Cole Taylor is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing their story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism and media writing major at Lasell College, they are studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Cole shares her expectations of what their roommates would be like before they arrived in Dublin and the reality now that they've gotten to know them for more than a month now.
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I remember it like it was just yesterday. I received my accommodations email but my only concern was who my assigned roommates were. I carelessly scrolled passed several important topics in the packet only to find three names listed on page 8—Calleigh Leach, Ciara Killian, and Tess Reichart…all from Clark University; great.
My immediate thought was: I am the random kid they got stuck with and they are probably best friends so clearly I am about to intrude that. I was unimpressed. Of course my mom, little miss positive Polly had to give her two cents, “I am sure they will great. You need to give them a chance and just go with an open mind.” You know how it is when your mom gives you positive advice and you just roll your eyes and sit there on your high horse because you know you’re right.
It could not have been much longer after I received the email that I then received a Facebook message from Tess: “Hi Nicole! It’s Tess! You pumped for the best semester ever?” This girl is over the top and is probably going to try and hug me as soon as we meet.
I reached out to Ciara and Calleigh and both of them responded right away with welcoming messages, but nothing further. Awesome, these two do not even want to talk to me. None of us talked much until we got to Ireland. When I arrived at the airport, I noticed Calleigh was standing with her luggage on a dolly. We did not really make eye contact. I could not tell if she was ready to mingle at 8:00am after a 6-hour flight.
The car ride to Griffith College was decently quiet with minimal chatter here and there. Once we were given access to our appropriate rooms, I was the first one inside. I chose which bed I wanted and began to unpack. The apartment was quiet for a few minutes. Beep! Someone was coming inside and I grew a bit nervous but also excited to see who it was. It was Calleigh. We barely made conversation as we unpacked from separate rooms. I could tell she did not really feel like chatting—I concluded she was tired.
About an hour later someone else was keying into the apartment.
“Hi! Oh my gosh, how are you?” Ciara hugged Calleigh.
This can’t be happening. They are already close friends and I am just alone over here unpacking my socks with no one to talk to.
We all engaged in some conversation but it was mostly Ciara and Calleigh as they were assigned roommates and were catching up on Clark stuff, you know, that school they both go to.
After an hour of unpacking and letting our families know we made it safe, we had to head out for our first walking tour. Tess was nowhere to be found. Turns out, her flight was delayed and she did not actually get to Griffith College until hours after we did.
The first day was completely overwhelming. Everyone tried to make friends and find their place while immediately jumping into a new culture. The first whole week felt this way.
It wasn’t until the second week that people formed friend groups, roommates clicked or didn’t click, and people grew comfortable with their surroundings—including myself. It did not take long to realize I was wrong about my expectations. My mom was right. Ugh, I can’t believe I have to say it. My roommates, who I thought were best friends that were going to exclude me, have turned out to be some of the best people I have ever met.
Tess shares a room with me. She is outgoing, humorous, happy, nurturing and kind. We have a lot in common when it comes to our character traits. We communicate well and take the time to understand people. Tess has a powerful relationship with God and has opened my eyes to positivity and seeing the sun even on cloudy days. Her calm disposition makes me feel comfortable and willing to share my thoughts with her. She is truly one of a kind—especially when it comes to making up her own songs. Everything has become a song in this apartment. It is quite possible that we have a song for while we cook rice but that is beside the point… and a dance that goes with it. But anyway, I digress.
Ciara lives with Calleigh in the room next to us. She is spunky, energetic, occasionally gullible, cheerful, non-judgmental, and loving; she always wants hugs from us at the end of the day. Because our apartment has two assertive natured and extroverted people [Tess and myself], Ciara is the neutralizer that makes it work. Often times, she will ask how to cook pasta or if the oven is too hot for her chicken goujons (tenders). Although she is still improving on her cooking skills, she entertains us with her questions and remarks each and every day. Do not even get me started on her laugh—completely contagious.
Calleigh is a silent but witty person and that is what is so great about her. When I first met her, I thought she was a bit stubborn, but it turns out… wait she actually is stubborn, but not in a negative way. She adheres to her opinions and beliefs which makes her strong rather than tenacious. She is particularly street smart and is almost always smiling. Her optimism and confidence make her someone I would choose to live with if I had to start all over. Her laugh is too, very contagious and keeps us spirited.
Looking back on the last month or so, I have realized how truly blessed I am. I was assigned three random people who previously knew each other and it just so happens, it worked. It more than worked—it has impacted my life in a way I never expected. We call each other family. Each day we come home from internships and classes, we cook our dinners and actually sit around the kitchen table and talk about our day. We support each other, we seek each other for advice, we trust one another, and we love each other.
Although we have it pretty good here, I do have empathy for people who may not have the same experience as I do. Some roommates just don’t click and that is perfectly acceptable. It is how you choose to react that makes the difference. Keeping an open mind and staying positive is the best advice I can give. Sometimes things do not work in your favor, but honestly that is life. No matter where you go, you will run into people who do not have a sweet to counteract the bitter. There will be people you simply do not like, but those people give you the chance to build your character. Always be the bigger person; words of wisdom from my positive mother. Oh, and kill em’ with kindness. I hate to admit it sometimes, but those two phrases go a long way here.
Study abroad is not just about living in another country and travelling. It is far more than that. It is fair to say you will learn more about yourself and other people in four months than you will ever learn in a lifetime. Adaptability and perspective are imperative.
Roommates help shape who you are as a person and when you stop and think about how true that is, it can be overwhelming. Being said, roommates are not meant to make or break you. They simply either bring out the best in you or the qualities that need fine tuning. Either way, you win. Do not be scared or develop preconceived thoughts about names on a sheet of paper, even if they all go to the same school. Give it time. Chances are, they will change your life.
Cole's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.