For a finalist in English and Creative Writing I had my life surprisingly well planned out before I graduated. I had acquired a wonderful spot on a well respected masters in a beautiful institution at London's heart. I had applied, interviewed and been accepted into a gorgeous house share minutes walk from campus. My life in London had a glorious sheen of luxury, intelligence and not a hint of disorganisation.
I was pleased.
Before launching into this sparkling bubble in the city of lights, shopping, education and of course socialising in wine bars - I went travelling for two months in South East Asia, because of course, we all need a top up of eastern culture before that kind of hustle and bustle.
I was not long into this exotic journey when disaster struck its merciless hand. An email, disrupting the natural flow of an evening wondering the rainy streets of Laos, popped the bubble within minutes. My future housemates were being evicted, the landlord selling the house and due to a certain welcome party... our deposits would not be refundable.
Panic doesn't even touch it.
After some tears, deep breaths, more tears and even more deep breaths I shook off my house troubles and put my organisational hat on once more. It wasn't long until my travelling companion wanted to sell me to a haggler. He'd come to experience temples, noodles and massage... whereas what he got was "Hackney or Crouch End?", "Well the bedroom is nice but the bathroom looks poorly lit" and "I'll just quickly check my emails."
Then, one magical day in Cambodia a few weeks after the disaster, I stumbled across an American girl going to the same sparkly institution who was also looking for a flatmate. A few chatty emails between us and bingo, I was saved. Once touching down in the UK I only had to decide on an area, visit all the estate agents, view all the properties, put down a bid for the flat, sign all the paperwork, hope our references were accepted, wire them a deposit, whistle a happy song, go to an inventory, pick up the keys from the agents and my freshly flown flatmate from the airport (with two wardrobes worth of luggage) and we were in.
Now, my flatmate is a lovely girl but we are two very different people who had never met before, shoved together by desperation and circumstance. The likelihood of our being best friends was slim, but yet my hopes were reaching these ridiculous heights. Not long after our move I had an argument with a friend I had lived with at university because I tactlessly mentioned I probably wouldn't live with him again. He is still one of my closest friends, but... honestly we were terrible flatmates and I wouldn't be willing to put that strain on our friendship again. Often bad living situations create difficulties you never would have found had you stayed in separate houses.
With my current flatmate moving to eastern Europe next year, its that time again. Flatmate or not to flatmate? Not flatmating comes in three varieties - living on your own, with your parents or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Unfortunately even bedsits are out of my price range and my parents live in another country (Wales is another country!). My boyfriend and I had that 'talk' but, even after being together for three years, twenty-one still seems far too young for the living-together-test.
So.. I'm on the market.
Living situations are one of the most important and impacting factors for students, and the hardest to get right. Most of my friends have either found that perfect living partnership, or its been disastrous from beginning to end. I belong to the latter party, the one who's dreams never seem to come true.
In the world of university and young (poor) professionals we all struggle with finding where we are going to fit socially, financially and professionally. The people we live with have a large influence on how we interact on a day to day level in all areas of our life. A difficult living situation can result in spending lots of money keeping out of the house or even in the break down of a friendship that was never broken to start with.
If as 'generation rent' this appears to be our lot in the world of living situations, we have to find a better formula for finding partners in our rent. From spareroom strangers to lifelong friends, who is the right person? It seems to me to be a matter of wise choices, trust and a large margin for trial and error.