Life in Lyon: André Allix residency, the room and the building

Life in Lyon: André Allix residency, the room and the building

This long article tells my experience in the André Allix residency and the reasons why I chose to live there. This article aims to highlight the differences between university residencies in England and in France. So I suppose this article can be useful to not only those looking for accommodation in Lyon but to also those who want to learn something about university life in the residencies in Great Britain.

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I am very sorry, but like I have already said, this article is very long so I will divide it into smaller sections in case you want to skip certain parts of it, please do. The sections are:

  • Introduction: Life in London
  • Life in Lyon
  • The buildings
  • The rooms
  • The food
  • The bathrooms
  • Things to buy
  • Conclusion: Appreciating the residency

Introduction: Life in London

In university residencies or in 'halls', as the English say, are not the same as in France. There are huge differences between English and French accommodation but I never realised how different they actually would be.

In England, living in a university residence is one of the things that English students really want to do. This is because of the social advantages that the residencies offer, especially for younger students in their first year of university because this is the best way to meet other students in the same situation and share the adventures of 'Freshers week' with. There are lots of social events throughout the first week, especially at night.

But this experience was something that I missed during my first year because I lived in a shared flat. Yet, I took the opportunity in my second year when I spent the year on campus in the Mount Clare accommodation, which is often popular amongst second and third years.

Among students of the University of Roehampton, Mount Claire had a bad reputation. I heard stories of people who found spider nests in their curtains and mushrooms growing in the shower. The internet connection was unreliable, but I had no problems. Some people even said they had a lot of power cuts.

The kitchens were small and very cramped and someone's food would always go missing because we shared refrigerators. The kitchen surfaces did not stay clean for long time and the cleaner came only twice a week. I remember the ovens were horrible, because they let out a smell of burnt fat which stuck to our hair and clothes. You could not cover up the smell, the only solution was to take a shower or wash your clothes. It did not help the fact that it was impossible to fully open the windows in the kitchen. I shared a shower with ten other people. No one used the bath and shower in the bath did not work.

I liked the size of the rooms but they were quite dark because the window was only small. Another thing was the fact that it was very easy to get locked out (each time the door locked when it was shut). I will not forget the first time it happened to me on a Friday night at four o'clock, because I had to wait three hours for the security team to come and sort it out. You would think that I would have learnt from my mistakes, but unfortunately, this wasn't the only time it happened.

Mount Clare has its problems but they were nothing compared to the problems with the accommodation in Lyon.

Life in Lyon

I knew that there would be some differences between the residencies in England and in France but I never imagined that the differences would be so huge. At the start, I was definitely a little shocked.

I chose the cheapest room available. I will talk about my experience up to now living here. If I have anything else to say, I will not hesitate to add it to this article. I still have another 7 months until I go back to England and already so much has happened...

The building

The buildings have four floors per residency without including the ground floor which is just used for mailboxes. You can add a padlock to prevent anyone from stealing anything, but I don't think it is necessary because I only got flyers in mine.

Each floor has about thirty or more rooms but it does depend which residency you're in. There are two kitchens and two bathrooms on each floor. I will talk about them later on.

Each building has wifi. For six euros a month, it's pretty cheap but sometimes the connection can be quite crap so using Facebook, using Skype, uploading photos to Facebook is quite difficult during peak times. The videos are the worse, sometimes you have to refresh the page constantly.

Quite a few times, the connection has been lost completely and sometimes you don't have internet for at least one or two hours. However the last time it happened, we didn't have wifi access for almost twenty-two hours. The internet can be incredibly frustrating a lot of the time to say the least.

Another nuisance is the electricity. We have had quite a few power cuts in the last three months. I was not prepared for the first time and I had to resort to using the small light on my mobile phone. There was a faint sound of an alarm so we were not sure whether we had to evacuate the building and where we should go in case of a fire or an emergency. I'm not sure what the fire alarm sounds like. This was not the case in England because the campus security executed a fire drill at 7am in the morning one week after the start of term. After the exercise, there was always someone who burnt something in the oven, tried to smoke in the rooms or sprayed too much deodorant.

The room

I like the size of the room and there is plenty of room for all my stuff. The walls are white and the floor is blue. The bed is equipped with a foam mattress that is comfortable enough. I moved the desk and closet so they are in a better space and so I have more space when I use the desk. In the closet, there is space for my clothes and my cooking equipment. The refrigerator was a surprise but now I don't care because it is difficult to try and put a finger on the thief out of thirty people per floor. There is also another wardrobe where you can hang your clothes. There is a small sink opposite the wardrobe. There is also a shelf but is useless because it is too high up, even when I stand on a chair.

I am aware that the furniture is different in different buildings. Some have more space for books, others have a bedside table. I like my room, but the room can be cold, but it is nothing a mechanical radiator from Carrefour can't fix, which only cost me ten euros.

Life in Lyon: André Allix residency, the room and the building

When I went in the room for the first time, I must say that some parts of it had not been properly cleaned. The wardrobe was sticky and the board under the window was full of dirt. I had to clean the room myself before unpacking my stuff.

In all, I like my room despite the small issues, because I love the view from the window, especially in the evenings when I can catch the remains of the sunset and the sky is most beautiful.

The food

The kitchen is quite small and incredibly basic. It has two microwaves in my flat, one does not work. Fortunately, the one that works is easier to access to the broken one.

The sink and the old stove are on the only table so there is not no much space to prepare meals, we have to use the draining board. On the stove, there is only space for two pans at a time so it is difficult to find time to cook.

The kitchen has no ovens or freezers so we can not eat certain things or buy frozen things like ice. There are not any security measures so be careful with fire hazards.

A cleaner comes to clean the kitchen every day except on the weekends and it is generally left in a good condition, but the weekends it does get dirtier. Unlike my experience at Roehampton, nobody leaves dishes in the sink, they are washed immediately so there is no problem with people not washing their dishes and leaving them in the kitchen for five months, thinking the fairies are going to do them.

I know the kitchens in the other buildings have tables where you can eat, but not here. Although the kitchen is a sociable place, it would be better if there was a table.

Bathrooms

Each flat has two bathrooms where there are three toilets and four showers. I have never found all the showers occupied when I wanted to take a shower. But I can not say the same for the toilet. Although they are not always occupied by somebody, they are extremely dirty, especially on the weekends.

The state of showers is better, but sometimes you can find yourself sharing the shower with a few moths. I always wear flip flops because there are all sorts of things and hair on the bathroom floor.

I have to say something about the service here, because it takes a long for something broken to be fixed. For example, the microwave in the kitchen is still not working. In one of the bathrooms, one which is further away from my room, there isn't a lock on the door but it does't matter to me because I use the one closer to my room. The only time I use it is when the cleaner is cleaning the other one.

From the first day I moved in here, the light in the toilet did not work. It is not very pleasant or convenient to use the toilet when it is pitch black. Recently, the lock on the door is becoming increasingly difficult to use. It is very easy to turn it to the left to close the door, but sometimes the lock gets stuck when you're trying to re-open the door. I realised it didn't work during the early hours of Thursday morning, when I was in a hurry because I had classes. Eventually after I tried really hard, I was free, but nobody was there to help me! So now I'm quite cautious when I use it, though, the other day I forgot that we should not close the door completely, and this time was worse because it was even harder to get out! I still don't think the problems will be fixed soon because we have already told the secretaries in the office numerous times.

Things to buy

I had to buy a few things that I forgot before moving in here. They were:

  • A lamp
  • Kettle
  • Bedding
  • Extension lead
  • Mechanical radiator
  • Candles

Appreciating the accommodation

I like many things in André Allix, like the fact that we can use candles without the risk of setting the fire alarm off. I like the room size and how light the room is. I like the fact that the kitchen is cleaned almost daily and is generally in a good condition. I absolutely love the fact that I have a refrigerator in my room. But now after spending a few months here, I certainly appreciate my room more in London.

People are soon to criticise Mount Clare, but I strongly believe it has a lot of good things and I miss a lot of things such as having an oven or freezer and enough space to prepare meals. I loved seeing my friends in the kitchen, sharing jokes and I miss laughing all the time.

In England, there are fewer people in each corridor, you have to meet people outside of your flat and they become your university family. But it is harder here so I am lucky that I have a girl from Roehampton with me.

There was plenty of space for socialising where I lived. In each apartment, there was a small common room, where we would socialise before going on a night out. But after a few weeks, there are too many of us so fit in the room so we used the large common room near the reception instead. Next to the common room was the laundry room that was easy to use, and also the computer room which had printers. I have to say near to exam times, it was very hard to find a computer that was free because everyone is completing their deadlines at the last minute.

Despite the stories on the internet, I had no major problems in England. That's nothing compared with the nightmare of the internet here and its only my third month.

I miss the heating and Richmond Park which was like my own personal garden. I never thought I would say that I also miss the little black cat who lived on campus. We would call him Magic, Geoffrey or Lucifer, depending on his behaviour as sometimes he was a little devil! It is better not to touch the cat because she can be dangerous.

Not living at home and not being close to the people I love certainly puts things into perspective. I have learned to love many things that I never thought I loved. For another person, these things may seem silly and insignificant, but sometimes it's the smallest thing that makes me smile, like seeing an English brand or something stupid like that.

Still, it is important not to dwell on these things because they are six hundred miles away in England. And yes I know we use kilometres here but I can not help it. I'm not very good at mathematics! Going back to the subject at hand, I have to learn to love the things around me here in Lyon although it is difficult. I guess I have to look on the bright side. The Erasmus year is an incredible opportunity where you can meet people from lots of different countries and really discover and learn a new culture. It's fantastic and it would be a great waste of time and money if you are not prepared to embrace the country.

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