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The good, bad, and dirty laundry of communal living

By Ashleigh 14 Apr 2019
2 male McGregor College students cooking together in communal kitchen.

Most people move onto college at a time in their lives when they have finished school and are moving out of their family’s home to start at university and, for the first time, experience sharing a home with 100+ people. For me however, it was slightly different. I went to boarding school, so by the time I started university, I was already aware of the ups and downs of communal living. What I wasn’t prepared for was how exciting and beneficial the experience of living in one of USQ’s Residential Colleges would be to my studies, personality and friendships.

Moving into a space with a large amount of people can be daunting, but it is important that as a new resident you keep in mind that every other first year university student is in the same boat as you. The feelings of nervousness, being anxious and excited for what the college experience will be like. For me, the most exciting part about moving to colleges was the idea of living with your friends, having support available from your Resident Advisors and being able to make memories every single day.

Image of McGregor College students.

But with all of these good things, bad things do arise; not many of course, but definitely some. It is a challenge to go from living with your mum, dad, brothers and sisters to sharing bathrooms and kitchens with people you have never met. Having your own space and being able to do what you want, when you want kind of becomes a thing of the past—when you live on college, you need to cooperate and compromise with your friends and room buddies to make sure you find a balance of study, relaxation time and socialising that works for you and for them.

It can be challenging to trust people you have just met that you’re now living with 24/7. Just like moving in with new housemates, there are sure to be a few issues that arise, such as taking without asking and a lack of cleanliness. It is important you take the time, especially during Orientation Week, to get to know your fellow residents, Resident Advisors and Senior Resident Advisor and build trust through finding common interests and personality traits. However, there will always be people you just don’t get along with so, I have found it is important to accept each and every person for who they are and what they love and enjoy.

Image of McGregor College Students.

Once you build respect and acceptance for people, friendships begin to grow. I know when I first moved to college, I was shy and didn’t say very much at all until I began building friendships and trust with other residents. Now, when I tell freshers and their parents I was a shy little 17 year old, they don’t believe me!

The other great thing about building trust and friendships is the emotional support new friends give you no matter what time of the day. I was quite well-known for leaving assignments to the last minute, freaking and stressing out at the sight of anything (literally… other people, a photo on Facebook about study or even the thought of what I was going to have for lunch), but my friends were always there to help with my lunch decisions and to send me encouraging messages of support throughout the tough times.

Image of Ashleigh and her two friends from McGregor College.

For me personally, I have found that compromise is the greatest thing you can master living on colleges. Compromising with your friends is important in creating understanding. I cannot recall the amount of times I’ve said ‘I’m going to do another 30 minutes of study before we play Volleyball’ (or go shopping, play netball or do anything other than study!).

Image of McGregor College students at the paint olympics.

Over the last four years of living on college, I have come to realise that, yes, in life there are always bad things, but I can tell you that living at the USQ Residential Colleges, the good far outweighs the bad, and if I had my time again, I would not change a thing about my decision to live on-campus. Over time, all of the negative thoughts about communal living begin to leave your mind and you begin to think of colleges as a little family that you will miss when you graduate.

The good, bad and dirty laundry of communal living vary slightly between colleges, due to the differences in accommodation style, so find out how the colleges differ and which college would suit you best.

Author profile image of Ashleigh