Settling In

I’m a settler in a new land
And I’m not kidding when I say
Everything
Is new.

Today officially marks
One week and two days
Since I first stepped foot
On European soil, let alone
In Bologna,
In Italy.

It’s been a pretty
Hectic
Past few days, what with
Orientations—and pretty
Heavy ones, if I do say so myself—
But we’ll get to that eventually.
For now, let’s talk a bit about

Housing.

When you’re a tourist,
The first thing you have to worry about, besides the flight, is
Accommodation—where are you going to
Stay for the duration of your time at some place.

For backpackers who
Move around a lot, I’ve heard that they simply
Look for accommodations
Immediately when they get to a place.

But for those who have to stay at a place for
A longer period of time, like me,
Securing accommodations for the entire duration of your stay is both
Important and
Urgent.

Unfortunately,
Looking for an apartment when you
Aren’t yet there nor
Have even seen the area is
Difficult.
Securing it—signing the lease on one, etc.—
Given the aforementioned considerations
Is also not feasible (I don’t want to jump straight to impossible).

As a student,
The considerations for an apartment—
As with pretty much everything else—are
Significantly different from those of

A tourist,

A backpacker,

A digital nomad, or even

An expatriate.

What are these considerations? Think of them as
A combination of
Those of the aforementioned groups above:

Price:
This is, hands-down, the
Most important consideration.
We don’t kid about the
“Student budget”.
Even if you’ve worked for a couple of years
Prior to studying again, you might be feeling rather
Bereft of the comfort of a steady income.
Consider this lesson one in
Budgeting, because
Not only is an apartment / accommodation a
Necessity, but also something you have to
Pay every month (and the initial price you get
May or may not include utilities).

Flat / Roommates:
Do you want them
Or not?
Would you rather live in a single, studio-type apartment
By yourself for however long you are away—

Pros:
Your room is most definitely yours;
No need to worry about others interfering in your lifestyle.
You also have an abundance of privacy, whenever you want it.
You can always hang out with people outside of your apartment after all.

Cons:
It can be pretty lonely,
Being in a new place,
Away from all the familiar faces,
All on your own.
In my opinion, anyway.

Or, you could try a shared apartment with individual rooms—

Pros:
You don’t have to be completely alone; you have other
People to figure out stuff with, both inside and outside the apartment,
People to eat with (a pro if you hate eating alone, like me),
People to hang out with when you want to take a break from studying.

Cons:
You have to figure out each person’s
Habits, lifestyle, personality, etc. and see
If they match your own, or
If you can compromise well enough.

Or, you could even share a room with someone—

Pros:
Probably (?) the cheapest option—don’t quote me on this as I don’t actually know.

Cons:
Basically, everything on the list of the Shared Apartment
AND a bit more, as you get a lot
Less (or no) privacy and you
Can’t just get away from your roommate—you have to sleep eventually!

Amenities:
Do you have Wi-Fi in your new apartment? Yes,
IMG_4799
In our increasingly technological world, this is
The first question in terms of amenities. Besides, you don’t
Just need it for your school work, but also
To keep in contact with family and friends you’d left behind.
Skype (and Viber, WhatsApp, LINE, KakaoTalk, WeChat, etc.) are
All great means of maintaining connections with people—
Utilize them!
Next, you of course have to look at and prioritize which are the
Amenities you absolutely need, and
Amenities you can make do without—

Washing machine
IMG_4800

Kitchen

Hot water shower

Airconditioning

Heater

etc.

Location:
Is the area safe (enough at least, that you’re
Not looking over your shoulder every minute on your way back home,
Either from a late night of partying or studying at someone’s place)?
IMG_5101

Is the area quiet or noisy (and which do you think you can deal with,
Considering you’ll probably spend time in your room both sleeping and studying)?

Is there a nearby grocery (or whatever other essential shops) in the area (such that you
Don’t have to lug your purchases too long a distance, because they’re bound to be
Heavy, especially groceries)?
IMG_5106

Are there good places to hang out / look around / eat in the nearby area (because surely you’d want to
Take a break some time, and it’d be
The best first place to show your friends / family when they visit)?

Of course,
You
May have other considerations than these, but
I do believe these are the basic ones.

And if you’re lucky, you get
The help of a consultant affiliated with your university (as is my case now), or
Even better, the school has housing meant for students like you (as was the case with my exchange program to Japan).
Looking for housing on your own,
While sometimes effective, can be
Extremely difficult
Unless you either have been to the place before and
Know the culture or norms with regards to housing, and/or
Have local help to not only bridge the possible language barrier but also
Navigate the local legal system.

Then, once you’ve found a place
IMG_4810
I can only hope you’ve packed at least some
Little trinkets or mementos

Of home,

Of family,

Of friends (and possibly significant others),

Of your country,

Of your travels, or simply

Of you

IMG_5112

That can serve as both
Conversation starters (with your flat/roommates or people who visit your place) and
Repellents against homesickness.

So,
Unpack,
Unwind,
Settle in, and

Enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Settling In

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