When I woke up Wednesday morning, our first full day in Greece, I had slept for 11 hours between $10, papery sheets under a borrowed throw blanket. I walked across the tile floor – past the kitchen and my roommate’s bed – to the dresser we share.

The student apartment I share with my roommate consists of one large room containing our beds, a dresser with hanging space and shelves, a dining table and two chairs, a desk, two corkboards, two bedside tables and a kitchenette with an oven, stove and mini refrigerator. Our apartment also has a bathroom with a shower, toilet, sink and mirror.

My half of the room contains a bed, bedside table, desk and bookshelf. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

Our personal showers tend to become a entire bathroom affairs, as the curtain does not extend all the way to the base. Water escapes onto the floor. However, we each received an extra pillowcase with our bedset, so my roommate and I use them as bath mats – true innovators.

While some may not find our accommodations to be glamourous, I adore the apartment I will be residing in for the next three weeks. It feels like student housing should: the room is a blank slate for my roommate and I to make our own. We can fill it with our personalities and adapt to its unique qualities in ways that feel right to us. Compared to freshmen college housing, this apartment is like paradise.

My favorite aspect of the apartment is the balcony. It is hidden behind two floral curtains and a sliding glass door, and it opens into a quad of other apartment balconies. Sitting out on it, I feel more like a resident of Thessaloniki. I look around and see cabinets, ladders, chairs and clothes hanging to dry on clotheslines. I listen and hear the call of the local birds – a kind of music which features occasional Greek interjections by my neighbors. I hold my head over the edge and feel the breeze on my face amid the upper-70 degree weather.

I feel as though am a part of the city. I have a place to belong.

Our balcony is fenced in by three other apartment complexes with outfacing balconies. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

 This blog post also appeared on Northeastern University School of Journalism’s website, https://camd.northeastern.edu/journalism/