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How to share a kitchen at university

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Whilst moving into halls is an exciting prospect, especially the opportunity to make new friends and live independently, the idea of sharing a kitchen with people you have never met before can be daunting. Here’s my rundown on how it all works.

How does a shared kitchen work?

It might seem like a stupid question but shared kitchens at university are just like any other kitchen. The higher the number of people, the higher the number of appliances and cupboard space. In my 9-person flat, there’s two ovens, two hobs, two fridge-freezers and a fridge.

Sharing a kitchen with more than six people can seem like organised chaos but remember that you will all have different schedules and habits, so it’s rare to have a crowded kitchen.

Navigating the fridge and cupboard space

In my kitchen, everyone has two cupboards, as well as a drawer in the freezer and a shelf in the fridge – this is pretty standard across other accommodations. When I moved in, sharing the space equally just worked itself out. This is just a general unwritten rule of moving into accommodation with shared kitchens – why would you need five cupboards to yourself? Having a designated space is the best approach as you know what’s there is only yours.

If you have any dietary requirements, it might be worth letting your flatmates know. Communication is key in maintaining a healthy dynamic with the others you share the kitchen with.

What to bring for a shared kitchen

In a shared kitchen, you’ll inevitably end up with multiples of lots of kitchen items. Definitely don’t assume that you’ll be able to use someone else’s frying pan or cutlery. However, it is worth waiting to buy some of the more commonly shared kitchen items that can cost a little bit more which you might be able to split with someone else (such as a blender or a toastie maker). Appliances like kettles and toasters are normally supplied in accommodations. If not, they are a cheap item to split with your flatmates.

Make sure to buy crockery and cutlery that are somewhat distinguishable! This is pretty hard with cutlery but buying plates that are any colour but white is a good idea.

Fellow student content creator Georgia has created a great list of suggested items to pack for university, including what to bring for the kitchen.

And if you want to share items like washing up liquid and kitchen roll, then work out how everyone can contribute to keep it fair – usually taking it turn to buy these items works well.

Keeping the kitchen clean

At Manchester, all kitchens in university owned accommodation are given a general clean once or twice a week, which gives you peace of mind that the kitchen will be kept clean. However, this doesn’t provide an excuse not to keep it tidy!

It’s common practice to implement a rota system with your flat to keep the jobs fair. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it’s vital to have this conversation early in the year to start good habits. For instance, as a flat we trialled a system that ‘whoever sees the bin full first will take it out’ but that very quickly failed.

Rota systems sometimes don’t work but the easiest way to keep the kitchen clean is to tidy as you go along. Cleaning the kitchen surfaces after you’ve used them helps to keep the kitchen in a good state of tidiness. And as much of a chore washing up is, doing it once you’ve finished eating keeps the often-limited draining space clear.

The kitchen as a social space

Bit clichéd but the kitchen is the heart of the flat. After a long day of lectures and university work, it’s nice to come back to a space where you can all decompress. Your flatmates might even become some of your closest friends at university – like in my case!

Remember that the kitchen is shared between you all so make sure to be considerate of everyone else. For instance, if you’re going to host pre-drinks in your kitchen, make sure to let your other flatmates you’re doing so. Setting boundaries about noise during exam season is particularly important too.

Like other parts of university life, sharing a kitchen is definitely an adjustment. Don’t forget, students living in university owned accommodation have access to ResLife, a 24/7 wellbeing and pastoral support programme, which are always on hand if you need some external support. It’s always better to have a conversation with your flatmates first before contacting ResLife as usually problems can be fixed with a bit of communication! After a few weeks, sharing a kitchen won’t be as scary as it first seems.

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