School Days Revisited (UK) #031

I’ve waited to write this until after I moved out of my flat as I wanted a bit of distance. I chose to live in a Halls of Residence, which is student accommodation. I assumed I’d be dealing with loud music and drunken parties; however, my room-mates are from India and Malaysia and drink very little or no alcohol and generally retreated to their rooms to watch videos. They’re all in graduate study programs like mine and are around 24 years old. Other students in the building were more like what I had expected and there were many notices about noise complaints over the year, but I was able to tune them out. They’re primarily undergraduate students who are in their first year and are mostly from other parts of the UK.

I was in a flat with six rooms, each with an en- suite, and we only shared the kitchen. My room-mates are nice people, but I had very little in common with them. I was continually surprised at how little they engaged with British culture and took no effort to see the country during the year. They went to London a few times or to see family in another city if they had any over here, but did little more than that. I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t even go to places close by like Stratford on Avon which is a 40 minute  train ride and only about £6 to visit for the day. I’ve heard them say it’s boring here in Birmingham, but they haven’t even seen local things like Aston Lodge and the Black Country Museum. I’ve looked on this as a year to explore the country whenever possible and was happy to go to free movies and lectures that are offered by the university. My room-mates haven’t done any of this and have spent the majority of the time in their rooms and only come out to associate with other students from their home countries. They’re so different from my class-mates who want to explore and enjoy as much of Britain as they can while they’re here.

My room-mates also have what I consider to be the strange habit of working through the night and sleeping through the day. At times in the depth of the winter months I don’t think they ever saw the sun. Although I considered all of this odd, it really didn’t concern me as it didn’t affect me directly. However, their kitchen habits drove me crazy. They all cook and several were very messy in their food preparation. I hated seeing the stove top with food spilled everywhere, rotting food on the counters or in the fridge and garbage piling up. Part of it is laziness in not wanting to clean and part is that they just don’t see or smell the mess. I never thought of myself as a cleanliness fanatic, but I cleaned every day although I’d mutter under my breath at the mess each morning (they often cooked dinner around midnight). On average I took out the garbage 4 out of 5 times and then would get stubborn and  petulant and leave it for one of them to take out the other time. I think in a situation like this that the mob mentality takes over and that the people who are usually cleaner give up because of the few that are messy as they think it is hopeless and they might as well join in instead of dealing with it. Several times I put up signs ‘Clean up, take out the garbage!’ and small things might be done. The group discussion about the issue didn’t work. I’m glad to leave it all behind and not have to hold my nose when I walk in my kitchen and worry about what I’m stepping in. I’ll be home soon and look forward to a clean kitchen.

One Comment
  1. December 8th, 2012 - 2:02 pm
    Justin said:

    Hello Deb,
    I understand you chose to live in Halls, as you assumed you would be dealing with loud noises and drunken parties. But i find this ‘school days revisited’ to be somewhat discouraging and naive. Nothing about what you wrote above suggests anything remotely encouraging or appropriate for an intellectual discussion.

    Now maybe I should have looked at your other blog posts prior to reading this. But as you did, I too decided to suspend my career to go back to Uni, moving from the HOK Toronto Studio to Oxford… living in Halls, with other international students, who ‘spent most of their time in their rooms, only associating with people of there home country’ as you put it. But the difference between you and I, is that I didn’t go on a public blog to criticise them after I moved out.

    So what if they didn’t spend 6 quid to take a 40 minute train ride, or slept most of the day and worked at night. The one thing I’ve come across from anyone that I have met in me life, is that everyone is different.
    Those international students you lived with were probably proud to be there, and took more from there experience just being there, then doing the things you suggest they didn’t do.

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