Friday, June 13, 2008

Housing Crisis

Yesterday, while daydreaming about my new life in London, I realized that I'd never actually seen any pictures of the inside of the rooms in the residence hall I applied to. Obviously, I expect it to be tiny, free of any charm, and dorm-like, but I had somehow got an image in my head of a nice-enough room that I realized wasn't necessarily associated with that particular residence hall. I knew the room I applied to had a kitchenette, and I worried that I wouldn't be able to ever bake cookies (or chicken nuggets or French fries!) until Jacque suggested that I get a convection oven. I figured I could make it work, and I started to get really excited about a.) living in London, b.) living so close to school, and c.) living so close to pretty much everything else worth seeing.

The no-photo thing scared me a little, so I quickly went online and searched for photos. I searched Google, Wikipedia, the hall's own website, even student blogs: nothing. Not a single image of the indoors. And then I found this. This is a panoramic of a "double studio." I applied for a "single studio," with a "double" as my second choice. I was not at all prepared to see a MURPHY BED in the studio. In case anyone is wondering, I'M NOT OKAY WITH THAT. There's not even counter space in the kitchen for a convection oven! (that's a microwave down there.) And I doubt that fridge has a freezer.

Obviously, my whole world came tumbling down around me. I can't see myself living like that! I have no problem with small quarters, as long as it's somewhat charming and there's an oven of some sort and there's room for my friends to hang out. And I was really looking forward to living in Bloomsbury. But I don't know if I can handle...that room. I freaked out, because everything else in London is insanely expensive, right? Well, I hopped onto craigslist and looked at apartment listings for the same price as the residence hall, and wonder of wonders, some really nice apartments came up in areas not all that far from the school. I'm convinced that it's a sinister plot of some sort, that people lure you in with low prices and sparkly, polished photos, then you show up at the place and it's a brown, mildew-y dump in someone's basement. Anyway, that gave me a little hope.

Then today, I was reading the London page at (travel site for the uber-trendy, like me!). After reading this long entry about hip places to shop, I realized I really want to live someplace central, and the only way to do that (affordably) is to live in the halls. Maybe if I'm surrounded by, well, London, it won't matter that I sleep in a bed that folds up into the wall during the day. Right?

Obviously, the only solution is to go there and check the place out, and see just how bad the rooms are. I'm the kind of person who is deeply affected by the look and atmosphere of my living quarters (who isn't?) so I'll just have to go see what's out there. In my two weeks before classes start, I'll travel the city and see all the fabulous/horrendous "flats" there waiting to be inhabited by a silly girl like me.

I realized something else reading that article. This should maybe be a second blog itself, cuz it could take a while to explain. I'm a homebody. Even when I want to go out and do something, I don't. I tell myself repeatedly, "Come on, walk out the door and go...someplace." But my feet don't listen. Instead, I sit around on my bum watching tv or surfing the net. Or both. I thought that if I moved to Seattle, it would be easier to motivate myself to get out, because there is inherently more to see. But I spend just as much time sitting around my Capitol Hill apartment as I did in my Five-miles-from-anywhere-remotely-interesting Renton apartment. I mean, I spent ten months on my computer in my bedroom IN FRANCE! Thinking about my future in London, I'm pretty confident that the same trend will continue. So I've been thinking lately about how to change that about myself, how to encourage myself to soak in as much as possible while there. I figured I should just make lots of friends, so they would encourage me to get out, and that might happen. But knowing me, it also might not happen. Reading the article about shopping, I realized that maybe I just need very strict goals (bear with me here.) What if I set the goal of seeing two or three different hip stores per week? I think I could handle that. Or maybe, I have to see every cathedral/interesting church in London before school ends? At least then, I'll get out. And obviously, I'd be required to blog about it, because that would add more motivation. My problem is that I only get motivated by very specific things. Telling myself to get out of the apartment leads to the question, "And go where?" Go to the park. "What will I do there? How long will I stay?" Go to a cafe and read. "If I go to a cafe, I have to spend money." By this point, it's too late, I've already lost the game. I need specifics. If I tell myself I have to go to Pike Place Market to buy a tomato, I'm more likely to get up and do it, and then I stop in and see other things while I'm out. So if I can set goals that I know I'll want to achieve (like seeing interesting fashion), I might actually not waste my youth away in a shoebox apartment in one of the greatest cities on earth.

All that from a silly travel article.

P.S. Still haven't heard anything firm about financial aid. Grrrrr...


  1. Murphy beds are super-cool. (At least in theory.)

    What if your specific goal was to have no specific goal? "Today, my goal is to wander about." Or, "Today, I will walk for 30 minutes and count how many people are wearing tophats." Even that is kind of specific, though.

    I wonder if spending 95% of your time sitting in your London flat would more interesting and fulfilling than exploring every nook and cranny of, say, Taylor, Pennsylvania?

  2. No, it has to be a specific goal. Wandering around doesn't provide enough motivation to leave the apartment. I have to be wandering in search of something. Top hats would be a good one.

  3. I hate the internet. I just wrote out a loooong comment and tried to post it and now it's gone and I'm too angry to write it all out again.

  4. Okay, I've taken a deep breath, and I think I'm ready to give you a quick recap of what my comment originally said.

    Basically, you should make a list of all the things you'd like to do/SHOULD do in London, and make a timeline for when to do them by. Post it on here, and then blog about them each week. For example:

    Week 1, go INSIDE Westminster Abbey, unlike when you and your sister went there, and your sister made you not go inside because of the lines.
    Week 2, go INSIDE the Tower of London, unlike when you and your sister went there, and your sister made you not go inside because of the high prices.
    Week 3, go INSIDE the Royal Science Museum (or whatever), unlike when you and your sister went there, and your sister made you not go inside because she was exhausted and wanted to see the Royal Theatre Museum more, even though you didn't even end up going there.
    Week 4, go INSIDE...

    You get the picture.

  5. Ha ha ha ha! Yes, GO INSIDE all those lovely places!

    And on the weekend, you can go to Stratford-upon-Avon and see where Will Shakespeare grew up and on another weekend, you can go to Windsor and perhaps run into a royal.

    And you would love the Queen Anne dollhouse at Kensington Palace or wherever it was.

    If you go inside the Tower of London, I wouldn't recommend you go into the torture chamber room, though. I don't think you will like it...