During my three years in Sheffield, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about living with other people. Admittedly, in my dream world people would wash up their plates immediately and the kitchen bin would never be left to overflow onto the floor. Alas, being a student means learning to live with people that aren’t the same as you, and a lot of the time, learning to tolerate mess. Here are some painful truths about student living.
1) Lower your expectations.
Unless you’re really lucky, your student house will never be as clean or as tidy as your family’s home. I always envisioned that my first house away from home would be cosy, kitted out with cute cushions, fairy lights, and maybe a nice rug.
Unless you make the (probably wise) decision to live with people that are very similar to you, it’s probably best to keep nice household items in your room. Also be prepared to witness some horrific things in a shared bathroom, and be ready to fish out pieces of food from a blocked sink with your hands. In any case, it will make you appreciate the times you do spend back at a clean, tidy home.
2) Earplugs will be your saviour. Invest in them.
If you’re unfortunately a light sleeper like me, you will initially find it hard to adjust to student living. What’s worse, moving out of a student village like Endcliffe into a ‘proper’ student house won’t much difference. For some reason, the walls in student houses always seem to be paper thin – in my current house I can hear the ins and outs of most conversations had in the bedroom above mine. If you have flatmates that go out a lot at night, it might be worth spending a bit of money on some decent earplugs. It will mean you sleep well, and will also stop you getting stressed at your housemates who make a lot of noise. (Trust me, the fire alarm in my house went off at midnight last week due to a burning pizza. My super good earplugs meant that I didn’t even hear it).
3) Cleaning products don’t just magically appear out of nowhere.
In theory, everyone should equally contribute to the buying of common household goods, but this rarely happens in reality. There’s nothing worse than realising there are no clean spoons to use and also no washing up liquid to rinse them with. Likewise, cleaning up spilled pasta sauce on the kitchen surface is difficult when no one has bothered to buy kitchen roll. With things like this, a rota sometimes works – when I lived with nine other people in second year, we created a bin rota to make sure everyone was taking the rubbish out. A rota also makes it easier to call out certain people for not putting their share of effort into making the house tidy. If not, a group-chat on social media is a great way to keep in contact with each other, and can also be used to politely remind others it’s their turn to buy some hand soap.
4) Be patient!
Whether you’re the clean freak of the house or the laidback person who prefers to do their washing up fortnightly, patience is key. Although I often get stressed at the mess of my house, there’s very little point in getting angry or passive-aggressive about it. You chose to live with each other and will have to do so until the summer. If things get really difficult, it’s best to go and speak to the messy culprit individually and explain how you feel. Ultimately, everyone is different and deals with mess in different ways. If all your housemates can appreciate that and respect each other, you can make it through the year (and the mess!)