Friday, April 01, 2011

April Fools if only

After living next to what had clearly become not only a loud and dusty construction site, but a dangerous one - and by "next to" I mean the empty room next to mine - and those around it - is being demolished, with full-force drills going into the adjoining wall - I had had enough. I not only needed to be up by 8am when it started, but out, done with breakfast and showering, and ready to leave. Leave for where? A non-existent office? The library I need most is only open from 1pm on.

Regardless, it was when the water from the tap in my room switched to a thin brown stream that I was almost at my wits end. However, it took for the construction workers to enter my room when I was out - no warning ahead of time, no information from them following - to put a bag over the faucet and turn off the water in my room, for me to really wonder what this "free" room had amounted to. I came back to that accompanied by a note in the sink from a fellow student here explaining what was going on. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, not only noise, possibly toxic dust, and no water, but people can just enter my room whenever.

All this, combined with the fact that when I opened the window, it was to what was by day yet another construction site, by night a smoking terrace, combined with the fact that said construction balcony's workers have twice when I was undressed opened the blinds I'd specifically kept closed for that reason to do repairs or "do repairs" or who knows, and I was about ready to pick up and head back Stateside. I had privacy from exactly neither opening to my room, and was not thrilled.

But I did first give complaining in person a shot (an email was acknowledged but never replied to or dealt with), which wouldn't have worked except that they keep extra rooms for foreign students; the girl I went with, my across-the-hall neighbor, is, it seems, screwed. (Before it was known that I was an exchange grad student - something I'd have thought would be clear what with that I'm pushing 30 and don't know the French for things like "welding" - we were asked which of us had it worse, in case only one room became available. Gar!)

Lucky, lucky, fancy-American-grad-student me, I made it to the new room. No ants! Freshly painted! No mold! Mattress without protruding coils! Lightbulbs present!

After moving stuff in shifts for oh the whole day (and this is still in progress), some friends from the hall (but a bit further from the need-to-flee zone) helped me move the not-so-mini-minifridge. When we got to the new room, one of them confirmed what she'd suspected: my new room is one another grad student friend of hers had not long ago moved out of... because of some kind of atrocious mold all over the walls. The school's solution had been to paint over the mold, thus my recently-painted room. Now that I know to look for it, I see the traces of what will any day now be the mold explosion.

So here's the thing. I'm probably not princessy enough, in that at 27 years old I agreed to live in a dorm room, with communal bathrooms, kitchens, and showers, for a semester. In that I was totally OK with the peeling paint, willing to accept without fight the coil-protrusion mattress. I told myself that communal facilities meant never having to do serious cleaning. Now I'm wishing I were a whole hell of a lot more high-maintenance, because these living conditions are pretty damn ridiculous.

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