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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My roommate doesn't clean the kitchen... 

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“Dear Ai,
I’ve living with my best friend in a one bedroom apartment downtown Vancouver. Originally we decided that I clean the bathroom and she cleans the kitchen once a week. Since we moved in the house, my roommate doesn’t clean at all! I talked with her about this, but she said she is busy for the school work. I am very frustrated with her answer and haven’t talked with her a week. Do you have any suggestions to improve the situation?” Saki – Japan

“Hi Saki, thank you for your question. It is very common in Canada that international students decide to leave their homestay and start living with their classmates or friends. The first couple of months, they enjoy their independence away from their parents and homestay family. However, it is true that the problems start arising gradually between roommates as you described in your e-mail.

It seems like you have already talked with your roommate how the house chores should have been done before you moved into the house. This is a very wise idea. Most students are excited about their house warming party and other exciting plans and do not think about daily chores.

You had talked with your roommate about the job delegation many times and she still hasn’t done her job, so forget about it. I know this is very frustrating. You feel you are cheated. But this is not worth sacrificing your friendship with her. It is a special and strong friendship since both of you will go through the same struggles to learn English in an unfamiliar setting. When both of you go back to your countries, this memory will be a fun experience and you will probably remember good things about her.

She might be frustrated with you because you want her to clean your way. She may have different standards. If you want somebody to do it your way, then you need to encourage the person when he/she did right. You need to catch the right moment and give her/him the feedback right away. The sentence can sound like “because you cleaned the kitchen well, I’ll make a delicious dinner for both of us!”

As she said, she might be too busy doing homework and cannot take care of the house right now. Maybe she is planning to clean on weekends. Why don’t you ask her how to improve the situation? Perhaps you can switch bathroom and kitchen cleaning frequently or she might suggest to you that she will do cooking instead of cleaning.

Another problem is limited space. Living in a Vancouver apartment is very expensive. Most students share a tiny one bedroom apartment for two or three people. In a crowded space, people tend to argue. If this is your problem, why don’t you live outside of downtown Vancouver? You might need to commute to school, but you have your own space. You won’t let the small things bother you so much!!

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