There is exactly one month left of summer. Facebook has exploded with Tele-BEARS posts (all complaints, of course), summer courses have had exams and those of us lucky enough to be near family have gorged on home-cooked food. This also means students are getting ready to turn on their brains, get out of summer mode and move into apartments. It’s an exciting time and completely different from unpacking in the dorms. But if this is going to be your first year in an apartment, we think there are some things you should accept right off the bat. We all go in starry-eyed and hopeful, thinking, “This is going to be the best thing, like, EVER!” While it may be just that, we also want you to be realistic. Here are a few things you shouldn’t forget when moving into an apartment.
1. Being roommates is different from being friends. No, we’re not talking about the “friend zone” that guys complain about. Chances are, at least one of the girls or guys you’re living with is someone you became friends with over the last few semesters. It could be someone from class or even someone you knew from the dorms. But you’ve also probably never lived with him or her, so you don’t know what they’re like in that regard. Now the dynamic has changed from “someone I hang out with sometimes” to “someone I see every day in his or her pajamas.” You have to share a bathroom, closet space, kitchen utensils and most of all, RENT. Not only will you discover whether or not your friend snores, you’ll also learn how responsible and dependable he or she is with money. Trust us: This means you’ll get mad at each other at least once, and that’s being optimistic. Someone will pay the rent late, someone else will leave dirty dishes untouched for a week, etc. Just accept this now and prepare to deal. Think of how you’ll deal with different points of tension as they arise. You’ll be much happier deciding it all now.
2. Compromise is necessary. You can’t always get what you want. They’ve been telling us this from a very young age, ever since we first threw that tantrum in the Toys R Us checkout. That means when you and this friend-turned-roomie disagree on what it is you want, one of you is going to come out the loser. You want there to be a couch in the living room. He or she wants to fill the space with ugly bean bags. Maybe you can put a smaller couch on one side and put one or two bean bags on the other side. It’s a better alternative than blowing up at each other or simply caving because the other person is more formidable. These situations are going to come up, but as long as both of you accept that each of you will have to give in at some points and cooperate, you’ll survive.
3. Things will go wrong. This is by far the most important lesson of all. We’re pretty sure that as Cal students, you’ve figured out that life screws you over more often than you’d like, often making you pull out your hair in frustration and yell !$#** (there are some obscenities even we’re not willing to type out loud). That being said, the same rule of “life sucks” applies to moving into an apartment. Someone is going to screw you over, whether it’s your landlord or the roommate you thought was nice and responsible. Someone will wreck the kitchen and lose your deposit. Someone else will refuse to fix the lock he or she promised to get to a few weeks ago. You’ll shake your head and bang it against a wall for a few minutes, and then you’ll deal with it. Things will work out in the long run. Despite all our pessimism, we want you to know it’s not always going to go horribly wrong, and it won’t be so forever. Sometimes things will get messed up — especially in the beginning, when you’re just getting to know people and get into a groove. Things eventually smooth out. We just want you to be prepared up front rather than assuming everything will always be hunky-dory.
We hope these road bumps, realistic as they are, haven’t turned you off to apartment living altogether. We do want you to be excited about this new phase! There’ll be situations that will make you wonder if it’s worth the headache, but we assure you it is. Alongside some of the difficulties, there’ll be a whole lot of fun. Just keep these points in mind and be prepared to handle them, and there’ll be less hassle and more fun.
Contact Erum Khan at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @erumjkhan.