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The Struggle of Finding a Place to Live


Sydney Harbour National Park, Watsons Bay

One of the most important and difficult things about studying abroad is finding where to live. It is a tough decision because you need to find a place that makes you feel comfortable and also is within your budget (which is definitely the hardest part, here in Sydney).

If you’re like me, leaving everything to the last minute, you probably found yourself in Sydney looking for a place to live a couple of weeks before classes started.

As many students were also looking for a place to live, my roommate, Esteban, and me had a really hard time finding a flat. A few days before classes commenced we were desperate, thinking we wouldn’t find anything in time, so when an opportunity came we took it, even though the man was obviously pressuring us and telling us that if we didn’t close the deal within one day he would give the apartment to “someone else”.


After Esteban and me got the apartment we looked around and took pictures of everything. We realized our landlord hadn’t cleaned at all after the last tenants left. The floor was dirty, everything had dust, but the worst were the bathroom and the kitchen. The tub had gross brown stains and even though the toilet looked relatively fine I was sure it hadn’t been cleaned in a while. The inside the oven was splattered with what appeared to be tomato sauce, the microwave looked like something had exploded in it and the fridge had pieces of onion all over the place.

I was so frustrated that we had let this man pressure us into leasing this place. I was sure I would never be comfortable living there. But as they say, “what’s done is done”, so I should start looking for a positive view of this situation. I thought that if we arranged everything the way we liked, we would start feeling at home.

When we finished looking around, Esteban and I made our way to IKEA. We bought a table (funny enough we hadn’t realized there wasn’t a table in the flat), some chairs (Esteban even got a comfy desk chair for his bedroom), new cooking utensils, towels, a mat for the bathroom, a plastic plant to decorate, etc. As soon as we got back we started cleaning, he got the idea of rolling the ugly carpet in the middle of the living room and putting it on the side. It made the whole place look bigger and made it a lot easier for us to clean.

Bondi Beach

The next morning, we went to the supermarket and bought 10 different cleaning products. We spend that whole Monday cleaning the bathroom and the fridge, the next day we focused on the cabinets, the dishes and the oven, one of the most disgusting things I’ve done in my life was removing the black goo stuck to the back of it.

Suddenly we realized that little by little we had managed to turn that dirty apartment into something that we had started calling home without even noticing. In fact, each day we spent less time cleaning and more time walking around Bondi. We started going to the beach, we walked all the way to the Hornby Lighthouse, Esteban started running along the beach and I even signed up for yoga classes. Definitely living in Bondi was awesome, we got to know different parts of the city because we had to travel from one side to the other to go to our classes, which made the whole study abroad experience much more complete and fun.


What I’m trying to say is that, sure moving to a different country by yourself is one of the most difficult things someone can do, and sometimes (actually most of the time) life is not what we plan it to be. But the key to always being happy is trying to find the positive side to every situation and if you can’t find any, then make that positive side yourself. You’ll realize that once you take a step back and analyze the situation there is always a way to turn in around and own it.

Building under construction in Darling Harbour

Denise N.

Industrial Engineering

Tecnológico de Monterrey, Santa Fe Campus

Mexico City, Mexico

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