The Grand Tour

So it’s been what, 12 days? It’s easy to assume (what with the castles and the bridges and the international flair) that I’m living in the lap of luxury, drinking tea everyday, sleeping in a private wing…and for the most part: I am.

Before I left, my sister saw a few advance photos of my flat and said, “I thought you were going to grad school! You’re supposed to be living cheaply. Why are you in such a nice place?!”

It’s a good question, one that I can only begin to answer with an incredible, “I am soo lucky!” This building is pretty insane on it’s own, and then you add the fact that I’m living in Zone 1, a 3 min walk to the closest tube/bus stop, and a short no-transfer-necessary ride to campus…and it sounds better than any place I’ve ever really lived in. And I’ve lived in some pretty cool places (Park Place, anyone?! Easily the height of MHC’s offerings…)

I’ve hung the glow-in-the-dark star that started as a friendship offering with my college roommate Sushi and has now just become some kind of symbol of home, purchased new (cheap 50/50) bed linen and even hung all my clothing on matching hangers. I guess now is a good time to give you a virtual tour, and a few highlights:

  • The aforementioned star. Our freshman year, something drove Sushi and I to hang those stick-on, glow-in-the-dark stars all over the ceiling of our tiny little room. Joke was a little on me, since once I took off my glasses to get in bed, I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were there. We got to sophomore year and it seemed appropriate to hang them again. Why not, right? Then junior year, and we separated across the globe: her to the UK (ha! I just got the irony of this star thing) and I to Cape Town. We each took one stick-on star with us and hung them in our rooms far far apart. Although we lived in the same apartment senior year, I’m not sure I hung mine, and after college it got put in some box and (sadly) forgotten. I found it during the great “pack-up” (don’t ever move overseas at the same time that your mom moves cross-country) and knew I had to pack it. And today, it hangs above my bed and glows merrily every night. Somethings never change.
  • The duvet (and ill-matching desk set). I told myself this was a new and exciting decorating adventure. After much hemming and hawing, I sold most of my possessions and figured I could buy new and exciting things! I could choose a new color scheme! I could try out all those indie patterns and hipster combos I lust after on HGTV. And then I found myself in a very stressful order-at-computer-in-“store”-wait-for-them-to-bring-to-front-from-warehouse-in-back-pay-immediately-never-look-back situation and looking through hundreds of duvet covers. Finally I found it: the perfect choice. I picked a matching “rug” (aka bathmat) and ordered it. When it arrived, it was perfect. I took it home and put it on my bed and stepped back to admire the new me and my brave decorating choices—when I realized, it’s exactly what I always buy. Surprise, surprise: purples, greys, whites and blacks. Big “french-meets-floral-but-I’m-cool-enough-it’s-hip-not-grandma” pattern. Whoops.To make matters worse, not only had I done the predictable in my first opportunity to break the mold and prove to the world that new mes can exist, I’d erroneously ignored the rest of the room. Now I’m stuck with a puke-yellow bulletin board above the royal blue desk, with a gorgeous cream/lilac situation butting up against it. I’m trying to hang all the paper I can think of to ignore at least the yellow, but I guess we’ll call it “a work in progress.”
  • The cupcake tray. Finally, I introduce to you the first sink I’ve ever had in my room. What a concept. It’s awesome. I can brush my teeth, rinse out food bowls immediately (because we all know that when you’re in the groove you’re a little too lazy to wash bowls immediately), even get some fresh drinking water without leaving my very colorful room. Alas, I have this beautiful, humongous farm sink at the expense of any counters. For about a week, I perched makeup bags and contact cases on the corner of the basin, hoping the precarious hold wouldn’t slip, sending powders and creams and liquids all over the floor/sink/mirror/etc. Finally, I realized I could buy a cool tray or cutting board to put over top and create a surface area. I want to impress upon you two things: a) how awesome the idea in my head was, and b) how expensive London is. After a full day scouring the shelves at home goods stores, the only reasonably priced thing I could come up with was a cupcake tray marked down by 50%. That’s right: pastel pinks and blues and purples and yellows marching across the tray in the form of 12 little cupcakes, each with variable icing and decorations. No matter how often I put things away and how efficiently I hide them, the space always looks cluttered, those dang cupcakes mocking me with their joyful candy coatings.

Anyway, the rest of it all is pretty standard. Shared bathrooms (I’ll spare you photos of those), a shared kitchen and common room area, a million heavy fire doors for safety that make you feel like you’re the only one alive in the world. The main areas in the building are all bright colors and friendly faces. There is always staff around who wants to talk to you, learn about your day and offer recommendations on jaunts around town.

I guess the cupcake tray/non-matching duvet situation is a blessing in disguise: I’ll be spending more time gallivanting around London Town and less time hermitting in my fire-proof room. If I’m silent for a few days, blame the yellow.



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