Over the Christmas holidays, I was catching up with an old high school friend. We found ourselves reflecting on how close we’d gotten to some of the people we’d been living with. She said something about how she ‘clicked’ with one of her flatmates and I couldn’t relate more.
It is a weird bond to click with a stranger you have to live with and have been randomly paired with. Even though you’ve only known them for a few months, conversation bounces back and forth between you as if you grew up together. It almost feels like fate that you had to end up together.
My flatmate and I are coincidentally both from Italy and when we managed to get in contact for the first time we couldn’t believe it. ‘What are the chances?!’, we kept on texting. To this day we cannot believe how lucky we are to have been paired together. To be able to maintain some aspects of our native culture in a foreign land is one of the things that allowed us to become as close as we are.
Here’s how we show each other love and support in our little Unite Students home.
We often end up cooking and having dinner together, which is incredibly nice. To have someone to come home to at the end of the day is something that can often be overlooked whilst at uni. The lack of something like this, I’ve found, can heighten homesickness.
Sometimes, if one of us is running a bit late from uni or extracurricular activities, the other will leave them some food to warm up. It’s a simple gesture, which goes a long way.
Having lived in the UK for more than five years now, I’ve been quite out of touch with Italian music. My flatmate has reconnected me to it and you’ll often find us in the kitchen singing along to our favourite songs. The best thing about this is that she’ll often have loads of stories linked to particular songs. So if a certain song comes on, we’ll inevitably get to know each other a little bit more.
Once we got to know each other pretty well, I cannot begin to tell you how good it is to have someone to hug. Not just a generic, polite one but a hug that is genuine and heartfelt.
If either of us is sad, you know for certain that there is a hug waiting for you back at the flat. It’s reassuring to know that there’s someone to hold you up when you hit those inevitable ‘uni bumps’ - as I like to call them.
As you will both most likely be new to your uni city, a great way to show your flatmate some love is definitely by exploring it together. My flatmate and I, for instance, have been to see some of Glasgow’s art galleries recently.
On those days we also make a point to try new places to eat (of course). Getting to know the city with her has been one of the best experiences about uni so far.
No friendship is perfect. Especially when you live together. There are definitely moments when we butt heads, but the important thing is communicating and apologising. It is as simple as that.
I appreciate how much my flatmate and I respect each other. I’d trust her to tell me if something was wrong. A really silly example of this would be when I decided to cook sausages for us and I was smoking up the kitchen. She taught me that sausages won’t make as much smoke if you cut them in half. I did not get defensive and I accepted her advice (as should you if you ever cook sausages!).
It is all about listening to each other and knowing when the other knows best - when it’s time to apologise and move on.
Whenever one of us is going back home or travelling somewhere, we often end up texting each other every step of the way to ensure the other is safe. I once stayed up past 2am to wait for her to come back safe and sound from the airport.
This, for me, is what it means to cohabit and to nurture a friendship: it’s about looking after one another and taking care of the other’s needs as well as your own.
Chances are you won’t get along with all your flatmates and that’s okay. But I can assure you, whether you live with four or 10 other people, there will be someone you will click with.
Living together makes any relationship grow quicker and (in most cases) fonder. You will find yourself getting closer with people you live with a lot faster than in any other friendship you have ever been in before. This is because you will share moments and make memories together, which can strangely feel very family-like.
However, this is something that - like in all relationships - you have to work for.