University throws a lot of very different people together. You will most likely meet more people in your time at uni than you will at any other time in your life! Some of these people you will know for years to come, while others you will know for a few months, days, or even just a few hours (you remember Becky, your best friend who you met in the queue for the toilets, who you will love forever, right?) You will love some, like some, and dislike others. And somewhere in among these people at university, are the ones you will live with.
Let’s put it plainly. There will be housemates with whom you get along like a house on fire. Others may make you fear that your house will actually be set on fire.
Now while we all love an attractive firefighter, the general consensus is that we would like to get along with our housemates. And unfortunately, most firefighters don’t look like the ones on the calendars. Sorry all, and I hate to break it to you, but they usually wear tops.
Having lived in a flat of twelve students, then a house of five, I now impart a few important tips and rules on how to keep the peace, and avoid damaging those emergency services fantasies.
1. If a door is closed, thou shall knock.
Everyone is brought up differently, and back home it may be perfectly fine to open the door and walk into any room. This may be equally fine with your new housemates, and you pick up these things as you go along. To begin with, however, knocking is the safest bet, to save yourselves and others from embarrassment! Shouting “knock knock” or “open the door I bring tea and biscuits!” works well too.
2. Respect for sleeps and eats.
In my experience, interrupting a person’s ability to eat or sleep is the surest way to bring out the beast in them. So if you like your music loud and late, invest in a good quality pair of headphones to use while your housemates snooze. And never, ever, be the fridge thief. A hangry housemate says things they may regret.
3. Finding a definition of ‘clean’
To you, a clean house may mean washed, dry towels folded in the bathroom, dishes scrubbed, polished and returned to their cupboards, and all manner of sweetness and roses. To Fred down the hall, clean may mean that the bin isn’t overflowing yet and the spilled toothpaste is mostly on the sink and not the floor. Neither you nor Fred is going to maintain your ideal and stay friends.
4. Playing nurse, nicely.
A poorly housemate needs tlc! Particularly for those who have just left home, feeling ill at uni can be horrid. A friendly housemate can make all the difference, so pile on the tissues, honey and lemon, and offer to go out and do a little food/medicine shopping for them. When fresher’s flu strikes you down in your prime, you will be grateful if they reciprocate!
5. Playing nurse, less nicely.
You may be very open about your bedroom activities; you may be somewhat more reserved. What is certain is that there is no guarantee your housemates will be on a level with you! Fortunately, anyone you live with for any extended amount of time will probably get pretty comfortable on the subject. Hell, after three years with one of my housemates, I could tell when she was faking it. Until you reach mutual ground, try and keep it on the down low.
6. No Canoodling!
This leads me nicely to my final and utterly pointless point; since not a single student will adhere to it if the situation arises. Do not sleep with your housemates! Avoid this at all costs! At least until the very end of term; close to when you will no longer be living with them.
Alas, we are all young and foolish, and quite often drunk.