Monday, February 20, 2017

How is it for you living with so many people?

Living with a lotta people
Today one of my friends asked me, “how is it for you living with so many people?” This is because right now I am currently sharing an apartment with 5 other EVS volunteers.  Which means we are 6 people living, breathing, eating and sleeping together (ok not sleeping together like THAT, but you know what I mean!).

So for me this was an interesting question. It was an interesting question because this is not the first time that I share my home with housemates. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. Or the fifth... Ok you get the picture, I’ve lived in a lot of house-shares!  Since 2007 when I moved out of my mother’s house I have been living independently with friends. It’s now 2017. So that makes 10 years-worth of keys, contracts, dishes and recycling that I’ve experienced. But more importantly its been 10 years - worth of jokes, gossip, commiseration, kitchen dancing and of course tasty shared meals.

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Ok, so practically this is not a new experience. What IS a new experience is living with a completely international group of people, with a complete range of ages. In the apartment we have Austria, France, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK represented. We are, 17, 18, 19, 24, 24 and 28 years old. How is it then from my perspective to live together? Here are the main things I’ve observed:

New new new

For all of us this is a new situation. We are living in another country, with total strangers. Our environment is foreign so we have to adjust, to find our way in a fresh place. This has been a real challenge for me because we all come from diverse backgrounds and as a result have diverse perspectives.  I have noticed that there are some ways of living that are different from country to country. For example, from this experience I’ve learnt that Spanish people are fans of staying up late and speaking at high volumes! (Big love to you Ocar ;-) )

And yet we have to find a way to live in cooperation with each other. So I am learning to adapt. I have to open my mind, be sensitive to the culture and habits of others and hope that they will be sensitive to mine.

Age is just a number, right?
Age is just a number, or a state of mind, but sometimes it feels like it’s not! As I mentioned we have a range of ages in the apartment and yes, I’m the 28 year old. Which means that at times I feel like I want to live in a totally different way to my housemates. With up to 11 years between me and my “roomies” it’s no surprise that their ideas and mine about what constitutes a cosy home are not always the same.  I’m learning that when I just want to sit in a calm, clean corner where I can read my book in peace I have to remember that ok, maybe it’s not the same for us all! And ok, maybe I need to relax a little too and enjoy a bit of chaos once in a while.

Stay young and cool by living with teenagers with excellent sweaters!

Different schedules
When you are living as a collective your daily and weekly routines blend together to create a rhythm. The house becomes a living, breathing organism. You learn when is a good time to have a shower, when there will be space in the kitchen to cook, when someone will be there to pour your heart out to and when you can experience that sacred, rare, precious, moment of having the house to yourself (naked dancing here I come!). In out apartment our schedules vary hugely. Some of us start work at 10am, some of us at 4pm in the afternoon and some of us start at 6.30am in the morning! This means  that sometimes I’m going to bed just as someone else is coming home from work. Again it’s about adjusting, understanding and most importantly investing in a decent set of earplugs!

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