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University. Do things get better?

(61 Posts)
hanginginthere1 Mon 03-Nov-14 10:50:23

Apologies if this topic has been done to death or if this post is in the wrong thread etc. I would just like some advice .
DD started uni[Russell group/Red brick, good reputation] in September. Initially, seemed to settle in well. She was looking forward to beginning the next part of her life. She wasn't and still isn't home sick. she is enjoying her course, and seemed to make friends with the others in her flat in Halls.
About 3 weeks in however, her flat mates began to change. Some of the girls[one or two of whom appear to be incredibly spoilt] became very sullen. They have begun to sulk if they don't get their own way on a night out for example. Last night one of them threw a massive tantrum over a meal. DD feels that she is stuck in the middle constantly trying to cajole, organise etc. She feels that it is all becoming hard work.
A little more worrying is the behaviour of some of the boys in the flat. DD and some of the girls are having to almost constantly deal with sexist remarks. Said in jest and usually to do with cleaning the flat, which they almost always refuse to do. They talk almost constantly about sex, in front of the girls, and seem to have little respect for how this affects others.
They refuse to tone down their language, and have caused offence on more than one occasion. Some of their behaviour is vile.There has been a suggestion made by some of the flat mates that drugs are being used in the flat, although DD hasn't witnessed this. This concerns me greatly.
So all in all, not the best of atmospheres. DD is trying really hard to make friends, but finds it difficult on her course, since there are literally hundreds of them and she rarely sees the same person twice. She is enjoying being part of one of the sports teams however.
I am really beginning to feel that we as parents pay good money for our kids to be at these unis, but that the behaviour of some of the students really does leave a lot to be desired. Is it worth it, when your child rings up and tells you some of the things that are going on.
Any advice, gladly accepted

lljkk Mon 03-Nov-14 11:17:17

She needs to find flatmates more like herself. How did she end up with this lot? Everything else is manageable or she can make better given time.

hanginginthere1 Mon 03-Nov-14 11:34:22

I know she needs to find flatmates more like herself, but how do you do that when you are already in a flat with them? I doubt that she would be able to move now.
I see problems arising when it comes to finding people to share a house with next year, since I doubt that she will want to share with some of these characters. I suppose there is still time though

bobs123 Mon 03-Nov-14 11:39:22

There should be someone in charge of the Halls she is in that she can talk to, with a view to being moved if possible. She should also try to make friends with people in other flats. My DD1 is sharing a house with people she met from other flats. She learnt to tolerate those in her own flat (learning curve to be gone through) even though she didn't get on with them.

Tell her to be proactive and ask...

Mindgone Mon 03-Nov-14 11:42:47

It sounds awful! I think I would get her to speak to someone in student support, or the students union, and explain the situation, and ask what help is available. She probably isn't the first in this situation. There may even be a collection of people in similar situations who could support each other, or maybe flat share together. Hope things improve.

friendofmine Mon 03-Nov-14 11:46:04

Most first year students are, in all honesty, dicks. A lot of the time they are spoilt kids away from home for the first time experimenting with boundaries (e.g. the boys being sexist cunts). I mean her flat mates, not your DD!

Your DD should speak to someone about changing her accommodation for the rest of this year. When it comes to next year, there are lots of ways that she can find nice housemates. Where I work, the SU holds a 'find a housemate' event at the start of Term 2 for students who don't have anyone to live with or don't want to be stuck with their halls flat mates. Similarly, she should keep her eye out on Facebook.

I'd say that she should be very vocal about not wanting to live with her halls mates next year. If she doesn't pipe up people aren't going to say 'oh I know someone who's after an extra room mate' etc. because they won't know she's looking. Also, she should ask around her sports team mates about accommodation and see if she can line some nice people up to get a place with.

The dicks she's with ATM won't be a part of her life come July next year so tell her to hang in there.

ladeedad Mon 03-Nov-14 11:47:30

The first and second terms are often very tough. She's done well to stick at the sports team and sounds very mature in relation to her flatmates. Unfortunately most students encounter unpleasant flatmates at some point, but this is more extreme than she should have to put up with.

I second the idea of contacting the person in charge of Halls. The drugs suspicion alone would be enough to get her moved.

murderedinkent Mon 03-Nov-14 11:51:51

I know it will take a while to read through it all, but if you read the 'Empty Nest Syndrome' thread, all trials and tribulations are on there. Yes it does get better, yes they can complain and change flats because there will be others complaining. Others will be complaining that their flatmates are too quiet! DS and his flatmates had a meeting - which he called - to sort out cleaning rotas. He supplied drinks and sandwiches and nibbles and then got them all making silly suggestions, before settling down to the serious stuff.

Also - they have hit the low time. Initial euphoria is over, Fresher's 'Flu' has taken its toll and homesickness and noticing the imperfections of others has set in. Three to five weeks is the norm.

He decided to go with finding a flat he really liked in an area he really liked, rather than share with friends. He said it would be just too much. He has been far luckier this year, and loves the people he is sharing with, whereas last year he was bullied by a very large and macho slightly older student who was trying to get him to do his share of the cleaning. He managed to sort it, but it was very worrying at the time.

As I said to him, you are going to meet so many types of people throughout your life. Think of this as yet more preparation for that, and think yourself lucky - at least this bully has brains and can be reasoned with. The bully is still in the flat, and DS and the other flatmates all met up last week and all said that they would have been happy to stay there (beautiful private halls) if it hadn't been for him.

Chopchopbusybusy Mon 03-Nov-14 12:06:38

The first year in halls can be difficult because they haven't chosen their flatmates, they've just been allocated randomly. If it's just a case of personality clashes then that can just be ignored. The behaviour of the boys sounds like a bit more than that so maybe your DD should speak to someone and ask if it's possible to move. She should know who to contact but if she doesn't then there will be a student services department.
With regard to next year there is lots of time to sort out accommodation. My DD is now in her second year. This time last year her halls flatmates were house hunting for second year. DD was upset because she didn't know what to do. She didn't want to commit to sharing with her halls flatmates as she wasn't sure she really liked them. On the other hand she did have a fear of being left with no one to share with. I encouraged her to wait as I felt it was too early and I knew she wasn't that keen on her room mates. She met others through her course and through a sports club and she's really happy now.

spiderlight Mon 03-Nov-14 12:14:29

Does she have any smaller tutorial/seminar groups as well as lectures with the entire cohort? All my lifelong Uni friendships were cemented in tutorials and lab practicals rather than lectures. Sports clubs and societies are another good source of like-minded friends. I remember being told that you spend most of your university period trying to get rid of the 'friends' you make in the first week and that is often very true! She might be able to move if she finds someone else to take her room in her current flat - my goddaughter went through this a few years back and was able to swap about a month into her first term.

Castlemilk Mon 03-Nov-14 12:15:36

Get her to talk to student support and get moved.

Mention the drugs and the sexual harassment - yup, that's what it is.

Hopefully, she could be found a place in halls - this option, where she'd just have her own room would definitely be the way to go - much less pressure to get on with one small group as it is in uni flats.

It's not worth suffering and spoiling the rest of the year, and a move now - fairly early on - would see her well placed to make an entirely new group of friends in halls.

OiGiveItBack Mon 03-Nov-14 12:23:18

My DS disliked most of his first year flatmates. There were 10 in his flat which is simply too many in my opinion. Fortunately he had friends elsewhere so he wasn't unhappy.
He used to get his food stolen and people would use his pots and pans and refuse to wash them up. He didn't argue with people but he didn't like them.
They were all intelligent intellectually but some were seriously lacking in social skills.

My DS coped by keeping out of everything and not socialising with his flatmates too much. He got on well with his course mates and is now sharing with a nice bunch of friends.

lljkk Mon 03-Nov-14 12:42:31

She needs to stomp her feet and say she needs to move now; she won't be first or last who is with wrong group. It's part of growing up to learn to sort these kind of problems out (and you can still help her figure out what to do, of course, but some of it she has to actually do for self).

I feel so sad when talented people leave Uni because they are convinced that all the other students are crass & selfish and that none of the tutors care. Take time & she'll find people more like her & establish supportive relationships with her lecturers & tutors.

hanginginthere1 Mon 03-Nov-14 12:46:48

Thank you everyone for your helpful comments. Not sure that she is at the point where she may investigate moving halls, but I can see it coming. Apparently, the boys are not too bad when they are on their own, i.e. no one to show off to!!
There seems to be one girl[isn't there always?}] who seems to cast a big black cloud over everyone else.
I will continue to encourage DD to find friends elsewhere. I think she has to some extent, but the size of the campus sometimes defeats her. Lots of the others in her tutorials live miles off campus.
Her sport seems to be saving her at the moment!

hanginginthere1 Mon 03-Nov-14 12:51:09

Castlemilk. Yes, you are right, it is sexual harassment.
lljkk I agree with your last paragraph. Some of the behaviour of these students is truly disgusting.

mumeeee Mon 03-Nov-14 13:12:41

DD3 got on well with her flatemates last year but had a bit of a dip about a month in, We went to see her for the weekend and she picked up and got on with it, They were a nice bunch of girls and 2 of them are now her best friends, However they were really disorganized about finding somewhere to live for this term. Anyway to cut a long story short. DD3 decided to go back into halls. However although she does get on with the girls she is not happy. She has been put into a smoking flat ( they are allowed to smoke in their rooms) although she stated she was a non smoker on the application form and her room is right next to a 24 hour factory. The accommodation team put forms up on their website last week for anyone who wanted to move halls they had to be handed in by tomorrow. DD3 did this today, OP get your DD speak to the accommodation team as they might have something similar at her university:

secretsquirrels Mon 03-Nov-14 13:58:14

It sounds awful. Those boys sound very immature and laddish, and the girls are like year 9 queen bees.

My DS has found that his flat mates have different interests to him (clubbing and drama) but they rub along well in the kitchen. The friends he has made are in the flats below and next door.
I do know that when he started he was handed a leaflet with a list of names of people to contact in the event of problems. It also mentions zero tolerance of drug use. As others have said she has a good case to be moved.

hanginginthere1 Mon 03-Nov-14 14:31:31

would it create problems to move her? given that friendship groups may have been formed etc?

alemci Mon 03-Nov-14 14:40:39

hope it works out, moving may be the answer. both my dds have had positive experiences at uni.

hanginginthere1 Mon 03-Nov-14 14:42:46

I do feel for her. She was so hoping that this would be a positive experience. Will broach the subject of moving with her.

Twitterqueen Mon 03-Nov-14 14:49:23

This is all part of the uni (and life) experience. Everyone is being forced out of their comfort zone and into living with total strangers that they may fundamentally disagree with / dislike.

No-one goes through life meeting only 'nice' people on the same wavelength as themselves. It's not just about getting a degree, it's about learning what you like and don't like, and gaining the skills to deal with unpleasant people and situations.

There will be lots of people and processes in place to help her - she won't be alone. She needs to seek them out and work out what she wants to do.

friendofmine Mon 03-Nov-14 15:16:40

The sexual harassment thing is actually really important. If these boys were a bunch of white students being racist against their black colleagues, there'd quite rightly be zero tolerance and I think its the same situation. The females shouldn't have to put up with sexist, misogynistic comments just because they happen to be female.

A friend of mine from uni recorded on her mobile a conversation that happened nearly every night in her flat where the boys would all compare the girls they'd slept with that week- position, body, boobs, marks out of 10 etc. Vile stuff. She went to SU and reported it as sexual harassment through proper formal channels. Two of the boys got a slap on the wrists but one got kicked out of halls and later (because of other incidents) out of uni.

Not saying your DD would want it to come to that but these things do get taken seriously.

BitOutOfPractice Mon 03-Nov-14 15:20:56

Hi OP!

My niece joined a sports team at uni and I think it was the making of her. Lots of like-minded people there and lots of socialising together. I think it would be a great idea for her to focus on her sport for friends.

Is there another society she'd like to get involved with - maybe not sport related (drama? Politics? Music? There were loads when I was a student!) to spread the net a little wider

I hope she manages to find her 'people' soon

ajandjjmum Mon 03-Nov-14 15:27:13

The whole thing will ultimately be a positive experience for her, as she is learning a lot about people.

BUT I remember when DS went to Sheffield, it took a time to start to get to know some people outside of his flat, particularly as he said his course was full of geeks! He did get to know a few people though, and eventually made some good friends, who he now gets together with socially.

His girlfriend (who was at the same uni, but they agreed not to spend time together in the first month or so) joined one of the sports teams and it was her lifesaver.

Both of them said that the experience was fine looking back, but it wasn't the non-stop fun they'd expected.

You never stop worrying about them, do you?!!

DayLillie Mon 03-Nov-14 15:27:55

The best thing is to join societies and meet lots of people with similar interests. DD1 had an awful time with her flatmates (mostly boys) who were really beyond the pale. The other girls moved out and so did she when it was clear that she was only going to end up doing all the cleaning and lose her deposit into the bargain. She moved to less lovely accommodation but the only 2 people there were quite and inoffensive and she saved a fortune. She is living with people she knows from her various activities now.

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