I am currently in my second year at Queen's University, and despite being from Kingston, I'm living in a student house with four of my besties. Living with four people who aren't your family can be a little rough sometimes. Our house has had its share of ups and downs and broken appliances, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Regardless of any problems we might run into, I know that someone always has my back. Plus, I've learned so much from my housemates at Queen's this year.

1. Clean Up After Yourself 

One of the biggest things my housemates have taught me is to always clean up after myself. While this might seem self-evident, it's true. Over the past few months, I have constantly had to be on my A-game, cleaning crumbs off the counter as I go, washing dishes mid-cooking, and re-arranging my homework spread all over the table so someone else has a spot to sit.

Living with four other people means that no one else is responsible for your messes but you. No mom is around to tidy up your things so you don't lose them; if you don't put them away, they could disappear forever. I'm super lucky because my housemates are angels who will put my things in my room instead of chucking them, but I've learned that out of respect, you have to tidy for yourself. 

2. Use the Buddy System 

The buddy system is no longer some overrated technique your teachers used so you wouldn't get lost. It's a revolutionary idea that makes you stick to your word and not get lost on a night out. Our house does tons of stuff together, and as such, we make each other stick to our word.

Gym, groceries, chores—tackling everything together makes the time fly by and the jobs easier. We also have a rule that we stick together when we go out, and not once has a person been lost. Sticking together is the best way to make sure we're all safe, happy, and having fun together. 

3. How to be Accountable

One of the things that changes the most when you're on your own is that there is no one looking over your shoulder keeping you accountable for the most simple things. Especially without my mom, I always have to keep myself on track. Whether it's making sure I'm eating healthy foods, staying on top of all my work, or not just binging the day away on Netflix, I have to make sure that I am doing this on my own.

However, my housemates have had a great impact on me, reminding me in their own ways how I have to stay on track and get stuff done. They help me stay accountable for my actions and my responsibilities to them. 

4. Stay On Top of Your Work 

Just like holding each other accountable, my housemates do a great job of making sure we all stay on top of our homework. Mostly, we all force each other back to our work by complaints and group suffering, but we've gotten great at encouraging each other to get things done. Even when I just want to lay in bed all day, I cross paths with someone who decided to get things done that day, and they motivate me to get back to it! 

5. How to Say No

Right alongside forcing each other to do work and clean up, I've been taught a super valuable skill by my friends; how to say no. University life is filled with parties and outings where you spend money you don't have, pay for cover you can't afford, drink things your body doesn't want, and sacrifice sleep that you need.

The biggest help I've had this year is four people constantly by my side telling me to stay in, cancel, back out, and sleep in if I need to. They've taught me that the world doesn't come crashing down if you stay in on a Saturday night and that sometimes, a Girl's Night Out is all you need to feel better. 

6. Eat Your Vegetables

Another big change in your life as a university student is the lack of people making and buying food for you. Suddenly you don't have a parent making sure you're eating all your vegetables and getting in your vitamins.

Honestly, healthy eating is hard and my housemates know if I could live off grilled cheese I would. So on the days that I feel like avoiding veggies, I watch what my housemates are eating and am inspired by their choices to cook myself a good meal. Cooking and shopping alongside your friends can inspire you to make new meals, and to eat better for yourself. 

7. Sometimes You Have to Laugh It Out 

Let's face it, living with others isn't always easy. Everyone has their own way of doing things and their own opinions on how things should be handled. Having five different opinions in my house definitely brings about some disagreements every once in a while, but I've quickly learned the best way to solve them. Bringing light to even our most serious of issues has made sure we don't fight and that we pay attention to our mistakes. Ask our Gordon Ramsay kitchen cut-out, he could prove it! 

8. Patience

Another lesson I learned while living with five girls is patience. Whether it's waiting for the shower, taking your turn to use the microwave, or hearing a story for the sixth time, you learn different kinds of patience from all parts of your life while living with girls. It's one of the skills I'm most grateful to have, and one I practice every day, in and out of the house. 

9. How to Be a Better Friend 

One of the biggest takeaways I've had from my housemates has been how to be a better friend to them. Personally, when I get stressed and anxious, I tend to hide away in my room and close myself off from everyone around me. It's not that I don't want to spend time with them, but that I am so overwhelmed that I forget too. One of my greatest lessons has been how to keep up with their lives, check in, and have fun with them even when I feel like burying myself in my work. 

10. They'll Always Be There For Me

No matter what my housemates teach me, there's always one thing that will ring true. I have four incredible friends who would do anything for me—people who are always by my side to protect me and take care of me. No matter how mad or frustrated you are, how tired or overwhelmed, when you need them they're there.

Whether it's an undercover mission to make sure you're safe, a buddy to take care of you on a night out, someone to protect you from a gross ex, or just someone to complain to about your day, the best housemates are up for anything. I couldn't be more thankful to have housemates like them. 

Emily Deszpoth

Even though this year has brought me some ups and downs, I wouldn't change it for the world. It's been a blast living with some of my best friends and I can't wait to do it all again next year! Living with your friends is an incredible chance to make some of the best memories, have some incredible nights, be crazy and adventurous, and have the most fun of your life.

So, to all my Blue Door Ladies, and to all our Honourary Housemates; cheers to the best years, ladies.