More than One Letter Between Dorm and Doom

-first impressions by a first-time Roomie

Sitting back home in Germany a week ago, brooding about how to procrastinate the last tasks from my home university over a fresh cuppa, I contemplated what was to come. I thought about new faces with new names (and how in the world I was to remember the latter), sharing an apartment (and, more importantly, a fridge) with other people for the first time, finding my way around another university (and some ways they have here, eh?) and when I would finally start packing.

Short side note on packing for studying abroad: if, like me, you’re one of those terribly reliable list-makers, have been called pedantic or overly careful, always put your keys in the same place and cannot possibly survive without your personal planner or –

well, you get the picture. And no, of course these do not all apply to me. I have friends that assure me of that. Which reminds me, I should ask if they’ve seen my keys..

Anyway, if you’re not married to spontaneity and are cool with winging life without essential goodies like a tooth brush, socks or deodorant for a while, do yourself (and anyone within smelling distance) a favour and start packing at least 24 hours before your departure. Mine duly approached and I suppose I miraculously brought 95% of what I needed. Having mastered the first hurdle on Irish soil, finding the right station for the right bus, I even managed to find my dorms without further detours. My first impression on entering the house I was to inhabit for the next 4 months?

To be honest, it was: Gee, it’s cold in here. Second thought: An empty fridge is about the most hostile thing to encounter after a journey. While we’re being honest, let’s get some things straight about my experience concerning student dorms in Limerick:

The living standard as far as housing is concerned is generally lower than in Germany. Many fellow Erasmusonians from northern Europe have confirmed this impression. This does not mean that you should brace yourselves for a mouldy shack with nothing but cold water that you have to share with ten strangers and twice as many bedbugs (the beds are 100% bug-free and showers are hot and steamy). It merely means that your accommodation may be simpler or plainer than what you’re used to. It may also be more restrictive where decoration or leisure time activities are concerned.

But, let’s face it: we did not come here to set up an art exhibition in our house or become barbecuing experts (little cold in January anyway). We came to study, to experience Ireland and to meet people that help us broaden our horizon. Sounds kitschy? I agree; but we all need a little kitschy in our lives where kitschy lets you grow. Because you know what student dorms also offer? Getting to know other people in a similar situation to you immediately, thus having the perfect place to start from and make friends. Looking back after only 4 days of dorm life, I still can’t pin names to all the new faces that have crossed my path, yet I know all those with whom I (believe it or not) gladly share a fridge. I have not internalised the layout of Limerick’s surprisingly green and modern campus, either, but at least I have found people with whom to share silly stories of how we got lost. By the end of the day, that’s what dorms are about: having open-minded people around to share both food and tales with. Now that we’ve accomplished that, let’s work on transforming that gee, it’s cold into feck it, let’s cuddle.

By University of Limerick International Student FRIDA HEITLAND

This blog is run by the UL International Student Ambassadors, read more about our  student bloggers here

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