Saturday, 23 June 2012

Ode to Uni (I): The many joys of halls.

I miss halls. Simple as.

It seems so strange saying that, considering that after just a week in my little student flat I was climbing the walls due to boredom and banging my head on the table in despair as it finally dawned on me that I was expected to wash my own dishes and make my own bed... I also wasn't too keen on the fact that I shared shower and toilet facilities with six people I'd never met before.

However, a few weeks into the first term I had my morning routine perfected (dash from my bedroom to the shower, ignore the thick dark hairs in the plughole, run back to my bedroom and lock my door), the awkward conversations with flatmates when we collided in the kitchen were slowly getting more comfortable, I'd mastered the dish-washing and trips to the campus laundrette, and I'd successfully completed my first solo grocery shopping mission.

I learned very quickly that while you live with a certain group of people, they may not necessarily be who you spend all your time with. In fact, for most of the months leading up to Christmas I would spend the bare minimum of time with my flatmates, keeping our encounters exclusively in the kitchen for dinner or when we left at the same time in the morning for lectures. I spent most of my time down the road visiting friends in the other halls.
By the start of the second term, however, I started to appreciate my flatmates more. At the end of the day, they were who I came home to; drunk and disorderly, sleepy and worn out, happy and relieved, stressed and angry... Our kitchen encounters became lovely bookends to my days. By the end of the year I was watching movies, playing video games and having Nerf gun wars with them all in the communal areas. I had 2am heart-to-hearts with the American from room 2, hungover exchanges with my Pompey girl from room 4, music swapping sessions with the Brummy food-stealer from 7, chats about different cultures with the Chinese student from room 1, cooking tips from the sweet country girl from room 5... And we all agreed that the lesbian in room 6 was a ghost who hid in the cupboards.
Whenever I was having a bad time, one of my six built-in friends would be there to cheer me up with a cup of tea, Nutella on toast or a game of Amnesia. Obviously I'd never let them read my blog, but I owe them all a big thank you.

One of my absolute favourite things about halls, however, was the fact that I could walk just a few feet out my front door and find a friend. The people closest to me were literally the people closest to me. I could run out of alcohol at predrinks and be able to slip out and dash across the street to my place for another bottle. When it was sunny and hot, I could step outside and sit with a group of friends on the grass. We had barbecues at the front of the village, happily came and went from one another's flats and I could stay at a friend's until the small hours and just be a short walk from my bed. I once had to do a Walk Of Shame that only lasted five minutes door to door.
It'll be different next year I'm sure, what with everyone living in houses and being a more substantial distance apart, but hopefully it'll still work out. A few people have even said that it won't be so different to halls next year - pretty much everyone at uni ends up living within the same housing estate during the second and third years there, and nobody is really miles apart. We'll see.

Another thing I adore about life in halls is the privacy. Okay, in my flat we once found an open condom wrapper on the stairs and stuck it to the fridge with the note "own up you kinky bitch" attached to it, but still... Bedroom doors all had locks, 
you could have guests round whenever and there were no objections, nobody told you when bedtime was or banged on the door when you took too long in the shower. Even when your flatmates overheard you having sex, the worst you could expect was some playful teasing and a pat on the back (whereas at home, if my family overheard me having sex, I'd be executed).

Being at home for the summer, spending nearly every night on the sofa watching Family Guy with the volume turned all the way down so I don't wake anyone, having to arrange to meet up with friends and drive to their houses or to town, waking up in a bedroom that still has my Rupert annuals and Toy Story jigsaw puzzles in plain sight... The thought of staggering through the student village after a night out, watching all the Dominos delivery vans whizz up and down Main Street, bringing friends back to mine for cheesy chips and having really noisy sex before breakfast is sounding pretty good right now.

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