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Learning to Live Together Abroad


Moving into the CEA apartment with my fellow roommates was one of the most exciting moments of independence I’ve had. Everything was shiny, new and exciting. That’s a metaphor of course as our apartment is actually filled with lovely, antique furniture, books, and original paintings.

In January, we were all quite busy with getting to know our new city and starting classes. Most of our time was spent outside of the apartment, and most of the time that we were in the apartment was spent sleeping.  There is plenty to explore in Grenoble so there was, and still is, no need to spend all day in our apartment.  Once my roommates and I really engaged in our classes, however, we started spending more time inside our new home where we had to learn how to live together.

 Our cozy kitchen table where we relax after class

The apartment consists of a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, one bathroom and two bedrooms, so naturally we each share a bedroom with another person. Right from the start, however, the biggest difficulty for me was in sharing the kitchen.  Back at my university, I live in a dorm without a kitchen, so I was used to just eating in the cafeteria.  Living in the apartment here, I have had to learn to cook just for myself every night and even more difficult for me, I’ve had to do dishes every night as well. I know. I know.  I am so lucky to live in this beautiful building with a good-sized, fully functioning kitchen. But still, it took me a while to adjust to having to do my dishes right away after eating. The only other little cultural adjustment is not being able to shower or flush the toilet after 10 pm.
 The kitchen stove where we cook everyday

When four people have to share a relatively small apartment there are bound to be some small disagreements.  When studying abroad, not only do we have to live with new people, but we have to adjust to a culture foreign to us with customs not regularly practiced in the US.  As I explained earlier, we cannot use appliances after 10 pm so there was a learning curve regarding when my roommates and I would take showers or do some cleaning.  We decided to have apartment meetings so that we could figure out how to make the most of our new home.  It did take some adjustments and discussion, but now we all have our schedules coordinated.  In the end, with windows in every room framing views of the gorgeous mountains surrounding Grenoble, it is impossible to feel anything but gratitude for our apartment.

Samantha Steed is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Grenoble, France. She is currently a Junior at Soka University.

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