Monday, October 13, 2014

The Tenants of 2515-A

The apartment as seen from the campus
Our "house" this year is an apartment in a building leased by the university where Kraig is teaching. The building is made up of three parts. Two can be entered through a gate beside a security office. These two are dorm apartments for international students. The third part is separated from the others by a wall, and is entered through a separate gate. This portion houses eight furnished apartments that are specifically for visiting professors (and whoever comes with them).

The tenants of 2515-A, the visiting professor block, are a motley crew and there is something of a revolving door on the apartments. Some profs are here only for a few weeks as they come in to teach specific courses, so their stay is like a hotel, soaps and shampoo provided. Others are here for a semester or a year, but these timeframes overlap. One prof has been here since January, and he'll leave in December. Another finished out his year in August, a month after we arrived. The rest of us came in July and will be here through next summer. Across the hall from us is a young Pakistani woman teaching in the university's associated high school. Upstairs is a young British couple--she's teaching in the high school while he works through a TEFL training course (teaching English as a foreign language). Below us is a middle-aged gentleman from Bangladesh who was here alone at first, but has his wife and two teenaged sons visiting for a couple months. He's so content right now; I can't imagine leaving my family for most of a year.

We're the only family with younger kids--and I think we may be one of the first families who has ever stayed here. It makes for an interesting dynamic. Our kids are a focal point, for good or ill. We had an email one day from the young woman across the hall asking that our kids not knock on her door more than once (if ever). Kraig kindly emailed back that we would definitely make sure of this, but that they hadn't been near her door on the day she complained about. It's made things a little awkward. It seems like some single professionals have no concept of the reality of kids. Most of the profs are friendly, though, and seem to appreciate the kids. The apartment cleaning staff certainly does, and the affection they shower on them and that the kids cast back is one of the highlights of living here.

A view across to the campus
Of course, living on the third floor of an apartment building also means teaching your kids the etiquette of not tromping on floors or shrieking with excitement or anger. Even when the floors and walls are made of concrete some sound transfers! All of the walls and floors are concrete and tile. The courtyard that flanks the building is tile; the underground garage is cement. Everything echoes.... So there are places one can play, sort of, just no grass. But there are no other kids to play with, so most often the kids entertain themselves within the apartment, which thankfully is spacious. We've also added some green by collecting potted herbs and other plants for our balcony. And there are trees and green over the wall. The kids often wander to the campus with Kraig on weekends, too, which is just across the street, and that is all grass and trees.

It's an odd new world, but we're adjusting to it.

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