Oxford Etiquette: Student Digs

This article first appeared in The Oxford Student on 30 October 2015.

Shared accommodation, like tuition fees and instant noodles, is a sad fact of student life. Much as I’m sure we’d all like to live in our own personal gold-plated flats, the reality is that such things are simply not an option for our university years. Unless we go to All Souls, obviously. Instead, we are consigned to shared accommodation, rounded up and deposited in cramped blocks of flats or quiet suburban streets, in a system ostensibly designed to look fair and rational, but is in actual fact what we experts call “a total crapshoot”. With a bunch of young people shunted into sharing the same space, a certain amount of tension and disagreement is likely to arise, and I’ve assembled this handy guide to help you navigate the awkwardness of life in this realm of abdicated responsibility and shared bathrooms.

First of all, try and have some consideration for your housemates. None of us actually want to wash up the array of dirty dishes which inevitably sprout, fungus-like, in any shared student kitchen, or to take out the endlessly overflowing bins, but someone’s got to do it, and if it’s not you you’re just pushing your mess onto someone else, which really is not a very polite thing to do. Some may point to the anthrax which inevitably breeds in the squalid and dirty kitchens these attitudes produce as the cause when every occupant of the house is found dead, but it will always go down as plain rudeness in my book.

Also, please note that, dirty or not, the kitchen is not the place to go… carrying on with your partner. I mean, all power to you, but I’d really rather you didn’t do such things when it’s three in the morning and I’m trying to make a cup of coffee in the same extremely cramped room in which the two of you are currently engaging in heavy petting. I’d say “Get a room”, but we both know you already have one. Kindly use it. If nothing else, a kitchen is hardly the most hygienic place for a romantic conquest.


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