Unexpected mathematical properties of student apartments

The crappier the apartment, the better!

Posted by Breaking Thirty on July 15, 2019

I live in a student apartment that I share with other two people, or, better, students. Students apartments are not like normal apartments. They get older and older and older but they never collapse. This is to allow the owner to keep making money out of students without investing a cent to renovate them. With time, supplies and furniture of student apartments acquire peculiar properties that can be described only with math and physics laws.


  1. Binary oven. I like trying out new recipes, especially during the weekends when I have more time to shop the right ingredients and clean up all the mess I do in the kitchen. For the recipes where the oven is needed, this becomes a little trickier. Not only because you need to know your oven well before succeeding with a recipe in a reproducible and predictable manner. But also because my very old oven doesn’t stand detail-oriented tasks. 200 degrees with fan. Or 180 degrees static. Or 200 degrees static and 180 degrees with fan. Preheated possibly. Grill and defrost mode. Blah. My oven doesn’t accept compromises. Either it’s on -1- or off -0-. End of the story.


  2. Non-linear bathtub. The tap of my bathtub has a passive-aggressive character. It doesn’t accept criticisms on the temperature of the water it provides. Let’s say you’re having shower but you find the water slightly too cold. And let’s say that, in the attempt to adjust the water, you turn the handler slightly to the left. The tap gets mad and exponentially escalates the temperature to boiling water and you burn your feet. The same holds with the opposite, when you want to have slightly cooler water and you end up in hibernation. Because the tap is non-linear but still symmetric!


  3. Bijective fridge. We are three people in our shared apartment. And we have a small fridge. A very small fridge. So small that we do the shopping keeping in mind that what we buy has to fit the only tiny shelf that each of us is assigned to. Once home, arranging what we bought on the shelf is like playing Tetris. Every cubic meter we have must be occupied by something, so that the food fills in all of the space. We manage to do it so well that even the light inside the fridge gets covered. We barely see anything when we open it and always have the impression that the fridge is broken.

  4. Non-differentiable furniture. There is one thing that all student apartments have in common: everything. They all look the same. This is not a side effect of the cheap alcool that often students consume. This is because beds, wardrobes, coffee tables, night tables, dining tables, chairs, sofas, carpets, curtains, bathtub curtains, plates, glasses, cutleries, towels, candles, frames and paintings all come from the same place: Ikea. And you know what having Ikea furniture means. It means that the edges of all furniture are sharp. Very sharp. This is already aesthetically unpleasant but it gets tragic whenever I come back from holidays. I usually spend my holidays visiting my family in Italy, where I put on a couple of kilos around my hips. When I go back to Germany to my student apartment I usually still have to adjust to my new upgraded body borders. So I keep going against the Ikea furniture of my room and let those non-differentiable edges leave my butt and hips with bruises. But al least those nasty edges don’t have the derivative (which is what they deserve), while my butt surely does!


  5. Floor fortified with Coanda effect. Milk fortified with calcium is nothing compared to our floor in the corridor. The linoleum in that area needs to be replaced so badly that it even got the same properties of fluids, including the Coanda effect. When we vacuum-clean it, the linoleum tends to stay attached to the surface of the vacuum-cleaner. Trying to unstuck it is like going against the laws of physics: impossible.


  6. Almost-invertible sexual intercourse. Ah, student life! Or, better: PhD-student life! Sometimes you meet people in bars, at conferences, in front of the toilet-paper shelf at the supermarket and you eventually end up sleeping with them. Not all of them have a background in mathematics and that’s ok. But some of them really must have struggled with basic math concepts even at high school. You can recognize them from the way they undress you. They unlace your bra BEFORE removing your T-shirt. Nononononono. Did they know how I got dressed in the first place? FIRST, I wore and laced my bra. SECOND, I put the T-shirt on. Mathematics tells you that the inverse of the composition of two functions means that, to undress a girl, you FIRST remove her T-shirt and THEN you unlace her bra and remove it. Got it?!

Quote Eliot

What about your student apartment? What other properties did you notice about the furniture and the supplies? What was cool/frustrating about that place? Let me know in the comments below and if you liked this blog post, please subscribe to the Breaking Thirty Newsletter for more. Bye for now ;)

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