Living with housemates: trials and tribulations

Living with housemates: trials and tribulations

My mum always uses the phrase “you never know someone until you live with them”. This is very true about housemates, even people you considered close friends.

Housemates are a part of university life. During first year it is highly likely that you will be sharing a kitchen or/and a bathroom with other people. This may not seem like a big deal, after all you’ve shared before with family, but when you are not related to the other person issues can arise. Different people expect different things in terms of tidiness, cleanliness and even mealtimes.

During second and third year, it is highly likely that you will also be living with other people, but these will be people you have chosen to live with. People often assume that this will make things easier. Not necessarily. Sometimes living with friends can be harder. You don’t want to lose their friendship but turns out they are a pain to live with. When this situation arises, talk it out!

Living with housemates: trials and tribulations

Compromise

This is where the key point in the article comes in, compromise. When living with other people, it is very important to consider their needs too. You might like long hot showers in the morning but if you’re sharing a bathroom with 2 other people and they have 9am starts, the considerate thing is to let them go first. University is an experience, where you don’t just learn a lot about your chosen degree, you also learn about yourself.

If there is a major issue, such as one of your housemates always leaving the door unlocked, then sit down and talk to them clearly about it. There is no sense to getting angry and upset without speaking to the other person first; it is very likely that they don’t even realise what they’re doing is upsetting you. Everyone will have different standards and different ideas so ensure that it is clear why you are upset.

Living with housemates: trials and tribulations

Don’t assume you’re right

Don’t assume you’re right. Maybe your family has always washed up a certain way and until you went to university you did not realise that other people did it another way. This does not mean that they are wrong! It is just different, and this is not something worth falling out over. Don’t try and change people to your way of doing things, this just makes you come across as bossy. Instead let people live their own lives.

The kitchen is often where the most disagreements take place. Sometimes they are rational upsets such as someone leaving raw meat in the fridge not on a plate, this is unhygienic and unsafe. Sometimes they are irrational upsets, like when someone doesn’t immediately clean their plates. This is irrational because it does not affect you. When living with people, it is important to consider their dietary requirements, as this can be a sensitive issue. If someone is allergic to nuts, then don’t leave your almonds all over the work surface, just like if someone is vegan, then make sure you never use their cooking equipment on your chicken.  Yours may be dirty but then wash it! Don’t be lazy and lose a friend over your thoughtlessness!

Living with housemates: trials and tribulations

Positives to having housemates

Living with housemates can mean friendships formed for life. They will inevitably see you at your worst, whether that’s throwing up after a night out or crying because you didn’t get the results you wanted. But you will also have some great times with them. Watching a comedy at midnight, eating popcorn and drinking tea may seem tame compared to what you expect from university, but these can also be the nights where you feel closest to your friends. Having friends in your university house means always having someone to moan to when your course feels difficult. My housemates this year would always look after the person who came home late and a bit drunk. The little petty arguments can ruin these friendships over washing up and hoovering. Don’t let them.

University is about getting a degree, but it is a life experience that is meant to enrich you as a person in many different areas. Leaving university with a degree but with no friends is not worth £9000.

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Living with housemates: trials and tribulations

Helen Rodgers

Lifestyle / Employment Writer. Helen studies Ancient History at the University of Nottingham and writes a weekly article on balancing student and working life.

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