Boulevard du Montparnasse near Rue de Rennes, Paris, France, €600/mo, September-December 2012 After two years of living in dorms designed to be their own sort of “village” that were vaguely reminiscent of Disneyland, I lived in a tiny apartment in Paris for three months with a 60 year old psychoanalyst (a pure Freudian, because, well, she was French). She regularly rented out her apartment to visiting students and was dismayed at my lackluster French skills. I slept in her son’s old bedroom and was given my own bathroom. It wasn’t a bad arrangement, as the apartment was centrally located in Paris and I wasn’t obliged to eat any meals with her. I was awakened regularly at 8 am by screaming French children being dropped off by their parents for appointments. When I asked my host mom her “spécialité,” it all made sense: she treated kids who were “hyperactif.” Hence the early morning wails.
University Drive near Melville Ave, St. Louis, MO, $740/mo (my third) January 2013-May 2014 When I got back to school, I moved into a nightmare of an apartment just across a busy highway from campus. For three months, we endured a nightmarish landlady who would drive by slowly in her white Lexus and drop by unannounced at unexpected times of day using keys she wasn’t supposed to have. While I’d been living abroad, my roommates had gotten extremely sick from the apartment’s mold, the existence of which she denied. We found a similar apartment two buildings down, moved out after finals, and lived on the exact same block with a saner landlord for senior year. The new apartment featured a handyman who was basically our fourth roommate, so often was he there. His name was Bob Obbin. Say it aloud.