It started some time ago. Sometime a friend, a professor at university, asked me whether I would have a room for a Chinese student for 6 months. I had a free bedroom but had never really considered whether I would like to rent it. My friend promised me that if it would not work out at all, the student would move to the couch of her doctoral Supervisor.
I was not sure whether it was a good idea but I wanted to help and said yes. For Zurich standards the rent is more of a symbolic character. With Zhing we then experienced a little cultural revolution. It was an interesting encounter, an exchange on many levels. Zhing was very fearful and hardly dared to leave the house. Many things, which go without saying for us, we had to teach her. Once she caused wrong alarm and steadily refused to open the door to the alarmed police. But half a year passes quickly and even though we thought that we would leave the room empty, I read a clever but desperate advertisement of a young French men looking for a room. Thus Jean moved in with us. After him came the clever, pretty and nice law student, then the Italian oncology student, the German architect and the Czech caretaker.
A shared flat is a demanding but extremely enriching form of living. One is never alone. One can and has to deal with different forms of living. Every now and then, I had to put my foot down. For example when the young German was smoking marihuana in the garden under my bedroom window. I made it clear to him that in my house drugs are not accepted and if he wants to smoke he has to do it 5 metres away from the house. At the time of the street parade, the house becomes the epicentre of preparation because of the young tenants. People laugh, talk, drink, put on make-up, make jokes and eat. Last year there were about 25 people.
Every now and then we meet for a large dinner and I take part in the life of the student generation and regularly feel put back to the times when I studied at university myself and needed a cheap place to stay.
I never made bad experiences with my tenants. My trust in the good in people is enormous and the lived reality seems to confirm it. Time and again I experience nice little surprises, which really make my day. Like yesterday. I had to go to Geneva and this means many hours of travelling by train. It was short after 5 o’clock in the morning when I left the house in order to go to the main station. In front of our house was a taxi and the taxi driver was just getting out.
It turned out that it was the father of our clever law student. He had brought her a volleyball and offered to take me. That way I was at the train station within minutes and probably for the first time could peacefully drink a cup of coffee prior to the departure of the train.
Therefore, by now I cannot imagine a different life than by large shared flat.
Bildquelle: Dieter Schütz/pixelio.de