Hey You Guys!
Guess what? I no longer live in hostels.
Actually, I haven’t been living in hostels for about a month now (OMG has it been that long?).
As much as I loved constantly meeting new people all of the time, after living in hostels for three months, I really, really needed some space.
Like a lot of space.
And I really needed some space after living in a hostel staff room that one time. Oh, the horror.
I now live in a flat.
Well, a shared flat.
With other people.
Actually, I still don’t have the total space desired since I’m still sharing a small room with three other people. So, it’s kind of like a hostel but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
Mostly because I have access to WiFi all of the time.
The situation isn’t perfect. Along with sharing a room with three other girls, and I’m also sharing the apartment with my landlord, which is kind of weird but I almost never see him so it’s OK, OK? (But yeah- totally weird.)
I immediately moved in as soon as I arrived to Melbourne thanks to a good friend I met while I was in Sydney who talked to her landlord for me. Only the living situation started out a bit strange.
My friend picked me up from the train station and took me to her building, and gave me a warning about her landlord.
She told me that he once made her feel uncomfortable by hitting on her, saying that she has a good body and they should go swimming together. And, also, that he’s weird and is constantly pointing out that it’s his apartment and has many rules.
This, of course, made me feel a bit hesitant.
When I walked into the high raise building, she introduced me to her landlord. I smiled, reached out my right hand to shake his and said “hi”. He seemed awkward, and reached out his hand to meet mine as if it was an extra chore he had to do.
We went up to a high floor and he showed me an apartment. Only he didn’t directly say anything to me. Everything was translated through my friend, who is from Taiwan, in Chinese. (She later told me that he is able to speak English but didn’t.)
While I was in the apartment, I was told that the place didn’t come with a key but not to worry because “it’s safe”.
This also made me feel a bit hesitant. What kind of a landlord doesn’t give their tenant a key?
My friend suggested that I try it out for a week to see how I like it, and I doubtfully agreed even though the apartment didn’t come with a key, which made me nervous. A total of eight people were meant to live in the place, four in each room. At the time, it was six, including me.
Later that day, I went to the supermarket to get some things, and when I came back the door was locked. How convenient since I didn’t have a key! I also left my cell phone inside and couldn’t get a hold of my friend who had the landlord’s number. I finally found her, and went back to the apartment where I found a different guy inside the flat from the awkward landlord earlier that day. He was an overweight man from Hong Kong in the apartment vacuuming. He seemed less awkward and spoke better English. It turned out that he was the other guy’s partner. I awkwardly said “hi”, even though I wanted to strangle someone.
He told me not to slam the door because the wind is really strong in the room and to not lock the door before I go out.
“I need a key,” I said.
“We don’t have any more keys,” he said. “We gave so many keys and people always lose them.”
“I need a key,” I repeated. “It’s strange not to give your tenant a key.”
I made a big deal about it, and said that if anything of mine gets stolen, it’s on him and that he is responsible. He finally said he had another flat where there would be an empty bed for me starting the next day with a key.
“Can I see it?” I asked.
“It’s the same as this one,” he said.
“But can I see it.” I repeated.
He agreed to show me the flat, and asked me to not tell any of the girls living in the apartment without a key that I was moving flats because of the key situation.
“I do you favor, you do me favor,” he said.
I sighed and agreed.
We went down to the apartment, and it was slightly different. This one actually had a couch whereas the keyless flat had no couch. And there were less people in it.
“This is my bathroom,” he said showing me a bathroom.
“And this is my room,” he said showing me a closed door.
I remember thinking, “Of course he’d be living with me”. Then he showed me a small room with two buck beds (four girls in total living in this small space).
He told me I’d have to give him another week’s bond (total two weeks’ bond); I told him I’d see how I like living there for a week and tell him if I want to stay longer.
Since then, I decided to stay longer despite the weird landlord situation. He’s not as creepy as the other guy that my friend was dealing with. I hardly ever see him, and when I do, it’s… bearable. And, you know, I have to give him rent money.
I’m in a good location (right in the city) and near the train station if I need it.
One of my roommates has a small heater, which I’m ever so grateful for because sometimes it can get really cold. (I just hope she doesn’t take it with her when she leaves in a few days!)
I have WiFi all of the time (which is a good and bad thing! Hellooooo Netflix. Wait… I still need a job).
I don’t have to pay for laundry (even though it’s kind of annoying to not have a dryer) and everything has to be hung up.
I have a refrigerator with a freezer, which means I can store all kinds of frozen goodness. From my experience, most hostels don’t have freezers or ovens. And now I have a freezer and an oven!
I have a couch, which isn’t really my couch but you know.
I have a kitchen, where I promise I will learn how to cook things and start contributing more articles to Priya’s Cookin’ and not just burn toast like I did a few days ago.
The building even has a gym and a pool, which I should probably go to.
Even with all of these amenities, I don’t completely feel at home. I mean I’m still crammed into one room that was made for one person with three other people. And I have to share a bathroom with all of them. And it’s not like I’m high maintenance or anything, it’s just when you have to pee and someone’s in the shower, you can’t. Also, the bathroom door doesn’t lock, which is OK since everyone seems to be considerate and asks if you need the bathroom before hopping in the shower. But still, a lock would be nice.
Apparently there’s an Asian Facebook group where people can find these flats, and all my roomies are from East Asian countries: two from Taiwan, and one from Japan. They’re nice and respectful but there’s just this one little thing about my roommates – they don’t want to hang out with me!
Well, technically, they don’t hang out with each other either.
I’ve barely had a conversation with any of them for longer than 10 minutes. We don’t have dinner together and when they do have dinner, everyone has their headphones on while they’re watching the latest hottest Asian Drama.
I’m not sure if it’s a part of their culture to be very closed off, but sometimes it’s nice to have roommates who, you know, want to talk to you instead ignore you all the time.
But when they do speak to me, it’s not like, “Hey Girlfriend! What’s the deal, yo?!”
It’s more like, “Can I take a shower?” (In case I need to use the bathroom).
Sometimes they don’t say hello when I walk in, or good morning when I wake up, or when I ask one of them how their day was, they respond with a “good” without asking me how my day was.
I mean, at first, I was grateful when they left me alone. I really needed space and to be alone and re-energize. But now, I kind want them to join me for $5 Domino’s pizza night.
One of my roomies does curiously asks me questions about America on occasion, which I find quite entertaining. For example: the fact that tipping isn’t common in Taiwan or Australia makes it strange that it’s common in America, and what do you if you only have $100 in your pocket you’re at a restaurant in America, do you not tip? (Yes, these are the types of questions I’m asked.)
My two roomie who are from Taiwan often speak to each other in Chinese, and I kind of need to learn Chinese now so I can listen to what they’re talking about.
My other roomies is from Japan, who doesn’t know how to speak Chinese so she speaks in English to communicate. Actually, I would say she’s the most talkative when I approach her to talk.
I’ve noticed a common pattern among all of them. They’re not too confident in their English speaking skills. However, when they speak to me, their English is fine. It’s not perfect, but it’s fine. Because of this, all of them have settled for underpaid work in restaurants or similar industries. But the silly thing is that many of them have told me that they’ve come to Australia to work on their English. How is working in a Chinese restaurant or not going out to meet locals going to help improve their English?
Anyway, one of the girls from Taiwan is leaving in a few days so I hope whoever replaces her doesn’t speak Chinese or Japanese so everyone will be forced to communicate in English. You know, so they can practice English. And, also, so I don’t have to learn Chinese. Because I heard it’s a hard language to learn.
Oh, well. I’m sure one day they’ll want to hang out with me. Until then, at least I have WiFi access.
And this stuffed animal my friend gave me before she left.
Have you ever had strange roommate experiences? Do they make you want to learn Chinese?