Liang, a Final Year Law Student at Queen’s breaks down his experience living with flatmates
When I applied to university I dreamed of living with flatmates with different backgrounds. I wanted to experience something that I was not able to in my home country, Malaysia – where we brought up in a relatively Eastern mindset.
Fast forward to the very first day arriving at Elms BT2, I was excited to find that I would be staying with 4 Flat Mates: 2 Boys and 2 Girls that came from different parts of China – Guang Dong, Shen Zhen, Zhe Jiang and An Hui.
The rest is history. Living with them has been a very interesting experience so far – and I would regard these experience as one of the highlights of being in Belfast.
Getting In Touch With My Roots
Growing up in Malaysia means that I’m tri-lingual by default. I speak Malay, Chinese and English. While most of my tertiary education prior to my arrival in Belfast was conducted in English, I quickly realized that living with Chinese students would be a great opportunity to brush up on my Chinese too. Saying is one thing but doing is another! However, over the months of living with them, I’m glad to say my Chinese has improved greatly.
What’s also great is that we got to exchanges bit of our cultures and tradition with one another. We often question why we act in a certain manner – the way we speak, the way we talk or the food that we eat.
Compromise and Understanding
Living with flatmates is definitely very different from living back home. For starters, I had to learn how to cook, do my laundry and clean my living space. That’s something I didn’t often do back home and I definitely took it for granted on many occasions.
Since I live in a Quiet Living floor, the noise has to be kept at my minimum. For me, that meant keeping my volume down at certain times at night. Since it’s a shared living space, you also had to make sure you aren’t cooking at the same time as your other flatmates; since the kitchen is likely to be occupied.
The funny story is being Malaysian – we are quite versatile in what we cook. Since I have a bit of Western influence in my cooking, I would often experiment a lot with different pasta sauce and pasta.
I discovered that this often makes my flatmates curious as pasta isn’t the most common commodity used in Asian cooking. There was also one time I cooked Malaysian Curry at my place – which in turn lead to questioning its origin and some great conversations. It’s just one of the many ways I discovered more of the Chinese culture from my flatmates.
Having Friends Over
It is also not uncommon to see at a shared accommodation. You’ll likely be having friends over at and your flatmates might be bringing their friends over too.
I’m very glad that there was not much of a problem in this aspect of living in shared accommodation. In fact, I actually enjoy getting the chance to talk with a couple of my flat mate’s friends that come by our place frequently.
There is also a duty for us to make sure our living space is kept clean. Spot checks are usually conducted during term times and they’ll be extra charges if you fail to keep to a certain standard.
Coordinating these with your flat mates can be a little tricky but in my case – we have a roster and we stick to it. That makes things much easier, since everyone has a turn to do the cleaning.
By far and all, living in a shared accommodation has been a very enlightening experience for me. All it takes is some compromise and understanding with your flatmates and it will be one of the most fruitful experience you will ever have here in Belfast.
I hope that you will enjoy your stay here in Belfast as I have and wish you all the best in the new adventure that you’ll be embarking on here!
Hew Hoong Liang
LLB Law| 3rd year |Malaysia
Hi there! I am a 21 year old Malaysian pursuing my final year of law degree in Queen's University. Nature lover, part time geek and a passionate writer. My passion for writing started to developed into a skill when I served as writer and journalist of a legal tech startup back in Malaysia. Now, I am casual blogger looking to share my experiences and thoughts in Queen's through my writing. I hope my blog serves as a unique point of interest for Malaysian students like me who are studying at Queen's or thinking about coming here!
Fun fact: I am trilingual and I love to explore and get lost in different cultures and traditions.
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