By Ivo Dimitrov
Coming to UCU, I couldn’t wait to experience living on my own with other students. Spending time with like-minded people, getting to know each other, creating a warm, homely atmosphere; this is what I imagined it to be like. As the end of my first year nears, I find myself bitter, cynical, and disillusioned.
It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. All of your unitmates are, after all, young people full of energy who experience life just like you and seek a familiar lifestyle. Contrary to society’s view of people of our age, I believe we desire connection, understanding, and warmth more than anything else. Free of parents’ imaginary (and real?) shackles, you finally have independence and freedom, while still constantly having people around.
I tried to make that happen. On the first day of introweek, I approached my unitmates with all the excitement in the world. At first it seemed to work: I thought I had met a bunch of cool, open people, who cared about campus and those around them. Three of them had even signed up together! Their close friendship would only help create a relaxed, welcoming vibe.
Soon, though, I started noticing something rotten in the air. Yes, there were unit dinners, but they seemed more like mandatory board meetingsthan nice get-togethers. No one took the initiative to hang out in the living room, to watch a movie, or just to have some tea after class. No spontaneous knocks on the door, no invites for a beer in the bar. Any suggestion to hang out would simply be shrugged off. “Too busy, let’s do it some other time,” sounded more like, “please just leave me alone”.
I am not saying all unitmates should love each other like soulmates; we have no control over the people who we end up living with. But why not take advantage of this and turn it into something positive? Living with people you might not have otherwise met, experiencing different perspectivesthan those of your friends – why not embrace, instead of fightit? I expected more willingness to make something of what we were dealt with. Alas – no one cared to give it atry, with the general atmosphere now being something like ‘mutual ignoring of each other’s existence’.
A friend once said that the state of a unit’s kitchen reflects the friendliness between unitmates – ours might as well be Chernobyl. The worst part is, I find myself changing, starting to not care, too. I discover in myselfanimosity, accompanied by evil dreams of covering unit mates’ rooms in the trash they didn’t take out. I now despise theloud borrel downstairs, the random girls on Friday morning, the boyfriend that knocks on the door every five minutes. I once vacuumed at 5AM with all doors opened, ‘cause hey: if I have to clean up, I might as well make it vengeful cleaning. What happened to me? This wasn’t the unit mate I wanted to be!
I don’t know whether to be cautiously optimistic about the future, or continue towards bleakly enlightened cynicism. I will be living with friends and we’ll undoubtedly spend more time socializing. And there are exceptions; some units do have that nostalgic, grandmotherly feel, with the smell of great food and the sound of busy chatter all around. Still, I can’t help feeling like aiming for that is aiming too high.