Before I started living in uni halls, I did not realise how pedantic I was about cleanliness. Living in a place where my parents did most of the housework was something I seriously took for granted, and it was only when I was taken out of that environment that I noticed how much I liked order and general tidiness. Going from that, to sharing a flat with other teenagers, definitely brought out the neat freak within me – mostly because now if dishes are left on the draining board, they won’t magically disappear the next day. They will fester. And even if you do all your own washing, it doesn’t mean your housemates are as bothered as you about it building it up and causing a disgusting smell.
A particular low point for me was sitting on the carpet in my new living area, hoovering dried pasta off the walls. A variety of thoughts were running through my head – mostly who puts dried pasta on the walls and I can’t believe I’m actually doing this – but one of the most prominent was I’m going to have to get over this.
It took a while, but I have finally convinced myself that a few dirty dishes aren’t the end of the world and bread crumbs on the carpet don’t need to be vacuumed immediately. Hygiene in student flats is clearly important, as no-one wants to catch some awful illness or contaminate their food just because of dirty table-tops – but living with a group of complete strangers and being forced into a completely new environment is a difficult situation to be in. Everyone is getting used to doing things previously that would have probably been done by family members, and in an already stressful time, the bin rota kind of gets forgotten. But I’ve found that honestly, other things are more important.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t appreciate the things that I previously took for granted back home. After pouring kitchen gunk out of the plughole on a daily basis, I’m definitely not going to just leave my cereal in the sink anymore. And maybe I’ll volunteer to take the bin out once in a while. Probably not, but the sentiment is there. But most importantly, I’ll never ever get dried pasta on the walls. No-one deserves to be the one to clean that up.