Into the Wild: How to Master Living away from Home
Freshers’ Week is almost over and the daily grind is about to begin. Soon you’ll be forced to think about sustenance, budgeting and washing powder (or not, depending on how ferrel you’re willing to go). Don’t panic — adult life is still a distant horror — but it’s best to learn what you’re dealing with early on. So without further ado, here are the four main pitfalls of going it alone.
(1) Shopping. Nothing is more exhilarating than doing a supermarket shop for the first time without parental supervision. Freedom never tasted so sugary. When you’ve blown your budget for the third week running on strawberry laces and novelty cereal, however, something has got to give. It’s time to exercise some Mum-like restraint and rein in the spending. That said, excessive stinginess should be avoided, particularly in the alcohol aisle. There are many reasons why vodka shouldn’t cost less than £10 and — trust me — you don’t want to find them out first-hand.
(2) Cleaning. That strange smell, reminiscent of a putrefied fox? That’s the smell of six 19 year-olds cooped up in a student house together for a month. Who knew that sinks block so easily, or that rats make such loyal companions? Investment in some basic cleaning products is probably advisable, but really all you need is a housemate with a passion for disinfectant. Although cleaning fanatics typically cause inter-house tension (see Point 4) they ward off the imminent threat of typhoid, which can only be a good thing.
(3) Homesickness. Unless you are a close relative of the Dursleys, you are guaranteed to get homesick from time to time. Common symptoms include: having unexpected emotional outbursts (who knew that Thirteen Going on Thirty was so moving!?), incessantly phoning family members, and compiling scrapbooks of pet photos. Don’t get too concerned —symptoms tend to diminish as time goes on, particularly when you realise that everyone back home is coping just fine without you.
(4) Weird housemates. Worse than rat infestations, plumbing disasters and undiagnosed rickets are your first-year housemates. Selected ‘at random’ by accommodation officers, who share an uncanny ability to combine the incompatible, they are sure to be an interesting bunch. Be prepared for aggressive cleaning rotas, thumping music and fridge warfare. Room allocation can be like a game of Russian Roulette, where being shot starts to seem like the kinder option. The only consolation is that, next year, you can choose who you live with and you’ll only have yourself to blame.