By Jasmine Alleva
Living with people is hard. Usually, there is some sort of screening process with roommate situations. In college, you fill out a questionnaire to determine compatibility with potential roommates. In your own living situations, you may conduct or participate in an interview to see if you and a potential roommate are going to get along well.
These screenings do not exist in two places: when you live with your family and when you are a model.
However, your family loves you and to some extent, you love them back. There are agreed upon territorial rules and if you bicker, you are more than likely to resolve a problem in a normal matter.
Model housing, if its even available, is a crapshoot. You are literally thrown into apartments by your agency simply because you need a place to lay your head at night. You never know who you are going to be rooming with or what conditions you will be living in.
If you talk to any model, you will hear the horror stories: disgusting living conditions, horrendous roommates, exorbitant rent, things being stolen, shared bathrooms, etc., etc. I remember dragging my feet about a housing situation because I had the horror stories driven into my head by other models. I bought locks for my suitcases because I was so worried about my things being stolen or randomly “going missing”. Of course, I had to suck it up and deal with it.
Via e-mail, I received four grainy pictures that looked like they had been taken on a Kodak Brownie camera from the 1960s. This would be my new apartment and I would be living with two other girls. One, Amber, a veterinary technician from England, and the other, Danika, a 17-year-old model from New Zealand. The nerves overcame my stomach from the moment I read their names until the moment I saw their faces.
The apartment turned out to be nothing spectacular, but nothing unlivable. I had to light the gas oven with some tactic, the shower would greet me with water so cold it would make my nipples harder than glass, and cockroaches were nightly guests, but everything else was usually fine. (When you are foreign and need a place to sleep, it is amazing how low your standards will stoop).
The rent was absolutely outrageous, which is normal in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, but the apartment was a thirty-minute walk from arguably the best beach in the world (Bondi) and the Paris of grocery stores, Woolworths, was less than a mile away. Though it was a decent place to live, as soon as I saw my first Huntsman spider (look it up), I tried to spend as little time in the apartment as possible because… hell no.
Amber and Danika were two of the most selfless people I have encountered in my life. You cannot even begin to imagine the relief I felt when I realized I had nothing to worry about in the first place. Danika, though only 17, was and is wise beyond her years and showed me the ropes of Sydney like she had been living there her entire life. Amber was spontaneous and never turned down my requests for an adventure. Our three foreign accents rang through the cold halls of our small apartment in harmony. As foreigners and young women, it was downright amazing to see what we were accomplishing in the same place, coming from vastly different parts of the world. The suitcase locks were never used.
As I move on to different markets and different places, I want to punch myself in the face for ever complaining about my apartment in Sydney. I would take the musty smell, the power adapters rarely working, and the washer and dryer outside over the hustle and bustle of any American urban city any day. As the old saying goes, you really don’t know what you have until its gone and I realize now how lucky I truly had it. I will forever cherish the memories I made in my first model apartment, but it can keep the Huntsman.