Yesterday, Lien and I met up with our friend, Ten to walk around the Barbican conservatory. It's a cool place where the contrast of nature and brutalist architecture combine. Honestly, walking around so much greenery - we just wanted to steal all the plants for our own flat. After we were done taking photos we made our way to Spitalfields Market for some lunch. We had some decent Spanish food from the market and then got the best cupcakes ever from Flavourtown. Seriously, if you're ever in London, you HAVE to try these cupcakes.
Living with flatmates is a lot like being in a relationship. At least, I think it is. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been in a proper relationship. I mean, there was that one time in high school but that doesn’t really count. But I have given a lot of relationship advice to people in relationships. Although I don’t know why they’d ask me for advice seeing as I have no experience in the topic. Take my advice or don’t, either way it’s not my fault.
I should really title this post: How to Live with One Flatmate. Just one. Because I’m only living with one flatmate and have never lived with more than one. But I don’t think that title would get as many clicks, so if this counts as click-bait … Sorry. (But not really).
Live with friends (or people you actually trust and get along with).
If you’re fortunate enough, live with friends. But live with close friends who you’ve already spent a ridiculous amount of time together. Live with friends who you’ve travelled with so you’ve already got a good idea of what it’s like to share a bathroom with them. But also, just know that no matter how much time you previously spent with these people, you’ll realise there’s still so much more to learn about them. Like, I didn’t realise how fucking crazy Lien was until I started living with her. Like, so crazy she genuinely scares me and makes me wonder how I ever became friends with her.
Don’t keep score.
Tallying is a waste of time and only causes conflict. Just because one flatmate did something two times already, doesn’t mean it’s the other flatmate’s turn to do it. Everything should be situational. Stop keeping score and just do the task that needs to be done. Whether it’s washing the dishes or vacuuming the flat, stop arguing about who’s turn it is and just do it.
None of this passive-aggressive bullshit. No fucking Post-It notes. No indirect Facebook status’. Be honest. Be respectful. Be understanding. Talk it out. If you have a problem, don’t bottle it up and keep it in the back of your mind. You’ll drive yourself mad. Confront your flatmates with any issues you have and work it all out, then and there.
Set things straight from the beginning.
Whether it’s money, chores, knowing what the sock on the door means, set things straight from the beginning. It’s so much easier to avoid certain situations when you already know what to do and how to deal with it.
Sharing is caring! Build a home, don’t just live in a space with people you’re not even comfortable with. Cook a meal for everyone, let your flatmate drink the tea you bought, make decisions together! It’s so much more comfortable living in a place where everyone is in it together.
You will get annoyed.
Know that no matter how close you are or aren't, you'll still find yourself getting annoyed at your flatmates. Trust me. Like, I fucking love my flatmate. She's my best friend. More than a best friend, like a sister. And we still bicker. We argue about if we're having an argument. And living in such a small flat doesn't make it easier. But at the end of the day, we know not to take anything personally.
Aretha Franklin gets it. And you should too.
I haven’t been living in London long enough to truly call myself a “Londoner”. I don’t know if I’ll ever call myself that to be completely honest. But I’ve already learnt a lot about myself and the city. Some expectations were met, some weren’t. These are just a few of the realisations I’ve made after a couple of months living in London.
How bloody expensive it is.
Like, yeah, you hear it. You hear it all the time. But you don’t really get it until you’re experiencing it yourself. One day you’ll be having a shit day because all you’ve done is laundry at your local laundromat that cost you £10 because you can’t be arsed waiting a week for your duvet to dry in your flat that gets zero sunlight. And then you think, what better way to cheer yourself up than with a gooey salted caramel brownie? So, you start digging in your wallet for your last bit of change but realise you’re 40p short. If you’re lucky though, the lady at the bakery will let you have the brownie, anyway. And while you enjoy eating the best pity brownie of your life, you realise: Shit. I just spent my last bit of change on a brownie and I still have to buy eggs. But you know what? No regrets. Because that was the best fucking salted caramel brownie ever and you know what? Tomorrow is a new day.
How getting a job can either be the easiest thing or the most difficult and sometimes both at the same time.
I was surprised to find out how many job offers I received just in the first week of applying for jobs. What I didn’t realise was just how easy jobs could fall to shits. You could start a job that is so great in every way and is absolutely perfect for you. And then you can realise the lady you work for is an actual psycho and you’ll drop that bitch after one week. I mean, I want a job but I also care about my mental well-being!
How inefficient the city is.
Listen, London has their public transport down. But that’s the only think they’ve done right. Everything else is FUCKED. Their systems are shit! Do you know how difficult it is to get a bank account? You can’t just walk into any bank and ask to open up an account. No, that would be too easy, too convenient, too efficient for London. You literally have to wait for a utility bill to come to your flat to prove you have a UK address. And no other document sent to the home you live in will be good enough. Not even your own lease agreement because apparently, even though they see you face-to-face, with your address on your lease agreement, it still won’t be valid because apparently, they don’t know your landlord. And some banks require you to apply online and even if you’re literally the only customer at their bank. They’ll still turn you away.
Your walking pace will increase tremendously.
You’ll walk fast. You’ll get annoyed at slow walkers. You’ll know how to duck and weave through Oxford Street like a fucking ninja. If anyone stops in front of you while you’re walking through the City of London at 9 AM, you’ll end up having to stop yourself from drop-kicking the dickhead. But you won’t even realise just how fast you’ve learnt to walk until you’re back in your hometown, and you decide to go on a casual stroll with your family and realise you’ve left them 100 meters behind.
Once you’re set in an area in London. You stay in that area.
If like me, you decide to live in East London. Just know, you probably won’t leave East London. At all. Unless some out-of-town friend invites you for breakfast in Notting Hill, that’ll be the only time you take the underground to the other side of the city. We’re going to Notting Hill? We might as well go to Spain while we’re at it! That’s just how it is. I mean, does South London even exist?
You’ll establish your favourite go-to local pub early on.
Speaking of staying in your area… We moved into our flat about a month ago. Within the first three weeks, the security at our local pub stopped asking for our ID. He sees us walking towards the door, gives us the nod and we head in.
Life happens very quickly.
You don’t even understand. 1 month in London is the equivalent to 6 months anywhere else. One day you’ll be crashing at a mate’s flat, single and jobless, then 2 months will pass and you’re living in a flat, have already quit 1 job and are working at another job you already hate, and juggling two boys at the same time! It really is a fast-paced lifestyle over here.
At 9:30 on a Wednesday morning, sitting in my office chair at work, looking outside to a grey and rainy London, I said to myself, “Fuck it.” Bored, restless and in desperate need of an escape, I booked two tickets to Madrid to surprise Lien as an early birthday present and selfishly for me to just get away. I was so excited I could barely focus on my work. In all the spontaneity, I failed to realise that instead of booking a weekend trip, I’d accidentally booked a 1-month trip. Yep, I fucked up. I had to pay the extra fee to change my return flight to a couple days later instead of (sadly) going to Madrid for the whole month but once that was all sorted out, I was so ready to leave. As soon as the clock hit 5:00 PM, I rushed home and told Lien to pack her bags. She was in shock for about 6 hours and it only hit her when she woke up at 1:30 AM and we had to leave.
We arrived in Madrid just after midday and still couldn’t believe what we’d done. Though we were running on only 3 hours of sleep, we were ready to do and eat and see (but mostly eat) as much as possible in the couple nights we had. Lucky for us, we’d already been to Madrid before, so the trip was more about going back to our favourite spots and catching up with friends.
Our first stop was Fit Food, a juice bar I always visit whenever I'm in Madrid, for some refreshing smoothie bowls. The weird thing was, even though I'd been to this cafe twice before, it took us so long to get here. We kept following the maps app and it kept taking us to the wrong place. But we eventually got there in the end and it was well worth getting lost.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city, feeling more and more at home and ended it in Parque del Retiro, where we mostly complained about how single we were as we passed romantic couples in love. I know they say Paris is the City of Love but fuck me, Madrid is passionate in their P.D.A. Seriously though, one guy was literally serenading his girlfriend with a guitar while they shared a picnic. Like, really guys? Really? Where and how do I find someone like that?
We began our second day with breakfast at Federal Cafe. I'm not even joking when I say that this was the BEST BREAKFAST OF MY LIFE. Everything was perfect. I ordered the eggs benedict with smoked salmon and Lien ordered the baked eggs with creme fraiche and sage potatoes. I couldn't choose which dish was better. And the coffee ... smooth and strong. The last time I had coffee that was this good, I was back home in Australia! If you're ever in Madrid, you HAVE to go here.
Though this trip was brief and we are now very poor, I have zero regrets for buying those tickets to my favourite city in the world. We ate amazing food, got lost in the quiet streets, caught up with close friends and drank the best wine and coffee.There's no doubt that I'll be back again in this beautiful city that feels like home. Te quiero mucho, Madrid.
A week in Stockholm.Read More
The moment I received my UK visa.Read More
Dreaming of España . . .Read More
It's been a hell of a few months.Read More
A survey about me.Read More
I wake up to frosted windows and the sound of nearby birds chirping. It is an early winter morning. Tangerine clouds start to appear as the sun slowly rises to say another hello.
Today is a new day to feel less lonely. To be okay on my own. It’s a new day to love my body and embrace all my flaws. Flaws that shouldn’t be called flaws because instead, I choose to see them as marks and shapes that make me, me.
I am alive and that is all I need. It’s all I need to walk and dance and jump and scream and laugh and hug and cry and dream. I am alive and I am me.