For a while now I have rented my spare room to young international students. They have included a quiet Dutch intern at the National Gallery, an Italian chef, a Spanish English student, a Sri Lankan oceanographer, a Russian art student and, my current lodgers, graduates from Taiwan and China. They have all added hugely to my well being. The varied exotic smells from the kitchen, the voices singing in the shower, the introduction to new ideas, new perspectives and all the laughter combine to make my tiny third floor flat resemble a world cafe!
It is like having daughters and sons who drop in from time to time, to entertain me, feed me and occasionally consult me about difficult decisions. Although I care about them, their welfare is only indirectly my responsibility. I miss them when they leave and then another one arrives and off we go again on a new discovery.
Yesterday I met a young artist who may want to rent the room next year. A Russian who has been educated in America she is hugely talented and full of original ideas. She picks up arts jobs as she goes along and has created projects in the furthest parts of Russia and while hiking around Japan.
Strangely, she was attracted to my advert because of the Chagall prints hanging on the wall behind my profile picture–I think the picture of ducklings may have influenced her as well. We walked round the Botanics together and then came back to the flat for a hot drink. We could have talked for hours. Miss Taiwan and Miss China joined us later and over a bowl of tangerines we had a lovely party. Hearing these young people’s experiences and future plans is both stimulating and inspiring. I am so lucky.