The Ultimate Test

01-04-2021

From the first day I walked into my apartment in Spain and met my new housemates, we've gotten along. To be fair, I have joked about the fact that they're all French and that my Spanish is suffering as a result, something compensated for by croissants that are regularly placed in the kitchen for all to take. But the bottom line is that they have made me feel comfortable and included me in their activities from day one. The house atmosphere has been positive and supportive. Until last Thursday.

I wrote my exam on the Spanish Legal System, the second question of which asked me what Article 117.6 of the Spanish Constitution prohibits, and got home just to start working on yet another deadline. I did this while yet another party was going on in the kitchen. The get-togethers had been constant the entire week, getting louder and louder, bigger and bigger, finally peaking on that now infamous Thursday night with top-of-their-lung karaoke and running around the house at 3am. Needless to say, I was very annoyed the next day but decided to let it go in the morning.

Yet, that very same day, as I was walking to university and happily greeted my housemate who was walking towards me, she told me to be home at 9pm - the landlord wants to talk to us. About what? The party?, I asked in shock. Yes, she said, he is going to take measures now. Slowly feeling panic rising up in me, I texted my landlord that I spend my entire night answering questions about the exemption of luxury products under European Competition Law and asked whether my attendance was still needed. He, as usual, called straight away, reminding me that parties are the common responsibility of the house, and that, basically, it didn't matter whether I was involved or not.

This brings us to the ultimate conversation as I got home. As we all feared for our deposits, if not getting kicked out, alliances were being formed, friendships tested, and the overall atmosphere crumbled. ‘I will take full responsibility’, my one housemate said: ‘but I won't be there, I don't like confrontation.’ ‘That is unacceptable!’, I countered, genuinely dumbstruck, ‘You have to be there, otherwise, what is it even worth that you're taking the blame? How are you showing remorse?’ Fingers were pointed between two, basically arguing who was the biggest screw-up. When there was one winner, everyone slowly left one by one, licking their wounds, consoling their friends, or going for a long, relaxing walk to a bar. One housemate wasn't even involved in all this, as she didn't want to leave the club on the eventful Friday night. Eventually, she managed to move the entire meeting to the next day, sparking even more resentment and anxiety.

And, as such, the entire house atmosphere shifted within 24 hours. Luckily, in retrospect, I can say that it also shifted back within the next 24 hours, though not without some new-found depth and a common commitment not to get kicked out of the country.

Jesler van Houdt

The Ultimate Test
Jesler van Houdt