Let’s talk housing, because I don’t think I’ve touched on it yet, and where you’ll call home for eight weeks is an exciting part of studying abroad. I live in The Fizz, which is a student apartment complex about 20 minutes away from classes. I don’t have any roommates, so I get a bathroom, kitchen, and balcony all to myself. I have to say, The Fizz is a very snazzy facility, and I’m kind of glad my housing worked out the way it did. (Roommates would have been cool, too, but I appreciate my privacy more and more as time goes on.) Everyone is really friendly here, too; I have yet to pass someone in the building who didn’t say hi to me.
So when I found out I was being moved to a single apartment, I sent in an email asking what sort of stuff would already be there, and I was assured that the apartment was furnished. What I didn’t find out until later, however, is that “furnished” means “furnished with whatever the last guy left you.” And that can go really well or really not. I was left with some good stuff—a router, a lamp, plates and cutlery, dish soap, a bath mat, Febreze, a Swiffer sweeper, pancake mix, olive oil, honey, pasta, and a bottle of questionable origin because I can’t read German. Not everyone was as lucky. What my place could really use is a wall clock and a coat of paint in something other than white, but I feel like painting or punching holes in the apartment would probably be frowned upon.
The Fizz has a few separate buildings, and I have three other members of the program in my building. There’s a nice laundry room with a foosball table, and I even have my own mailbox. We also have a bike “garage” and a bunch of recycling bins conveniently on site. The Fizz is even going to be holding their own Summer Games, although unfortunately I’ll be in Greece that weekend. Hey wait, that’s this weekend… cool!
My apartment took a lot of getting used to. I didn’t live alone in the States, so as if moving out for the first time isn’t hard enough, I also had to learn my way around all the German appliances. There are several specific differences; for starters, the balcony door. The handle in the standard position opens the door normally, but if you turn the handle up, the door opens from the top to let in some air. To lock it, you have to turn the handle down. This was very confusing for me at first… I remember thinking the door was broken when it came off the hinge at the top. Secondly, the burners, which are controlled by holding your finger on the heat intensity and timer sensors. My general distaste for anything involving cooking has kept me from trying them out, though. Finally, the climate control…I honestly still don’t even understand how it works, so I’ll just say it’s a strange-looking device and leave it at that.
Out of the eleven of us in my program, eight are in The Fizz; the other three have shared apartments in Vauban. I’ve only been there once, so I’m not entirely familiar with the way things work over there. The apartment I went in had a long hallway with doors going to the kitchen/living area, two bathrooms, and several bedrooms. From the way the boys in my program talk, their roommates (a mixture of male and female) are all in and out pretty frequently.
I’m definitely spoiled getting to live in The Fizz, not having to worry about my roommates smoking or complaining about my taste in music. It was a bit of a baptism by fire having my first independent living arrangement be in a foreign country, but I know the experience will benefit me in the long run.
Stay tuned for next week’s post from Greece and Cyprus… what a way to spend the Fourth of July!