More notes on leaving home: The war of the noticeboard, letting go of bitter things and early drafts of new year resolutions
The most important note to make on leaving home- remember. To do. The hoovering. You are going to regret it so much when you neglect the hoovering.
The notice board wars began in early October and have continued until now, the final week. The debate over which side shot first rages on, but what is known is this; in this Welsh medium hall, on the noticeboard there is a welsh and English side to each notice. Someone swapped all of the notices to display only the Welsh side, or only the English side, depending on who you ask. The war began to escalate into a blockade of language. The English notice would be pinned over the Welsh, the Welsh over the English, endless loops of passive aggressive pinning. The battle reached a fever pitch when someone took a sharp object to the English section of a notice and slashed it through. The war then entered an uneasy truce. We all knew a line had been crossed. The war was revived last week, when someone attempted to throw out the ruined and slashed English language sign along with a reminder to keep the kitchen clean for inspection.
The war entered a new, potentially explosive phase: That of the note. A note was posted, berating the attempted binner of the notice and the slashed sign. A reply was quickly posted, citing the reasons for the binning and signed ‘love, Batman.’ A final note was posted in an attempt to defuse the renewed hostilities. ‘I LIKE TRAINS’, it proclaimed. There could be no truer peace treaty than that, and for now at least, the warriors rest.
So I’ve been in Wales for three months, and it’s been nice. A new network of friends and interests hesitantly and shyly started to root out. A lovely thing that happens when you’re completely removed from your old town is that all your bitterness and anger just flows away. It’s so much easier to just let go when you realise that these things don’t really matter, that these things are shifting, that there are more people to see and places to go and things to do than you could ever possibly get through. Why waste time being stubborn and unhappy? I slowly started to reflect on the place I’d stepped out of and while looking at it from an angle I hadn’t seen before I began to see where my edges were. Where all the things that I had raged and wailed and cried about didn’t actually matter one single fuck once you were out of there. I slowly got back into performing, after a pretty bitter departure from it last year. I rediscovered the old magic and sprang back into it.
Doctor Who and Roomates
I started bonding with my roomates on the Pantycelyn international students corridor. Three Americans, an Austrian and two French girls formed my little circle, along with some friendly Welsh and English from upstairs. In a moment of near unrivalled glee, we ran up to campus as a group and found a Tardis parked in front of the Union, with a talking, lit up Dalek trundling around. It offered a great photo op, both sweet group snaps and self indulgent selfies.
Now it’s nearly time to come home. I’ve started into a new diary, a smart black notebook I bought to convince myself to maintain this diary- I paid 13 pounds for this notebook, for fucks sake, so I’m going to use it. Around this time of year, I usually start to think about what I want to do next year, and reflect on what I’d like to develop, change or introduce in 2014. I present to you here my rough longlist of new years resolutions for your consideration.
1. Become blood of the Dragon
2. Buy more mugs
3. Get really buff and strong. Start lifting.
4. Also, get super fit and flexible. start yoga
5. Kiss more people.
6. Use the word ‘accoutrements’ more (Referring to luggage and bags)
7. Vacuum every week, so that your room does not become white with dust and the halls warden suspects that you’re dealing cocaine.
8. While deflecting this suspicion, illicitly brew Yakka in bedroom sink (not really, I promise. Please don’t kick me out if you read this…)
9. Listen to more podcasts. In fact, make one. It can’t be that hard.
10. Do couch to 5K, without ending up in a bath of cold water sobbing and eating oranges.
11. Learn to dance properly, and not like a complete berk. (seriously, you’ve made a name for yourself here as the ‘dancing Irish girl’. That’s not a good thing. You need help.)
12. Drink less soft drinks. Stop being happy about being a non-drinker when you ingest about nine times your healthy level of sugar and caffeine every day.
13. Try to quit coffee. not tea though. You gave yourself a three day migraine last time.
14. Vacuum every week. Remember how much you regret not hoovering enough this semester. Remember it!
15. Post more letters. people like letters.
16. Practice yoga stretches, tai chi and herbal tea to become one with your spirit and nature.
17. Be less of an angry motherfucker.
18. Keep your diary this year. don’t just get bored after a week like usual.
19. Make lists that are a nice, satisfying length. Don’t end list blogs on an odd number.
Niamh ‘Wait… fuck!’ Keoghan
I didn’t really think I had much of an accent before I left Dublin.
Of course, when you grow up in the Dublin bubble, of course it wouldn’t be noted much. In fact usually it’s my lack of a distinctive accent that is remarked upon back home as it is now. I have a voice that seems to shift depending on the direction of the wind and the regional accent featured on whatever TV show I last watched. But suddenly when asked where I’m from, I reply ‘Ireland’ and people go ‘oh of course, yeah!’ Three drunk guys hardly able to stand who wandered onto my corridor picked it up from my irate yelling at 3AM and started doing mangled impressions of Dara O’Briain.
Leaving home is really weird.
My final week in Dublin was strange. Packing up things for the first time was strange. Sifting through clothes and finding I could actually fit all my outfits into one case was quite satisfying. After a summer spent mostly alone whilst my friends got stuck into intern ships and J1s, my final week was a flurry of fond meetings and cheery goodbyes. I think it’s because it’s nice to say goodbye to someone who actually wants to go and have an adventure for a bit, unlike the goodbyes we’re all getting used to. Plus, I am very lucky that I’m only going away for a little while. Just to test the waters. Other people aren’t so lucky and have to leap blindly into new lives without any set date to return and pick up all the threads they left loose in Dublin. I was really lucky. I could leave all my threads uncaught and they’ll still be waiting when I get back.
So far (A week in) assimilation has been swift and painless, probably because lectures have STILL yet to start so I’m been officially mucking around doing nothing for six months. I sank instantly into my new bed and slept like a baby in a huge room meant for two people that I inhabit on my own. It even has a sweet view of the town and the sea. I don’t think anyone has ever landed smoother in a place than I have here.
Laundry, far from being a chore was an opportunity to finally learn how to play poker. The only moment of tearfulness was the very last moments I had before my parents got in the car and drove off last Saturday morning (and we all had the good sense to cut it off before we all blubbed in the Car park of Lidl. It was more dignified that way) On the first night I became paranoid and convinced one of my corridor-mates had stolen my freshly bought milk. A day of crazed labelling and criminal profiling eventually led to the discovery that the entire fridge had been replaced in the night, with my milk becoming one of the old fridge’s casualties. I’m not 100% convinced that it’s not all just a very elaborate plot to steal my milk. Either way, this university owes me 45p.
The new town is very friendly, busy and exactly the sort of place I’d like to get lost in. Students here don’t go home religiously every weekend and there’s things to do on Fridays. I can walk from the top of the town to my room in 15 minutes flat. There is an incredibly satisfying to climb hill to my building. It goes vertical at some portions. I’m beginning to form the calf muscles of a mountain goat. Seeing Freshers lose their minds and get absolutely shitfaced on freedom is funny until I remember I’m just like them on my own in a strange town for the first time. The only difference is I’m 21 and really can’t drink more than half a glass of wine without keeling over.
My first pang of homesickness came when I skyped home, and saw my family all wandering around behind my mother on the camera. Making dinner, asking for things to be washed, arguing over the Playstation. I ached for home for a second, until my brother came into the room, pulled down his pants and mooned me. I quickly remembered why I left in the first place and reaffirmed my determination to not waste any time feeling angst for home. It’s still there waiting for me to get back to, so for now I need to enjoy my sea view and eating bagels for every single meal.
I’m living in a Welsh speaking hall which is a baffling experience to tell the truth. Most spectacular was the mix up yesterday when I sauntered into my safety induction talk 10 minutes late to find I was sitting in the Welsh language session. Welsh speakers don’t fuck around, man- Irish speakers will alternate between Irish and English every few sentences, but here it’s about ten minutes of welsh with a quick sentence or two summation at the end for the non-speakers. There’s a sign in the bathroom that I’m pretty sure tells you how to work the shower head, but which is solely in Welsh. Everyone who I say ‘I live in Pantycelyn’ to chuckles and wonders why they stuck all the Erasmus people in there. I shrug and just remain thankful that I wake up every day halfway up the hill and don’t have to climb the whole bloody thing.
I discovered that our generation on the whole loves getting postcards. They’re a lot of fun to write, and after the format was rammed into me during leaving cert Irish and French I’m rather good at them. Stamps are 88p to post to Ireland, so anyone who gets one ought to appreciate TEH FUCK out of it. They might as well have been written in my own blood. So far so smooth for my Welsh adventure. We’ll see how it goes when the work actually kicks in.
Niamh ‘Don’t you dare quote Mock the week at me, I’m cross with you’ Keoghan