September time for the college student signals a number of things: new classes, reuniting with friends, basking in the final sun of summer. One of the less exciting parts of September, however, is moving into a new flat. Signing up to live with a group of complete strangers is arguably one of the stranger aspects of college life, but the experience also helps us to forge an understanding of what people can really be like. After conducting a number of interviews, and thinking back on my own experiences, I have concluded that there are ten archetypal roommates. All interviewees have requested anonymity.
- The Kitchen Mouse
This is the flatmate who is eagerly awaiting you in the kitchen when you move in. It’s nice at first, since they’re friendly and ease some of those Fresher nerves, but as time moves on you begin to wonder… hold on, why is this person always in the kitchen? One person shared their experience: “It reached a certain point where I stopped and thought really hard about a time when I’d gone to the kitchen and they weren’t there. I couldn’t remember. It was roughly November by that point.”
The Kitchen Mouse holds a permanent residence within those four walls, which means you’re never making your pesto pasta in peace.
2. The Night-Owl
“Everyone has their own unique approach to the hours of the day. Your 5pm could be someone else’s 9am”
A major lesson learnt from living with other people is that everyone has their own unique approach to the hours of the day. Your 5pm could be someone else’s 9am, as the Night-Owl type of roommate only emerges in the darkness. One individual commented: “One night, it was about 4am and I had gone to the kitchen only to see the soft glow of the oven light. A pepperoni pizza was cooking away with no sign of anyone else up. It became a natural occurrence that I would find pizza in the oven if I was ever up at that time.” The exercise of pretending that it is, in fact, completely normal to have a meal at that time each day does grow tiresome after a while.
3. The Painter & Decorator
Whilst most students find the descent into winter quite upsetting, this flatmate views it as an exciting new venture! They desperately want to bring a bit of feng shui to the dingey student flat, and they will try and get you to pay money towards a plastic tree that they will inevitably keep for themselves.
4. The Virtuoso
Some flatmates will have a keen interest in music, and an issue can arise whenever they want to – God forbid – practice their instruments. An interviewee commented: “I’m happy to let people exercise their music talents, but when that consists of someone singing Creep by Radiohead over and over again late into the night, it becomes quite unnerving.” There isn’t a lot more that can be said about that.
Some roommates can be less sociable than others, and whilst it’s always important to respect that, it can become strange when months have gone by and you’ve only encountered someone you live with a handful of times. One person shared some advice: “Figure out which shelf is theirs and keep an eye on it. If there seems to be food coming and going, they’re probably fine.” The unfortunate truth here is that they just don’t want to talk to you, and that’s something you will learn to accept.
6. The One Who Never Cleans Up
While student flats are not generally renowned for their impressive levels of hygiene, some students’ unclean tendencies can result in them achieving the title of The One Who Never Cleans Up. One unlucky student shared their experience of living with a number of these people: “My kitchen was cramped enough as it was, so the dozens of flies that began to circulate didn’t exactly help the situation.” If you find yourself living with someone who is a bit messy, I would propose you do something quite unconventional: ask them to clean up. They might look at you like you’ve spat at them, but it’s a necessary step towards a happier flat.
7. The Google Doc
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the roommates who expect a very high level of cleanliness. Nothing says friendship quite like being presented with a Google Document outlining all the chores they’re expecting you to undertake! This roommate can be intimidating but never fear, they won’t get their way.
8. The Host
Some people just love to host, which means the sound of a speaker and the smell of cheap vodka will become very familiar to you. Yes, they are hosting prinks again, but it’s ok! It’s only the fifth time this week. One individual commented on their own experience with the Host: “One night I was watching a girl mix wine with vodka and throwing up into the bin. Then the next night, she’s sat at the table in a tea dress, politely cutting up a potato and savouring her wine.” Ah, the many shades of the college student!
9. The Thief
You’ll like this flatmate at first. They’ll be charismatic and fairly unproblematic.
But that all changes when one day you catch them in the act of slicing through your rainy day butter reserves. They don’t seem to recognise the significance behind spending four euro on that butter back in September (it’s roughly February), so they giggle and shrug, trying to talk their way out of it. But it’s too late, the damage is done.
10. The Parent
There is always one individual who feels a real sense of responsibility towards a group of people the same age as them. They blame it on the fact that they’re an empath and proceed to berate you for how much you’ve been out in the past week, enquiring into your health and sanity. One interviewee posed a question for the Parent: “Why?”. My thoughts exactly.
“Living away from home poses all sorts of challenges, and the people we live with can both help us and hinder us on that journey”
Living away from home poses all sorts of challenges, and the people we live with can both help us and hinder us on that journey. The best advice on dealing with these characters that I can offer is to either embrace or avoid them. Remember your lease will run out eventually. And you never know, you might look back on these people with some fond, or at the very least amusing, memories.