Monday, October 17, 2011

The Boardinghouse

It occurred to me earlier today that I live in a boarding house. Coming from a place with a history like Lowell's, I found that thought rather startling and just a tad bit depressing (anyone who's read Lyddie will understand). I was actually just going to leave it at that, when it occurred to me that I had not, in fact, told you anything else about where I live. Hence, this post.

(Can you tell that this Monday didn't kill me? I can write full sentences!)

I'm staying at L'Accueil, a foyer (residence) located near Plainpalais in Geneva. It's a girls-only res run by the Sisters of the Cross. So, technically, it's a convent, since the sisters live here too: their rooms are located in the same halls as ours, throughout the building. There are 6 floors: the ground floor has the reception area, phone booths, laundry machines, a Coke machine, a small study room with a piano, and the cafeteria where we eat breakfast 6 days a week. Floors 1-4 are bedrooms for the residents and some of the sisters, most of which are singles (like mine). Floor 5 is only sisters. (This is the French system, where they have the "ground floor": hence, floors 0-5 = 6 floors!) Floors 2 and 4 have full kitchens, and Floor 2 also has the chapel and a library/TV room. Every floor has a big table for eating at and hanging out, 2 bathrooms, a hallway of shower rooms, a room for ironing and a room for hanging your clothes to dry (useful because there are two washing machines but only one dryer). There is an elevator in the middle of the entryway, but this being Europe, most people take the stairs. We also have a small gym in the basement with yoga mats, exercise balls, a bike machine, and a rowing machine which you can sign up to use at the front desk.

My room is long and narrow. When you first walk in, there's an area with a sink, mirror, shelves, towel racks, and a bidet (!) on your right, and two large closets on your left. Then a sort of half-wall partition, and I have my bed with a shelf behind, a desk between the foot of the bed and my nice big window where my computer is, and then another desk built into the wall opposite the bed (next to the window) that has shelves, and since it gets less natural light than the other desk, I just use it to toss stuff on. Outside my window, I have apartments with nicely-kept balconies to look at, and the ambulance parking for the hospital (which is just around the corner). We're on a sort-of dead-end street, so there's not too much traffic noise, which is nice. (The ambulances don't seem to use their sirens between about 11pm and 7am, thank goodness!)

As I said, we get breakfast every morning but Sundays, which is really nice and takes a bit of hassle out of the beginning of the day. The sisters keep the common areas clean, and once every two weeks we get a change of bed linens and they come in to clean our washing-up area and to vacuum the floor. Also, there's "quiet hours" starting at 10pm, so even though we are free to come and go as we please (such an improvement over the place in Ireland!), we can't talk on the phone in our rooms or generally make noise after 10pm. Which is great for me, actually, because I usually go to bed around 10:30-11pm, and it's nice to have some quiet time to study and chill out a bit.

It's an older building, and like most post-WWII Catholic construction, it's ugly as sin. But it's comfortable and well-kept, and in a fantastic location. It takes me 12 minutes to walk to school, 5 minutes to church and any shop I could want (including groceries), two small blocks to the tram, 5 minutes to judo, 15 minutes to a lovely big park, etc. If I ever were to search for an apartment in this city I would want one right in this neighborhood. I might as well start selling my kidneys now, though. Geneva is such a touch place to find housing, and it's so expensive. But I like being in the foyer. Besides the great location, it's nice that I don't have to worry about major cleaning and upkeep, and it's also nice to have neighbors to hang out with sometimes. Especially between about 7 and 10pm, the place is really bustling, as people come home from school and work, and start making dinner and doing all sorts of other stuff. You always run into people in the hallways and kitchens in the evening. Pretty much everyone is friendly (and English-speaking!), so it's just really nice to have that option. If I lived alone I'd be depressed, bored, and lonely. So yeah, it's just really good here.

And that's the boarding house story.

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