When I’m extremely wealthy and above such things, I will never, ever, ever do laundry. At Boston University, I live in Student Village II, where I was blessed with extremely new accommodations. It has the gift of a massive laundry room that is relatively easy and inexpensive to access.
I didn’t realize how I took this amenity for granted until arriving in the United Kingdom. Row after row of glistening machines, just waiting for my heaps of repulsively sweaty exercise clothing. Then, the best part is that one can transfer a massive load of clean laundry into the dryer, which fluffs and heats my many items to cuddly perfection.
At the University of St. Andrews? Not so much.
First of all, we have one washer and dryer for our entire building. Depending on the day, that washer and dryer could be occupied for all 24 precious hours, with a queue snaking out the door. Or, it could be entirely empty. But who’s to know unless you drag your pounds upon pounds of laundry down six flights of stairs to investigate for yourself.
Beyond the unpredictable nature of the laundry room comes the exorbitant pricing system, set by the capitalist construct that is Circuit Managed Laundry Systems. I thoroughly believe that this corporation’s sole goal is to swindle young students out of their hard-earned dimes but, hey, maybe I’m biased. Gone are the days of tossing in a few quarters to the machine, which then starts to satisfyingly foam. Nope. You have to “top-up” your card online, enter some code onto an ancient machine that may or may not “load” for 10 minutes, until maybe — just maybe — you’ll have a green light to get washing.
I must admit that I’m a person of simple pleasures. I don’t love many things more than a warm shower with great water pressure or warm sheets just pulled from a dryer.
However, one of those beautiful moments has been wrenched from me for approximately six months and, thank god, it’s not the shower. But that doesn’t make it any less devastating. The dryers are just horrific here, and I should accept it and move on.
Despite my rantings, I would like to clarify that I’m not a princess when it comes to laundry. I understand that it has to be done, and to expect someone else to do it for me is ludicrous. I’m not a toddler.
What I’d like to reflect on when ranting over the frustrating agony that is laundry in St. Andrews is that many things in my abroad experience have mirrored this challenge.
Sometimes, when things don’t fit, and the comforts of home feel very distant, it’s best to take a deep breath, put down the smelly laundry basket and take a look out the window. In my case, my laundry room has a beautiful view, looking down onto the picturesque roofs of cottages, nestled in a small valley.
But the most important thing is to pick the basket back up and please, for the love of god, put the running socks in the washer. They need it and you need a minute.
Oftentimes I’ll bring a book down to the laundry room, crack the window open and sit on a little ledge right beside it. Sure, who knows how long the cycle will actually take, but it’s a time for myself and I relish in it.
I’m not saying I enjoy laundry. I absolutely abhor it and will always be this way. But, like many things in life, abroad or not, a pause for reflection mixed with some surrender is always a good place to start.