(Gretchen, myself, Eoin, and Nicky)
In the spring of 2013 I ventured to the Emerald Isle and studied abroad in Dublin Ireland. One of the best parts happened by pure luck and coincidence when I was placed in my flat with two male Irish roommates and a female American roommate. I arrived in Dublin and spent a week in the city enjoying the sites and getting acquainted with Dublin thanks to IFSA Butler taking the time to make sure we were comfortable. However, a week later we got on a bus and were dropped off at University College Dublin after being pointed in the right direction of our new flats. Some of the people in my program were placed together, but upon asking every single person I realized I had people in the same building, but not in my flat. So I tried my best to hide my fear and opened the door to my new flat expecting to see my new flat mates on the other side.
Instead, I realized I was alone and like any nosy American I decided the best way to spend my time was to put my obsession with detective television shows to the test and try to get a little recognizance on what type of people I would be living with. After examining every cabinet, shelf, and the refrigerator in the kitchen my findings came up inconclusive so I continued my search to the bathrooms. When I stepped into one bathroom it clearly wasn’t being used so I looked into the other bathroom where I found a man’s razor, so I assumed I probably was living with at least one male. I was pretty unimpressed with the lack of evidence and went about unpacking my room and jumping out into the hall at any noise I thought was one of my flat mates showing up. I spent a couple of days playing hide and seek with creepy noises and had finally got myself to stop running out of my room every time I thought someone was in the flat. After hearing excessive rustling I decided maybe I should investigate and opened my door and walked right out next to my first roommate.
(Gretchen and I)
I met the first of my flat mates named Gretchen and found out she was from Connecticut. I tried to gauge what kind of person she was and realized we would get along when she asked what I had found out about our other roommates. After sharing what evidence I had found and her looking for clues, we both came up empty and just had to wait it out. It was nice that I now had someone else to wait with me for our final two roommates to show up. A couple days later I heard a crowd of male voices coming from the kitchen/living room area and I realized Gretchen wasn’t there and I was going to have to go in there alone. I finally decided to stop waiting around and made my way to the living room where I was greeted by about 6 guys lounging on the couches. I introduced myself and found out that only one of the guys was my roommate and the rest were his friends. I found out my roommate was from Kilkenny, Ireland and his name was Nicky. I realized they were pranksters when they found out our final roommate had left his door unlocked and when they yelled at me to come look at our final roommates room I saw that they had made a complete mess. I took in the shaving cream and toothpaste splattered on the wall, the coffee spilled all over his desk, the orange peels thrown on the ground and hidden under his mattress, and all his clothes thrown across his room. I couldn’t help but think my new flat mate was going to hate me once he realized I had been home and not stopped this. I just looked at the guys and brought up how they must really not like him since they made such a mess. I awaited my final flat mate’s arrival fearful of his reaction to his room and got to meet him later in the day when another guy walked in and introduced himself as Eoin, our final flat mate.
By the time Eoin showed up Gretchen had come home and seen the mess and we had decided to veto our original idea of hiding in our rooms and never coming out and decided to just play stupid and act like we had no idea what was going on. We apologized for the mess in his room and tried to measure his response. Surprisingly, he just walked into his room and just laughed it off and came back to the living room where we continued to sit talking and getting to know one another for about 2 or 3 hours when all of a sudden our roommate Nicky started laughing uncontrollably. Nicky looked at Gretchen and I and then told us Eoin was actually his friend named Ciaran and they were just playing a joke on us. I fought against my urge to pick up the orange peels in the other room and chuck them at him, but decided to just laugh it off with Gretchen, because I couldn’t believe they had played along with this joke for hours just for a laugh. We ended up with the last laugh though, because we refused to call Ciaran by his name for a month and would only call him fake Eoin even though he would constantly tell us that wasn’t his name. I enjoyed the sense of humor Irish people had and found that I could fit in easier than I expected.
(Gretchen and fake Eoin)
When the real Eoin came he actually responded similarly to Ciaran and just laughed off his room and disappeared to vacuum up the mess, no help from Nicky and his friends. I learned Eoin was from Donegal, Ireland and he was talkative but clearly not as crazy as Nicky. While I really enjoyed my roommates that I had just met I had no idea of the affect they would have on my life.
In those few days I feel I was able to see who my flat mates are as people and am so glad I got to spend my time in Ireland with them. With Nicky’s constant pranks there was never a dull moment, with Gretchen there was a travel companion and a person to prank Nicky back with, and Eoin displayed his true character that first day and was always easy to talk to and didn’t let much bother him no matter how hard Nicky and his friends tried. There were definitely times where I felt these Irish guys had to be from another planet, like the many times they played a game they named soap ball where they would put soap on a foam football and throw it around the room until they inevitably broke one of my cups, but even then I found myself laughing as I cleaned up the broken shards. I never imagined how three people could mold my experience so much, but those three people quickly found their way into my heart and I look forward to visiting Gretchen in Connecticut in December and hopefully Eoin and Nicky in the near future.
Campbell Allen is a student at Oregon State University and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at University College Dublin in 2013.