A 'How-Not-To-Style-Your-Life' Guide

Thursday, 25 February 2016

How To Survive a Student House

Back in September, the day before I returned to Exeter, I uploaded a rite-of-passage blog post in which I talked about the experiences of my first year at university through the guise of advice for freshers. Several months and countless cold, sleepless nights later, I'm now over halfway through my second year and more than familiar with the daily minefield that is living in a student house.

Well, 'living' in inverted commas. 'Living' has connotations of thriving. What I'm doing at the moment is simply a case of surviving.

Taking this into account, I thought I'd share with you a few of my musings regarding student living away from halls as well as a few tips I've picked up along the way to make life that bit more bearable. That, and I wanted to give you a slightly less romanticised insight into my university life after my decidedly polished university room tour. Here's to online transparency!

- First of all, standardise each housemate's understanding of the word 'communal'. Bread, yes. Pasta, sure. Tea, maybe. Avocados? Well... Washing machine tabs?! ABSOLUTELY NOT. It will save countless passive aggressive sticky notes, many arguments and potentially even lives.

- Normalise sleeping fully clothed. I'm talking joggers, a t-shirt, a comfy jumper and even a pair of socks. As well as this, a thick duvet and several blankets will be necessary. It sounds like an exaggeration, but these precautions will be the only way you'll get a warm night's sleep. I'm not making any promises, though...

- Slippers are an essential. If your kitchen is anything like ours, and I really hope for your sake it's not, you won't want to go in there barefoot without a tetanus shot.

- A portable heater is your best friend in the mornings. Simply turn it on when your alarm goes off and then hit snooze. Ten minutes later and BOOM, your room will be warm enough to make getting out of bed that bit less of a struggle. Turn it off once you're out of the shower and fully dressed and you've basically avoided the trauma of cold mornings. Thank me later.

- You will either see at least one of your housemates fully naked or overhear them bonk. Or worse, walk in on them. Or EVEN worse, be walked in on. Accept it. There's nothing you can do.

- Having a cleaning rota can be a tad draconian but is an effective way of avoiding 'the cleaning hierarchy' from developing. For the uninitiated, this is an unspoken structure of who cleans the most (made by the person who thinks they clean the most) and is the source of 97% of the passive aggression and petty arguments in the house.

- Drink red wine, it doesn't take up valuable real estate in the fridge.

- The only way you can hide your post-takeaway shame is by keeping on top of your recycling. If you don't, then something like this will develop:

- Refusing to open a bill doesn't make it go away.

- To any boys sharing a bathroom with a girl for the first time, don't ask how, but the loose strands of their hair seem to multiply by some unknown and unexplainable mitosis. This makes cleaning the sink a formidable task. Remember, however, that it's not like they enjoy finding your short and curlies dotted around the bathroom either.

- If you're stupid enough to engage in intra-house incest, it's your responsibly to deal with the fallout.

- There will always be two housemates who are in an unspoken war over the central heating. This usually involves no verbal communication, one person turning it on, the other instantly turning it off again and repeat. If one of them isn't you, then consider yourself lucky.

- Hairdryer with a narrow nozzle = iron. Trust me.

- Additionally, you will never need to iron anything again if you get it out of the dryer fast enough and give it a good shake.

- Memorising how each of your housemates likes their tea as soon as possible will earn you invaluable brownie points.

- In my opinion, if one person wants to have a bath, they should provide a formal 24-hour notice to ensure that all other housemates will not need a wee during the affected time.

- Finally, don't think about getting a pet until you know that you can look after yourself first. Our tortoise eats organic strawberries and Waitrose asparagus. Give them the life that you wish you could give yourself.

Thank you so much for reading and be sure to share any advice that you might have or any student house horror stories down in the comments below, I'd love to hear some of them (I think...)!


  1. As a first year I'm both thankful for this but also concerned for the heath following the comment about the kitchen..but then again I'm not going to pretend that my halls kitchen now is any better.
    Nevertheless, this has been a nice post to distract from the fact that I've just paid my overly expensive £700 deposit/rent...how sad!

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