Living in halls of residence in such close proximity to complete strangers that you now share personal living space with can be quite daunting. It can instantly make you bond with people and establish firm friendships for life. Alternatively it can become a very unpleasant experience. Communal property – an entire floor of people sharing a very small space – can cause friction and problems do occur; although this is natural. Things that may not have bothered you before may bother you now; the important thing is when problems do arise, you handle them in the right way. Here are some common problems that occur, and how to settle them in a diplomatic way causing as little friction as possible. It is normal for disputes to emerge, but it is how you deal with them that is essential.
As we have all now found out from living away from home, many people like to do things a little differently to us, from leaving their washing out for weeks, to never taking out the bin. We need to recognise that if we pitch in it can be a nice environment to live in, but as soon as everyone stops, housework will slide and some people will get unfairly lumbered with the chores. It is often difficult to raise issues with housemates; particularly in first year when you’re living with people that you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to. So how do you solve these awkward encounters? Wait until you’re both in the communal environment; this is usually primarily the kitchen - probably not best to approach them when they’re in the shower!
How to politely suggest a solution to these little house hold niggles without causing World War 3:
Playing really loud music
This may seem like a harmless way to revise, but for fellow housemates it can lead to a sleepless night or early morning wake-up. Equally, if you find yourself living with flatmates that are inconsiderate enough to blast their music out at antisocial hours of the night, or ridiculously early mornings, don’t feel you have to suffer in silence – they clearly aren’t! If you do not face the problem straight away it can make matters worse when you get to exam time and really need a quiet study environment, or are trying to get an early night because of exams the following day. Politely establish times when they can play their music, because living with other people is all about compromise. When exams are on try and keep it to the very minimum and during the week; they most definitely shouldn’t play their music after midnight. This may not seem enough of a compromise, but sometimes you will encounter people in life that you don’t see eye-to-eye with, but how you deal with the situations is certainly character building!
Entering the kitchen after a busy day at uni to find piles of dirty plates, cutlery and pans can be a common site in any student house. But it can often be difficult to then cook any food as the frying pan you want to use is already encrusted with someone else’s previous meal and the pan you were going to use to boil pasta already has stale fussili stuck to the sides. It can mean you start cleaning up even before you have made any mess.
The remnants I am talking about come from other housemates leaving their dirty washing out for someone else to tackle. The longer it’s left, the more it smells and can make the kitchen a very unpleasant pace to be. If everyone was responsible for washing up their dirty plates this would be prevented from happening. It is often the most common argument between flatmates – whose turn is it to do the dishes? Or telling someone they need to clean up after themselves. By establishing some rules, it will help to ensure the washing up is done – most of the time anyway! Suggest a rota system where someone does the washing up each day or alternatively, make sure everyone does their own washing up, but then must be held accountable when it isn’t done. It is up to you and your housemates to decide on what level of dirty pots and pans is acceptable.
Buying Household items
It can often seem that you are constantly buying toilet paper and bin bags, and from past experience I have found other flatmates are perfectly happy to let you do this as it means they don’t need to spend any extra money. Instead, they will use the items you have brought and not question whether they should be buying these things. Politely suggest a rota system for who buys the bin bags, toilet paper and washing up liquid that week so that everyone is equally doing their bit – just make sure you tick your name each time you’ve bought something. It also services as a reminder for people and so stops other flatmates having to nag or moan about the lack of contribution from other people. If this sounds too complex for you, instead, you could all contribute a couple of pounds a week into the kitty for buying these basic products.
Written by Helena Pearse
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