Life in an International Student Residence is like a box of chocolates. Some are white, some are dark, some are sort of in between, and then there's ones that everyone steers clear of (like coconut). In hindsight, that seems extremely non-PC and I mean no offense to anyone but the analogy works for now and let's face it, it's a crazy mixed up world and we're all in this together.
Firstly, you wonder who your roommates are going to be. You might be lucky to get a name or photo to get the sterotypes/biassed assumptions flowing, or you might get a complete surprise on arrival. Of course my roommates were normal, friendly people but you never know, it very easily could have been strange and uncomfortable.
Take for example a fellow student from a highly modern society who discovered his roommates stored used toilet paper in a bag beside the toilet. They happened to be from a developing nation where plumbing isn't so flash and as such were unaccustomed to flushing it away. No judgement on them at all, but you can imagine the difficulty of bringing that subject up in 'keeping house' negotiations.
Our Exchange Coordinator, Erika, told us some stories of previous students coming from home where Mothers do everything and looking after one's self is an entirely new concept. Think live fish in the bathtub and cooking them directly on the hotplate (no frypan), to the dismay of the housing company come inspection time. Keeping a bathroom clean is a mystery to many and the simple back and forth motion of mopping is a fine motor skill suprising underdeveloped in the 20-25 age bracket. It is wrong to get angry about these things but you can't help but feel bad for those who are in the deep end. There are those of us who are lucky our Mums taught us the ins and outs of washing machines and detergent so we can concentrate on learning French and not domestic responsibility.
Then there are parties. Of course its necessary to have a drink or two to get everyone chatting, reduce the nerves, etc. And if you're Spanish, it's probably normal to make a 10 litre bucket of sangria for everyone to share. Granted, it's only been a week but I am sure I will soon have stories of the same shocking nature as those told to us in an attempt to curb outlandish behaviour before it begins. It would seem that guests in the neighbouring hotel checked out of their rooms at 3am because the drunk naked students on the roof of Euro Residence were a little loud with their singing... but telling us this seemes to have set the challenge for the next lot to be even worse. I certainly wont be an instigator but cannot rule out my part in observing the next inevitable chapter of Euro Res history.
Vintage Sepia House Image!
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