Yes, after weeks and weeks of delay, I have finally moved into my own little apartment. Now, instead of saying “going back to the residence”, I can comfortably say “going home”. Instead of walking 15 minutes to the bus stop every morning, I can simply hop onto a tram (which remains my favourite mode of transportation in Bordeaux) right downstairs. I’m also within 5 minutes walking distance to Auchan, which is equivalent to a giant-mega-super-Walmart. Of course, it is located within Meriadeck, a shopping mall very much like a bigger Scarborough Town Centre. Yup, I’m pretty happy.
On Friday, my supervisor and colleague took me to IKEA where I bought some furniture for the apartment, since it came unfurnished. My two biggest worries were already taken care of – a colleague offered to give me a single bed, and the landlord already installed a very nice table attached to the wall. It’s quite true what my pastor said the other day: you don’t really have to worry about furniture, they just come along.
So, the only thing I really needed was a dresser of some sort to put clothes and pretty much everything else, and I went to IKEA with that precise goal. IKEA in France is exactly the same as in Canada. However, while prices are rather high (in my opinion) in Canadian IKEAs, they are considered low here in France. I was a little hesitant when my supervisor suggested going to IKEA, telling her that I didn’t want to spend a fortune on furniture, but she assured me, “No, no! Things are cheap at IKEA! We always find nice, inexpensive furniture there.”
And she was right. The price of individual items are definitely cheaper than in Canada, though of course in Euros. However, when you take into consideration that I am also earning a salary in Euros, it doesn’t make sense to convert everything back to Canadian dollars every time I want to purchase something.
I picked up a bunch of random items for the apartment – a dresser, which was my main priority, a coat rack, hangers, bed sheets, a pillow and cover, a blanket and cover, pots and pans, a white chair, a black chair, a broom, and a dustpan. I love house-shopping. I could spend a day in IKEA, or in Auchan, picking out neat little things for my cozy home that look nifty but that I probably don’t need. I would be wasting a lot of money…but it’s so much fun. Anyway, here’s a look at the final settlement.
They tell me that this place is approximately 30 m2, but I think it is slightly smaller than that. However, it is plenty of room for one person to live, and it feels rather cozy. I am satisfied with the outcome though, especially because I didn’t have to go through the process of looking for accommodation myself. As far as I know, house-hunting in Bordeaux is very, very painful…
The big task of the day was to assemble the dresser. I completely underestimated the amount of work it would take to do so because at IKEA, the dresser looked all nice and assembled and it didn’t occur to me at the moment that I would have to put it together myself. Well done, Annie, some foresight.
However, I quite like putting furniture together, as long as I had all the tools that were required (which I did, thanks to the lab). The only thing that I was a little unsure about was hammering the nails, but it was a learning process and I figured I’d never know how to do it if I didn’t try it out. Everything else was just following instructions and using a screwdriver and mounting things on top of one another. Didn’t seem like rocket science.
Now, IKEA says that I shouldn’t tackle the assembly on my own. In the instruction manual, there was a big X over a lone frustrated guy, whereas a happy face was seen on the man who got his friend to help! I contemplated whether I should call up some colleagues for assistance, but the last thing I wanted to do at that point was to bother them again after all the help they’ve already offered. So I stared long and hard at the pieces of wood, and decided to try to put the dresser together on my own.
The frame of the dresser was the easiest part, but in the process of the assembly, I actually snapped a piece of wood in halves while dropping a heavy part that I was trying to lift. Thankfully, the damage affected neither the appearance nor the functionality of the finished product.
The entire process was quite a mess, but I enjoyed the work very much, especially since it was for the sake of the first place I’m having to my own. Maybe I will quit my PhD and become a professional furniture-put-together-person. Florence kindly reminded me of the word “carpenter”, but I think those are two different things. Carpenters make the furniture. I just want to put the pieces together.
After a lot of handiwork, some minor obstacles and frustration mixed with the loud hammering noise – thank goodness my neighbour/colleague downstairs was out for the weekend – the final product presents itself, like magic! The dresser was crucial because I literally put everything in it, nicely organized…for now. I’m sure it won’t be like that in two months.
And this picture answers the question that my colleague kept asking me: What’s in those two gigantic suitcases of yours? To be honest, I didn’t even know since I hadn’t unpacked at the residence. After tidying up everything, I unpacked fully and rediscovered all these miscellaneous items that I don’t even remember having packed. No wonder my bags were overweight. Nevertheless, it is accessories like these that remind me of Toronto that also make this feel truly like a home away from home.
The coat rack was child’s play compared to the dresser, in terms of assembly. It was needed in the case that friends decide to come over in the future. I’d very much like a place where they are able to hang their coats instead of scattering them all around the room.
Just felt like showing the ceiling lights. Nothing special, but they are super bright!
The built-in table that the landlord installed for me is conveniently positioned by the kitchen. I like the design of it.
A closer look at the kitchen, small but efficient. At the moment, I severely lack a microwave…I don’t think I can survive having to heat food on the stove every single day. Next on the list would be to get baking supplies and dear lord, that is going to cost a fortune if I decide to re-acquire everything that I had in my baking basket in Canada.
And finally, there’s the bed that was kindly provided by a nice lady from the lab. With it also came a bedside table that’s perfect for me to put the books I read before going to bed. When I was choosing the colour scheme for the bedding, I remembered that I chose to have red curtains (which the landlord also installed but let me pick the colour), so I figured heck, let’s make it red all the way. Red seems to illuminate the room, giving off a radiance of warmth, particularly during the winter. Good choice or not?
Wine and cheese are on hiatus this week, and possibly next week. Sorry for the late update; I’ve clearly been busy this week, give me a break.