This time, I have a funny story to share—a brief glimpse into life at my student residence. While I won’t say it is one of my happiest memories in Ireland, it is certainly one of the most outrageous and has become a story that I will tell again and again and, as such, is a worthwhile part of my experience. It isn’t necessarily a flattering portrayal of anyone—me, the UCD students central to its development, or the fine, Celtic guests that made it what it is—but none the less it has been one of the “highlights” of my year.
Just a few days before Valentine’s Day, I found myself in Dun Laoghaire at the Pavilion Theatre, watching the Godot Compnay London’s Beckett X3, three very short, usually un-performed plays by Samuel Beckett. I’ve taken a class on Beckett this semester, and it has been surprisingly wonderful—easily my favorite. At Dr. Roche’s urging, I made the twenty minute bus ride and met up with most of my MA course there. Beckett is, of course, legendary, and the opportunity to see these short pieces—Rough for Theatre 2, That Time, and Rockaby—simply could not be passed up by the literary geeks we profess to be. The show was lovely, and I especially enjoyed Rockaby, a performance of an elderly woman’s experience at death. It’s poignant and, in true Beckettian fashion, minimalist and thought-inspiring.
After a lovely show, I caught the 46A back to UCD and walked in from the slip road in the pouring rain. I came home to a silent apartment, which, while strange, is not unusual. I live with five roommates, so there is usually someone puttering around in our apartment, but, as four of them are “grad vet” students from the US and Canada, they are close friends and often go out together. I made myself a quiet dinner and retired to my room, eager to enjoy my free evening and “hit the hay.” As I was preparing for bed, I heard voices in the apartment and assumed that my roommates had returned. With nothing left to do, I settled in for a much-needed rest.
Now, I should explain that at UCD, electronic entry cards are used to enter the building, the apartment, and individual bedrooms. At this point, I had begun leaving my bedroom door in “office mode,” essentially unlocked, while I was there—after experiencing a few inconvenient lockouts after heading to the kitchen for a drink or midnight snack. This evening was no exception and, as I always had done, I flipped the lock on the inside of the door before bed. My father is a correctional officer, and such basic safety precautions have been ingrained in me from early childhood.
At about 4:30 A.M., however, I was roused from a relatively deep and enjoyable slumber by the sound of the door opening. My first, overly-panicked thought, was that somehow the building had caught on fire and I’d missed the alarm, or something had happened at home and they were coming to notify me. After all, only the RA could have opened my locked door, right? After turning on the lights, though, I was greeted to a sight that was not, by any means, an overworked resident assistant.
Four fairly inebriated young gentlemen in blue plaid kilts stood in the tiny hallway by my bathroom, wearing expressions, I’m sure, as equally horrified as my own. In a slurred Scottish brogue, they asked if there were any empty beds in my room, to which I, in a fit of roughly awoken crankiness, made a sarcastic comment lost in the whisky. As I later found out, they were sports players from Scotland, staying over at UCD the night before their game to socialize. They had been offered space on our couch but had found it not quite comfortable and so, in their alcohol-induced haze, had decided to check for open beds in our apartment.
After shooing them into the hallway and speaking with my roommate, I tried to go back to bed, but found it difficult, images of drunken men in kilts haunting my dreams. A few days later, my roommate apologized with a lovely, hand-written note and a box of Cadbury deluxe chocolate. Happy Valentine’s day!
I tell this story for many reasons, and not just because it’s humorous. It’s one that I’m sure my Mitchell Scholar colleagues have heard several times by now but one, which I think, is indicative of my experience at UCD and in Ireland. I’d been so sure of everything I had done that night, meticulously checking doors and washing dishes, only to find that my plans had, quite literally, been unlocked. I’ve found my experience in Ireland to be like that so far—something difficult to plan for! In many ways, such spontaneity on the part of my friends, classmates, and university has helped me to relax my own rather strict personal guidelines. Helpful, of course, but not all together painful…I definitely lost a little sleep!