Pooping Where You Eat- Or How I Feel About Living with my Colleagues

The Ladybug, Sprout and I have just come from a birthday party down the street.  Three doors down the street, to be precise.  The birthday girl is the daughter of my principal and our school’s librarian.  Their house looks exactly like ours except everything is flip-flopped.  When you walk in our front door, the stairs are on your left and the bathroom is on your right.  When you walk in theirs, the bathroom is on the left and the stairs are on the right.  But it’s the exact same stairs and the exact same bathroom.  It is both comforting and disconcerting. A bit like living on the same street as your principal.

In two of the five schools I’ve worked at, the staff have lived all together.  In Kuwait, all the foreign hired staff lived together in two apartment buildings.  Here, we live on The Street- a long row of townhouses that back up to the school.  There are some definite pros and cons to this type of living situation.

– Someone always has milk.  Or eggs.  Or sesame oil.  Or extra pillows, an air mattresses, toothpicks, toilet paper, bread, money, wine, ice, bleach, glitter, internet, or detergent.
– Someone always needs to go to the store for one of those things.
– We are lucky because we work with a lot of families with smallish children right now- that means birthday parties and play dates are happening right out your front door.  The older kids run back and forth to each others house.  Randomly, kids will knock on your door and ask to come in to play or ask if your kids can go out to play.  It’s all very kid-friendly and social.
– All of your neighbors understand your lifestyle and you don’t have to try and explain that you will only be there for a couple of years.
– Impromptu bonfires and barbecues.
– Thursday afternoons (our Fridays) mean a slow walk home, stopping at whoever’s house you get to first for a weekend beverage.
– If you need to grumble to a coworker about work, you can just walk next door and do it.
– You almost always have someone to walk to or from school with.

– You almost always have someone to walk to or from school with.
– It can be slightly stifling at times.
– You usually know when something is happening that you haven’t been invited to.
– You feel guilty for not going to an event when it’s within walking distance to your house.
– You can’t get away from it- many topics of conversation revolve around school.
– It’s challenging to make non-school friends.

Our house, in the middle of our street

For me, honestly, it’s okay.  In Kuwait, when I only had myself and then the Rugby Star to look after, I was constantly bored.  There were often too many hours in the day and I found myself seeking out friends and neighbors just for someone else to talk to.  It was frustrating at times to see and hear parties or other gatherings that you weren’t part of.  Here in Bahrain, because we are spaced down the street with concrete walls serving as the backyard fence, it’s really easy to separate yourself from school and school friends when you need to.  By the end of my school day, I only have about two hours of time with the Ladybug and the Sprout.  I don’t mind shutting my front door and being with just my family for that time.

Some days, though, it’s nice to walk down the street and let them kick a soccer ball and climb a tree while I have an adult conversation.

International friends- which do you prefer?  Living with your colleagues or not?  Why?  


One thought on “Pooping Where You Eat- Or How I Feel About Living with my Colleagues

  1. We've lived with our colleagues (or in the same apartment building at least) for the past 5 years and can say I truly agree with all you say. On the one hand, you all know exactly what the deal is, but living and working with the same people can be stifling, especially if you don't get on so well. I had an issue with the fiance of a colleague outside of work (she was a rude guest in my house) and then found it really hard to see her in the office and ask her to do things for me. At the moment, my husband and his boss are the only people working on the project we're working on getting so there are two couples and that's it. It has forced us to look beyond the office for friends.


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