Can Students Really Live Harmoniously Within the Community?

November 13, 2012 6:00 pm

I feel I should state straight away that I am a student in my third year at University, so I have had two years experience of living and getting on next door to various families. I have accepted that there are certain rules in ‘keeping the peace’.  I also understand that there are others that have different views of the subject, having had bad experiences themselves.

The transition from Halls to living in Independent Housing is quite jarring at first. Having gone from a messy kitchen, filled with 6 other students and the rare noise complaint to living in a communal area, dealing with landlords and neighbours at different stages in their lives, it was difficult at first to adapt. For both parties there has to be a level of understanding. The first port of call is to introduce yourself. I found that talking to the next door neighbours and setting up a friendly relationship helped throughout. This doesn’t mean taking around various baked goods or being too intrusive, I just mean a friendly hello. This also goes for the family house. By recognising their efforts to maintain a healthy relationship, I found I was far more conscious of the other house’s needs.

In my second year I lived next door to a large family consisting of six children aged from 13 to 23. As a house we spoke with the father most, as he maintained our back garden for the landlord. This was extremely helpful as it gave us opportunity for friendly chats. He very kindly explained to us his expectations and asked that we respect that he has children who needed sleep on school nights. He gave us a time boundary for noise which worked extremely well for us, with his understanding of the student lifestyle we cooperated and came up with an agreement. This is a great idea as it makes students feel less restricted, and less likely to push the boundaries. At one point in the year we had a note through the door explaining that one of the daughters was having a ‘Sweet Sixteen’ party in the back garden. It stated that there may be a level of noise going late into the night. This gave us time to prepare as one of my housemates had an early assessment the next day, so he stayed elsewhere. This is an example of the give and take between the two houses as later that year we threw a party to celebrate the end of exams. We wrote a note explaining the situation and it was accepted well. Towards the end of the party he popped around and asked us to wind it down, which we did straight away. Due to the mutual respect between both houses we were happy to comply with his requests.

An example of a bad relationship between houses relates to my friends living in a different part of the city. They live between two families, one of which they get along with and one in which they do not. I feel this is very strange, why should they get along well with one family and not the other? This may be down to the tolerance levels between each family. I was witness to this first hand on Bonfire night. They had decided to throw a party, with a few small fireworks. Previously they had researched time frames for noise restrictions and were confident that the space they had picked to light the fireworks was safe. I was told they had assured both neighbours of the event, however halfway through what can loosely be referred to as the ‘fireworks display’ shouting and screaming was heard from next door.

The lady was using extremely offensive language to put her point across. The head tenant of the house went around and apologised, stating they had kept within the limits, however the display and party was then stopped. As of then the relationship soured, every single night was another noise complaint from one house, whilst maintaining good relations with the other. I feel the situation could have been dealt with in a much more respectable manner. Both houses must react to situations in a calm manner, as this will encourage cooperation.

 

I feel the relationship between a student house and the neighbours requires understanding on both parts. The student has to respect they are not in Halls any more. Both must agree on a level of noise that is acceptable and the family house must not go into the relationship with the stereotypical view of students, we’re not all alcoholic lay-abouts! Overall I think it is very possible for students and the community to get along, and starting on a good note is the key.

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