Saturday, October 1, 2011

Piso News

As you know, this week I've been searching for housing.  My previous roommate Gregorio graciously let me stay in his piso while I'm apartment hunting.  On Tuesday at one of the pisos I went to see, I ran into a British girl who was already looking at the room when I arrived.

She, like many others in this program must be, is staying in a hostel until she finds housing.  Therefore, every day that goes by without an apartment is another night she has to pay for.  She told me that she's getting tired of eating out and having to go to a coffee shop to use internet.

So I was fairly well off, not having to worry about those types of things.  After returning from the first two pisos  I looked at on Tuesday, I found an apartment on Easy Piso that looked really good.  The price was low: 240 euros/month plus around 15 euros/month for gas.  It was near both of my schools that I'll be working at, and the pictures showed an organized, well-decorated living room; and a bigger-than-normal kitchen (by Madrid's standards).  The description said it would be living with a young (30-35) couple in a zona tranquila (calm, quiet neighborhood).

So I used the website (this is website where you make a profile) to send a message to Alexander, the person who had placed the ad, and asked for his phone number to call.  Later had an e-mail from Easy Piso saying my message had been read, and that I had a new message on the site.

I went to the website and saw I had a message from Alexander, but I could only see the title, "Me interesa!".  Then the website kindly notified me that since Alexander and I are both basic members, I can't read his message.  One of the two people needs to be an premium member (aka pay) in order to read what the message said.

Before I realized this, I think I tried sending another message to him.  I don't remember how many messages went back and forth, but all I could see were the subjects of the messages - which you select from a list of prewritten subjects.  "Me interesa!" I was interested in their room.  They were interested in having me live there.  But I had no means to contact them.

I checked the other sites to see if they had posted the ad anywhere else.  At some point I found it on one of the other sites, but when I clicked "Show me their phone number," it took me back to the profile on Easy Piso.

So I let it go and kept hunting.  Went and saw another one on Tuesday night.  I liked the bedroom and the roommate I met, but it would be a little longer commute to my schools than I wanted.

I spent Wednesday afternoon/night at my program orientation, followed by a not-so-pleasant metro ride back to the other end of the city - thanks to digestion issues.  After having the orientation, I realized I was running out of time to find a place, as I wanted to be settled in before we started classes on Monday.  Also, I still had to contact my schools and figure out a schedule.

So I didn't sleep too well Wednesday night.  My cough kept me up lots, plus everything else I still needed to do.  On Thursday morning after breakfast, Gregorio told me that my phone had rang while I was in the bathroom.  I looked at the number and didn't recognize it.  I was just going to ignore it, but with his persistence, saying it might have been my program calling about our NIE/TIE appointments or one of my schools, I called back on our fijo.

It was Alexander from Easy Piso!  He had become a premium member to be able to see my contact information.  I asked when I could come look at the apartment, and he said his wife wouldn't be home from work until 10pm that night, but it wasn't too late I could come then, so that I'd meet both of them.

After that call, I called both of my schools until I reached someone on the other end, and made arrangements with both of them to visit Friday morning and figure out when I'm working.  I had been so worried that no one would answer, or that the school I never heard back from via e-mail wouldn't know that they were getting an auxiliar de conversación.  But they both knew, and I had plans to see each the next day.

At this point I had a good feeling about the day.  I was able to relax that afternoon, and at 10pm I arrived at the apartment from Easy Piso.

The couple (Alex and Jaqueline) are from Venezuela, and are incredibly kind and welcoming.  We sat in the living room for a while, before looking at the piso, to chat about what they were looking for.  They don't rent out the room to make money off of renters, just to help pay the rent.  They had rented out the room the prior year to an American, Samantha, and really enjoyed getting to know her.  Her boyfriend came and stayed with them for a couple of weeks, and maybe her parents at some point too.

They said that they like living with someone from another culture, that they can both learn things from one another.  They were looking for someone with whom they can convivir -- to share the space so that whoever rents out the room feels like it's their house.  They said, for example, if I didn't come home when I normally do, or they don't see me for a few days -- they'll call.  So, they'll look out for me.  They understand that I'm here without any family or many connections.  They also said, but if you want to sleep all day - you sleep all day, we won't come wake you up.  You do what you want to do.  If one night you want to go out with your friends, you can come back at any hour, it's okay.

So they were really friendly, and big on the idea that we'd all live here together.  If you want to come out and read in the living room, or fall asleep on the sofa- they told me-then sleep out here, sin problema.  They also said that they'd have to agree on the person who ends up living there (obviously); before offering anyone the room.

Then I got the tour of the apartment.  And then we sat down again and they asked me my thoughts.  I told them I really liked it.  They told me I had the "green light" from them, so did I want it - final?  Yes! There were no doubts in my mind.  So we made plans that I would move in this afternoon (Saturday), so that was a huuuge weight off my shoulders.  It's not exactly what I had envisioned (this time around, I wanted to live with some Spanish girls my age) but it's better than I could have imagined.

The next morning (Friday) I went to both of my schools, which I'll write about tomorrow, but for now I'm all moved in to my apartment!  It's so nice to finally be done living out of a suitcase and settle in somewhere.  Stay tuned for piso pictures.

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