…at University of Reading student accommodation! Join Kiara as she shares her experiences of living, socialising and eating in halls…
One major stereotype about American universities is the concept of a shared dorm room. For many students, living in these halls acts as a rite of passage. I was lucky back when I was a “fresher” (British English has grown on me) to have had a residence hall that was a little atypical—in the best possible way. My home university, The University of Texas at Dallas, became an undergraduate institution in 1991, and didn’t have residence halls on campus until the mid-2000s. When I moved in, I was blessed with a state of the art flat: my own sink, countertop space, and private bedroom despite sharing the flat with two others. Instead of sharing showers and toilets with the entire floor, I only had to share with my flatmates. It was a pretty sweet gig.
Living in such close proximity to other students stimulated the quick formation of friendships. By the end of the year, I had realized that my closest friends were the ones whom I saw daily—at dinnertime. Sharing meals was such a social experience. Everybody needs to eat, and it was all the better to share that time with friends.
When choosing my accommodations at Reading, I had to think long and hard about what I valued most in a hall: proximity to food and proximity to campus. Thus, I ended up in St. Pat’s! Though it ended up not being the closest hall to my classes, I grew to appreciate the daily walk past the lake. The lake and Harris Gardens quickly became some of my favorite places on campus. They’re absolutely beautiful in the fall!
Alas, food! St. Pat’s is situated right next to “Shams,” as I’ve grown to call the Shamrock Cafe. Open five days a week, Shams proved to be a convenient place to catch a bite with the other students from my block. In no time at all, I had forged friendships with students from Wales, England, France, and China. Over our shared dinners, we learned about one another’s school systems, families, and vernaculars, just to name a few things. Despite being here for three months, the number of differences in British and American English still surprises me. Moreover, I did not realize that regional slang and accents were so different in the UK! Despite the US being so much bigger, there is not nearly as much variation in accent from region to region. You’ll find a little bit of “y’all” with a southern drawl, but it’s the difference is not as stark as the difference between Welsh and London slang.
My flatmates and I have been through a lot together. Nothing brings you together quite like three 1AM fire drills over the span of two weeks. Looking back on it, we all laugh at how routine it became. We’ve also had some good nights out at the Union. It’s always more fun with a group of friends! Before I leave, we are planning to do a Secret Santa event. It’ll be funny to see what kinds of gifts are exchanged after a few months of knowing one another.
I’m really happy with my choice in hall. Food facilitated friendships tend to be some of the best. The people I’ve met are hilarious and a lot of fun to be around. Despite the fact that they sometimes leave the kitchen a mess, I love them nonetheless. I look forward to keeping in touch with them after I return to the USA!