Episode 11: In which home is where the heart is
When I moved out of home for the first time, it wasn’t a matter of moving down the street. Instead, I packed my life into a single suitcase and whisked myself to the other side of the world: from Melbourne to Montreal. To all the international and exchange students out there: I imagine that coming to Concordia was your first time moving out, too. Considering that I extended my stay from one to two semesters and signed a lease (rather than living in student housing) I genuinely feel like Montreal is more than a temporary lodging. It’s my home.
That is why, when my housemate decided to move to Portugal for a change of scenery and told me that I needed to find somewhere new to live, I was a little shaken. Once again, I became a lost wanderer.
Being an exchange student isn’t all fun and games. This became apparent when I started spending my Fridays filling in visa applications and my Saturday nights modifying “apartment lease transfer” ads on Kijiji. I’ve since realised that being an adult is determined not by responsibility, but by the amount of paperwork there is in your life.
Moving apartments is an epic task. Moving in winter adds a whole new layer of complexity. It’s things like digging the car out of a mound of ice that remind me that I’m not in Australia. Finding a new place to live isn’t easy. Actually finding the place isn’t easy either: as in, sometimes the snow is so thick that it covers street signs and house numbers.
Apartment hunting tip number one: introduce yourself to strangers and ask if you can live with them. Just kidding. Though, that’s kind of what happened to me. Whilst moshing to Chet Faker at his concert in September, I met a Montrealer named Sophie. Three months later it was Sophie who referred me to her friend who was looking for a new roommate.
The spaciously unfurnished room had a spectacular view onto a grey brick wall and was as well lit as a dungeon (probably a result of the vomit-raspberry colour of the walls), but I took it. Tip number two: choose an apartment for the roommate (someone who can envisage yourself living with), or at least make it a top priority. The issue of the aesthetic (or lack thereof) was easily solved. After four coats of white paint (done over eight hours) and a trip to IKEA on the other side of town, the room was transformed into my new haven.
I’m glad that my experiences in Montreal haven’t always been smooth sailing and glamorous. I’ve learnt that it’s also the small and trivial things—like decorating a room—that make a place feel like home.