Closed To Hunting

It’s this time of year again- I have to go to the U.S. consulate for a visa interview. And while, last year, that seemed like the greatest burden to overcome en route to NYC, it definitely isn’t the biggest challenge this year. No. This year, the most difficult of all tasks is *click link before reading the rest of the sentence*  … finding an apartment in SAN FRANCISCO.

It’s not like people hadn’t warned me. “The living costs there are quite high, higher than in the rest of the US” “She can try to find something on craigslist but she really needs a good amount of luck” “An apartment? In San Francisco? For $1000 a month? Pfff, good luck gal!”, those and similar reactions were answers to my questions. To share my misery with you, here is some stuff I have learned throughout the past half a year that I have been searching for accommodation:

1.) San Francisco City has a vacancy rate of 3% on average. Henceforth, there are the extremely expensive neighborhoods where a decent apartment can easily cost up to $6000/month. Like…a studio kind of apartment. 6000 dollar. A month.
2.) The alternative to the extremely expensive neighborhoods are the pretty expensive neighborhoods. They hide secret treasures- places with more than one room for roughly $3500/month. What you pay on top of it though is less safety and more fog. Apparently.
3.)I know Craigslist is supposed to be helpful- sometimes. I’ve send off what felt like 200 replies to listings only to get 3 (!) answers back, one of them being like “Dunno if the area isn’t too shady for girls”, another one telling me to come by if I want to look at it (Blatantly ignoring my explicit remark that I won’t be coming over from Germany before mid-August earliest) and the third telling me that the apartment is gone.
4.) You need luck. And you gotta be fast.
5.) Find roommates and potentially say good-bye to the idea of having your own room. Or having a door for the so-called- bedroom (cause sometimes, living rooms just have to be turned into bedrooms, shit happens).
6.) You need furniture but think about that later. Worst case, you take a sleeping bag as a bed and a cardboard box as a table. Again, shit happens, you are on student loans, what do you expect?!
7.) After you’ve gotten over the fact that 3/4 of your monthly allowance will be spent on rent, consider nutrition and seriously ask yourself the question: “How bad would it be for my body if I lived of water and bread for a year?”
8.) After 4 months of unsuccessfully skimming craigslist, online rentals and estate agents, you have the illuminating idea: BRIDGES! San Francisco, being a peninsula, logically would have a lot of bridges. So, you google: “Could I sleep under a bridge in San Francisco?” and the first thing that pops up: “Sleeping under the stars in San Francisco is wonderful”. There you go. Problem solved.
9.) Your parents freak after hearing about the bridge thing. So you keep searching. I think my low point was when one of the online hunting sessions resulted in me finding someone renting out a tent in their backyard. For $700/month. A TENT! Basically, Germans pay less for renting a beautiful house by the sea than the citizens of San Francisco spend on a tent in a strangers’ backyard. Bottomline- I am so screwed.
10.) To quote a professor commenting on live in SF in comparison to Boston (where my school also has a campus):
“San Francisco is more expensive but so worth it!” And so I shall keep looking.

Disclaimer: Despite my sarcasm I am actually a really nice and funny person. And I am neat and patient and modest. So, if anyone knows of a free apartment or anything comparable, LET ME KNOW!! I will be forever thankful. No kidding!

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The Hunger Games- College Edition

…that’s finding money for grad school for you (stole this quote from 2 Broke Girls, btw).

Here are the stages that I underwent over the course of my search:

June. Of course you know since the summer that you want to attend grad school after your bachelors. But do you care to use the free summer months to send off applications, start preparing GREs or look into finances? NO. Why would you?! It’s sunny outside, after all. 

September. School starts again, you see all your friends, stress kicks in. Assignments, presentations, papers, deadlines, job, social life, sleep. It’s just a LOT to handle. By the end of the month, if you’re lucky, you might have a preliminary list of schools you want to apply to.

October. You exclude US schools, because they are SO EXPENSIVE. Also, their deadline approaches soon and you would have to take the GRE/GMAT. And that’s just a scary path you don’t want to go down. Expensive too. Why not Europe anyway? So much cheaper for EU citizens. Rolling application deadlines. No tests.

November. Shoot. European schools want to have TOEFL test scores. You tell yourself you will register soon (with “soon” turning out to be four weeks because you spend three weeks ranting about how stupid that is, seeing that you are attending an American university in Germany and have spoken nothing but English the past three years and who do they think they are, running around taking my money? You take another four days to tell yourself you will not give in to these stupid mechanisms of tests that say nothing at all and are just a way of taking your money.) Then you register. Almost full points. BOOM. Euphoria.

December. You find an international business school with campuses in the US. Perfect program. Great location. Everything fits. No GMAT. You apply, get in. You think: SAN FRANCISCO BABY! BACK TO THE US!! BACK TO THE PLACE THAT MAKES ME HAPPY!!! Then you wake up. They send you the price catalogue- $40.000 just tuition fee…huh.
You get a partial scholarship. Wohoo, just…a couple of thousands more missing

December, still. You realize that deadlines for all major scholarships have already passed. You accept the fact and move on..to student loans. An appointment at your local bank is supposed to help. The employee’s comment: “Well, that is a lot of money indeed and we can’t really help. Good luck!”. You go home, empty a bottle of champaign with your friend, sit down and think. The more time passes, the more desperate your money -getting ways become: they reach from becoming a starbucks barista over selling your eggs, becoming a surrogate mother and opening a sex hotline to another shot of vodka and the realization that you are pretty screwed.

January. Yet to come. If anyone knows how to get $27000, comment here. If anyone knows how to find shared living options in San Francisco, comment here. I tried craigslist but have only gotten dubious sex offers. And Western Union trash. Not very helpful. Otherwise I’m just gonna start collecting cardboard boxes already, so that at least I will have a place to live in San Francisco. Maybe with a nice garden in the back box. Could grow my own plants and just live off that for a year. If I ever make it to the States in the first place, that is.

Bottomline. Here you are, talented and poor. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I shall keep looking.. any hints appreciated.
Cheers mates!