As you settle into student life, you may be living with friends or you may be living with strangers. Whatever your situation, one thing that’s for sure is that you want to get on with the people you live with. Living in a happy and harmonious home is not only more fun, but it’s less stressful and means that you’ll find it easier to study at home.
Guest blogger Nikki is back, this time sharing her experiences of living with housemates. She knows first hand what it is to be a bad housemate and hopes that her latest blog will help you to avoid making the same mistakes as she did. Thanks, Nikki! 🙂
I feel I’m eligible to write this article as during my second year of university I lived in a shared house with seven other people; one girl who was my friend during college and I had known for about three years and the rest were students of similar ages who I hadn’t met before. The funny thing was that after the six months of living there, the girl who was my friend became my worst enemy and the people I hadn’t met before became my good friends.
I’m not saying if you move in with a friend they’ll become your worst enemy, but you have to make an informed decision before you move in together; maybe you don’t know them as well as you think. If you haven’t been away together I would definitely suggest doing so for a week just to see how well you get along and if there’s any conflict.
Living in a shared house doesn’t always have the fairy-tale ending that you hope for, as I will explain. After six months of living in one of my shared houses, the majority of my housemates got sick to death of me and my behaviour, and vice versa. It was only after moving out (I got kicked out due to complaints from my housemates) that I was able to reflect on all the things I did wrong as well as my housemates.
This helps so going forward if I ever live in a shared house again I know how to behave and what unacceptable behaviour is. It also allows me to share my experiences with you and while the title of this article is ‘how to be a bad housemate’, I hope you will do the opposite!
1. Be inconsiderate
In a shared house you have to acknowledge that as individuals you are all equal, you can’t behave in a certain way and it be acceptable and then when it’s the other way round you flip out – it doesn’t work like that.
The walls are sometimes incredibly thin and rooms close together in student houses, so you have to bear this in mind when playing music or if you have friends over, etc. The girl who had a room next to me would bang really loudly on the wall if I was in my room making noise with a friend, even if it was the middle of the day. If I did the same thing to her when she was making noise when I was trying to sleep at night, she usually wouldn’t take any notice and it would always end in a massive argument. I found it difficult to get on with her because I felt as though she thought it was one rule for her and another rule for everyone else (or just me).
I was massively into my music and I would constantly be blaring it out most of the day if I wasn’t at university – this (as you can expect) didn’t go down too well with my housemates if they were trying to sleep and do work. The problem was I was being really inconsiderate and not thinking about how annoying the blaring bass going through the paper-thin walls would be to my housemates. I just thought I was sharing all my great music taste with the rest of the house.
After realizing I was actually being really inconsiderate I invested in a decent pair of headphones so I could still enjoy my music throughout the day, but my housemates didn’t have to. It’s basically all about compromise and if you recognize that your behaviour is in any way inconsiderate change it in the first instance before the arguments in the household get progressively worse.
2. Don’t wash your dishes
OK, so I suppose this comes under the same category as being inconsiderate but I felt like I had to do a whole other section as this one happens so frequently and the same arguments happen again and again which could simply be avoided if you just WASH.YOUR.DISHES.
You have to remember that most people who are living away from home might come from a family environment where they are used to having everything done for them. ie their Mum usually does all their washing and washes all their dishes so they might be ‘struggling to adapt’ to a situation where they now have to start washing up their own dishes. The problem though, is some people don’t actually want to adapt to a situation where they have to start fending for themselves so they just refuse to.
I have to use a guy I used to live with in this instance, but he shall be nameless, I’ll call him X or maybe Y because WHY DON’T YOU JUST WASH UP YOUR DISHES. Ok, so the cycle goes Y would leave his dishes in the sink and not just one dish. No. He would leave pots and pans he’d used to make a curry or something, which would obviously stink out the house.
The other housemates and I would notice Y’s dishes in the sink and it would get to days on end where he still hadn’t washed them up so we would just do them to avoid living in these conditions, which did get pretty bad. We mentioned it to him on many occasions and he refused to change his ways so it got to the point where we put his dishes that he hadn’t cleaned for days, or sometimes weeks, in plastic bags and put them outside his room.
So, basically I would say just don’t be that guy. Recognize if you are this guy and adapt quickly to your new living situation. Wash your dishes either straight after you use them or in the morning, but please don’t leave them for days on end because that is just taking the biscuit!
3. Never leave your room
I used to be this girl. I really struggled with my anxiety and found socializing with my housemates incredibly difficult because I couldn’t really find much common ground with them. It shouldn’t really matter, but I did feel as if there was a massive class divide between me and them. Although they were nice people, I couldn’t relate to girls who had brand new cars, would go on massive shopping sprees weekly and didn’t even need to have a job whilst at university.
I tended to avoid everyone I lived with and spent the majority of my first year of university in my room. This, understandably, is an incredibly unhealthy way to live. Although alone time and solitude can be great, and is recommended from time to time, it can also mean you have more time to dwell on the little things and over think situations, which just makes them worse in your head.
This article puts it perfectly (point 5) http://www.savethestudent.org/extra-guides/freshers/30-mistakes-every-first-year-will-make.html:
“When you first move into a new abode, and there’s all these strange people wandering around, it can be tempting to drag your boxes into your room, bolt the door and never see the light of day, But the fact is, you’re going to need to make friends and you need to live with these people for an entire year. Moving in is also the ideal time to bond over boxes, ironing boards and kettles too. So prop open that door, turn on the Bob Marley and offer them a beer. Or a brew – just try to be a bit social.”
I would also just add that you need to take little steps. If you’re a shy person and struggle to make friends generally and you’re living in a house with six plus people, try to find common ground with just one of them, you don’t have to be everyone you live with’s best friend!
I hope this helps you to be recognise if you’re being a bad housemate so you can stop and have a better time with everyone else in the house!
Thanks for reading!
Hi my name’s Nikki and I used to be a student at UWE Bristol. In my spare time I enjoy; attending music festivals, listening to music, cooking, yoga, meditation and blog writing. I have been blogging for a couple of years now and I hope my writing encourages people to take positive steps in life to reach their personal goals.
Want more of Nikki’s words of wisdom? Have a read of her other blogs:
- How to take control of your student budget
- Avoiding talking to new people? Here’s why this need to change…!