I lived comfortably in closet sized rooms, with small windows and little balconies with beautiful city views. I spent my days outside, in the plazas and cafes of my neighborhood, with new friends and strangers. I lived a happy and healthy life, full of sunshine and fresh air. And ever since returning to the states, I’m a huge advocate for outdoor living, even in the city.
If there’s anything I learned about living abroad it’s that: a) Americas love lots of space in their homes and b) You actually don’t need a lot of space to live happily and comfortably.
But before I divulge any more of my details about how to limit your “stuff” (yes, that means there’s new post coming soon!), I figured it would be fun to share my tiny, but comfortable, rooms abroad. Enjoy!
When I first arrived in Barcelona, I thought that this was the tiniest bedroom I could have. The window didn’t even open up into the street, rather into an interior hallway, where you could smell the dinners of your dearest neighborhoods.
It turns out that I spent many hours recovering from tonsilitis in this tiny rooms, but the small size never bothered me. In fact, I soon learned that in a homestay, I was quite lucky to have my own room- let alone one with its own window!
At this point, I’d also like to give a huge shout-out to my host mother, who nursed me back to health when I just arrived to Spain. She’s the greatest.
When it came time for me to sign a lease for my own apartment, my room actually got a bit smaller. My little bed was a European twin, skinnier than the typical twin, and sat upon a tiny cot. On the right side of my room sat numerous build in closets- which I could never quite fill.
However, as you can also see by the picture on the left, the room was so small I couldn’t even dry my clothes in it! Regardless, I threw up some Ikea curtains on my interior window, and called it home.
That being said, the apartment was incredibly updated, with a beautiful balcony overlooking a Placa Joanic, where young adults played ping pong, old men played chess, and children ran around screaming and playing with their parents after school. We had an in unit washing machine in the newly renovated kitchen, and even though our bathroom was tiny, we had a real shower! Even more crucial, this quaint apartment sat right on top of a metro station, Joanic. And all of this for half of what I paid for rent in Berkeley.
My last residence was a beautiful walk-up apartment on the opposite of Gracia, in between the Diagonal and Fontana metro stations. It was cozy, with vintage over-sized furniture, potted plants, and original tile work throughout the home. Oddly enough, though the bathroom was off the kitchen, with only a curtain and a half wall separating you from the stove, and a clear window to the outside.
However, the exterior windows in the bedroom and den were beautiful, leading out to potted plants on the balconies. The apartment was greeted with freshest breezes that had the smallest hint of sea water, making the white curtains dance in the afternoon. It was here that I studied for my final exams and said my final goodbyes to my favorite city.
All in all, living abroad opened my eyes to living small and living large at the same time. It’s not about the house in which you live, necessarily, but the home that you make of it and the memories that you share in it.
What have been some of your living situations abroad?