Jean-Paul Sartre famously said ‘hell is other people’, meaning he’d clearly shared a house with three other students at some point. Get four people in a cheap and shabby house, add mountains of work pressure on them all, then add that one messy housemate and you have a recipe for pure disaster, a nightmare land of passive aggressive notes, bottomless washing up piles and tense encounters.
In theory, this should be easier to deal with as a postgrad. After all, you’ve spent three or four years living with people your own age at this point, and therefore have some idea of the disgusting habits of others. However, your stress levels are much higher when you’re doing your postgrad work, and you’ve had three or four years of maturing since you started living with people, meaning less patience for other people’s childish traits. So how do you navigate a housemates who you don’t like without turning your tiny student flat into a warzone?
First, and most importantly, if you take one piece of advice from this blog let it be this: talk to them, and talk to them face to face. It might seem like a therapeutic option for you to write an angry note to the person but this is NEVER a good idea. Not only does this set a precedent which will break down communications even further, but it could actually lead to them doing the thing you don’t like even more as they try to irritate the guy who writes them angry notes. If someone if doing something in the house that you don’t like, from having people over too late to leaving their half-drunk protein shakes all around the house, sit down and talk to them about it in a calm and collective manner. Most people will respond to this well, and will be able to compromise against something you do they may not necessarily like.
But what if it has moved on from there, and you despise every fibre of their being, like they are the evil love child of Cruella Deville, Patrick Bateman and Maggie’s monobrowed nemesis from The Simpsons? Sometimes you just have to face it; you are never going to get along with everybody. In this case, a change of habits might be a positive thing. The bad energy generated in a house where people don’t like each other can be extremely destructive, for your grades, for your general wellbeing, and even for your mental health. Try to limit your time in the house, finding other places and spaces you feel comfortable in. Put in extra hours in the library, take in an evening class or join a society. Not only will this lead to you doing better in your degree, but with the latter two you will meet a whole host of new friends so you can spent even less time in your toxic home.
But if even the brief hours you have to spend in your house seem unbearable, it might be time to move out. All universities have housing officers whose job it is to arrange emergency changes in accommodation, so talk to them and find somewhere new to live, with people who you don’t want to murder in a series of elaborate killings. They even often keep openings in student housing and halls specifically for these types of crises, so are well worth hunting out and explaining your problems to. Or you could opt for privately-owned student accommodation such as that provided by Fresh Student Living. But before you do, make sure that you have really tried to talk through your problems with the other person, because I guarantee sometimes a solution is just a frank discussion away.
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