In this week's member spotlight our Old Oak member Macia shares how living at The Collective helped him find community, friendship and romance.
What first drew you to The Collective?
I had been planning to start a PhD but a few days before they gave my place to someone else. I was very low because of that and just having come out of a relationship. When I heard about The Collective I knew it would keep me active socially. I thought 'This is the stimulus I need'.
And what was it like?
When I arrived here I was a bit broken-hearted. I met a group of friends, mostly girls, and they supported me a lot and helped me through it. Some of my best friends in London are the first people that I met here at The Collective. We made a group of around 8 -10 people - all from very different backgrounds and countries. We still meet up now that some have moved out.
I met many people of different ages, like Dawn who's the same age as my mum. She was like a second mum for me. When she saw I was anxious or nervous she would tell me 'Don’t worry, just keep going'. She’s gone back to live in Oxford now but she still comes to visit and came for the Christmas dinner last year.
And I hear you met your girlfriend here?
Yes! So she was working in Paris and came here for two weeks to improve her English. I met her in the kitchen on her first day. I was having dinner, she came in to prepare a coffee, we started talking and we really connected so I showed her around the building. We bumped into each other a few more times and felt like something could happen. And it did! We had a long-distance relationship for a while but now she's moving to London and we're going to live together.
I was having dinner, she came in to prepare a coffee, we started talking and we really connected so I showed her around the building. We bumped into each other a few more times and felt like something could happen. And it did!
What have you learnt from living here?
I think it’s necessary to have these kinds of spaces in huge cities where life can be very complicated. It can be very difficult to meet people. I know lots of people who moved to London and lived in flat-shares and didn’t manage to make meaningful connections so they had to go back to their home countries. But living in a place like The Collective it’s impossible not to make friends.
Can you describe one of your favourite memories here?
The day they gave me the PhD, I had been waiting for a few weeks, unable to sleep. When I got the email with the news I was crying so much. I went to tell all my friends and we went out to a restaurant to celebrate. I think this environment was key to me getting the position, and it’s the reason I decided to continue to live here.
What advice would you give to someone about to move in?
If you use the events and spaces wisely, you can really make lots of connections. The Collective is like a microcosmos so you can learn from all the different people. You can find entrepreneurs, motivated people, workaholics. If you are looking for people to just chill and hang out, you will find them too. If you know how to find the balance, you can benefit from all of it.
Brunch is where you find the nicest people. You wake up looking forward to catching up with everyone. Some of the events wouldn’t happen without the amazing people who live here, who put in the effort to organise them. I learnt that you can’t just expect to get something for nothing, you have to participate and collaborate. It’s like a family.