Learning To Live With Roommates

It's one thing to have a roommate in college, but something else entirely to have roommates outside of the dorms.  Your bathroom is not cleaned for you, you have to deal with work schedules, guests, and life.  You are not home all of the time, and- most of all- you aren't necessarily friends with those you live.

I've had an interesting set of roommates this summer.  The beginning was spent living with a 60 year-old Korean woman.  Her son goes to the Columbia Medical School, and she was visiting for a month to see him.  Mai, I believe her name was, barely spoke English, and I never once saw her outside of the kitchen.  That woman cooked constantly.  But the weird part is that I never saw her eat any of the food.  Supposedly her son would come over for meals, but I never met him.  The fridge was packed full of her food, using up all of our Tupperware and stacking her overflow onto my shelf in the fridge.  The apartment smelled constantly of rotten fish, and she would leave a pot of boiling seafood on the stove to sit out all day long.  It's no wonder I started seeing roaches shortly thereafter.

Another roommate is a 23 year old from a farm in Ohio.  She's a very sweet girl, who unfortunately does not seem to understand the rules I thought were obvious about sharing a space.  She never took out the trash all summer long, even during the weeks I spent most nights in Williamsburg, not contributing to the mess.  She never cleaned anything, had her mother come stay for a week without letting me know, expected me to feed her fish when she left for a week sans notice, and gave her keys to an unknown friend when she left.

That being said, I'm sure I'm not the perfect roommate either.  I'm not there half of the nights of the week, and leave without warning.  I'll occasionally forget to wash a frying pan for a day, I hide out in my room, take too long of showers, and am very protective of my personal space- in the fridge and elsewhere.

Maybe I'm too particular, holding people to a higher standard of living.  But I'm of the opinion that when you're past the age of 20, you should know how to wash dishes, do laundry, and take out the trash.  Maybe that's just the Nebraskan in me rearing its head, though.  When you're in a place in life to live with other people, you should respect the common space.  Yeah, my room is a total mess but I make sure to do my dishes as soon as possible and not leave any food out longer than necessary.  Living with roommates is not living with friends,there is no obligation to leave that three day old pizza on the coffee table, especially because an ant or two has been spotted.  I would have no hard feelings if my food was thrown out for being smelly, because it's in the common space.

In my opinion, the only way to peacefully live in a roommate situation is if you all respect the common area and the fact that you are not the sole controller.  But I guess just by stating that rule I'm breaking it though.  And that's how I'm trying to live during my last two weeks in this apartment- not feeling personally offended if the place isn't constantly spotless.  This morning I woke up to someone else's bread stashed on my fridge shelf.  But it was just bread, and I had the space...so I didn't passive aggressively move it.  I'm not happy about the dishes in the sink, but another roommate came out an apologized for the mess, since they had gotten home late last night from vacation.  The trash situation still bugs me, how it's allowed to build up to four or five bags and the assumption seems to be made that I'll take care of it. But oh well, it isn't really that much out of my way.

Living with roommates is much different in life than in college.  I can't just get mad at them for their dirty dishes, because they share the space equally.  That being said, if and when I have the choice of roommates, cleanliness will be my first priority.


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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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