Shared kitchen in Sogn Student Village all prepped and ready for a #party.

Manners maketh flatmate

After years in a shared SiO accommodation, I’ve seen it all

Publisert Sist oppdatert

Raging house parties? Trash piling up in bins, with annoying midges flying out in your face whenever you open the cupboard door? Vomit all over the floor and somehow even on the walls? I’ve been living in a shared apartment at Sogn for over two years now, and I (maybe) have figured out how to deal with /unpleasant/ flatmates.

The extent of the problem

One day in 2022, having finally finished a yanked-my-soul-out-of-my-exhausted-body shift in a restaurant, I dragged my feet home, looking forward to nothing but a relaxing shower and a good night’s sleep. It was way past midnight on a warm summer Friday (so technically Saturday), and none of my three flatmates had planned to have friends over. You see, we made a pact when all of us moved in – to always warn each other in our Messenger chat whenever there was going to be a party in the apartment. 

So imagine my shock when I discovered 15 or so students gulping Pilsner, yelling the lyrics of Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings,” and dancing in a circle in our shared kitchen, with little to no indication that they were planning to leave any time soon. I sighed exasperatedly, my back tightening with stress even more. Oh what a delightful, chill night this was going to be…

When I was applying for a SiO residence, affordability was my main criterion. Shared apartments in Sogn Student village are still the cheapest option (from NOK4173 per month as of May 2024), even considering the annual ca. 4% inflation adjustment. Later I learned that I was one of the lucky ones: By some miracle, I was allocated a room in one of the newer buildings – in an apartment for four students, with a dishwasher and two shared bathrooms. There are, after all, apartments for eight students with just one bathroom and no dishwasher whatsoever.

The more time I spent sharing the living space with others, the more I realized that even though my rent was ridiculously miniscule for Oslo (average rent for a one-room apartment in 2023 was ca. NOK10,500 according to Statistisk sentralbyrå), I still overpaid. It’s just that I was spending extra in a very different form of currency – my health, both mental and physical. And if you are taking a full-time degree in Norway, as do I, it is a steep price to pay.

It is my nervous system that is the most out of whack these days. I can’t fall asleep for hours because I never know whether my flatmates are going to have a party or just slam doors out of the blue. Earplugs are a fix (buy wax ones, they are the best), but even they won’t muffle out a drunk yelp or hysterical laughter of ten girls in the hall. I wake up early even on the weekends, because one of my current flatmates fancies having friends over for breakfast, and they hog the kitchen for three good hours. Sometimes I just ignore them, walk in, and cook my food, but sometimes I just need a moment of privacy that, apparently, only the crack of dawn can afford. As a result, I’m jumpy and irritable, and it is so much harder for me to focus on my studies.

6 solutions I have: from least to most effective

Not to say that this entire experience has been a disaster. I’ve made good friends with some of my flatmates over the years, we exchanged gifts, cooked and partied together. I cherish these memories, and they will never be tarnished by people who just don’t seem to realize that they don’t live alone. Besides, it’s not that I haven’t learned anything from all the unforgettable interactions with them, because I obviously have:

1. I know how to arrange a somewhat smooth life for a group of people who have never met. 

At least in theory. Whenever new students move into the apartment, I make sure to have a group meeting with all of them and agree on house rules for all the time we are going to live together. This includes: Cleaning schedule for shared spaces, schedule for taking the trash out, crash course on how to sort trash, no-slamming-doors-please rule, and please-make-sure-your-friends-do-not-make-noise-after-11-pm rule (which is actually stipulated in SiO house rules, section 5.5). Does everyone follow what we have agreed on? Nope. That’s why…

2. I don’t refrain from being an annoying bitch about house rules. 

I text in the chat whenever kitchen surfaces are oily and stink suspiciously of salmon or there is a four-days pile of trash under the sink. And I have a good reason: Once, we had a midge infestation in the kitchen because food waste was not thrown out regularly. (Don’t know about you, but midges on my food is not something I enjoy.) Does being an annoying bitch do the trick? No, obviously. So…

3. I can totally lose it if I have exhausted more peaceful options. 

Peaceful options are, for instance, reminding people to keep quiet after 11 pm when I know there is a party planned. When they ignore my request, I usually storm into the kitchen and use my scary and stern voice, saying something along the lines of “You have five minutes to leave, or I am calling the police!” Which was exactly what I did to ruin that raging Friday night party. Mission “relaxing night” achieved, but this did not solve the issue in the long run and created animosity between me and the party person I was sharing the apartment with at the time. Not good. Which means that now… 

4. I don’t mind reaching out to SiO and asking for help. 

Yes, uughh, I kvetch, and do so proudly. Once there is a party that just doesn’t stop, I call the main SiO number and ask Securitas (like a private police) to disband it on my behalf. Did it once, and the loud “Oi!” of the man who arrived twenty minutes later followed by dead silence was the most amusing thing ever. And after one of my lovely flatmates vomited all over the hall and in the bathroom we shared, leaving puke smears all over the walls (hooowwww?), I emailed SiO directly explaining all the nuisance he had caused earlier (long loud parties, trashed kitchen, stains on cooking surfaces – oh, and he even used pans that other people in the apartment bought for themselves and kept in their private cupboard), and they apparently reached out to him personally and explained how to behave properly. This trick has only worked once, though, – in most cases SiO will insist that you should solve your problems yourself. Hence…

5. I realize now that one should never sacrifice one’s comfort for the sake of cost-cutting. 

If possible, of course. I applied for internal moving nearly a year ago, and I was finally offered another apartment. Needless to say, I am moving out of Sogn into the bliss of a studio for singles in St. Hanshaugen. Won’t deny, it is going to make a hell of a dent in my wallet. But privacy and good sleep are worth it, right? At least I hope so.

Moving out of the shared apartment is the best solution to the annoying-flatmates problem, but it is not a perfect save. I am still going to have neighbors, and it’s impossible to know what kind of people they are going to be. The only hope I have is that the majority of them are either full-time students like me or prefer privacy to the unending fun and socializing that exchange students usually seek (btw, that’s why they opt for large student areas like Sogn or Kringsjå and/or shared apartments). And if not, I still have my wax earplugs and no one else will stain my kitchen or puke in my bathroom. And with that, the last (and the most important) lesson I’ve learned:

6. I know that I am also an unpleasant flatmate. 

Just ask those on the other end of my bitchiness and/or kvetching. The thing is, everything is relative, and perhaps what I consider an unacceptable stain on the kitchen surfaces is completely normal for another person. And in all fairness, scaring people into doing what you want is not the best course of action, even if in the moment it feels like you have every right to do so. To that end, I can only try to rein in my temper, be tolerant to others, find ways to compromise, and hope that all this will be enough for politeness to persevere. You gotta practice what you preach, after all.

Powered by Labrador CMS