La vida es social

Once I graduated from AU with my shiny new Master’s degree, I was ready to take on the world. OK, actually I was tired with school and a little frustrated with life, and I needed a change. Accordingly, I left my totally awesome roommate and the area that I love and moved away to work. I spent the next 3 years living on my own: cooking what I wanted, getting to and from work solo, paying my bills, and making sure my mailbox didn’t explode with junk mail. Know then that this post is probably colored by the fact that I am used to living alone and enjoy doing my own thing.


When I first started apartment hunting, I really wanted to live with other people. I was planning to rent a room in an already occupied apartment not only because it was cheaper, but also because I wanted to get back in the habit of living with people. I am not naturally a social butterfly, and I thought living with others would give me more opportunities to go out and experience all that Spain had to offer. But, like most people who have gone through this process, after weeks of looking on pisocompartido and painstakingly writing down details and prices and phone numbers, I got here to Cádiz and ended up winging it. The place I ended up renting I found from a flyer posted at my school, and I called the number, visited, and rented the place all in the same day. From what I hear this is typical.


I call this place my “apartment”, but my dad pointed out that we should really call it a house. I have a kitchen larger than the one from my apartment in America, 2 bedrooms, a full bathroom and a half bathroom (the toilet closet), 2 couches, a desk, a terrace, a TV . . . . It is truly twice as nice as my old apartment and half as expensive. But the most interesting thing about it is that it is actually PART of a bigger house, where my landlords and their 3 children live. There is also yet ANOTHER part of this house on the other side of my place, where my landlord’s brother lives with his wife and son. We are all grouped around a central courtyard, and on the other side of the courtyard there are MORE neighbors who at any time can open their doors and say hello to each other.

The toilet closet

Things that are good about living in my own place:

  • The privacy. I am free to be my introverted self without anyone wondering why I have spent the past 4 hours reading Game of Thrones and watching silly Spanish game shows instead of going out until 2 in the morning.
  • My own kitchen. It is a huge relief to be able to cook my own food and not have to worry about something making me sick.
  • A sense of accomplishment that comes from working and supporting yourself.

Things that are not good about living in my own place:

  • No one is there to say, “Sarah, let’s go out, you have been inside too long”.
  • Supporting yourself means you have to do all the chores, or you have to live with not doing the chores.
  • When your own place is in a small pueblo, there is a sense of, “Well, now what?” after you have finished lesson planning on Sunday afternoons.


Things that are AWESOME about having a whole family of Spaniards living just outside your door:

  • When it is your birthday, they will come to your door with a cake and sing Happy Birthday in English, poorly, with enormous smiles.
  • If the hot water goes out in your shower, and you go next door to ask your landlord’s brother where to buy a propane tank, he will call his brother and they will lug up a brand new tank from the bottom of the stairs, bring it into your house, disconnect the old tank and connect the new one, and take the old tank away, all while you are saying uselessly, “But . . . I was going to do it myself . . .”
  • If you have finished lesson planning on Sunday afternoons, you can open the door and 3 9-year-olds will be not just happy, but falling all over themselves to talk to you.

Things that are not so great about living in the family compound:

  • I have made several friends from other cities and invited them to come visit and stay at my place, as they have invited me to visit them. I think this is so great, and I’m excited to have my first guest this month staying in my awesome extra bedroom. However, some of the friends I have made are male, and I have so far hesitated to extend invitations to them, because I just don’t know if that is OK here, and I wouldn’t want the aforementioned three 9-year-olds to get a weird idea about Americans, haha. (Fellow auxiliar from Madrid, inventing a conversation between my landlord’s family: “‘Mommy, why does Sara have different guys come spend the night at her place?’ ‘That’s just what Americans do, sweetie.'”)
  • I guess this isn’t a bad thing, but since this is actually part of my landlord’s house, I feel compelled to keep it pristine. This leads to overly worrying when I spill washable paint on the floor. My landlady will think I’m a slob who doesn’t care about her property!!! (The paint wiped right up)


Yeah, OK, I couldn’t think of any truly bad things except for that first one. Living here is great. I think the only thing that would make it perfect is if I had a roommate. But not, like, someone loud who stays up really late, or a slob. Or if they constantly talked to me and never let me be by myself. Or if they left all the lights on or used up all the hot water.


. . . OK, I really like living alone.


One Response to La vida es social

  1. Lol! Don’t worry about what the neighbors might think….Spanish girls invite their male friends over, no problem. It might be different if you were actually living with that Spanish family…

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