My experience when sharing a flat and tips

Published by Bo Ko — 7 years ago

Blog: Maribor
Tags: Erasmus tips

What is it like to share a flat?

If you have never shared a flat before, you might be asking yourself how it would be to share with other people. I can assure you it really depends. Sometimes it is great fun to share with other students, especially if you are an Erasmus. Students are young (in most cases) and are easy going and fun. The problem is when you have to share with people how are not very well accustomed to the idea of sharing. Once you start sharing you have to clean after yourself, wash your dishes and clean a certain part of the apartment you live in (or sometimes clean the whole place yourself). You must be able to cope with other people and accept their differences. The real problems arise when either you are not able to accept them, or they are unable to accept them. It has happened to me several times.

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During my Erasmus stay I had to share a flat with two guys. They would never, ever clean after themselves. The flat was a complete mess, none of them would throw out the garbage and they would never wash their dishes. There was almost always a pile of dishes in the sink. Fortunately, they went to their homes every weekend and it was when I had some time alone and I could clean a bit. I can assure you it was not a pleasant experience. They were not paying any attention to the fact that our flat was dirty and messy and they did not care at all. They were supposed to call one of the Internet providers in the town and sign a contract for Internet. They promised they would do it but they never did. I offered to try to talk to the Internet provider and sign the contract but they would always say that there was no need and that they would take care of it. They never, ever did and I spent the entire first semester of my Erasmus stay without any Internet connection at all. When I had to study I usually went to the library but the library was closed on Saturday afternoon and the whole of Sunday. I remember that sometimes I would go out and stay in a nearby square because there was public WiFi there. It was freezing in the winter and I would try to endure the cold and check whatever I had to check online.

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Added to this, our landlords, the owners of the flat, also caused us problems. We were not allowed to have any sort of heating, except for the radiators there were in the flat. I thought I would be ok but it soon turned out that these radiators would work for about half an hour and would then stop. Afterword, they would be off for some time and start working again later. The owners had set the radiators to twenty degrees and we could not change that temperature. Unfortunately, it was way too cold outside and a small radiator, set to twenty degrees that does not even work the whole time, could not warm your room. The owner had also set the water in the shower, so that less water would come out. They had done that because our expenses or living costs were included in the price. Still, it is not fair to make people suffer in the cold winter. I bought a small electric heater, which had two options for heating. Every single time I would try to set it to option number two, the whole electricity in my room would go off. It was horrible. I am not sure how I survived. My landlords would also appear without calling or warning us in any way because they were renting the rooms in the flat separately. It would often occur to them to come and check on the two available rooms they had. One of my flat mates said he had seen one of the owners washing dishes. He just came home from somewhere and there she was, washing dishes in our flat.

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My second flat was so nice. The place itself was nothing special but the people were great. It was very cheap and it was located right next to the main bridge. I had great flat mates who would clean after themselves and would show me how interesting Slovenia was. I have gone out with all of them and I had the chance to see how great they were. They were awesome, really. I was truly lucky. We had a list, so we could always know when we had to clean the apartment. Since it was not a big apartment, each of us had to clean it once every three weeks. There were four of us. Sharing with those people was fun because they would almost never bother me with anything. Two of them were working, so they would not spend so much time at the flat and the third one was a student. The great thing about her was that she was very nice and quiet and she would not make noise, or anything like that. I loved sharing a flat with these people, even though our building was old and it always gave me the feeling it was going to collapse. Still, our flat was renovated and it was ok. We had everything we needed and I cannot say I was unhappy in any way.

I have shared flats with some more people through the years and it is difficult most of the time. The great thing about sharing is that if you are lucky, you meet some very cool people and you can then become real friends. On my second year in Spain, for example, I had to share with two girls. One of them was never happy and everything was bothering her. She was obsessed with cleaning and so she was never happy with the situation in the apartment. It is no wonder she soon left. She was definitely not content living with us, despite the fact we had no negative feelings for her. Then another girl came and she was no nice and relaxed. She was happy about everything and it seemed that nothing could upset her. I loved living with her. My other flat mate at the time being though was my number one favorite. She was great and we became very, very good friends. I felt very calm and relaxed with her because she was very open minded and it seemed nothing could upset her either. She was great at accepting different people and she knew that people are different and that very often they would react in a different way than her. It would not bother her at all. She loved communicating with people and being in large groups. I miss living with her. I admit that we were not organized when it came to cleaning our flat or when it came to buying stuff but at the end everyone was contributing.

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Now I am living in Madrid again with two girls. I have almost never felt so stupid and lonely while sharing a flat. They are constantly finding something to be unhappy about. It could be something unimportant but it does not matter. They just find a way to always be winning and discussing, how stupid everything is. The same applies for our flat. It does not really matter what I do, I am always wrong. I might have forgotten something or I could have been feeling bad, it does not matter to them, I am always guilty. One of them is completely obsessed with cleaning and if things do not work exactly the way she wants she would not wait to comment and tell you. You might have helped her many times but it does not matter. Once you have made a mistake, your mistake is the most important thing in the world and that is it. I am not sure how exactly I am going to survive this year. I have more than six months left but I already want to leave and change the situation. I am afraid that even if I talked to these girls, nothing would really improve. Besides, they are in my group and if I have a problem with them at home, I would also have to see them in class. It is a complicated situation.

As a conclusion I'll give you some pieces of advice, based on my experience about sharing a flat with other people:

  • Define what you are looking for. If you want to party most of the time you should probably live with Erasmus students. They love partying and travelling and you will have a lot of fun at home.
  • If you are into a quieter and calm environment, you might prefer to live with people who work or have a lot to study. Those people would often go out in the morning and not come back until late. They tend to organize their time; therefore, they would, most probably, never bother you.
  • If you want to learn the local language of the country you are going to live in, you should search for local students. They would speak a lot better than your Erasmus friends. Even if you live with Erasmus who speak the language, you will most probably not learn a lot because non native speakers would often make tons of mistakes.
  • Make sure you clean after yourself. It is important.
  • Be open and discuss all of the problems that you feel there are in your relations with your flat mates.
  • Respect the private space of your flat mates. Do not enter their rooms without their consent when they are not home.
  • Always pay your share of the rent and the bills on time.
  • Do not make too much noise when your flat mates are sleeping or when they have important exams.
  • If you like your flat mates, you should become close friends. It is one of the greatest friendships because you would have shared a lot.


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