Monday, September 18, 2006

*Trials, Travails and Tribulations in Off Campus housing search a.k.a. Dante's Comedy*

As earlier promised, here's the blog post on how my search for off-campus housing went and in particular, where it really went like Dante's Comedy i.e. it started off in hell, then purgatory and finally heaven (it's all relative to me anyway).

A quick recap is in order here. Back home, Law is an undergraduate degree, presumably, in accordance with our policy of early streaming, it's perfectly alright to jump straight to a professional degree without first having a basic degree. Whereas, here in the States, it's a post-graduate degree.

Personally, after having done the freaking debate before, I personally couldn't give a dang primarily because they both have their strengths and weaknesses and it's nigh impossible to determine on a CBA which is naturally and necessarily the better programme. Hence, in a debate, the importance of framing comes in huge. Depending on what the "real" issue is, that's how a team is going to win.

But, aside aside, as a result of my ostensible (and technical) 'profession graduate' status, my priority for campus housing basically was the lowest of the low (with some variation for single student apartment but I stupidly did not apply for it till sometime later i.e. every room had been taken up). Thus, I didn't have manage to get any campus housing.

As such, I faced the prospect of being sleepless (and homeless) in Seattle, until granted a reprieve by having temporary housing. Oh, and the best part? Two days later, they emailed me to inform me that I shouldn't even be there, but that they magmanimously decided not to kick me out onto the streets until a couple of days later i.e. when I was supposed to have to move out anyway.

One last thing. I spent two and a half years of my life in the army in various living conditions. I have lived in a dorm like setting of 40 to a bunk of 4 and everything and anything in between. So no privacy. And it's Singapore, space is at a premium so I can live without it somewhat.

So here goes Shaun's Comedy...Staring with Hell.

Day 1 (120906): Arrived in Seattle at 7 p.m. after being unfortunately delayed in Taipei (Chang Kai Shek Airport, newly but still underoging renovation. Oh and I lost but managed to retrieve my camera.

But regardless, I got to my dorm room and finally settled in at around 10 plus. So no room search that day.

But I have to say, UW's dorms have been ranked the 16th most dungeon like dorm in the entire States and now I know why. Thank goodness in our little room, we had two Singaporeans and a Hong Konger, so we can live through the severe lack of space.

Day 2 (130906): Registration. Loads of running about all over campus (beautiful one by the way with a startling clash of different architectural styles, in particular the buildings surrounding Red Square.). Eventually settled into a inconspicuous corner in the basement of the Undergrad Library Building and made calls for appointments to see places.

Decided to go preview first place. It was atrocious, bad, crap, dismal. The place was seriously runned down and fairly dilapidated. And it wasn't the neighbourhood. It was just THIS ONE FREAKING HOUSE. But I took some consolation in the fact that it may be a lot nicer inside than it was on the outside. And thus I awaited the morrow.

Day 3 (140906): Some more running around on campus. Although I can't for the life of mine remember why. I blame memory repression.

But finding myself with time, I decided to go around and hopefully scope out another place. And by sheer happenstance I found myself outside an apartment building that was advertised in UW for students (and sanctioned by the school no less). And oh, I found out that was where all the NTU students stay for their Global Immersion Programme, although it seems that they're going to be out of luck as the manager can't find enough spaces this time round.

But it was very very very nice. And the communal kitchen was seriously kickass. The stuff I could have done with their oven was simply insane. I mean with all the pre-mixes out there, even I can make fluffy pancakes (helped along by the fact that I don't mind using real butter and cream). But it was just kinda pricey although I figured that worse comes to worst, I had this fallback position.

So comes the time to go view the first place. I was there early and this Mainland Chinese guy comes cycling up to me and attempts to converse in English with me. I mean, his English wasn't bad but it was like my Mandarin.

But here's the kicker, after I conversed with him in Chinese, he actually thought I was from Mainland China. Okay...I mean I'm fairly used to having my English "complimented" (most of which goes along the lines of "Hey, you speak good English, where're are you from". Most people think England although there was a cab driver that thought I was Malaysian) but never have I managed to pass off as a PRC. Although apparently the PRC in NUS think on first appearance that I'm from there. Until I open my mouth that is.

So I asked him how the place was and what the environment was like in there. And with a grim shake of his head, he told me it basically sucked. Yup, hell. And it didn't get better when the landlady came round and showed me around. It seriously was in a bad condition. Although to be fair, it was in the process of a major renovation so at least it was being brought up to code.

But what really threw me off was the presence of a couple of scruffy guys and what I presume was a streetwalker next door in the other room. I got so desparate to get out of the place that I think it showed in my entire body language. Not unlike I suppose US troops in Iraq. Or the Kurds under Saddam.

I figured she noticed as she decided to show me another place. This was better but undergoing serious renovation that would not be done for another month. And it was in the basement to boot. So once again, that was a no go.

But at least we were accending out of hell.

So she brings me to the last place, where she promises that it's in a nice neighbourhood and occupied by other students.

It was all that. But it was fairly filthy.

So with forced smile affixed to my face, I promised to call her the next day and with a heavy heart.

After all that had happened, my expectations were seriously depressed so it wasn't with fantastically high hopes that I went for my last appointment. Anyway, the landlady told me to go to her place first before she showed me the place for rent. And I figured that seeing her place would be a good way of deciding what the place she rented out would be like, although opn the flip side, the fact that she did not stay at the place she rented out was probably a negative, it meant that she could afford to not keep it as up to scratch as compared to the situation where she actually had to live in it.

Regardless, this nice old lady openned the door and showed me to her house. It was warm, cozy and there was this guy who read the New Yorker and the Economist so that gave me a good impression as it was.

But to cut a long story short, he showed me to this gorgeous old house. It was a tad messy as they were renovating the bathroom and clearing stuff out but I could live with that. And the room I eventually leased is seriously lovely. The furnitures are antiques and sure it doesn't have much of a view but I don't get any back home anyway and most of the time I draw the blinds because the Ponggol flats are built seriously close together with full floor-to-wall glass windows.

It's very walkable to the law faculty (it's all glass and light which is really lovely) and the area is nice. So there I am now.

Anyway, if you want addresses or numbers, just drop me a mail.


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