This Student Life: Easter break, week 14 at the Manchester Student House: Call this a holiday? Purgatory, more like

What to do in the vacation? Revise for upcoming finals? Not likely. It's time to chill out (or run for your life). By Cayte Williams
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The Independent Culture
STRESS IS mounting. There are four weeks of studying time available before Finals begin, and then it's all over. What's more, it's vacation time. What to do? Take advantage of the free time and get stuck into some serious revision? Or sneak back home to escape reality?

Funnily enough, almost all of them went for the second option. The exceptions were Ian, Leona and David. Ian - whose family only live in Leeds, on the other side of Snake Pass - decided to hang around in Manchester to enjoy a little rest and recuperation from his student clubbing society.

Leona, on the other hand, escaped to Cornwall, where she spent a week being told by her cousins how much she'd grown. Worse, the cousins have children.

"I'm not really the family type," she says, "I remember I had to babysit when I was 14 or 15 and I hated it because children irritate me. They're so demanding."

Somehow the experience didn't seem all that different to that of sharing a student house in Manchester with four blokes.

"Sometimes we do all get on," she says glumly, "but when people get stressed everything falls apart. There's definitely a boy-versus- girl thing going on, and I'm starting to wonder if this is what it's going to be like for the rest of my life. Is this what men are all like?"

Still, there's hope. "All my friends at home are blokes," she says, "Maybe you have to live with them to know them. I recently had a really nice weekend in Leeds with my ex-boyfriend. He's lovely. And most of the boys at home are lovely, too.

"This Easter all my friends came back home and were all so proud of their new relationships at college. The trouble is I'm too cynical. I can't imagine I would ever meet anyone who wouldn't turn out to be nasty."

So what's wrong with the male sex? "They take themselves too seriously," says Leona. "I mean, the boys in the house have all been really good about the club nights they organise. They could easily have stepped on each others' toes with that. But they go too far, constantly name-dropping with things like `My brother's friend DJ-ed in this place or that place'. It's so petty. They're like little kids really."

Then there's the milk. "They all share the fridge downstairs," she explains wearily, "and somebody will borrow someone else's milk and leave it out. The person whose milk it is will ask who used it and nobody will own up. Even when I've seen who did it, they still lie..."

So is there any difference between men and children? "At the end of the day they're really lovely," she says of the boys, "but sometimes they drive me mad. I hate arguing more than anything. Girls can step back and look at the situation, but boys can't see anything from anyone else's point of view."

Recently, they sprang on her in the shower. "They said they were sorry," she explains, "but they just don't get it. They don't understand how that might have upset me at all.

"When Ian argues he'll say anything personal to keep the argument going," she continues, "and he doesn't realise how upsetting that is."

Meanwhile, David's sloping off to the Far East. "I'm going to Hong Kong then Burma for three weeks to see some of my relatives," says the most amenable lad in the house. "My dad's going, too, and he hasn't been in seven years. My mum's a doctor out in Hong Kong."

He's particularly looking forward to getting drenched during the Burmese New Year celebrations. "They have this massive water festival which is a completely mental fight," explains David.

"People go around in trucks and stop at each house where they fire hose pipes and throw water bombs. It's a real laugh.

"I'm looking forward to getting out of Manchester because the weather's been shit," he says, "even though I know I should really be working." Then there are the family matters, such as David's divorced parents who haven't seen each other for years. So how do they get on?

"No comment," says David. Maybe it's a boy versus girl thing.

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