You can’t always get what you want

One of the things I learned from my experience in Copenhagen was that where I lived mattered. It influenced who my friends were and how good of a time I had. It decided how long it took me to get everywhere and whether there was a good grocery store nearby.

As the semester wore on I built up a mental inventory of the best and nicest student housing at KU. The places I wished I’d been and the places I was glad I wasn’t. The ideal housing that everyone adored was a round modern residence with ten people to a kitchen and common area. I wanted to live there in part because it was the half way point of my bike ride to and from the city and classes, in part because they had great common spaces and in part because they actually got to meet Danish students.

My residence was far from the city and it wore on me as the semester went by. The door to the common room was locked unless you paid to rent it. I didn’t meet any Danish students there ā€” lot of internationals but no Danes.

When I did get my offer I was happy just to have to received one. No one was guaranteed a spot. Some of the people who didn’t have a spot found great private accommodation. Others were homeless. There was student housing that was much worse than what I was offered. All I cared about was being able to arrive and have somewhere to live.

The flats were nice and modern. I had good roommates and ended up doing most of my socializing with people who lived in my housing. My friend group was split into two sub groups: the people who lived where I did and others who lived near the meat packing district. If they hadn’t kept the common room locked I probably would’ve spent even more time with people who lived where I did.

One of the perks of going to a Scottish university is that most of them guarantee housing for new students. Unlike my friends who studied in London or when I was in Copenhagen I knew I’d get housing. I wasn’t happy to just have housing I wanted the best housing that was available. When it came time to apply I carefully researched each housing option and made pro con lists. Factors included common spaces, proximity to my classes and the gym and how new it was. One residence stood out far above the others. It was brand new and designed for a great student experience. It was the paradise I wished I’d gotten to live in while I was in Copenhagen.

There were different parts of the complex that made up my first and second choices. My first choice gave me my own bathroom and fewer roommates. My second choice was a lamer version of that but still better than my third.

When I got my offer I was sad to see my second choice come up. Apparently everyone else wanted to live in my first choice too and it wasn’t meant to be. I spent a couple of days mopping around and unimpressed by what I’d gotten.

Part of it was I really wanted to not have to share a bathroom with anyone else. I really want to live alone but as a student it’s not going to happen quite yet. The least I wanted was the ability to not have to compete for the toilet in the morning and never have to deal with lazy roommates who don’t clean or change the roll.

I also had two extra roommates over my first choice. As much as I’d wanted to be in the perfect fun housing in Copenhagen I don’t know if I’d actually have liked living with nine or ten other people. It’s nice for meeting people but from time to time you have actual school work to do and want some privacy. With fewer roommates if you get on with them you can be close and hang out all the time. With more it’s tricky.

Maybe four roommates is optimal. Regardless I am collecting more stories and shenanigans for my one day future memoir about my various roommates. Every time someone doesn’t do the dishes I will remind myself that adversity builds character and that it will make a good story. At the very least it will make a story. I can’t promise it will be good.

I’ve discovered that the wonderful perfect housing I really wanted to be in isn’t quite finished yet. There is still a year left of construction on the final phase, which may explain why they didn’t have room for little old me. Walking by yesterday it seemed like there was a lot of scaffolding where perfect fun student spaces were supposed to be. I am thinking I dodged a bullet by not ending up in a semi-finished residence. I’ve lived near construction before and can deal with it if I have to ā€” the building next door was in it’s final phases while I was in Copenhagen and Calgary is one large construction zone. The perfect ideal student housing I wanted and the videos promise doesn’t seem finished yet. I think I would have been disappointed to end up with it.

Now I’m glad I ended up where I did. It’s across the street so the construction won’t be as much of a bother but I still get a nice new housing complex where there should be some good common spaces.

I am excited to move in and unpack and meet people. I hope that I like my roommates and that they like me. And that they have at least a passing interest in cleaning.


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