How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

The Dos and Don’ts of Communal Living.

Aggie and Kim Cambridge Cindies College Flats The Dean the tab

Chances are you’ll have to share a flat, house or at the very least a corridor with several other people during your time in Cambridge. If you don’t, it’s probably because everyone in your college has requested that you don’t. Here are The Tab’s Dos and Don’ts for communal living.

DON’T bring a different conquest home every night of the week. They’ll just get jealous and sell you to The Tab.

DON’T steal their food. If you’re in a flat or house where you all buy the food, that’s fair game. But if it’s a gyp room, or if it’s the flapjacks her blind grandmother cooked her, that’s not fair game.

DON’T moralise. One of the pleasing by-products of university is no parents; no one wants to move into a flat with someone who tuts when they arise, wearing last night’s clothes, with a semi-masticated sandwich stuck to their face, and smuggling a stranger out of the door. OK, you don’t approve. No need to say it.

DO keep the communal areas clean. No need to go Aggie and Kim on them, but while your bedroom can look like the proverbial sty if that’s how you like it, no one wants to be sitting amidst your week-old Van of Life debris, politely suppressing their gag reflex, while they’re trying to eat a bowl of tomato soup.

DON’T ‘forget’ to invite them to the party you’re holding. They might be woefully socially-inept or worse, overtly offensive, but if you want to avoid them sending an anonymous tip-off to the dean, then you’d better invite them. That way, if you end up going down, they go down with you.

DON’T end up owing anyone money. They know where you live. Down the hall.

DO have friends on the outside world. Remember, you won’t live with these people forever (some of you might want to adopt that as a mantra that you can mutter to yourself when times get hard) and it’s important that you remember how to function outside conversations such as ‘Who used the last of the milk?’ Otherwise you will have to live with them forever.

DON’T try and work in your flat/house. Five hours of Mario Kart later, it’s 4am and you’re twitching, seeing coloured lights in the corner of your vision, and in no fit state to start the essay you should have done instead. Cambridge has a lot of libraries. Use one.

DON’T hook up with someone you live with. That’s much worse than bringing home strangers every night. Your other flatmates don’t want to watch you two at it – or worse, hear you – and they don’t want to play mediator to your rows or pick sides when it all inevitably goes tits up. Resist.