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Expect the Unexpected

Everything works out.

Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

  1. The two statements above are less contradictory than you may think. I am writing from week one of my exchange, and my advice to incoming students is to take pre-departure preparations seriously. The following is a list of things that went wrong my first week here and how they worked out in the end.

1. Housing – Over the summer, I arranged a homestay through a highly recommended website. It was supposed to be a single mother, her 19 year old daughter, and her 12 year old son. When I arrived to the homestay, it turned out that none of her children lived with her and that she hosted 4 other students in their place. The apartment was in disarray and we would be 6 strangers to a bathroom — not the homestay experience I had in mind… Luckily, I had some friends to crash with until I could find a new homestay. The lesson? Homestays can be great, but make sure you get as much information on your host before committing!

  1. 2. Subletting – I found my first subletter back in June. She mysteriously backed out during the paperwork process. I was excited to find a new one in July that I thought would be very compatible with my roommates, but as we got the paperwork started, she had a visa complication. I found a third one in August. My landlord took a long time with approving him and I had to wrap up that process while I was in Paris. I also had a complication with getting the key to the subletter, transferring utility subscriptions from the former tenants, and furnishing the apartment. The lesson? If you need to sublet, push the subleaser and landlord to sort out all the details well in advance and don’t overlook the details.
  2. In the end, I was able to sort everything out, but these roadbumps added considerable stress to arrival and distracted me from orientation activities. Try to solidify everything you can well before coming. My other advice is to be flexible, but don’t settle. I did not believe I would be comfortable in the first homestay, so I left. My main priority in housing was location. I could have found something faster had I taken the first offer that came along, but after much research, I found a great new homestay just a few blocks from my university.


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