This Student Life: We just don't like each other

Spring term, week 11 at the Manchester Student House: The pressures of living together are starting to tell.

ROBBIE

studying

Economics

DAVID

studying

Management

IAN

studying

Geography

LEONA

was studying

Maths

ALISTAIR

studying

Management

TASH

studying

Management

ROSIE

studying

French

THE STUDENTS have been living together for over six months now, and that old maxim that you don't really know anyone until you share a home with them is proving true. Arguments over who sorts out the phone bill and who does the washing up carry on as normal and it has led to personality clashes.

Ian is getting fed up with Rosie. "She's so messy, we have to clean up after her all the time. In fact, we live with really dirty girls. They never take the bins out." But is Ian one of those boys who expects girls to do all the cleaning? "Not at all," he protests. "Rosie's the only one not to have done any tidying up. Everybody helps but she does nothing.

"I don't hate her," he continues, "I just don't like her very much. She's narrow-minded and opinionated."

On a happier note, David reckons that he and Robbie are closer than ever. They were good mates before they moved into this house, but now they're joined at the hip. "Living here has made me realise how similar we are," he says. We have the same humour and spend hours talking crap to each other.

"We're from similar backgrounds," adds David, "and come from an ethnic minority living in Britain."

David came to England from Hong Kong when he was eight and went to school in Sunderland. "I would get picked on and it affected my self-confidence," he says. "School kids would do Bruce Lee impressions, make jokes about Chinese takeaways, or take the piss out of the Chinese accent. Even grown men called you names when you walked down the street. I knew Manchester would be different because I would be mixing with students who have less insecurities for a start. The few comments I've had have been from locals."

David had a row with Leona and Tasha the other day about a TV programme. He says: "I complained that all the questions on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? were culturally biased, in that if you weren't white and British you couldn't get the answers. But I was just trying to wind them up."

Tasha, whose father is from Sri Lanka, is glad she's living in England. "I've hardly ever come across racism here but when I've been abroad I've got loads of hassle," she says. "I went to eastern Germany five years ago with a group of school friends who were white and I got such a shock. We got so much racial abuse. We weren't allowed into clubs or restaurants because of my colour. They've got problems there with the neo-Nazis and you could see there was a real ghetto for ethnic minorities."

Tasha's background is Sri Lankan but she went to a "very English" boarding school, Christ's Hospital in Essex. She passed the entrance exam and joined her brother there because her father knew it had a good exam pass rate. "My dad came over to this country to be a part of this country," she says.

So did she feel any cultural difference when she arrived at a "very English" school? "My daddy is Christian," she says, "and religion has a lot to do with upbringing, so no, I didn't at all."

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