The Student Room Group

What skills do I need to learn before moving into halls?

I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!
Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!

The list is subjective, but I would include the following:

Social skills

Cooking - because it saves you getting frozen/microwave meals or takeaways all the time (do your health a favour)

Exercise/gym

Basic IT maintenance and setup e.g. sorting out your WiFi or connecting to the uni's network (usually come with instructions)

Cleaning, including making your bed, tidying

How to stay organised

Budgeting

Self control

Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!

Hi.

How exciting!

I think simply the fact that you're already starting to ask such questions and are aware that your actions will affect others is great :smile:

I lived in halls during my first year and then moved into a shared house for my second and third years, so I have some experience. I'd say the most important thing is keeping communal areas clean. So, clean up after yourself. While you’re cooking, try to keep on top of any mess, as this just makes things a lot easier. This can get challenging when you're in a rush, so this leads to being organised.

As a group I think it is important to have some sort of a cleaning rota. That way the cleaning responsibilities don't just fall onto a couple of individuals who are more inclined to clean up. Things like emptying the bin can often be overlooked. A lot of uni accommodations will already have cleaning timetables that you can collect from reception, so definitely ask! And you don't need to have any fancy cleaning products either, washing up liquid can do a lot! That is another thing to discuss with your flatmates: Will everyone buy their own cleaning products, or will you take turns buying things as and when they run out?

Secondly, I would genuinely practise making a handful of your favourite meals or find some new simple meals. Practise doing the food shop that consists of all the ingredients you would need for your chosen meals. Aim to find good deals/discover cheaper brands or just non-branded food that you like the taste of. If you can get your hands on a student cookbook, you might find it helpful, but the internet is just as good now.

Thirdly, the walls are THIN. Keep this in mind when you're watching TV, talking on the phone, watching TikTok, etc. Your neighbour can probably hear you.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask your flatmates for help/tips. It's quite likely someone will know how to do something that you might not have done yet. But also it's just as important to keep in mind that you're all in the same boat and learning at the same time. It's probably the first time everyone else is living independently too. So, don't get too wrapped up in any sort of anxiety when it comes to living in halls. A huge part of some of the pre-nerves you might be feeling is simply that it is new and it is change.

But as long as you’re putting in the effort and doing your part you can’t really go wrong. Already you seem quite keen and aware, so I think you’ll be a great flatmate!

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Good luck🙂

Anastasia,
BCU Student Rep.
Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!
Hey,

1.

Cooking - know the basics and find easy and quick things that you enjoy so are more likely to make. Remember that your internet and cooking videos can be your friend!

2.

Cleaning - Washing and general tidying.

3.

Clothes washing - How to wash your clothes and what to wash them with

4.

Bed making - How to make a bed

5.

Budgeting - Go shopping and see the prices of thing and practice being money conscious.

6.

Wakening yourself up - Know your morning routine and how to be self disciplined with others not around to wake you

All of these will benefit yourself and those around you. Hope you have a great time at uni.
Catherine - University of Strathclyde Student Ambassador

Hey 👋 there's lots of great advice already above that I would support. Getting into a new routine will be a change but once you're used to doing things like regularly cleaning and doing laundry, budgeting for food shopping, the rest will follow.

I would also just say - you learn things over time too! Don't feel too much pressure to arrive at university a fully fledged chef who can master every washing machine in the laundrette. I'd say have some basic meals you feel confident in cooking, you can also learn from other flatmates as time goes on and discover new recipes to try. When I started university most of my flatmates were all in the same situation - we worked through things together and helped each other out where we could as well! We did some 'come dine with me' nights which were great to share cooking tips and also to socialise together. We also chipped in together to clean communal areas and made sure to not leave anything messy for others. I think this is the cause of most tension in student halls is people being messy!

It's an exciting time though and I do hope you have a great university experience! 😄

Jennie
Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!


Hi Anonymous #1,

First of all, everyone here has mentioned some brilliant things! Cleaning, cooking, and organisational skills are so important.

This is more of a soft skill, but something that I think is important is being able to effectively communicate. Living with other people means sometimes you’ll get annoyed with someone’s mess, someone’s noise, or something else - and this is normal! But looking back, I wish I’d known how to effectively communicate that my flatmate was being too noisy, or that they had left the kitchen messy. It comes with time and age, but I think I would’ve solved my issues more effectively had I known how to convey and mediate the problem.

All the best,

Jen,

University of Exeter student ambassador
Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!

Hi there,

I think this is such a great question that everyone should be asking! Many people don't think about this before they arrive, which can cause problems.

Here are a few things I think are important to successfully live in halls:

Learn to cook! This is a fun and useful skill to have. It can be convenient to live off of take-out and ready meals, but you'll be better off (and likely have more fun) learning to cook actual meals! Just be respectful of shared kitchen and storage spaces.


Learn to clean! This is essential. If you share spaces, make sure you are able to clean up after yourself and leave it as you found it. Also, respect your own space to a reasonable degree so it doesn't impact others (smell, etc). There is nothing worse than having a shared space and having bits of food stick to your socks from someone else's lunch!


Respect boundaries. Starting university can be daunting for some, and many people are exploring and trying new things. Learn to respect other's boundaries, appreciate personal space, and try not to make assumptions of others too soon.


Be aware of noise. When I lived in the halls in first year, I had neighbours on both sides that weren't aware of the noise they made. I heard phone calls and late nights, which got very annoying! Be respectful when it is very early or late, and try not to shout or play music/TV too loud.


These are just a few main points I can think of. As long as you are clean, respectful, and kind, you'll be fine!

Best of luck,

Isabella
Third-year Geography with a Year Abroad Student
Reply 7
Thank you everyone for all the advice! I'll get started on learning these skills!
Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!

Hi there,

I think the most important skills to have when you are moving into halls are:

Being able to cook for yourself. This is an important skill as you need to eat and therefore need to be able to cook for yourself. It's much cheaper to cook and the food will be a lot better than buying ready meals all the time! I would say to learn a few meals over the summer so that you know you have some things you can cook as you won't always feel like cooking a big meal from scratch that you have never made before. Make sure you learn some quick, tasty meals so that you know you always have something you can make.


Cleaning is important as you are living in a communal space so it is important you can keep your things tidy. There is nothing worse than having a messy kitchen all of the time with pots and pans everywhere! Of course, it isn't always going to be spotless everywhere but it is much better if you are able to clean up after yourself. Also, cleaning your room is important too or this can get overwhelming if it is really messy or dirty.


Being sociable and able to speak to new people is important too as you will be moving in with people you don't know so it's good to be able to speak to them and make friends as this is one of the most important things when you move to uni!


Being able to budget is also a great skill to have as you will need to be able to manage your money to ensure you always have enough. It's worth thinking about your budget before you go otherwise you could end up with not much left after freshers week!


Make sure you help with all of the jobs around the flat such as taking out the bins. If everyone takes it in turns to do, it saves a lot of hassle and arguments as you know when it is your turn to do it. Just make sure you are willing to help with any of the jobs!


I hope some of this helps,

Lucy -SHU student ambassador :smile:
Original post by Anonymous
I'm entering university this year and will be living in halls. It's pretty embarrassing to say but I was very coddled growing up and I haven't learned many life skills. What sort of things would I need to learn before living in halls (e.g cooking, cleaning, etc). Which of these things will I just need to learn for myself and which will negatively affect other people if I don't learn them? I really don't want to annoy anyone by being incompetent!

Hi,
Firstly, the fact that you're being so proactive about this is such a great sign! I would say the two main skills you will want to learn will be: some basic cooking, think about what you like to eat and what some good basics are (pasta, rice, meat, veg etc.), and cleaning, this is generally self explanatory when you have the right products, a good way to stay on top of cleaning is to do little and often (this is what works for me anyway!) and don't forget laundry.
These are skills many people have to learn for the first time when starting university so I wouldn't put too much pressure on yourself, you won't be the only one learning as they go along.

Hope this helps! Faye :smile:

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