The Roommate Situation

So let me start this blog by saying that I am very proud of myself. After being in China for over a month I can now pronounce my neighborhood’s name correctly. I can get into a cab and will people know where I want to go when I tell them where I live. Thank god!! For the past month I would have to repeat the name of my neighborhood 6-7 different ways before the driver will understand what you were trying to say. (For all of you who are so curious it is pronounced Ching Wan Shaow Cheew, the cheew is the hardest part.)

One of the benefits of working for EF is that they provide you with housing. One of the problems is that you don’t know whom you are going to be put with. Before I came to China I was told that I would be living with this guy named Ben Glass (not a Jew, surprising right?). About two weeks before I was about to leave for China I got an e-mail saying that I was now going to live with this guy named Damien. I was kind of upset because I had already formed this e-mail bond with Ben and didn’t know what to expect from Damien. But I sent a few e-mails to Damien and he seemed like a nice enough dude (as pretty much everybody does in an e-mail). He told that I would be getting the small room, but that he would be leaving in a month and that I could move into the bigger room then. It seemed fair enough.

When I met Damien he seemed like a good guy. He is from Ireland and has spent a fare amount of time living in India. The first day he asks me if I smoke and I said I didn’t. He then asked if I mind if he did and I said I do. He said, “That’s no problem I will smoke in my room.” I was thinking wow, what a nice guy. I wake up to the next morning to find that his bedroom, the bathroom, and kitchen smell of smoke. The only place he didn’t smoke was the living room, but the smell wafted so you could smell it everywhere. I kept on telling myself that I only had to put up with it for another month.


For the first couple of weeks things went fine. But as I become friendlier with the other teachers I started to hear stories about Damien. They say that he is a raging alcoholic and that nobody really likes him. One of the other teachers, DJ (his original roommate), would get into so many fights with Damien and hated him so much that he moved out of the housing that EF provides and spent his own money on an apartment (and in China a foreigner has to pay a whole years worth up front).

I found out that everything was lined up for me to live with Ben but there was an incident. Damien was living with a female teacher named Euginia. One night, Euginia asked Damien to turn down the TV. Damien had been drinking and turned to her and real menacingly said “What did you fucking say!?!” Euginia did not push it any further and went to bed. The next day, Damien went into her room and packed all of her things without Euginia knowing, brought them over to Ben’s apartment (the apartment I was supposed to live in) and said “she’s living with you now” and left.

So people clearly had beef with Damien. But he never caused any problems with me. Maybe it is because he knew that I have crazy Jew strength and he didn’t want to mess with that. By the end he did start smoking in the living room and started drinking more. But luckily by then I only had a few days left with him and decided not to make a big deal over it. All in all I think Damien was a miss-understood soul yearning to be loved. (I don’t really believe that, I just thought it would sound nice). But I am kind of pissed with him because when he left, he left the bigger room (the room that I was moving into) a complete and utter mess. Now I am in the process of cleaning it up. I have already spent two days cleaning and I had to hire the cleaning lady from EF to come by and help me out.


Some times you luck out with roommates, and sometimes you don’t.


About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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