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The dos and don’ts of communal living

University is often the first time many students find themselves living without their parents, and the first time they live with complete strangers. It can be liberating and exciting, but there are a few ground rules that make communal living a lot easier, and help avoid those awkward fall outs.

Photo: Rhian Poole

It’s not surprising how disgusting kitchens can get without the magic cleaning fairies we had back home. Make sure to clean up soon after you cook, and don’t let pots and pans sit for days until they are finally mouldy. Not only will you need new pans, but you’ll have irritated a few housemates along the way.

It’s also a good idea to keep your kitchenware to yourself and not make cooking equipment communal. It might seem like a good idea to share when you are on a high during fresher’s week, but when your pans get ruined or you break someone’s pint glass, conflicts will quickly arise.

Perhaps the most annoying of communal kitchen issues is dealing with the disappearance of food. Never eat other people’s food. Ever. Equally, don’t leave your food lying where drunken hands may find it and “forget” what happened to it by morning. Always assume your housemates are like Joey from Friends, and remember that Joey does not share food.

Other important things to be aware of in the kitchen are fridge spaces and cooking times. It’s easy to organise sections of the fridge to each housemate, but be careful not to buy so much food that it overflows to other people’s space; there’s the risk it’ll get moved or worse, eaten. In terms of cooking times, just make sure you communicate with everyone and let people know if you need the microwave for a long time, as that is most students’ first port of call when it comes to meal time.

Out of the kitchen and into the bathroom; keep it clean and keep it quick. Be particularly careful not to leave any form of mess for another unsuspecting housemate, and just try to be as hygienic as possible. If you leave your shampoo or toothpaste around, they will get used, so keep them in your bedroom. But most importantly, shower quickly in the morning and don’t hold anyone else up so as to avoid stress and irritation. Hungover students running late are not happy people!

When living with students, it’s important to be tolerant of some mess and disorganisation, but it’s also important to speak up about any house issues that are upsetting anybody to avoid any conflicts that get out of hand. Communal living can be one of the best experiences you will ever have, just make sure to be careful, respectful and considerate of everyone you live with.


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October 2021
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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