Monday, 30 April 2012

Dark Side of Student Living - Feedback

Thank you to everyone who shared their stories this week about conflict in student homes.  We know it can be a touchy subject! Here are some of your stories about the conflict in your homes:

Living with Dani – the early bird who did not share her food

Previously I had shared an apartment with three roommates and I thought I handled living with other people quite well, we agreed about almost everything and did most things together. So I was quite confident walking into the dorm and very excited to meet my new roommates. But nothing could have prepared me for the one roommate I had to share my room with – her name was Dani. She was a few years my senior, near the end of her study who already had a part-time job. As she had been living alone for quite some time before my arrival, she treated me like an intruder from the very beginning. I was aware of the fact that we were not exactly a match made in heaven but was also determined to make things work. Unfortunately this turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined.

Very soon it became clear that we could not have been more different. She was an early bird and I was a night hawk. This was my second year as a student and I dedicated a lot of my time partying and returning back home in the middle of the night. Of course I did my best not to wake Dani up which meant tiptoeing around the room and trying to be as silent as possible. However, when she got up in the morning she ignored me completely. She simply turned on the lights and walked in and out of the room as if I had not been sleeping there. If she was especially in a good mood she whistled or murmured a tune. Moreover, once she even opened the window at 7 o’clock in the morning, saw her friend outside, started yelling her name and spoke to her for five minutes.

Dani had an unusual idea about sharing, it went like this: she used all of my things like they belonged to her but heaven forbid I took something that was hers. Her motto was: what is mine is only mine, and what is yours is mine as well. She made sure I knew which things were hers as she wrote her name on every milk cartoon and tuna can that belonged to her. Once my friends and I were cooking lunch and were one can of tuna short so I used hers, with the intention of returning it, of course. When she came home I told her immediately that we had eaten one of her tuna cans and she instructed me to go to the shop as soon as possible and get her a new one. The idea seemed quite reasonable at the time because I believed she wanted to make pasta and could really use that can of tuna so I put on my sneakers and ran to the store. When I returned she took the tuna can, wrote her name on it and put in the fridge. She ate it a few days later.

Spending three years living with Dani is now a distant memory and despite all the things that she put me through, sharing a room with her certainly was a valuable experience. I am still surprised by the fact how different she was from me and how she was not prepared to compromise. I think it comes as no surprise if I say that we do not stay in touch and I have not seen her since she moved out and we celebrated for 3 days and nights.  
- Iris

The building where Iris &Dani used to co-exist.

How my flat-mate transformed my room into a hotel

It all began when I announced that I wouldbe leaving for 10 days trip to Northern Europe. My flat-mate – let’s call her Olivia - with whom I only share the flat but not the room, happily announced that in the time of my absence her friend – let’s call her Tia- would stay with her. I answered that I was ok with that, as long Tia did not sleep in my bed. Surprisingly, Olivia looked at me and responded sarcastically: “She won’t sleep on the floor.” I explained to her that I didn’t feel comfortable with people I didn’t know sleeping in my bed. My room is my private space where the objects I am attached to are, and I don’t allow strangers in. According to Olivia, I overreacted. She accused me of being drama queen. Again, I specifically stated that I didn’t allow anyone to sleep in my bed as my room was not a hotel room for her to rent out for a week. Olivia agreed Tia wouldn’t sleep in my bed, but she added that she wouldn’t tell me anything about their sleepover. You can imagine my surprise. Although she promised, I knew Tia would sleep in my bed, but Olivia planned not to tell me! Because I really didn’t want someone use my bed in my absence, I asked other three flat-mates for cooperation. They suggested that I lock the room, but unfortunately my room doesn’t have a key. As I didn’t want to upset our landlady my room remained unlocked when I left. When I returned back from the North, I found some of my objects and bed sheets were not in the same position as they were when I left. Other flat-mates confirmed my suspicions. Tia stayed in my room for all ten days of my absence. What did I do? For the sake of peace in the flat, I haven’t spoken about the problem with Olivia. If I would, I’m sure we would have a serious fight which could ruin the good atmosphere of the flat. I changed my sheets and moved on.

My noisy flat-mate

My boyfriend and I used to share the apartment with other couple. They were really nice, but that changed soon after we become overly familiar with us. They had crossed the limits of our privacy when she kept asking unpleasant questions about our relationship. When we told her that we didn’t feel comfortable speaking about our personal things with her, she was offended. From that moment on she drastically changed her attitude towards us. She was in constant conflict with us. For instance, she started to provoke us by making noise. Slamming doors late in the evening and talking loudly in right outside of our room early in the morning are just two examples of her testing our nerves. Before our talk she was completely satisfied about the level of cleanliness of our flat after we cleaned it but, afterwards, she started complainingabout how dirty it was. Once after we cleaned the shared spaces in the apartment, she even “cleaned” the already clean apartment, pointing out we hadn’t done our job properly. She also developed the annoying habit of washing whatever she could wash 3 to 4 times per week. She even cleaned the carpets once per week, just to occupy washing machine and accused us of being dirty.  I felt sorry for her boyfriend who was caught in the unenviable position between his girlfriend and us. I’m sure he was relieved, when they moved out. I know we were.
- Anonymous

Flat-mate from hell

So I've lived with some pretty horrible people (I called my last flat 'the crack den' was really that bad). But the worst people I probably lived with was this guy in my 3rd year of my undergrad. I lived in this really nice terraced house in Camden with 3 really good friends and we needed another person, so we advertised (first mistake) on the UCL housing website and this guy came and seemed really nice, until he moved in.

He was disgustingly dirty, didn't do any washing up, didn't do any cleaning throughout the house, used to be in the bathroom for over an hour having a shower (hot water costs money people!), although he didn't shower that often, which was also pretty grimy. He was argumentative, he used to refuse to pay the bills until we forced his too, he was unsociable, I remember this one time having lots of friends round and he sat in the middle of the living room and played on his Play station and just ignored everyone. He used to fill the freezer up and he never cleaned his out of date food out the fridge (we used to do it with a long wooden spoon as usually you couldn't even tell what the food used to be). He was absolute hell to live with.  It got to the point where we didn't even speak, he only really communicated with one of my flatmates in the end. I was so relieved when he said he was moving out 2 months before the end of the contract. So glad it’s over. Even the memories make me shudder!

Conflict also results in angry messages left in the common space. What do you think caused the anger of authors of the following two notes?


- Anonymous

As you can see, we received some really interesting contributions this week. We couldn’t decide which story or picture should win two free tickets to the Special Evening Opening: Global Homes at the Geffrye Museum. Therefore, we are asking YOU, our dear audience, to vote on who will enjoy live music, wine and lots of great activities on the 16th May for free. Will it be Iris with her story about Dani? Anonymous whose room was converted into a hotel? What about Anonymous contributor number 2 with an overly curious, washing-obsessed, flatmate? Hannah’s flatmate from hell? Leslie’s photo of an angry note? Or, will it be the photo of the note about cleanliness from our final anonymous contributor? It’s up to you! Vote for your favourite by leaving your comments!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dark Side of Student Living: Conflict (With Your Roommates)

In the past we’ve discussed the topics of food, fridges, utensils, and cleanliness, just to name a few.  This week, we‘ll explore a topic that might be a little bit sensitive.  From time to time, conflict occurs between room-mates and flat-mates.  It can come in many shapes and forms as well as varying degrees of extremity.  It might manifest in the form of a minor spat resulting from an unwashed plate, or it could be as drastic as ruined friendships.  We want to explore student life in its entirety – not just the bright side.  This includes the ugly bits.  So, please share your stories and pictures with us by sending an email to  As always, you are welcome to remain anonymous!

This week we have a surprise for you! The most interesting story or photo will receive two free tickets to the Special Evening Opening: Global Homes at the Geffrye Museum! Don’t miss this opportunity to attend the “Who Stole my Milk?: Exploring Student Homes in London” event  with live music from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s,  free wine and a lots of fun activities. The best part? It’s all free!

©Bill Watterson

Monday, 23 April 2012

Objects of Sentimental Value - Feedback

Thank you to everyone for your responses to “Objects of sentimental value”. We received a few stories and pictures from contributors that we’d like to share with you. 

Borut bought his mug as a souvenir when he was at a football match of his favourite team FC Inter Milan. Although his team’s current position in the league is not the best, he still brings his mug with him everywhere he goes. That’s a true fan!

Mimi got her mug from her ex-boyfriend when she successfully passed the high-school leaving exam. It is her favourite because it resembles her astrological sign. 

Iris got this mug as a present a few years ago. Needless to say, she’s a huge David Hasselhoff fan. This is how she always starts her day, with a morning dosage of good coffee and her precious David.

Tjaša's favourite mug was a gift from her mother. She brought it from a business trip to the US.  Since then Tjaša drinks her morning tea from it every day and enjoy in her mug's minimalistic style.

Tamara got her favourite teacup as a birthday gift from her best friends.

Špela is a mug collector. She has a drawer full of mugs. This particular mug was a gift from her ex-boyfriend from NY and she uses it only to drink herbal teas. 

Anonymous girl’s boyfriend bought this dog-mug for her after she moved away from her parent’s home because he knew she missed the company of her pets. This mug in the shape of her dog’s breed now reminds her not only of her family and pets, but also of her boyfriend. She brings her “Dino” (as she humorously named her mug) everywhere she goes.

Mugs are not the only objects of sentimental value students bring with them to university.

When I moved to my student apartment, I took a box full of photos and different souvenirs with me. The photos were mostly from my childhood and the souvenirs were different tickets, postcards, just about anything that reminded me of some special moment or event. I still keep that box hidden behind a pile of clothes and whenever I feel sad or lonely, I search through the box and experience those memories all over again.

My personal object was a globe lamp that belonged to my grandma, but unfortunately (and extremely sadly) it fell apart last year, but it was such an important thing for me that I kept it anyway. My grandma died before I was born and I feel like the lamp is a real connection to her, and I love to travel and find out about different parts of the world. I have had it with me since my second year at university (2008) and wouldn't consider throwing it away. It’s very old (hence the breaking) and was made in the 1970s, which means some of the countries on it don't exist anymore! This is one of my most prized possessions and if I could find a way to fix it I would!

I brought many different personal objects to my student home. I decorated my room with photographs of my friends, boyfriend and my dog to make it more personal. I filled my shelves and embellish my walls with gifts I received from my best friends, for example with candlesticks and plaque with explanation of the meaning of my name. When I felt homesick, I looked at these objects and photos what lessen my homesickness and brought out nice memories.
- Anita

These are the books that sit next to my bed. The top on "My Family and Other Animals" is a book that I take everywhere with me.


Proof that objects of all kinds can have sentimental value, Iris shares her story:

Two years after I moved in my flat-mate Dani decided to buy a brand new bike. When it arrived she looked at it with love and admiration and tried to convince me that it would be a good idea for the bike to be stored INSIDE our room when she was not using it. I objected because the room was relatively small and putting it in the middle of it meant having almost no place to move around. After keeping the bike in the room for two days I rebelled and told her that her bike should be in front of the building, where all the other bikes were. She reluctantly agreed to put it there but only after she wrote her name (the permanent marker was her best friend) on almost all parts of the bike. She believed that in case the parts got stolen, she could then find whoever did it by checking the other bikes for the parts with her name on them.  It was amazing how proud she was of her cunning plan. The situation got even worse when she bought a car and asked me if I could look out of the window every few minutes to see if it was still there. Writing her name on all the car parts was unfortunately not an option in this case and it made her very sad.

Thank you all for your contributions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you next week when we’re going to explore the dark side of student living.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Objects of Sentimental Value

Last week, we discussed the significance of personal cutlery.  Your replies indicate that the topic of chopsticks is but a small category falling under the larger category of objects of sentimental value.  People, who bring their chopsticks halfway around the world from places such as Asia, often do so out of an emotional attachment. This attitude clearly is not limited to cutlery.  As a result we would like to amend our original question. What personal object did you bring with you to university?  Was it your favourite mug or book? Photographs of your family? Perhaps a personal trinket? Whatever it is – we would like to hear about it! Send your stories and pictures to    

While waiting for your contributions, we are proudly presenting the collage of your personal chopsticks:

Thank you all for sharing your photos with us!

Friday, 13 April 2012


Chopsticks - they’re that utensil that you’re terrified to use when you enter any Asian restaurant.  So, in homage to the internationality of London’s food scene, allow us to enlighten you:

Chopsticks come in all sizes from small, medium, and large, as well as all kinds of materials, ranging from stainless steel, wood, and plastic.  They are the quintessential utensil in Asian cuisine, and many Asian students bring their own personal set to university with them.  Why might this be? Is it because of their functional, sentimental, or hygienic value?  While you’re out practicing your chopstick skills , we want to see what your personal set looks like.  But, if you don’t have a pair of chopsticks, do not fret!  We welcome contributions of any personal cutlery items! Take a picture and send it, along with any stories you might have or a description of why you like to have your own personal cutlery, to!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Student Cuisine – Feedback

Last week we asked you about the food that students eat. The responses we received show that students’ eating habits are extremely diverse.
As a student, my partner spent a year living in China where he developed the taste for noodles. Now I get frequent requests for homemade Chinese food dinners. I love cooking and experimenting with "foreign" cuisines so the idea of making Chinese food sounded like fun. Now that I'm a student myself, time seems to escape me, and cooking is a luxury I only wish I could have. I'm ashamed to say that I often resort to pre-packaged sauces just to save those precious few minutes. But my partner doesn't seem to mind.

I eat tuna pasta religiously for 6 months. Once in a while I will go to the supermarket to buy a grilled chicken which I share with my friend as a treat.


When students cook, they often prepare the dishes they used to eat in their family homes.
Asda now sells American style russet potatoes. So lately I've been making all of my favorite potato recipes from home. It was difficult before. The potato varieties are different here in the UK. I was having trouble getting the same consistency and texture with my dishes. This is a photo of a potato galette I made with my grandma's cast iron skillet with russet potatoes.


Riccardo is an Italian who likes to cook Italian food. Pasta, risotto and polpettone are just a sample of the dishes that he prepares. 

He also likes to experiment with new recipes. Rice with curry chicken is an interesting fusion of Italian and Indian cuisine. 

Sometimes, what students eat can tell us where they are from. Can you guess the nationalities of these students based on the food that they prepared?

Duck breasts by Chao-Chieh

Sushi by Tania

Photo takeb by Qin
Corn quiche by Juliana

Apple strudel by Borut

Photo takeb by Qin
Salsa by Lisa

Photo takeb by Qin
Pasta by Anna
Photo takeb by Qin
by Anonymous

Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful food photos.  Stay tuned for more exciting topics!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Student Cuisine

It is a common perception that most students eat rubbish. One might argue that, generally, given students’ modest budgets, along with their long list of priorities (either studying or having fun, take your pick) they have neither the time to cook nor the resources to eat well.  As a result, it is thought that the eating habits of students are thoroughly unhealthy – comprised of fizzy sugar and caffeine-packed beverages, frozen pizzas and instant noodles, with no vegetables in sight (unless you count the potatoes in your chips). Do you think this is really true? Or, perhaps students are more conscious of having a healthy diet than we give them credit for. They might become less picky and begin to eat food they had never eaten while still living with their parents. Some may even find a new passion in inventing their own improvised recipes. Having free range might entice them to explore cuisines beyond their parent’s Sunday roast. They might even find the strength and avoid the temptation to snack on the inexhaustible sources of the sweets found in their parent’s home. What do you think? Can you relate to this?

What are your eating habits like? What is your favorite dish that you prepare in your student home? Please share your experiences with us by sending your food-related stories, recipes and pictures of the food you’ve prepared to

Sunday, 1 April 2012

What's in Your Fridge? - Feedback

Thank you to everyone for your responses to “What’s in Your Fridge?”  We have a few pictures from contributors that we’d like to share with you.  What do you think these fridges say about their owners?  To make things fun, we’ve added our own mini-analyses. 
Placing food directly on the shelf?  For shame!  Apparently, the owner of this fridge does not find that surface bacteria are an issue.

Baked beans, bacon, beer, and potatoes – whatever could the owner’s nationality be?

The people in this house don’t seem to eat in too often.

Three milks!  Sharing doesn’t appear to happen here….

Oh look, a relatively balanced diet. Bravo!

So many yogurts can only mean that this person is not lactose intolerant.  Also, that this person likes yogurt.

In addition to the pictures, we also received two stories this week.  The first is from Maja:
I share my student home with three other girls. We have two fridges in our apartment: the bigger one is shared and is situated in the kitchen while the small one stands in my room and is my personal fridge. I got it as a prize for participating in a draw. I’m really happy to have it. Before I could only buy limited amount of fresh food, because there were not enough space at my shelf in the shared fridge, now I can buy much more.

And, finally, a story about sharing fridge space, courtesy of an anonymous contributor:
Back in the day when I began my studies at university, I shared my student home with three other girls. Because one of the girls moved to apartment first, and was two or three years older than us, she had the idea that she had a right to possess more “fridge-space” than us.
Our freezer had three shelves. When the three of us shared one shelf, she occupied the other two. We noticed she liked to freeze food, but she didn’t really use frozen food for cooking. She kept filling her shelves. With each passing day was less space in the freezer.  When she was just about to start filling ours, we kindly alerted her that we were running out of space. She replied to us that she noticed the problem, but according to her, the reason was ice which occurred in the freezer. However, even after we cleaned the ice (she didn’t help by cleaning!) she kept to occupy the majority of space in the freezer.
Her superiority over the space didn’t stop with the freezer. She also occupied a vast majority of the fridge- and kitchen-space. Because the kitchen cabinets were full she kept leaving her pots, cooking equipment, fruit and all sorts of other things on the kitchen counter. We always struggled with lack of space when we wanted to prepare our food. When we wanted to cook, we packed her stuff in the (already full) cabinets, but she kept bringing new things to the kitchen. Providing space for our groceries, cooking equipment was Sisyphean task.
Thanks again, everyone, for the contributions this week.  Now, go and have a wonderful weekend!