After our “Meet a Member” series, we’re happy to introduce our new member interviews segment: “Cohabs Stories”. Imagine, you arrive in your new Cohabs house and meet your future best friend, business partner or fall madly in love with a housemate. That’s what happened to the people we’re introducing in this series: they met through Cohabs and made something great out of it.
So, meet Yaren and Antoine, a Cypriot and a French who met at Schuman 80, fell in love and are now traveling the world together, starting with Mexico!
Could you introduce yourselves?
Yaren: I’m Yaren, I’m 24 and I’m originally from Cyprus. I studied languages, English and French, and I lived in the UK and France before moving to Belgium, right before the pandemic. I had two normal weeks in Brussels, then it was the lockdown! I was in Brussels for a 5-month internship, then we decided to launch buginourbag.com, our blog with Antoine, so I stayed another 5 months.
Antoine: I’m Antoine, 25, and I studied engineering in Lille. In my last year of studies, I went to Lisbon for an internship and stayed a year there. After that, I didn’t want to go back to France so I started looking for a job in Belgium, as a lot of companies are looking for engineers and it’s close to Lille, and got a job. I arrived in Brussels 2 weeks before the lockdown as well, and I had heard about Cohabs through friends. So I moved to Schuman 80 during the first lockdown, where I met my housemate Yaren!
Can you tell us the story of how you met?
Antoine: Can I start? Because it’s funny actually. So as I said, I moved to Schuman 80 during the first lockdown. When I arrived at the house, Yaren offered to give me a tour, and she gave me the shittiest tour of the house ever (laughs).
Yaren: It wasn’t that bad!
Antoine: She just showed me some random rooms. The next day, I wanted to make myself an instant coffee with the kettle, because Yaren hadn’t told me there was an actual coffee machine. But my coffee tasted awful and I realized someone had left vinegar in the kettle! The next day, I was like “why didn’t you tell me there was a coffee machine?” and those were our first contacts! (laughs)
Yaren: At the end of my internship, I had to go home for a month and when I came back to Belgium I couldn’t stay at Schuman 80, but I was always at the house! That’s when we got together, almost a year ago!
When did you realize you wanted to build something together and why?
Antoine: One of my best friends was getting married in Mexico, but I couldn’t go because of the pandemic. So we decided to watch the wedding online together, it was quite emotional. At the end of the wedding, we started talking about traveling, how we envisioned our lives,… Then I told her that my dream was to travel and document everything through video or writing and she was like “we should do it together!”. It wasn’t a real invitation, but I obviously took it very seriously. (laughs)
Yaren: I don’t have a specific event like that in mind, but I think the pieces really fell together. For example, I lived in 4 countries and was always thinking about the next one to discover. I felt uncomfortable staying in the same place and having the same routine for a long time, and I found out over time that Antoine was the same! I always wanted to go places and write about my travels, him too,… I realized we really matched. It’s funny because all of our Cohabs friends always told us that we were going to end up together and we were like “no way”! Turns out they were right! (laughs)
How did Cohabs influence that? What was the role of Cohabs in that?
Yaren: Actually, Cohabs had a really big role! We probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, but also, the atmosphere really inspired us, the fact that it’s community-centered and people are willing to socialize. It’s not a house with ghost housemates, you actually create meaningful connections.
Also, there’s a funny anecdote: the wifi password at our Cohabs house was ”be-more-curious” and we thought it was an amazing name for our blog! It represents the place where we met, but also our way of thinking. Unfortunately, the domain name was taken so we went for buginourbag.com. So our name was supposed to come from Cohabs, initially! (laughs)
Antoine: I’d like to add that in Cohabs houses, you have so many people from different countries, and as it was during the pandemic, traveling was impossible. The fact that we were living in a Cohabs house was actually a way to travel without leaving home, meeting people from all over the world, listening to their stories, cooking dishes from different countries… That really helped me go through this.
What’s your best memory together since you’ve met?
Yaren and Antoine: there are too many!
Yaren: I have two actually!
- For my birthday, he hid presents everywhere to surprise me, it was a really good one.
- The other one is when we first met, it was the beginning of the lockdown and people were very stressed out, staying in their room and hesitating on whether to go home or not. We were lucky because all of the housemates at Schuman 80 decided to stay, so we figured that if everyone was staying, we might as well enjoy our time and hang out together. One day, we ended up playing board games and drinking wine with Antoine and our other housemate Victor, and it felt normal for the first time in a month. The next morning, I saw Antoine in the kitchen, we looked at each other and said at the same time: “I had such a good time last night!”. I think that’s the moment we actually started becoming friends.
Antoine: For me, it was Christmas 2020! My housemate asked me for a haircut – hairdressers were closed – so we went to the bathroom and I gave him the shittiest haircut ever. And then I realized that he had just kept me busy while Yaren had organized a whole Christmas present hunt for me!
What are you doing now?
Antoine: We would like to live off our travel blog, so we’re mostly working on that right now. We both do the writing because we always have different angles that complete each other. Yaren is more focused on SEO and link-building, and I’m more working on the technical aspects of the website. Of course, it takes a lot of time so we also work as freelance travel writers to make a little bit of money here and there.
What are your next projects together?
Yaren: We want to keep developing the blog, gaining visibility and making it better. We’re also working on e-books that we call “survival guides” with tips and more in-depth info about the destinations we visit.
Antoine: We want to go beyond clichés and also give people the info they should know before visiting a country. For example, before going to Mexico, we asked our Mexican friends what we should know to avoid scams, be safe and most importantly make the most of our time there. We would like to do the same in our e-books!
Anything you’d like to add about coliving?
Yaren: If you’re new to a city, I think it’s the best way to get to know people and make friends. I would recommend it to everyone, at least at the beginning of your stay in a new city. And honestly, it saved both of us during the lockdown. I can’t imagine if I was in a small studio by myself at that time!
Antoine: I started coliving in Lisbon, it was a big house with 20 people and it helped me out a lot during my time there! So when I started looking for a place to live in Brussels, I really wanted a similar place.
You’re interested in joining your own new family in Brussels? Let’s have a chat together, apply to join here!