Now that I have a permanent living situation and have made it a little cozier, I thought I would post some pictures so people can see where I’m living. When I first arrived I was staying at the University Conference Center. What you should imagine when I say this is a glorified Motel 6 that happens to have a conference hall/rooms on the main floor. And a rather nice restaurant. It worked out well enough, but at $35 a night for just a basic room and bathroom with no kitchen (and that was the rate with a hard-fought-for 30% discount), it was not a good situation for six months, for both finances and lifestyle.
As I wanted to stay on campus, my supervisor and I were asking everyone we met whether they knew of anyone with an open Boys Quarters. This is the name for “staff houses,” or the little houses that are in the back yard of a main house. On campus most people don’t have live-in staff, so they often give their BQ to another professor or their kids or save it for visiting family and friends. After two weeks of asking around (and praying a lot!), I was connected to a man who teaches Yoruba (because I wanted to start taking Yoruba classes) who also had an open BQ. He spoke with his wife about it, and they agreed to let me stay for the duration of my time! I am incredibly grateful for this provision of an inexpensive place to live ($250 a month which includes two meals a day with the family vs $1000 a month at the conference center for the room alone!) and thankful for a “permanent” place to unpack and settle in.
Before I share the pictures, I just want to say that most houses here aren’t “attractive” on the outside. The only houses I’ve seen that are painted or “pretty” are those of wealthier individuals, or those who care enough to make their houses look nice outside. So, with that kind of context, you can understand that something like a BQ definitely won’t have any external frills. It’s functional, not beautiful.
Here is a view of my abode from the outside. I think when they were originally built they were meant to be “open air,” but since foreigners often stay in this BQ, they put up mosquito netting, so it’s enclosed:
Here is a view with the BQ on the left and you can see the main house on the right:
And here is a view of the BQ from the main house, with my “neighbor” BQ on the left. Somewhere between 3 and 5 college-aged boys live there. I literally still can’t figure out how many people actually live there, but at least there will always be someone nearby in case I have any unwanted slithering visitors:
Inside there is a hallway, off of which are two main rooms. The first one I don’t use (though it has a double bed, so guests are welcome!), and the second one is my bedroom. The kitchen is at the end of the hall, and there is another hall there to the right, off of which is the bathroom and shower:
My room is painted a fun bright orange, and it has a ceiling fan (hooray!). The bed and cupboard were there already, and between my host family and myself, we added in a desk and chairs, carpet, and wall hooks (not visible). I brought a few prints and photos to hang on the wall and negotiated for some local artwork (the two big paintings on the wall behind the bed) to make it feel nice and homey:
The kitchen, bathroom, and shower are all super simple. Functional, really. So there’s no need to show photos of those areas, especially because the pictures make them seem bleak rather than simple, which is not what I want to convey, particularly as I’m very thankful to have a flush toilet, shower, fridge, and electric water kettle, given that I wasn’t sure coming here whether I would have any of that. I don’t have a sink anywhere in the BQ, which is an interesting thing not to have, but I’m adjusting well enough to using the newly installed tap on the shower pipe and the hole in the shower floor as my sink. If you look at it as an inconvenience, it becomes annoying, but if you look at it as an adventure, it becomes fun. I will choose the latter.
As I grew up in a 150 year old Victorian-era house that had a name (Westover), and my house in Romania also had a name (The Way, because the first floor was used for church), it feels natural that my new house should have a name as well. Especially since I have spent much of the past 10 years in apartments, a house feels like it should have a name. So, now that you’ve seen pictures, if you have any suggestions for a name for my Boys Quarters, please leave it as a comment. I’ll post at a later date what I have decided upon.
Oh, and by the way, our neighbors have a mango tree, a tangerine tree, AND an orange tree. I will definitely need to introduce myself to them!