Dish washing

I am doing an exchange semester at the University of Exeter in England. I am living in accommodation provided by the university. It is a large complex with lots of apartments each containing a living room and around 5 rooms. In my block there are living only exchange students. So my apartment is very multicultural which I like a lot. But as a consequence I am not living with British people but with two Australians, a Canadian, an American and a German. So I am not writing about local cultural practice but about a mix of the cultural practices of the mentioned nationalities.
I was raised to do the dishes immediately after the meal. So directly after the meal we would get up and clean up the kitchen. While studying in Bern I first lived with my grandparents who handle the washing of the dishes exactly the same way as my parents do. But when I afterwards moved to an apartment which I shared with friends from university, I first encountered a different way of doing the dishes: So after the meal we used to continue talking or do some leisure activities. The dishes end up being done before going to bed or on the next day. And not all of us had the same mental model of when to do the dishes. So I used to do them earlier, whereas one of my friends was very reluctant to do the dishes soon.

Here in England I encounter yet a different way to handle it: Generally, the kitchen is in a really disgusting and chaotic state. So the mental model seems to be something like ‘clean up before you cook’. For me this is too much of a mess. I prefer a mix between my parent’s and my friend’s way back home: So after the meal you do not have to get up immediately to do the dishes so one can enjoy the evening. But the dishes for sure have to be done before the next meal is going to be prepared. This comes with the advantage that you can cook straight away and do not have to worry about washing up first.

Deducing from my experiences, I think it might rather be a question of the age of the people than of the nationality. So the older people typically do the dishes immediately and the younger people are typically too lazy to practice this habit.

Here I am reacting to the dirty kitchen in the way that I dislike to cook here. So I am eating my warm meals at university. At the apartment I often just eat cereal, which do not require lots of interaction with the kitchen. I probably also react this way because I know that my stay is limited here and the prices for meals at the university are not too high. If these points were not the case, I probably would have to argue with my flatmates in order to find a solution concerning the cleanliness of the kitchen with which I am happy too.

Joël Niklaus

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