Despite my very tender (er) age, I have been fortunate (Or unfortunate? You will tell.) to eat up a few room-and flatmates. Until I was 18 I only had one roommate who was my twin sister so I was clearly not prepared for the real world. Then my sister left for university and I stayed alone. But sadly, three years later I followed suit and I had to learn that life is neither a fairytale nor countless slept-through nights. Do not worry, I will not tell you everything.
My first flatmates were four girls in a two-bedroom flat. Do I need to say more? That was the first time I saw the real nature of women. Apologize girls but we can be unbearable at times. All I heard from the room next to mine was shouting and crying. Both came from one of the girls who welcomed her boyfriend this way, whom she was determined to wed that time. One other girl was hysterical because the school was just extremely difficult and she was scared of failing the exams, while the third girl didn’t even try studying saying she would fail anyway.
A couple of years later I arrived to Moscow to spend a few weeks with my sister who has been living there for years. I could do this only with applying for a scholarship that meant daily lessons in Russian language and culture. So I had to live again in a dormitory, attached to the school, with hundreds of young people. There they say the best roommate is the non-existent one – I am sorry but I tend to agree. For this, anyone who can, tries to find a roommate called ‘dead soul’ (after Gogol’s Dead Souls), who exists only on paper – weird, ins’t it? I can not tell more, it’s strictly confidential. I had a roommate though who decided that I am untrustworthy and she slept with a small bag on her waist, with her money in it. And the kids, who did not know that we do not play ball games on each others’ door in the middle of the night, were out of a very strange world to me.
The next lovely story is from Mongolia, where I went with a friend, again with gaining a four-month scholarship. We have known each other for a while and I knew our differences. However, having to listen to The Prodigy on full volume was beyond my expectations. Also was it when I left the room for a little peace and she felt offended just because I did not share her musical taste.
Much later, a year in a student hostel, this time in London, was probably one of the most challenging experiences. I lived together with undergraduate students who believed that a day without partying is a wasted day. My argument about the necessity of studying and sleeping, if I have paid for the master’s course, was not accepted very well. I seriously envy people who need neither sleeping nor studying to gain knowledge. I do need both.
This was followed by 2 years in a house with a Indian landlord, still in London. Until then I thought I love Indian food but I had to realize I know nothing about it. Have you heard of or tasted African pepper soup? It’s strong like hell. Taste it if you have a chance. Well, the food in this house topped that. Not only in taste, but in smell. Our eyes were swimming with tears whenever our landlord decided to have friends over for dinner.
In 2012 I spent six months in Mongolia both studying and working. That was tough. First I was put into a room with four other girls. I am talking about a room about 15 m2, without shelves and desks. Two weeks later I managed to get the laundry. Yes, the laundry. All for myself. I had a bed and noone else in the ‘room’. It was great. Until the first night, when the kids started partying. And that went on until 4am each and every day. What I am referring to was not friendly chatting but wall-shaking music and frenzy. After not sleeping for two weeks but I still had to work and go to university, I tried to ask for an other room on a more peaceful floor. I got one, where the noise was the same, but now as an addition I had a roommate too, minus heating in -35 degrees. The girl was 20, and didn’t like me for getting up before 7am when she just went to bed. We did not get along very well.
And here I am, in 2014, and in London, again. I must add, where I live now is far the best place where I have ever rented a room, but when last night I woke for my landlord’s crowing at 1am, I didn’t know to laugh or cry. Until now it was only loud whinnying that usually stops by 2am. This is the second week that we do not have hot water but I can handle that. All I want now is a night without being awoked by anything or anyone. I am leaving you for now, I have a couple of quiet hours to sleep before the bliss begins. Sleep well.
Home, sweet home…