So, here at the University of Otago I live in a Uniflat, which is where many international students stay.
Our flat is a big one floor apartment with 6 big bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small laundry room, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.
The rooms are much bigger than I expected! The ceilings are pretty high, which means all the heat rises, so it’s pretty cold. Plus, it’s winter and the flats aren’t heated.
Usually, it is about 40°F outside (5°C) and about 30°F (0°C) inside. It takes some getting used to (especially when you can see your breath), but there are a few essentials that make the cold bearable: fingerless gloves, slippers, a throw blanket, and a hot water bottle.
Add some warm meals, great conversation, and hot tea, and you have a cozy little abode that quickly warms up.
Speaking of great conversation, let me tell you a bit about my flatmates.
First, there’s Maiko. She is from Japan (“about 6 hours from Tokyo, living in a forest”). Emily is from Washington, USA and goes to school in California. Emilie is from Paris, France. Alex lives in New Jersey but goes to school in Massachusetts. And, last but certainly not least, our Kiwi host is Sanjana from Auckland. We get along so well!
So far our largest “quarrels” are: “no, sit down, I’m cleaning. You’re helping too much.” then “I’m not doing anything, what can I do? Can I help?” – Rinse and repeat.
Together, we are a group of six beautiful, cute, fun, incredible, and weird vegetarians. And we all cook really well. Sanjana made our first flat dinner of curry and rice. Then Maiko made wonderful spiced pumpkin soup.
I was making lunch at the same time as Emilie one day, and the broccoli and toasted cashews she made looked divine. Plus, she made crepes for dessert last night. I haven’t seen or tasted much of Alex’s cooking, but I can’t wait to try all of her vegan recipes! And even though Emily says she cannot cook, it doesn’t matter. SHE CAN BAKE. Choc chip cookies, rhubarb dessert with meringue, and last night a vegan chocolate cake. YUM!
Wednesday night was also one of the best experiences of my life. We hosted a potluck dinner: bring a plate of food and BYO (bring your own… American equivalent of BYOB).
I made roasted carrots and parsnips and bought my first legal alcohol: 2012 Pink Australian Moscato. We invited people on Facebook and went around to our Uniflat neighbours and invited them.
We were expecting about 15 people. There were about 30 people that came over! That night I met students from Denmark, the UK, all over the USA, Finland, Hungary, Singapore, and New Zealand. I learned so much about the different cultures being represented at our potluck by walking around and talking to as many people as I could. It made me appreciate our world and how diverse and interesting every single person is.