Especially during exam time, I found myself spending more time studying in my international student dorm, while simultaneously realising that my Erasmus experience is coming to an end. I noticed that each international student’s experience abroad is strongly influenced by where you live and with whom you live. Your flatmates are your first social circle when you arrive in that foreign country. You are thrown into this group of people and have to find your way with these new people. Your flatmates are the ones to whom you complain about the state of the kitchen in the morning and the same people with whom you share a drink in the evening in that same kitchen, even though the state of it has not significantly changed. Together you figure out how long a package of toilet paper lasts and how many days you can survive until someone buys a new package. You learn how to remove a key that is stuck in the keyhole and you master language difficulties. You also experience how long you can leave a parcel on top of the fridge until it starts being missed.
Talking to my friends, I found out that there are certain types of people present in every student dorm corridor. There is the one flatmate who gives you a scary first impression but will later turn out to be your best advisor on life matters. There is the one guy who always talks politics. There is the ‘father’ of the flat who takes care of everyone and the ‘grumpy granny’ who values silence and hygiene highly. The one who loves cooking. There is the ‘invisible’ flatmate and the one with whom you always have a language-related misunderstanding. They all teach you something – at the very least tolerance.
In a student dorm you are never alone, which can be a curse and a blessing. You learn to break up parties in your pyjama because either the party next door or in your own kitchen will not let you sleep.
Nonetheless, at flatmate dinners and parties you all come together and try new international food one of you cooked. You exchange cultural differences and talk about your life plans.
You made many memories in this corridor of your student dorm and you shared the same flat number for a couple of months. This very special community is an intense part of your life abroad. Cheers, mates! To late night talks, friendship and a sense of home.