In my six years of living in China, I’ve lived in quite a few apartments of varying quality and with people of very different personalities.
The first company I worked for in Guangzhou offered a perfectly liveable wage that allowed me to travel and save money as well. They also provided rent-free apartments so that we weren’t thrust straight into the private rental market in a country where we didn’t speak the language. The down side was that if you wanted one of those apartments, you had to live with another teacher. I lived with four teachers who I’ll never, ever forget.
The first one I lived with was a portly American who I’ll call Dave. I met him on the day I arrived and he seemed polite enough, if not overly friendly, as if constantly sizing me up. He helped me out a little with finding my way around the area and we watched a lot of TV, drank beer and socialised a little together for the first three days.
After a week or so, I started to find his personality a little unsettling. He openly bragged about swearing at kids when he taught in Korea and talked a lot about money - or rather the lack of it he had, which made others uncomfortable as well. When we were at lunch one day, he was the only one who didn’t contribute towards the bill and apologised profusely, looking a bit angry and embarrassed. That night seemed normal as I watched TV in the apartment and later chatted to a friend on the phone while he was in his room apparently sleeping. The only time he came out was to go to the bathroom. I waved hello but he just gave me a filthy look and went back into his room, slamming the door behind him.
It turned out that he wasn’t sleeping at all; he was packing. I found that out at around 5am the next morning when I discovered all the lights on, the front door wide open and all his stuff gone. His DVD player and movie collection was gone, his toiletries had been taken out of the bathroom and his room cleared out. I blinked for a couple of minutes then it finally dawned on me what had happened. ‘Hello, he’s buggered off’ I blurted out, without thinking. After allowing myself a grieving period of approximately two seconds, I shrugged my shoulders and immediately started scrubbing and disinfecting his old room (which was much bigger and brighter than mine) and moved my stuff in there.
The next flatmate (another American) seemed pretty well adjusted, with an outgoing personality. He also realised the importance of housework and could cook a little, which was also a huge plus. He hung around for a bit, had a look around the company office, observed some lessons, decided the job wasn’t right for him and was gone after a week.
So for a few glorious weeks I had the apartment to myself but it didn’t last long when flatmate number three – my most memorable one by far who I’ll call Evan - arrived. I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when I saw him. He looked about mid 20s but was very pale and frail with thick glasses and a soft voice. He seemed very quiet and overwhelmed by the whole experience and for most of the day he sat on the living room couch staring into space and looking very confused and disorientated - very different to the flatmates I’d had so far, who were generally talkative.
He had a rather interesting taste in music, owning pretty much every Elvis album ever made, with stuff like the Carpenters thrown in as well. He had no life skills whatsoever. He couldn’t cook, so for dinner most nights he would buy these little packets of sausages in the supermarket across the road and heat them in the microwave. He rarely showered and didn’t seem to know how to use the washing machine and so his clothes would just lie in great big piles for weeks. One of the managers knocked on our door one day and asked us to wash the clothes because the smell was permeating throughout the building, drawing complaints even from the ‘frat crowd’ (young teachers fresh out of university) who weren’t the most clean and organised people themselves.
He also had a shocking inability to pick up after himself, leaving food wrappers, soft drink bottles and bits of food (among many other things) scattered throughout his room. He also had an unhealthy fascination with skulls. He brought plastic ones of various sizes to China, displayed them all around his room and would talk about them any chance he got. It was becoming an unbearable situation and it was clear that one of us would soon have to go.
To be continued...
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Well that's the point of sharing your apt, I think even when you get bad & weird experiences they all are good for life. I had weird flatmates from UK, some african country and of course chinese but finally I tried learning something for each of the bad or weird situations I had with them.
Sep 21, 2014 14:02 Report Abuse
Where do they come from? These weird people who China seems to attract like a magnet. My first room mate was an Australian, who was five years younger than me and looked ten years older. He smoked and drank and that was about it. I moved out after a couple of weeks. The second guy was great. Easy going and clean and tidy and sane. I moved job and the third room mate was just nuts. He had his Chinese wife living with him, which broke the terms of my contract, since I was only supposed to share the apartment with one other person. However before I could use that as a reason to move out, his wife moved out. Crazy boy then proceeded to move in his Chinese girlfriend, who was nice, but spoke no English, at the same time as trying to patch it up with his wife. Wifey eventually returned and hostilities between them resumed. In the meantime the school declined to renew his contract, due to complaints from students, TA's and parents, and his mental health seemed to decline to the point where he was paranoid and just weird. I demanded to be re homed and got a place of my own. At last. Now I only have my wife to contend with, but she's okay. Most days.
Sep 18, 2014 22:09 Report Abuse
Really enjoyed this and I am looking forward to the next part - I feel like living with other people is generally rough and for some reason the weird ones really do end up living in China (makes me doubt whether or not I am sane myself). I have found that the best thing to do is to live with someone who you don't know very well, and then you can either get closer and become friends or you can stay at the same level of not really knowing each other. This has worked better for me in the past than living with friends, who will generally not be my friends anymore after bad flatmate experiences. A shame, but unfortunately a fact of life.
Sep 16, 2014 15:08 Report Abuse