Student Life

Dealing with Bad Neighbors

You may have (unluckily) landed bad neighbors; those neighbors that are too loud ALL THE TIME, the neighbors that host wild parties, or the neighbors who are just a little too sensitive.  In any case, having bad neighbors cannot only be a downer, but it can also cause you and your roommates a lot of stress.  Trying to sleep through those loud parties or your neighbor complaining about your every move, is certainly not going to make you feel comfortable.

You’re biggest dilemma, however, is that you can’t change your neighbors.  Therefore, you have to take action.  This doesn’t mean combating your neighbors or retaliating.  That will only make matters worse.  Instead, the best thing to do is to have a talk with them about what is really bothering you and what both of you can do to fix it.

Like with any discussion of this nature (see our roommate posts), the best thing to do is plan out what you’ll say beforehand.  This way you’ll stop yourself from saying anything you’d rather not say, and that you can get your point across.  Especially if you don’t already know your neighbors, it is best that you’re as clear and as cordial as possible.  You certainly don’t want to come off as the nagging neighbor.

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid blaming the problem on personality flaws.  This can make matters worse and it will most often escalate the discussion into a fight.  The best to do is focus on certain actions and how you are bothered by those actions.  If you’re neighbor plays their music too loud, just let them know that the music is a little too high when you are trying to study.

However, this will be a little different if you’re neighbor is very sensitive.  The best thing to do in this situation is to have a talk with them, and ask them what can be done to fix the problem.  Like with any discussion with your neighbors, however, you should be sure to keep it civil and to keep it about specific behaviors, rather than personalities.

In any case, talking to your neighbor can help the situation.  However, it is not always a long-term solution nor is it a give-in.  If the problem returns, the best thing to do is to have another talk with your neighbor about the problem, and remind them of your previous discussion(s).  If the problem becomes persistent and it does not seem like you can fix it, it is best that you talk to your landlord.  This will prevent any major conflicts with your neighbors, and in most cases the issue will be solved.  In serious circumstances, it is best to have your landlord (or the authorities, if needed) deal with the situation.  You should not try to manage any situation with your neighbors where you feel you are harm’s way.

Overall, dealing with bad neighbors can be extremely stressful.  However, properly managing the situation by talking with them about the problem and trying to find workable solutions can be extremely helpful in fixing the problem.  While in most cases talking to them might work, in persistent or serious situations, it is best to contact your landlord (or even the authorities, if needed) to deal with the problem.  In the end, it’s best not to leave any of these situations alone.



Protecting Your Security Deposit

When you’re renting, one of your biggest concerns should be ensuring that you protect your security deposit.  This is because you not only want to get back your full security deposit, but you also want to maintain a good relationship with your landlord.  To do this you will have to keep track of any current damage when you move in and ensure that you don’t cause any damage while you’re renting.

The first thing to do when you move in, before you even start unpacking, is to document the current state of the unit.  It is a good idea to go through a checklist of any existing damage with your landlord, if you can.  It’s a good idea to go through the apartment as thoroughly as you possibly can, so you won’t get the blame for damage that may already have been there.  It’s also a really good idea to take a photo or video of the current state of the apartment when you move in.  Any damage you find upon your move-in is something worth documenting visually with a timestamp.

If you find any major problems with your apartment upon your move-in, you should let your landlord know right away.  This could include any type of leak, breakages, major damage, and infestations.  You should also let your landlord know if the conditions of the apartment are unacceptable upon your move-in, i.e. the cleanliness of the apartment is unacceptable or the apartment is not up to code.  You should check your state’s requirements on these codes to see what is necessary for your apartment.

While you’re living in your apartment, you should also make a note of any damage you see that you may have missed in your first walk through.  You should also let your landlord know right away if you cause any damage to the apartment.  It’s best just to own up to your mistake; your landlord will be more understanding if you tell them right away.

Working to protect your security deposit should be one of your main goals while your living in your apartment.   While your landlord cannot charge you for normal wear-and-tear, you should document the condition of your apartment upon moving in, including documenting with timestamped videos and/or photos.  It’s also a good idea to do this with your landlord, if you can, so they are aware of the current condition of the apartment.  Be sure to let your landlord know if the condition of the apartment is unacceptable and/or not up to code.  It is in these ways that you can ensure you get your full security deposit back and that you maintain a good relationship with your landlord.


“Helping You Protect Your Security Deposit” from UMass Amherst Off Campus Student Services 

“How to Get Your Security Deposit Back” from Pine Tree Legal Assistance


Student Life

Roommate Problems: The Inconsiderate Roommate

While the messy roommate and the inconsiderate roommate may be sometimes one in the same, it’s not always the case.  Sometimes you just have a roommate who plays their music on high until 3 am, takes your food from the fridge, and doesn’t do their fair share of the chores.  What do you do about this type of roommate?

Well it’s a little bit harder with an inconsiderate roommate than just a messy roommate.  This is because there are generally a whole range of different behaviors you have a problem with; not just one.  However, like with the messy roommate, you should certainly talk with them about what is bothering you the most about their behavior.

With any sort of discussion like this, the first thing you want to do before you even talk with your roommate, is to think about what are the things that are really bothering you and how you will handle the situation.  It is best to come up with your responses to the possible reactions your roommate may have about the situation.

When you’ve decided what you’re going to say and when you’re going to say it, you should be sure that you avoid approaching this situation as a “confrontation.”  You should avoid thinking about these types of situations as a “confrontation” because this will automatically freak you out and will cause you to react poorly.  It’s best to keep an open mind and go into the situation thinking about a positive outcome for both you and your roommate.  This will keep both you and hopefully your roommate, positive.

Like with any discussion of this nature, it’s also best to focus on the specific behaviors that bug you the most, and avoid blaming it on personality flaws.  It will not only cause your roommate to become defensive, and possibly hostile, but it will also ensure that you will have a less-than-satisfying outcome to your discussion.

Overall, with any problem you experience with your roommate, it’s best to come at the situation with an idea of what you’ll say, an idea of how both of you will react, with hope for a positive outcome, and an understanding its not a personality flaw that is causing the problem.  While it may seem like a lot to remember, having that sometimes-difficult discussion will not only be better for your psyche, but it will be better for your roommate, and the relationship.

Student Life

10 Great Halloween Movies

It’s that time of year again; that time filled with ghosts, goblins, and tasty candy.  It’s also a great time to sit down with a bowl of popcorn with some friends and watch some great horror films.  This is why we’ve put together a list of some great horror films you just have to watch to get into the Halloween spirit.

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1.    Halloween

This 1978 John Carpenter Film brought about the reign of Michael Myers, perhaps the scariest evildoer in a horror film to date.  No one can deny that the white mask and the blue jumpsuit doesn’t scare them.  It’s also doesn’t hurt that it’s appropriately named for the occasion.

2.    The Exorcist

The film tells the story of a girl who gets possessed by an evil entity, and will literally send chills down your spine.  The Exorcist is perhaps one of the most iconic films of all time.

3.     The Last Man on Earth

This 1964 film with the legendary Vincent Price tells the story of the last man on Earth and how he combats the nightmarish vampires that seek to kill him.

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4.    The Shining

Perhaps Jack Nicholson at his most terrifying, and is based on the Steven King classic.  This film tells the story of family who is isolated in a mountain hotel, and the horrors that await them during their stay.

5.    Silence of the Lambs

Silence of the Lambs was the film that brought us Hannibal Lector, the cannibalistic serial killer, played by Anthony Hopkins.  This movie is not only entirely creepy, but it was also inspired by real-life serial killer, Ed Gein.

6.    Psycho

Ed Gein was not only the inspiration of Silence of the Lambs, but he’s also the inspiration for the murderous Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Psycho.  One of the most classic of the Hitchcock films, the film follows the story of the deranged motel owner and the individuals who are onto his dirty secret.

7.    Nightmare on Elm Street

One of the freakiest horror villains, Freddy Krueger, was a murderer with knives for hands (kind of like an evil Edward Scissorhands).  The scariest thing about Freddy was that he attacked you at your weakest:  When you’re asleep.

8.    28 Days Later

Perhaps the ultimate zombie film, 28 Weeks Later follows a group of survivors after the rage virus spreads throughout the UK turning everyone into angry zombies.

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9.    30 Days of Night

Forget those sparkly, vegetarian vampires!  30 Days of Night is based on a graphic novel about a small town in Alaska that is attacked by a group of vicious vampires.

10. The Strangers

The Strangers follows the story of a couple whose trip to their family’s cabin turns deadly when they receive a mysterious knock at the door in the middle of the night.

These are just ten of our favorite horror films.  To find more, check out’s list of Top 50 Scariest Movies of All Time.

 Have a fun and safe Halloween everyone!

Other References:

“All About Hannibal Lecter – Fact and Fiction” by Anthony Bruno

Student Life

Hurricane Preparedness

With Hurricane Sandy set to hit the east coast, it’s certainly a good idea to know how to prepare for the impending storm.  For many students, this may be their first time dealing with a storm on their own, so it’s important to know how to plan.

The first thing you need is emergency supplies, in case you lose power and are unable to leave home for a few days.  As FEMA suggests, it’s a good idea to prepare for at least three days.  In a basic kit they suggest a supply of water (at least one gallon of water per person per day), a supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, and a cell phone with a charger.

Before the storm hits, it’s a good idea to keep up with the weather reports and regularly check updates for your area.  You may also want to check with your landlord beforehand to see if you are living in a flood-prone area, as this may require you to be evacuated.

You will also want to keep in mind to take in any furniture or belongings that are outside, and, if you can, move your vehicle out from under trees.  This will prevent any property damage.

Overall, it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date on the status of the storm, as well as prepare yourself for any loss of power to your home.  In some cases, you may have to be evacuated from your home, so make sure to be prepared, especially if you’re living in a flood prone area.

Other References:

“Hurricanes” from FEMA

Roommates, Student Life

Roommate Problems: The Messy Roommate

It’s pretty common to encounter a roommate who doesn’t see eye to eye with you when it comes to the cleanliness of your pad.  Cleaning is actually one of the biggest problems roommates face, and can often lead to roommate conflicts.

While cleaning to you may seem so simple, almost like second nature, it’s not always the same for everyone.  Not everyone has the same level of cleanliness, and so it is something you have to consider when you live with someone else.  However, the best thing to do is to try to come to a compromise with your roommate when it comes to the cleanliness of your place.

The first thing to do is to identify the things that drive you the most crazy when it comes to the cleanliness of your place.  Maybe it’s the dishes in the sink, the dirty towels on the floor of the bathroom, or their books and papers strewn across the kitchen table.  These should be the things that you can’t live without.

The next thing to do is to identify the things that you could live with.  Maybe it doesn’t bother you if they leave the dishes in the sink for a day or so, or that they leave their stuff in the hallway for a while.  These will be the things that you would be willing to compromise on.

The idea is to first present the things that bother you the most about your roommate’s cleanliness (or lack thereof).  Just remember to keep your focus on the behaviors that bother you the most, and to avoid attributing the things that bother you to personality flaws.  It’s also a good idea to explain why these things bother you so that your roommate fully understands.  This will keep the conversation civil and will also help you to express your frustration with the current situation.

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The next thing to do is to work on a compromise with your roommate.  Mention the list of things you could live with.  That may help make your request seem much more reasonable, and will help you both to work towards a workable solution.

While living with a messy roommate can be frustrating, the best thing to do is to realize the things that bother you the most when it comes to the cleanliness of your pad.  For while you may not always get your roommate to see your ways of cleaning, you can certainly come to a workable solution that you can both live with.


“5 Common Roommate Problems (and How to Deal)”

Roommates, Student Life

Talking with Your Roommate About Their Significant Other

You love your roommate; you get along well, they share their equal part of the responsibilities, and everything seems to be going great.  However, you start to realize that your roommate’s significant other starts showing up more often.  Whether they are great or not, it can be difficult finding out that you will be rooming with your roommate’s girlfriend or boyfriend, too.  It can be overwhelming for you, especially when they start eating your food, and parking themselves in the common areas.  So what do you do?

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Well it’s best to say something to your roommate, especially if the situation is really starting to bother you.  However, it certainly isn’t as easy as it sounds, because really:  How do you tell you roommate that you don’t want their significant other around as much, or that the things they do bother you?  Here are some things to keep in mind when you do decide to talk to your roommate about it:

Be aware of their feelings on the issue.  Before you say anything, think about how you would feel if you were in their shoes.  Use that as a basis for how you would want to approach your roommate about their significant other.  You especially don’t want to go in with guns blazing, and end up fighting with your roommate.

Refer to the behaviors that bother you the most.  Talk with your roommate about the behaviors that bother you the most, and specifically how those behaviors make you feel.  Avoid making it about their significant other’s personality; it won’t end well, as your roommate will think you are personally attacking them and their significant other.

Try to come to a solution where all of you can win.  Maybe the things that bother you the most are really just that their boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t pitch in with buying common foods, that they leave the dishes in the sink, or they leave their belongings in the common areas.  These are things that can certainly be fixed very easily.  By suggesting realistic and logical solutions to the problem, you can ensure that everyone wins.

The key is to keeping it simple, and being mindful of how you would feel if you were in their situation.  It’s always best to strategize first before getting into any discussion with your roommate about their significant other, so that you don’t say something you didn’t mean to say.  Just think ahead about what behaviors bother you the most, what solutions you could take to fix the problem, and what your roommate’s possible reactions might be.

Housing Advice, Renting

What do I do when something gets broken or damaged in my apartment?

If anything breaks while you are residing on the premises, and it is not your fault, it is best to let your landlord know immediately.  This way they will not assume you damaged it, and this will prevent you from having to pay for the damage to be fixed.  Things can happen, and so it’s best to just let your landlord know right away.

If you caused damage or broke something on the premises, the best thing you can do is let your landlord know immediately, as well.  Do not try to fix anything on your own.  For while your landlord may deduct from your security deposit, you’ll be better off by letting them know.  This way your roommates will not be held responsible for any of the damages (if you have roommates), and you can maintain trust between between you and your landlord.

We should also note that it is a good idea to keep track of anything that is damaged, broken, or anything that is just not working properly, upon move-in.  If you notice something, let your landlord know immediately, and keep a record of it.  You may even want to take a photo (if you can), just in case.

Overall, breakages and damages can occur.  The best thing is to let your landlord know right away when something gets damaged or broken.  For while you may have to pay, it will help you to maintain trust in your relationship with your landlord.

To find out more information on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, visit

Student Life

Dorm Room Dining 101

While it might not seem like it could logistically work, especially when you’re only allowed to have a microwave and a mini-fridge, there are actually some things you can cook in your dorm room.

While your options may seem limited, there are actually quite a few things you can cook in your dorm room.  Here’s a list of a few suggestions:

  • Ramen noodles (these will be your best friend)
  • Frozen dinners
  • Frozen pizza
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Eggs (they actually make microwavable dishes that can cook eggs for you in the microwave)
  • Hot dogs
  • Popcorn
  • Frozen or fresh vegetables
  • Hot breakfast cereals
  • Russet and sweet potatoes
  • Rice

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Those are only just a few.

However, when it comes to cooking in your dorm room, there are some things to keep in mind.  The first is to avoid washing dishes in the bathroom sinks.  Instead you should try to find another sink away from bacteria and harmful chemicals.  You should also keep in mind that you will need microwave safe plates and Tupperware to cook in your dorm room.  You should be sure to check to make sure that the plates, cups, bowls, and Tupperware you do use specifically says that they are microwave safe.  For when it doubt, don’t use it in the microwave.

Another thing to keep in mind is the simplicity of recipes.  In an article by Kristin Stewart (not Kristen Stewart of the Twilight movies) called “Chew on this!  Tips on dorm room cooking,” she suggests choosing recipes with five ingredients or less, as it will not only save you space in your dorm room, but it will also save you money.  She also suggests keeping pasta, oatmeal, milk, sugar, eggs, olive oil, frozen fruits and vegetables, cheese, popcorn, and canned soups on hand, just in case.  Having at least one plate, one bowl, one mug, a drinking cup, a sharp knife, a can opener, a corkscrew, and utensils wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Stewart also suggests asking your roommate(s) about the food that they are sensitive to, either because of allergies or smell.  You want to make sure that you aren’t creating strong odors in your dorm room that your roommate(s) can’t handle.

Overall, you aren’t actually that limited when it comes to dorm room cooking; all you need to remembers is to keep it simple and you’ll be golden when the dining halls close.

Other References
“Healthy Microwavable Food” by Sara Ipatenco

Student Life

Tips for Cooking for One

One of the biggest obstacles you have to overcome while living off-campus is learning to buy and cook for one.  While it doesn’t seem that difficult, it can actually be tough when you are living on a budget and have never cooked for yourself before.

Buying just for you is really the first hurdle you have.  Especially if you’re living on a budget, it can be difficult to figure out how much you should buy for a week.  We suggest stocking up on dried and canned goods that will keep for longer periods of time.  This will help you keep your grocery budget low every week, and it will keep you fed when you don’t have time to go to the grocery store.  We also suggest that you don’t buy a lot of perishable goods.  Think about your regular routine each day and what foods you can live without and those you can’t.  You will also want to consider that you can eat leftovers, so you don’t have to buy something for every night of the week.

Another main concern you should have is maintaining a balanced diet.  This can be one of the biggest obstacles for college students, as they are often eating at weird times and they often don’t have time to be preparing large meals.  In an article by Andrea Cespedes called “What Does a Balanced Diet Consist Of?”, she explains that a balanced diet really should contain orange and dark green vegetables and fruits without added sugars, whole grains, low-fat and non-fat dairy, and lean meats.  However, while meeting these requirements should be a priority, it doesn’t have to mean that you should totally take out all of the “fun” foods in your life.  The USDA recommends that you just keep your “fun” foods (sweets, solid fats like butter, and alcohol) to a minimum, at about 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.

Cooking for one can be an entirely different story, especially if you’ve never cooked for yourself before.  The idea is to cook one meal to reheat if you have leftovers.  As we described in our last post, it is important to eat the leftovers before they go bad, but they can be a great way to keep yourself fed and to avoid spending unnecessary time and money.  If you know you can’t eat the leftovers in time, you can even freeze them and save them for later.

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Some great tools you can use include using a toaster oven and a slow cooker.  Toaster ovens are a great way to bypass using your oven to cook.  Now you can even get special pans to use in the toaster oven that you can use to cook your vegetables and meats.  Slow cookers also offer the same convenience in that you can throw all your ingredients in in the morning, and when you come home around 8 to 10 hours later, you’re meal will be ready for you.

Overall, living off-campus can afford you a lot of comforts and independence.  However, there are some basic lessons you have to learn when you do decide to live off-campus, and buying and cooking for yourself is certainly one.  It is not particularly hard to master, it just takes a little planning, and some cool tools to help you keep yourself fed and on a budget.

Other References:

“10 Cooking for One Tips” by Kimberly Kunaniec