Unpacking my Chambre de Bonne

Julia Carrington Ehler
September 5, 2016

Bonjour from Paris. It's weird to think I'm currently living in France. That is just mind boggling for me to say now. I've been living in Paris, France for about a week now, although it feels like I've been here for an eternity, but that's something to blog about another day. Today I am here simply to talk about my teeny tiny little living space. For my four month period here in France, I was placed into a homestay, but I am not exactly living in the family's home, I'm living about five floors above their apartment in a room called a Chambre de bonne or a maid's quarters. This particular type of living arrangement is very different from what I thought it was going to be like. Basically, I have this little room with just a bunk bed with a desk and closet underneath, a shower and sink, and a bit of floor space between the bed and the exterior wall. It is nice to have the apartment like privacy as well as the access to a host family when I need it, but the problem I am running into with this privacy and freedom is that I am struggling to make a connection with my host family like I had hoped to. Coming into the apartment and trying to make myself feel at home is difficult for me because of the sense of separation between their space and my space. This is probably something that will work itself out over time, but right now it's making things harder for me as a timid person. Anyhow, I wanted to share what I have done with my little space to make it feel more like home so I can do my best to feel comfortable in the place I will be living for the semester. 

First off here is a shot I took standing right by my front door, just to give you an idea of exactly how small the space really is. 


If I just turn around and take a photo from the other side of the room there is the little corner with the shower and sink. It's a very open space compared to what I am used to at home and feels extremely close to everything else in the room, but I feel lucky to have it with me rather than down a hall like the toilet is.


Right at the foot of the bunk bed and about where the door is, there is my little closet/shelf space to hold my clothes. When I was packing at home I was afraid I was bringing too much with me, but now looking at it hanging up I am afraid I packed too little. As the semester goes it's going to be interesting to see how my wardrobe plays out. 


Next, we have my desk space, which I've sectioned out as toiletries and makeup, office supplies, and food/snacks. My madame was sweet enough to provide me with some little breads, Nutella, and tea for mornings when I'm running late for class and need to grab a quick bite and can't stop by the apartment. 


I left a little cubby space to keep all my make-up and hair things in which sits right by the mirror in my room, very convenient. I also have stacks and stacks of Paris guide books and maps that are a little more interesting than the ones you would find from national geographic or some other "travel expert." I'll share more about those as soon as I start using them a bit more to explore the city. 


At home, a cute desk space is key for me. I like to stay organized as much as possible, even if it wasn't the most necessary thing to worry about when living abroad. I have my college journal, comfy candles, washi tapes, pencil holder, notepads, and most importantly my file cabinet to hold all my stationary and other important paper goods. My mother still makes fun of me for bringing a vintage metal file cabinet with me and I doubt there is any other study abroad student that would even consider bringing such an odd, bulky thing, but I am a bit odd and different so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise.


Under the desk, there is a little space of drawers and shelves that I chose to use to hold my shoes and sock and other little clothing items. 


Then there is my bed. I am not very used to living with a bunk bed so it's been interesting getting used to literally climbing into bed every night. I brought a blanket from home for comfort and a corkboard to collect my memories on and keep photos from home close to me. I also grew up loving the story of Madeline so, of course, I had to bring her along with me for my trip to her home, another thing my mother likes to tease me about. I also have a little collection of books to keep me occupied since France seems to lack proper wifi so I have to find another way to wind down at night, instead of watching a few hours of Netflix.




And finally I have a little window looking out on the street I will be living on from the top floor of the building.



It really is a lovely little space. Different from what I'm used to back at home or in the dorms at Redlands. I'm not gonna lie, I will be excited to get back to the spaces I'm used to and having a proper wifi connection. Hate to sound like that bratty American girl, but I've never realized how important the internet is to keep us all connected until it turned into my only means to stay connected with home. So it's kind of sad seeing that I can't really make a full connection with that in my space. Hopefully I'll find ways to improve that or let it force me to get out more often. 

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Julia Carrington Ehler

<p>Bonjour! My name is Julia Carrington and I am so beyond excited to be sharing this little part of my life story with you. This is going to be my first time out of the country and on my own and I can&#39;t wait to see what happens. I hope you join me on this adventure and enjoy reading my little online travel journal.</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
University of Redlands
Film Studies
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