I don’t want this post to turn into a massive rant and I’m trying to be slightly more concise, so we’ll see how this goes. I am 24 and getting my master’s at a university overrun by American study abroad undergrad students in their early 20s. I was once one of these students. Actually, twice because I did two semesters abroad at this exact university and lived in the very same building three and a half years ago. That being said, you think I’d have a lot in common with my fellow dorm mates, but that couldn’t be further from reality.
Even though I am a total granny whose idea of going out is maybe grabbing a pint and having a long chat with mates at the pub before being back in bed by 9 pm, I understand the need to go and dance it out every once in a while (I had plans four nights last week – three pubs and one pub/club combo – and I don’t think I’ll ever recover). Notice that I wrote ONCE in a while because the people in my building, and on my floor specifically, love to go out Wednesday-Sunday with the occasional Tuesday outing. No, I’m not joking and yes, I have the dark circles to prove it. Last semester I also lived in student housing, but it was apartment-style, 15 minutes from campus, with loads of degree students and like, half of my master’s program. It was cute, but had a super awkward layout and I just so happened to live across the street from two hostels. This led to me waking up at all hours of the night, or staying up because the hostelgoers were just so noisy and that, coupled with the fact that I would be getting a roommate in the spring, made me decide to move back into the old dorm building from my first semester abroad.
I had really happy memories of a lovely roommate, a massive group of friends that I dined with twice a day, short walks to Kensington Gardens, and all the high street shops and cafes at my disposal. Life was really great at 21 and living on the second floor facing the back of the building, but 24 facing the street on the ground floor, well, that changes things. Now, I don’t have the best sleeping habits to begin with, but with 9 am classes three days in a row and an early start for work the other two days, I’d like the chance to get some sleep. My window is half of the problem as it does little to keep out the cold air and the sounds of drunken Uber goodbyes. Every footstep and vehicle that passes by makes its way through the cracks in my window and into my ears and you better believe I will never again have a bedroom facing a street. The other problem is that these kids in their early 20s are YOLOing way too hard.
Listen, I get it: you’re in London for the first time, you’re young and for 90% of the students, your grades are pass/fail, meaning you can slack off a bit. Oh, and you only have three months to soak it all in before returning to America as we currently know it (soz). It’s just, why do you need to go out every single night? Tequila Tuesdays and Slug Wednesdays are not a thing in the real world and you should at least prepare for that a little bit (by that I mean, stick to weekends?) London is EXPENSIVE. The first two times I studied here, the exchange rate was between $1.55-$1.81, a major difference from the current $1.23, so maybe you’re not feeling the burn as much as I was back then, but seriously, I barely went out and only got to the US with a few hundred in my bank account, so what are you crazy kids doing?? Is it because we now have the night tube so you’re not accidentally spending £20 on a cab ride home when you’re too frustrated to take the bus?
If it’s not the going out, it’s something else. There’s a classroom across the hall from my room and for some reason, the doors never lock because people are in there at all hours of the night practicing break dance routines (yes, really) and throwing raves (again, this isn’t made up). Everyone in my hall also really likes having phone conversations with loved ones back home at midnight right outside my door and then there’s this one guy who literally never sleeps. I know this because I hear him coming and going, slamming doors and singing to himself, playing his guitar or talking to friends, literally all night.
Believe it or not, there are some benefits to living here. I don’t set off the smoke alarm every time I cook because I don’t cook (I have no complaints about the caf food because food is food). I can walk to the park in five minutes and walk to the building with all my classes in two. The best Italian food in the world is like, three blocks away and I literally roll out of bed and walk 100 feet to work. It’s not a bad life during the day and if I’m honest, I much prefer this location to my building from last term.
So, that’s what it’s like to live amongst the undergrads and tbh, I’d take the hostel peeps any time. Is it a generational difference (LOL I know, but some of these kids were born at the end of the 90s)? Do you think I’m crazy for moving back? Am I crazy because I live with undergrads or because I traded in two stovetops and a microwave for a dining hall? Was it wise to avoid a roommate and live in a tiny single? These are the questions that keep me up at night. JK, everything about living in the dorms keeps me up at night and you better believe I’m excited to move out for the summer.