Using social media to settle into student life

Anna Lockey
Residence Life & Student Accommodation Services Assistant
10-min read


When you’re starting out at university, one of the big things that’ll probably be on your mind is the prospect of meeting and living with new people. 

Who am I living with? – Will we get on? – Can ‘anybody’ cook?!!

Rest assured – everybody else is in the same boat as you. While there will naturally be a settling in period, we have some useful ways for you to use your favourite social media channels to make the move into university hall life even smoother.


Should I try to get to know my future roommates before I join?


Absolutely – take a look on the hall Facebook groups for people who post their room number and are in the same flat as you. It’s a nice way to know a bit about the people without starting from nothing.

We check that all members in the Facebook groups are residents of your specific hall and monitor new member requests. The sooner you're able to locate and identify your new roommates, the sooner you can look to establish a healthy relationship.  


After the huge suspense of finding out which halls I was in, I made sure to join the Facebook group and post an icebreaker with my room number. At the same time, I anxiously scrolled through the feed to find my future flatmates.

Shortly after, notification after notification, I was added to a group chat for my flat where we all shared the same emotions of nervousness and excitement.

As a new flatmate appeared we got deeper in conversation and started planning things to do together as a flat once we all moved in. Feelings of anxiety and nervousness dimmed down and I was very hopeful for the experience.

Amber


Create ‘flat chats’

It is likely that you'll decide to start a personal group chat with your flatmates before you join (once you find them) – we think this is a great idea.

The important thing from the outset with the Facebook groups is to establish that initial connection – then, in time, you might be better off creating group chats or migrating to another platform like WhatsApp to suit everyone’s needs. WhatsApp’s handy ‘live location’ tracker tool is also a great way to avoid getting lost when meeting up with your new friends.


My flatmates made a Facebook group with us all in, so that we could talk to each other and get to know who we would be living with for the next year. This chat group really helped because I felt more comfortable talking to my flat when I met them in person for the first time when we moved in.

Ellen

I found out who my flatmates were by finding them on the Facebook group. We then created a flat chat and get to know each other before we moved in. It made me feel less anxious about moving away from home by myself as it made me feel like I was moving in with friends instead of strangers.

Tamsin

Starting a group chat calmed my nerves somewhat as I am always anxious when I meet new people, but talking to them before we met in real life really helped me out.

Matthew


Know your neighbours and connect with the rest of the hall

The Facebook groups are more than just a place to find your flat mates. We provide advice using our ‘live chat’ sessions where you can ask currents students your questions about their experiences in Plymouth. We post exclusive competitions and events specifically for residents and give you important updates throughout your stay with us. It’s a virtual community and all residents are welcome!


Before coming to uni, I did join the Facebook group chat that had been created for my halls of residence and I honestly believe everyone should do so. You will always find someone on there that studies your course or is interested in joining the same societies as you and that way you can be rest assured that you aren’t walking to lectures or a Freshers’ event alone!

Vivienne


Suggested ice-breakers


‘What’s everyone studying?’
It's a good idea to trying to locate and get to know other students on the same course as you as you will more-than-likely be able to relate over shared academic interests.

‘Where’s everyone from? Any fellow Londoners around?!’
By locating other students who have come to Plymouth from the same city or area, you may be able to quickly forge strong friendships beyond your circle of new flatmates.

‘Whats’s everyone's favourite meals? Anyone know any good simple recipes?’
What better way to strike a rapport than to talk about food? There is a practical advantage to this too in that you may have some doubts or worries about cooking independently, so this can be a good opportunity to reassure one another before you move in.

‘A thread on the best Netflix binges.’
Who doesn't enjoy a good series binge? It sounds simple, but even sharing film or series recommendations can be a really effective way to get to know your hall neighbours, and to help you to decide upon the next six-season epic. Just watch out for those spoiler alerts.


I’m worried about some of my future roommates’ profiles and interests – what if we don’t get on?


It’s important that you stay open minded about the flatmates you meet on Facebook and try to remember that it’s human nature to present the best versions of ourselves online.

During the application process, we matched you on your lifestyle profiles; hopefully once you arrive you will be living with like-minded people.


It’s very important for new students to not judge people by their Facebook profiles – meeting them on the first day in person and getting to know them is much more important, and your opinion could be hazed if you see something the post on Facebook that you don’t agree with.

Emma


What things can I prepare before I move into halls?


In the Facebook groups, we give general advice about life in halls, tips about living in Plymouth and how to make the most of Freshers’ Week, so that you feel more prepared.

‘Flat chats’ are the perfect place to get into the nitty-gritty of arrangements with your flatmates – which items to bring with you or buy once you get here, when and where you should all do your food shopping and even what you plan to do on arrivals day.


We made a Facebook messenger group to talk through what we were all bringing for the kitchen and what we were studying. This really helped calm the nerves I had when arriving and helped me to plan what to pack a little bit better.

Dan

I managed to locate my halls Facebook group a week before I was due to move in. I was lucky and found some of my new flatmates straight away. We created a group chat and discussed all our queries/worries, what kind of things we were bringing, food that we liked eating (and if we could actually cook), if we were tidy or messy (two months in and we could tell for ourselves) and just general icebreaker questions. I felt this was beneficial and primed us for when we met in person.

Dilan


Making connections that last


You have three months from joining the Facebook groups to arriving in halls. This is plenty of time to share your interests with your flatmates and learn what you have in common beforehand.

The beauty of living with a mix of people is that you learn from each other and gain new life experiences. You can plan activities to do together and help the journey into independent living. Many students stay friends with the people they meet at university for the rest of their lives.


Before coming to live in my halls of residence I found some of my flatmates on Facebook which was really good idea because when we moved in we were already friends and shared some common interests. We organised our own site seeing and explored Plymouth together so we didn’t feel homesick.

Abena


What if I don’t join a Facebook group?


Some students may choose not to use the Facebook groups or just wait for the element of surprise when they arrive.

If Facebook isn’t your thing you can still see important updates on our Residence Life website and view the list of upcoming events for halls. Even though Facebook is the most widely-used platform it may not be a social media channel you use – which is absolutely fine. You might want to follow our Twitter and Instagram channels instead.


In terms of getting to know my flatmates before I moved in, to be honest I’m a bit useless in remembering to do stuff I don’t write down, and I totally forgot about this until like the day before I moved in! Kinda wish I’d been a bit better as I was then playing catch up on what was going on, but it wasn’t too hard to catch up!

Josh

To be honest, I actually didn’t speak to my flatmates on Facebook (although I wish I did!). I think most of my flat did get in touch via Facebook and if possible, I would definitely advise you to do that! It’s a great way to get know your flatmates before moving in.

Stephan


How we use WeChat

This year we introduced WeChat to welcome our pre-sessional students to the UK. Prior to arrival, we add students into their pickup groups so that we could locate them at the airport. We also share images and useful information about their rooms and the University campus.


Keep up to date

Twitter is the place to be if you like quick updates about our accommodation service. This can include handy tweets about when your rent is due or when you can collect the latest freebie from your hall reception. If you need customer service, then why not tweet us or send us a direct message on our Facebook page.


Behind the scenes

Follow our Instagram channel for the latest behind-the-scenes pics from our Res Life events; you might even spot yourself in one of our stories. Keep up to date with the latest competitions and our tours of Devon and Cornwall.