Depending on who you end up sharing a home with, your living situation can either be a safe haven or a scene from 'The Exorcist'. Tomas Heneghan who has had five years of it, advises us how to find the right person to live with...
College life is sometimes dominated by the question of “who will I live with next year?” We’ve all lived with the bad, the very bad and the purely bizarre at some stage. If you haven’t it just means you’ve either gotten very lucky or you’re not finished living with strangers yet. From the ones who use the last drop of milk you were saving for the much-needed cuppa before a nine o’clock lecture, to the ones that break the furniture and put holes through the walls and stick you with half of the repair bill, bad housemates are just one of those things most students face at one time or another. Then we eventually get lucky, or so we think, and decide to live with a friend after first year. I’ve heard the stories from friends and relatives and each time it’s almost the same situation. They meet some fantastic individual, who lives up to the primary school ambition of the much-coveted “BFF”. The pair decide to live together, believing that the few hours they spend with each other every second day is a fair reflection of the people they are. Alas though, it isn’t that simple and all those annoying habits like leaving dirty dishes everywhere for weeks on end, causes a certain level of annoyance, which quickly evolves to resentment. By the end of a few months, they are no longer even dispensing a morning greeting to each other and one’s favourite cereal bowl “accidentally” falls on the floor and obliterates itself while the other is doing the washing “innocently”. It all comes down to a challenge of finding balance. You want the person you can get along with easily but also the person you can afford to swiftly boot out of your life if things go wrong over the year. What you need is a friend who’s not a very close friend. The alternative is that the management or landlord throws you into a house with strangers who just happen to match your personality. This actually does happen a lot of the time but if you’re one of those people who like things done a very particular way, the odds are that you’re not going to be that lucky. From five years of this game, the best advice I could offer anyone would be to start your search early. Arrive in as a fresher, join a club or society or get talking to your classmates. Find the people who you think might match your personality in a way that you could tolerate living with a reflection of yourself, or find the people you think are so much of an opposite to you that living with them might balance dynamics a bit. This means taking a risk but you really need to be prepared to do that or you will end up with strangers each and every year. After you find the person you need, throw out the subtle suggestion that you are looking for a housemate for the next year. Don’t forget to mention how intolerable living with your current housemates is, just to show how serious you are. If your prospective future housemate is in the same boat they will be receptive to the suggestion. After that just keep building on the idea until you need to start finding accommodation for the next year. Of course this can all be avoided sometimes, especially with down-to-earth landlords, and you can just try to make a deal with the landlord to move earlier. Most student villages face a constant stream of internal movement between apartments for the first few months of the academic year. Admittedly this is usually with first years but there are plenty of others who take advantage of the unplanned opportunity to move in with friends. With student living the worst case scenario is that you end up living with people for a whole year that you cannot stand. Don’t retreat into your bedroom and live from a mini-fridge in the spare corner. There is a simple solution. You can just spend the majority of your time between college and friends’ houses. They can be surprisingly okay with it, as long as you alternate between friends and never just show up unannounced or follow them home in that creepy stalker kind of way. The person you live with will undoubtedly have an impact on your college living so finding the right person to live with is one of those crucial aspects of your time at college. Take risks sometimes when choosing a housemate and always look for the alternatives if you end up with the people you can’t remotely tolerate.