Before I go in to the story, let me briefly tell you the reason behind this blog. A lot of students have asked me about the PhD application process, and settling into a new city/ country to start their studies. As a Sri Lankan student I didn’t find a lot of resources and if it hadn’t been for my father and my brother who also went through the US application process, I would never have known about the specifics. So, I’m going to use my underutilized server space to help other Sri Lankan students. Please subscribe to my blog to receive interesting insights. I will publish every two weeks summarizing a noticeable event.
It was 30th of June, around 2.00 pm. I had cleared immigration and had stepped out of the airport. I was breathing Boston air again after 20 years. This time alone. I looked at my phone and found out that my mobile service provider had failed me again. I could not connect to a mobile network although they had promised me that I would not have any issues. Quickly connected to a public wi-fi network at Boston Logan international airport, contacted my friend who was coming to pick me up.
This friend is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Partly due to the fact that I had never met him before that day. I found him on a Sri Lankan grad student facebook group, when he replied to a post that I had published asking for information about Boston. Even though we had never met, he came to the airport and picked me up. He even helped me to get a mobile number on the same day I got there. That was the biggest relief that I could get as I had no way of contacting home when I was moving around.
Lodging was another major issue. Boston is a very expensive city. I had planned and replanned over a whole month as to what I would be doing until I settled in. I had secured on campus housing. But it would not be available until September 1st. So, I was forced to find another temporary place. Luckily, undergraduate students here at United States sublet their apartments during Summer (For example, if they go home). I was able to find a place which was just 3 minutes away from the University for a very reasonable price. But this apartment would only be available on 1st of July. So, technically, I was homeless on the 30th. But by then, I had already booked a place over AirBnB over a month ago. So, I didn’t have to overly worry.
It was the next day. Luckily, my friend agreed to help me to move all of my stuff to the new apartment. We moved all of my things, cleared the paperwork and got the keys. The rest of the day was spent on buying bed sheets, pillows, snacks and groceries etc. We went to an Indian store to buy all the spices such as Curry powder, turmeric, chilly powder etc. Nevertheless, I still had no idea as to how I could cook. The only thing I had was a set of notes which were given to me by my parents detailing the procedures of cooking .
And of course, I bought a MacBook with half of my life’s earnings. But it was well worth it. I can guarantee you that. But one of the burning issues I still had was that I was walking around with a large sum of money. I had no way of depositing it since banks were closed as it was a Sunday. Whenever I paid people with cash in Boston, they used to give me a weird look. Because everybody paid using credit cards. But I could not use my credit card at multiple places even though it was American Express. I thought this might have been caused due to demographic issues since US has a different treatment towards credit cards not issued in US.
In the following week, I opened a bank account, started cooking for the first time and pretty much settled in. Since I moved in Summer, the city was very peaceful. Most students had gone on internships or had returned home for their vacation. So, this brings me to the final portion of my story which happened three weeks after I settled in.
Well, it was not the roof but it was the ceiling. I just wanted to make it a click bait 0:-). Most of the Boston apartments are old buildings and since I live closer to downtown (the heart of Boston) this is much more noticeable. About two days ago, there was water dripping as droplets from the ceiling. But I was not concerned as I thought these buildings must have existed for centuries; so, nothing would happen in the next four weeks. But I was totally wrong. Two days after when I got back home after work, this is what it looked like.
One of the most important things I have learnt in life, is not to panic. But this was a big deal for me, as I had no idea of the procedure to be taken. Although I had seen in movies people suing people for these kind of situations claiming negligence, I knew those chances were remotely possible owing to the legal charges and lawyer fees. So, suing and becoming a billionaire in a first world country might be a dream of anybody but it’s merely impossible given the financial conditions of a student.
So, I got advice from my friend and called a few other people and informed the management company which is in charge of renting out the apartment. But they were very responsive and repaired it by the next day. I did not even have to be at my place. While I was at work, they had done the repairs and already left. This is how it looked the day after.
So, the first world might not be so first-worldish after all ;). But that brings me to the end of my story. I am now living on campus and it’s a lot better than the place above and the university staff is very responsive to queries. I am truly grateful for the place I’m living in.
Stay tuned for another interesting story. Here. At Boston.