Friday, February 26, 2010

looking back

Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point is in the process of writing an article on dorm rooms (or "Halls" as we call them in the UK) and it got me to thinking about my first year at university all those years ago.

I went to the University of Kent at Canterbury for my undergraduate degree. This photo is me outside my college (Keynes) Halls last summer when I went back for a little trip down memory lane. Keynes was the envy of the university back in 1994, because it was the first college that had all single occupancy rooms with "en suites". I put the words en suite in inverted commas for a reason. You're probably imagining a proper bathroom aren't you? Think again.

In reality these luxurious sounding en suites were a small plastic cubicle stuck in the corner of the room. Within this "pod" as they came to be known was a small sink, toilet and shower. It was like the bathrooms you get in Greek hotel rooms, you know the type - a shower and a drain, no cubicle or shower tray or shower curtain. But Canterbury is not Greece and it was rarely warm enough for the water to evaporate. Consequently every time you went to the loo you got your socks wet and the room always had a faint smell of damp. If you ever had a long shower you ran the risk of the pod leaking. Really there wasn't that much to be envious of.

University was a bit of a strange transient time for me. I'd spent most of the previous two years travelling and living in Australia. By the time I got to university I was nearly 21. Three years isn't a big age gap once you're all grown up but the difference between 18 and 21 is immense. I think a lot of my fellow students saw me as a bit of a dinosaur.

Thank heavens then for my Tuesday night yoga class where I met a few fantastic people (I think university was where I first learned Rachel's Law #3 - if you want to meet people, join a yoga class!), most of whom were considered "mature" students. I think university is the only place a 24-year-old is considered mature.

Rachel's Law #2 is to make sure you always have space to put down your yoga mat. That bloody great plastic pod in the corner made it tricky but I did just about have space for my practice in my little room in Halls of Residence.

So, dear reader, did you live in Halls/Dorm Rooms at college? What were they like? What are your memories of them?


Jamie said...

I lived in dorms for two years, and although I had a lot of fun, my most clear impression of that time looking back on it is that I went two years without good night's sleep. I have always been one who needs my sleep, but my fellow college students didn't identify with that. Thus, when I tried to go to bed at a modest 11 pm (which seems late now!), I was constantly awoken by music next door, a social gathering out in the hall, or my roommate coming in and turning on the lights. Luckily, in college I had a lot of time for naps. : )

Anonymous said...

I love reading about your memories. Really good post.

I lived in Halls and shared for a while then got my own room which was great. It was always noisy in Halls, the bathrooms were smelly, the kitchens encrusted in goodness knows what but it was simply wonderful!!! :o)

Marie said...

Lived in an apartment style dorm with six other girls that was nice enough and had a surprisingly large double room for me and my (not very exciting) roommate.

Then moved closer to home and rented an actual apartment with my two good friends - that was fun and independent.

Just took my daughters by my old dorm at New Year's - it was odd to walk the same paths twenty years later, now knowing at least part of where my life wound up heading!

Your room sounds damp!

Emma said...

funny.... im visiting a couple of old housemates from college this evening :)

i posted a link to you today, let me know if that ain't cool.



Isabelle said...

Nope, went to Edinburgh Uni and lived at home. In those days (the late 60s) uni halls and flats were rather spartan and I liked my home comforts!

C @Favourite Vintage Finds said...

Hello! Stopping by from the Lady Bloggers Tea Party. Glad I found your blog as I am into yoga. Best wishes, C :)

Jumbleberry Orchard said...

We also had the luxury of the little 'ensuite' bathroom pods. The week I moved into halls, someone in a different block was taking a shower while rather inebriated after a night out (?!), and fell asleep sitting on the plug hole. The whole residence flooded and was inhabitable for some time afterwards! I presume he never lived it down! ;-)