Dear Agony Aunt,
I'm living in an apartment of six, with four gentlemen and two not so gentle men. When four of us are away, the two are perfectly capable of cleaning and providing for themselves. However, when the rest of us are here, they seem to expect us to clean for them and leave their mess for us to deal with. How can I tell them that we aren't housekeeping staff and they should be more independent?
This is probably best approached in a three pronged attack. I’m a firm believer than passive aggression is an underrated art form, because who has the TIME for civilised face to face delegation in this day and age? I get the impression ye olde bin/dishwashing rota won’t quite do the trick on this occasion.
Plaster Post it notes on the fridge, and pollute the group chat with smiley emojis at the end of messages! Just watch the atmosphere of your flat go ice ice cold! Secondly, leave the mess. Embrace the squalor, making it ever so clear that you are the absolute backbone of the apartment. At the very least we can hope that one of them realises they’re never going to pull if the apartment smells like rotting flesh.
Thirdly, it’s time to apply some basic behavioural psychology. Any time they actually do something for themselves, gently pat your housemate on the head and say “good boy” and reward him with little treat. Then maybe ramp things up a bit, like spraying them with water when they’re bad, consequently conditioning them to never leave the kitchen a mess again, much like trying to train a cat to use a litter box.
Dear Agony Aunt, I’m really homesick and want to drop out.
Spending your first year away from home can be the toughest part of college. It can be difficult to recreate that homely atmosphere in Halls. What can work, is to decorate your room. Buy a pack of cheap and cheerful fairy lights, bring an old bed throw or cushion from home, try and get a lamp that throws a nice warm, cosy light. Surround yourself with things you love! It might seem trivial but, it goes a long way.
Whenever you get those pangs of missing home, pick up the phone, give your family or friends a call and talk it out. List out all the great experiences you've had here to them. It'll remind you of all the positive things that have come out of this year so far. Writing letters home or even journal-writing can also help. Putting it in writing allows you to get it all out on paper (and out of your head), but also the actual process of writing a list of happy moments can make you really consider the positives.
Keep yourself busy. Throw yourself into the college experience. Make a plan for the week, including society events or meet-ups with friends and stick to it. It'll keep your mind off home.
Dropping out is a big decision. If it's solely because you're feeling homesick, try some of the methods above and reassess how you feel then. If there are other factors contributing to it, get in touch with your tutor. They'll be willing to talk to answer any questions you have. Just shoot them an email to make an appointment. And remember, the decision of dropping out is one you need to make for yourself, not for anyone else.