What I’ve Learnt From Living In A Shared Apartment

(Alternate title: A Lesson In Maturity, From My 25 Year Old Perma-Student Flatmate)

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I’ve learnt a lot about myself since I arrived in Madrid last year. And a lot of that is down to living in such an international and multicultural apartment. Living with people from different countries has given me a new perspective on life and has taught me so many meaningful and important life lessons. Here are a few.

5. If there is a problem, do not talk about it. Ever. But have pleasant conversations about everything else whilst forever avoiding the subject. Say it is your turn to buy toilet roll, but you don’t want to. That’s okay, the next person will do it. And if that person doesn’t want to, then the final person will. And if that person doesn’t want to, then it’s back to you again, and well, you still don’t feel like doing it. But seriously, it’s fine, just buy your own toilet roll and sneak it into the bathroom when you think no one is looking. Everyone will know that the others are doing the same, but no one will ever address the issue. And life will go on that way forevermore.*

4. If you want to do something, do it at nighttime. Loudly. No one is around in the early hours of the morning, so the washing machine, shower, and television are all completely free. Seriously, why is no one else taking advantage of this stuff? It’s not like they could be sleeping because they have to be up in five hours to commute to work to pay the rent or anything. That’s crazy talk.**

3. There is a magical cleaning fairy that appears at night to wash up all the pots, unclog hair from the shower drain, and empty the bins. So, if you are planning on going away for a while, the polite thing to do is leave all your unclean plates towering above the sink as an offering. Plus points for staining the countertops and leaving crumbs everywhere. They’ll be gone by the time you return. Never question where these things go. Just continue doing it.

2. Insist upon the importance of basic flat rules, go as far as making a rotor for the fridge, and after a while, just… stop. Specific days to take the bin out, a pot for money so we can buy cleaning equipment and, occasionally, toilet paper (see #5), and of course keeping the kitchen and bathroom clean in between weekly visits from the cleaner. These things are just guidelines for you. Sure, they’re rules for everybody else, but no one will care if you ignore your bin duties this week, right? You’re not like your flatmates. You’re different, special. And special people don’t need to donate €5 for washing up liquid.

1. The way to create a friendly and non-hostile living environment is to express your dominance using Post-It Notes. Never address the Post-It Notes in actual conversation, even though everyone knows what your handwriting looks like, and God forbid you actually talk about any issues you have. Passive aggressive behavior is the new diplomacy.***

What I’m trying to say is this: the most successful way to live in a shared apartment with complete strangers is to live like you’re under constant civil war. But never talk about it, because that would be rude.

Anyway, two of them are moving out at the end of May so I’m living under a constant mantra of ‘please don’t be students, please don’t be students’ until the next two arrive. Viva la España!

* I think we’re on week two of this. But I’m competitive as hell so don’t think I’ll be the one to break the chain.

* * Two of my flatmates are students. Feel my pain.

* * * Strangely enough, these have stopped since I put my own Post-It Note next to two others in the kitchen stating nothing but ‘Passive Aggressive Post-It Note’. Fire with fire and all that.