Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dorm Inform

So first off, I’ve added a picture to my last post of me with all of my crap in front of the super classy sign of the Super Hotel that I stayed in for two nights. The photo comes courtesy of my friend the Super front desk man, and doesn’t really do justice to my huge backpack, which you can hardly see. It doesn’t really do justice to my face, come to think of it. I was going for a tough woman look and it came off more like pissed off chipmunk. Alas. It’s a good thing it’s my brother who’s the actor and not me.

Housing update: I am now a resident of the Fondation des Etas-Unis at Cité Universitaire at the south end of the 14è arrondissement, for those who know their Parisian geography. My address, school land line and new swanky French cell phone are all now listed on my Facebook page should anyone feel the need to send me some lovin’ (ie drunk text message…yes, you can still text me, although I have no idea if that’s covered under Verizon unlimited). Since my last post, I actually had a last minute opportunity to move into my choice of two apartments in the upscale 15th/16th arrondissments; however, due to price relative to size and merits and some really positive feedback about Cité’s dorms from a former grad student, I opted to schlep on over here.

The deal I have here is really a bargain. For 425 euros/month, I have a pretty big room to myself with a big closet, a bed, a desk and chair, a sink (!), some lamps, and more shelves than I will probably be able to fill (says the literature student who hasn’t even started buying anything from her five page long reading list yet). Shared toilets, showers and a kitchen are right down the hall. I’m up on the 4th floor, which in France actually means 5th (they start at zero) so I have a fair amount of stairs to climb (there is an elevator, it’s just slow and French) but luckily they’re pretty spiral stairs. Being this high means that I have sun in my room for almost all of the afternoon/evening, so I can enjoy my garden and ivy-wall view, as well as a nice amount of wind. After answering ads on bulletin boards right after I got here, I have already managed to score a used, medium-sized fridge for 70 euros, which was hand-delivered to me by the Benin(ese?) man who used to own it after I finally found his apartment, as well as a big red section of carpet (from a departing student) for 6 euros. I still need a few more things, like a shower caddy, floor lamps, posters, etc (admittedly, it’s a little bizarre to be repeating my pre-freshman year shopping trips) but so far I’m pretty happy. More good news: I can receive guests here willing to share my small space if I declare them in advance—4 euros a night if you want to crash on my carpet, and 8 euros if you want to use one of their loaner fold-a-beds. Pretty sweet, right?

The campus is designed as an affordable community for (about 60%) international students to live. There are houses representing each country, varying in size and quality by what seems to me to be based on how much France likes that particular country. The US, German, Spanish and British houses are all pretty nice, while Morocco is shunted to the very edge and housed in a decrepit, institutional building, Tunisia is shut indefinitely for renovations (it needs it) and Algeria…well…doesn’t exist (while other more obscure countries with less of a “history” are represented, Armenia, Cambodia, Liban). (I actually stayed on this campus for a week during a heat wave four years ago and I was housed in the French engineering house, which was utterly miserable. Logical conclusion: Moroccans > engineers > Algerians). The campus is pretty, with a lot of grassy quad areas and trees, and a big campus center with a bank, a café, a cafeteria, a theater and a pool. (The cafeteria is no Great Room, but dinner is only 2.90, so I guess I can’t complain). It’s not real centrally-located, although it’s pretty well connected—there are bus, tramway and RER (part of the métro system) stops within a five minute walk from my building.

The building itself is pretty old and cool, with black-and-white spiral staircases, a computer labstudy rooms, lounges and a lecture hall that remind me of my dorm in Oxford. My only real complaint is the thinness of the walls. My neighbor seems to be a party-er, so fingers crossed it doesn’t continue too long into the semester. I’ve only met a few people so far (the Parisian semester doesn’t start until late Sept/early Oct, so we’re still fairly empty), but most people seem pretty cool. There’s an intentional 50/50 split of American and “other” to encourage comfort and exchange. Most of us are grad students, although there are a few undergrads as well as a few adult professionals, who are here on a short-term basis as researchers and living in the fully furnished suites with their families. The floor above mine is the artist’s floor, which houses musicians on the main hallway and visual artists in the four loft-style “studios” in the wings. I love the idea, although coupled with the lack of sound-proofing it can be a little annoying—I’ve already discovered that there’s a pretty prolific bassoonist/pianist in the room above mine (on the bright side, he’s really good! I recognized Gershwin today…).

Spent today enjoying random French conversations with strangers around campus and buying as much as I could comfortably carry home in reusable bags at Monoprix (in other words, not much). I think I need to get me one of them old man wheeley grocery stroller things.

1 comment:

  1. Gahh. I miss you and I miss Paris. I also miss Tunis. (Did we ever learn the verb for "miss?" all I can say in Arabic regarding my feelings is that I'm lonely.)

    By the way, I saw what you wrote earlier down on the page about me having the worst directional skills. Thanks a lot. I thought we were friends.

    I was looking at flights to Paris around Christmas break. I've got the urge to travel this Christmas. are still up at $800. Maybe that's because of the holidays. Yo, email me your address and I'll snail mail you a letter. anhc [at] umich [dot] edu