By Mio Kobayashi
Living in London is an adventure in its own right, but the dramas that go on inside a college student's flat are a whole different story.
When I first came to London to attend the Royal Academy of Music, the school had assigned me to live in its flats located just off Marylebone High Street. It is literally a two-minute walk from the Academy in one of the most posh streets in central London. The Academy had just bought a couple of flats in the same block for students to live in, so everything was nicely refurbished and fully furnished with brand-new everything.
I felt so lucky to have been assigned to live in these flats with two other students from the Academy because I wanted to experience what "living on your own" really meant. I had lived in a dormitory in my high school days and have nothing against dorms.
Dormitories are great social places where you get to meet and get to know people from outside your area of study at your university, and when they prepare and serve you meals, it feels like a home away from home. I know that it still works for some people in the university, but I was ready for something new, a challenge for being responsible for myself.
Coming to London, I did not know anyone. So, like everyone else, I was nervous and excited at the same time. More than anything, though, I was worried if I would get along with the two flatmates whom I was going to share my life with for the next year.
When I met them, a pianist and a cellist, I could not believe that we recognized each other from past music festivals we had attended, and we clicked immediately, talking about the friends we had in common. Who knew that it could sometimes be a good thing that the music world is so small!
Everything was going well. All of us hung out together a lot, often invited our friends over for drinks and for dinner, and respected each other's space and property. Things started to change halfway through our first year, when we started to hang out with different people.
The pianist started to drift off, not practicing at all, and started to hang out with the so-called "wrong crowd." I was fine with it until she started to not do any domestic chores, started coming home late with no keys, and started taking my belongings from my room without asking. It was a hard environment for me to live in. At the time, I was working part time on top of going to all my classes, rehearsing with my piano trio and practicing my own repertoire, so the tension in the air at home put more stress on me that I did not need.
In the midst of all this, the cellist was under much stress as well, from working almost full time while juggling schoolwork and her boyfriend. One day, she got infected with lice. That night, my friend was over, and we were watching a DVD in my room when my cellist flatmate stormed in and started screaming at me that it was I who had given her the lice, and that I, too, needed to treat my hair with medicated shampoo.
I was stunned. She was normally a very nice, mature girl, and to have seen her in such a state made me feel so claustrophobic and lost with no one to turn to in the flat.
When things were at a boiling point, fortunately, it was time for winter break. I went back to Japan, let all my stress out by spending quality time with family and friends, and felt refreshed and alive again. Although I was not totally up for returning to my flat in London, I told myself that things would be different and better. It had to be. But what I found out when I got back to my flat ... well, see you next month!
１９８３年７月２８日生まれ。４歳でバイオリンを始める。９歳の時、父の転勤でマニラへ。１３歳で音楽留学のために母と渡米、１７歳で帰国後、１９歳でロンドンの英国王立音楽院 (Royal Academy of Music) に留学。Bachelor of Music in Performance を得て卒業後、現在は２年コースのMasters of Music in Performance を取得中。
Asahi Weekly, April 8, 2007より