dreams. Most universities have a large student population, it's just a matter of finding the ones you like best and sticking by them.

Living with flatmates can be one of the best times of your life. Your first taste of independence can be exciting but don’t underestimate the challenges you’ll face along the way. You might have to live with people you don’t see eye to eye with and dealing with this can be a struggle. Expect awkwardness at times, or maybe even some disagreements and tension between you and your peers, but remember to try to talk it through. 

Give yourself some credit, you won't have done this before and every day at university is a learning curve. There is a solution for every problem, there will always be someone there for you if you need them.

Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to utilise the wealth of support and advice services available to you, they are there for a reason. So embrace the challenges you’re about to face but most importantly, don’t forget you're not alone.

If you're at university without the support of a family or network, there's always someone you can count on.

Take a look at some of the financial, wellbeing, and social support available to you, both at Portsmouth and externally.

External support

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