Lockdown hasn’t been easy on anyone. I can say with some confidence that I don’t think anyone has enjoyed it: stuck indoors doing your studies, no freedom to go out drinking, see any course mates, or anything really. Locked in with the same difficult housemates day after day, I feel as though I’ve been in a never-ending episode of Fresh Meat.
Now I haven’t met many people at university who at some point don’t clash with their housemates, it happens to everyone we live with. How many arguments did you have with mum, dad, sister or brother whilst you lived at home? Sharing the same communal living areas, the thought of personal space pretty much goes out of the window, it happens pretty much no matter who we live with, or where we live.
On top of that, imagine being stuck with difficult housemates you don’t get along with during lockdown! That is a stressful experience. Tensions rise and every little meeting in the kitchen or living room comes as a lockdown battle, cooking your dinner in deafening silence, or attempting to watch a movie in the living room can involve dangerously awkward encounters, which can effectively leave you confined to your bedroom.
At a time when social interaction and mental health has never been more important, remaining productive, focusing on uni work and doing as much as possible to stay healthy is the only way a heated atmosphere can be managed.
Being in this difficult scenario though, can leave you uber committed to work and has force you into a position of working as hard as possible. So in some ways it can be a good thing! As the communal areas can become something of a warzone, nowhere to go out, no sport to do, you’ve got no excuses to be productive with uni work.
What advice would I now give out?
As lockdown rules have been lifted, I’ve been able to create a bit of a bubble for myself, which has made things a lot easier. I’ve had a release from my bedroom, taken a break from studying and finally I’ve managed to get out of the four walls keeping me locked in, aka the bedroom.
Looking back though, I know things could have been handled loads better. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll move in with someone knowing you don’t like them, so sorting out problems with people should be fairly straight forward. And although it’s unlikely you’ll be stuck with someone for another three months’ worth of lockdown, anything which will help you get on with other housemates and avoid any annoying housemate habits is invaluable.
Even if you KNOW you’re right, sometimes it’s better to bite the bullet and just say to someone ‘let’s be civil, this atmosphere isn’t doing either of us any good’. Even a little conversation like that, which can just help put things to bed can be such an enormous help.
Always clean up after yourself
If you don’t manage to have that conversation and you end up going through uni living with someone you don’t like, always make sure you clean up after yourself. 90% of arguments start with dirty dishes, filthy carpets or unemptied bins. It’s hard to do it sometimes, but if you managed to tidy up after yourself, you’re not giving anyone any ammunition to get at you with.
Don’t nick any toiletries
If you’re not responsible for sharing toiletries with people, make sure you don’t take anything without asking first. When people pinch your bog roll, toothpaste or deodorant, it drives people up the wall. If you look after number one, you’re not giving anyone at excuse to start banging down your door and complaining. Plus, if you take care of your own bits, you’ll know if people are swaging bits of your toilet paper!
Avoid leaving any sticky notes
If a tidying situation has got to a point of no return, try not leave any sticky notes saying ‘please, tidy this up’. Nothing drives housemates up the wall more than someone leaving a sarcastic little note reminding them to clean up, people go to uni to get away from their parents!
Don’t steal anyone’s food
Almost everyone at uni is on a budget and food is a priceless commodity. There’s nothing worse than going to the fridge and seeing chunks of your cheese gone, or lavishes of butter having been gobbled up. If you respect people’s boundaries and don’t try to get away with swagging anything you should be fine. If you’re absolutely desperate for a squirt of tomato ketchup just ask, don’t be the person everyone calls a thief.
Be respectful of noise
If there’s one thing that drives anyone spare, it’s being kept awake at night and having a disturbed sleep. Admittedly, keeping all the noise to a minimum at night can sometimes be out of your control, but as long as you’re not totally ignorant and keep the noise decibels down to a minimum, hopefully you won’t be getting on anyone’s nerves!
Even though lockdown laws are beginning to be lifted and the prospect of a dud graduation looms, there’s every chance we could still end up going into another lockdown crisis. If you know you’ll be living with difficult housemates, even if you take on board just a couple of these tips it can be a life saver!