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Student Reflections

Living with 14 Roommates

Jake Austgen
November 30, 2022

The people you live with are an important part of your life. Therefore, it is crucial to find the right roommates when you move into a new apartment. It is even more crucial when you are moving across the world to a city where you don’t know anyone. Those roommates are the first people you will meet when you arrive. They could become your best friends or worst enemies. You will see them every day, whether you like it or not. That’s why I spent so much time trying to find the perfect living situation before coming to Spain. I wanted to live in the center of Madrid with international students as roommates. However, finding that situation was easier said than done.

I spent hours scrolling through Facebook groups, but in the end, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. That left me with two options. First, I could live in university housing, where other international students would surround me. It would be easier to meet people and make friends, but my university is 45 minutes from downtown Madrid. The other option was to commit to an apartment in Madrid without knowing who my roommates would be. It would be nice to live in the center, but it would be a long four months if I didn’t like my roommates. Then I found something that seemed like a perfect balance, a 15-room apartment in the center of Madrid. At first, I was skeptical about living in such a big apartment. It would be loud, messy, and crowded. After all, I would have to share a living room and kitchen with 14 other people. But with so many roommates, I would never be bored, and I would probably like some of them, right? Ignoring all that, it was in the perfect location, so I decided to sign the contract. In the months leading up to my move-in date, I kept questioning whether I had made the right decision. I still didn’t know who my roommates would be. Would I have been better off just choosing a normal apartment? As my move-in date inched closer, I became increasingly anxious to get to Madrid and see what kind of situation I got myself into.

When I finally landed in Madrid and made my way to the apartment, I found that I was one of the first people to arrive. Aside from the 15 rooms, there are five bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. While the living room was small for the number of people in the apartment, the kitchen was huge, with three refrigerators, two ovens, two stove tops, and two washing machines. My room was quite small, with just enough room for a closet, twin bed, and desk. There were only five roommates there when I arrived, and I was excited for everyone else to show up. Over the next few days, the rooms started to fill, and I finally got to see if I had made the right decision.

My first impression of my roommate group was how diverse we are: we come from nine different countries. It is awesome to hear everyone’s unique perspectives and upbringings. As for how I like my roommates, I came in with low expectations. I would have been happy if I had become friends with just one of them, but my expectations were shattered. I get along with everyone and am friends with more than half; they are the main people I hang out with in my free time. Looking back, I am extremely satisfied that I chose this apartment. Of course, it gets loud and crowded at times. And if you think a normal apartment can get messy quickly, just imagine quadrupling the number of people. But in my opinion, it is worth it. I gained a group of friends as soon as I arrived in Madrid. If I am bored, I just leave my room, and there is always someone to chat with in the kitchen. I can’t imagine how different my experience would be if I decided to move into a normal apartment. When my study abroad program ends, I will have friends to visit all over Europe.

All in all, my decision to live with 14 roommates turned out to be the right one. I definitely got lucky with my roommates, and there is no guarantee it always turns out this well, but if you are ever looking for an apartment for studying abroad, choose the one with more roommates.