I'm staying at the Glenard residence here, which is very nice. They're still doing renovations so things are a bit chaotic, but they've calmed down over the last week, certainly. That's why I don't have internet, for instance, and the landlines have stopped working for the moment.
But the people are very nice, and it's new and clean and open. It's built around a courtyard, with the different wings of the building forming the four sides of a square. My room overlooks the courtyard, with a nice big window. Initially I was concerned about a lack of privacy, since my entire room is in full view of anyone in the kitchen or dining room across the way when my shade is up. But as long as I'm careful about keeping the shade down at night and first thing in the morning, its fine. I like my big window, and my bathroom (private bathroom!) has a skylight, so I rarely have to turn on the lights.
I have a desk with a comfy chair, a comfortable bed with a nice warm duvet, and three sections of a large Ikea wardrobe. I even have carpet in my room. Once we get internet and I get over my jet lag, it will be nice to work either here or in the study room.
The house is huge. It has something like 30 bedrooms, though we will only have 16 students this year, I think. There are the big sitting room where we hang out each night, the small sitting room right next to it, a new sitting room in the refurbished wing, and a sunroom right next to it. Also in the sunroom are two very old goldfish. They are 6 years old, leftovers from a former resident: one is blind, so he sort of sits around most of the time, and the other one has an enormous tumor on his side that looks like an alien brain or something. I'll take pictures when I get the chance. There's a beautiful chapel, all decked out in polished wood and gold fixings, and the altar is green and purple marble. We have a large dining room that opens onto the courtyard, a large industrial sized kitchen (we have staff who make our meals) and a breakfast nook with a microwave and mini fridge that we can use in between meals.
I feel so awkward about using a kitchen that's not my own, because I don't know what things are okay to use or eat or what. Also, being on time for meals is a challenge. I've spent the last six years making my own schedule, so getting down to breakfast before they clean up at 9am is hard (especially with the jet lag, but hopefully it'll be fine soon), and knowing whether I'll be around for lunch at 1:15 or dinner at 6:30 also takes more planning than I usually have to do. I'm sure I'll get used to it soon though.
We eat very well, and at dinner especially I feel like I'm at some sort of finishing school. The table is fully set, we have a starter (so far either prepared fruit or soup), the main meal, and dessert with fruit and coffee. They eat absolutely everything with silverware. Have you ever seen someone eat an orange with a knife and fork? I tried yesterday at lunch and it was ridiculously difficult. But I guess if I ever have dinner with the Queen I'll know what to do. We had burgers and fries last night, and I absolutely would not try that with a knife and fork. Everyone else did, though, at least at the beginning. Also, they only have instant coffee. They serve it out of a sugar bowl. I guess it's easier, so we can have as much or as little as we want and at any time of the day, but I find it kind of funny. When I initially didn't know what it was, they asked what we drank in the States. I told them coffee from a coffee maker, that everyone had one in their house. They seemed really surprised. What I didn't say is that it's almost rude to offer someone instant coffee; that it's something to be done only when there's absolutely nothing else, and even then with apologies and a slight air of shame.