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Friday, 13 July 2007

SETTING UP A HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Welcome, welcome to your new home! You must feel like you’re in the Go box in Monopoly, impatiently waiting for your turn. Can’t wait to leave the room and begin to conquer the world, huh? Or, are you overwhelmed with your new surroundings and the many things you have to do? Or is it both?

Don’t worry. We will try to give you as many reminders as we can on apartment hunting, living with roommates, getting to know your neighborhood, and even adjusting to cold weather! We hope these tips will help you as you make your new living quarters home.

When You Arrive…

1. Call home. Let your loved ones know that you arrived safe and sound.

2. If you are staying with a friend or a relative, make sure you have a nice token pasalubong for him/her. It requires a lot of effort for people abroad to entertain guests.

3. Follow-up on housing arrangements. If you applied for campus housing, call the office and confirm your reservation. Ask about the date and time when you can move in.

If you are in temporary housing and still need to look for a place to live, head for your school’s housing office. Most universities and colleges have a list of landlords and real-estate agents in the vicinity of the school.

4. Make an appointment to see your student advisor for undergrads. Graduate students should try to meet up with a representative from your academic department. This will be a good opportunity for you to introduce yourself to the person who’ll be responsible for your future academic growth, as well as meet some of your future professors. Take advantage of this time to ask advice about which classes to sign up for and even inquire about jobs within the university. (This is how Tricia happened upon the Graduate Assistant job.)

5. Make an appointment and see a representative from your school’s office for international students. With visa policies constantly changing, it is good to have a knowledgeable contact. Ask about activities scheduled for international students. Many schools have orientation seminars that are designed to help you get to know your university as well as your host city.

6. Visit the school’s health center. Inquire about which services are covered by your school’s/ host country’s health insurance and which ones are not. It is also good to know where the health center’s location in case of an emergency.

7. Open a bank account. Having a local bank account is definitely more convenient than trying to access your account in Manila. It’ll be easier to pay your bills and deposit money. The whole process might take several visits, since most banks require several forms of ID (passport, student ID, mail with local address). Students studying in the UK often have to wait six months before they can open a bank account. Check with your international student office if there are banks that waive this rule. Also, check our “Money Matters” section for more information.

8. If you’ve already moved into your apartment, buy food. You can’t run errands on an empty stomach.

9. Orient yourself with the following amenities, and services within your neighborhood: laundromat, bus/train stops, subway stations, post office, school supplies store, places of worship, the Philippine Embassy.

It is good to know where the Philippine Embassy is located should you need to renew your passport or want certain official documents. You can also ask the embassy for a list of activities that they may host which you might wish to attend.


Tip: The counterpart of school supplies stores in Australia and the UK is a news agency. In the US, it's a stationery store. You can also check out drugstores or huge office supplies stores like Staples and Office Depot in the U.S.



10. Check if people can contact you by phone. Arrange for a landline or just use a cell phone if you want. If you choose to have a landline and have moved to your dorm room, look around and see if there is literature about receiving and making phone calls. If there is none, ask your Resident Adviser. If you are in your new apartment, purchase a phone, hook it up and check if your phone line has been switched on. Change the name of the account to your name. Having a bill with your name and address printed on it will come in handy when you open a bank account.

11. Once you’ve moved into your apartment or dorm room, purchase household necessities. You might need to buy bed sheets, towels, bathroom accessories, and desk supplies. Check our City Guides for reasonably priced stores in your host city.

12. Call friends and relatives who live in your host city and tell them that you have moved. Arrange to get together for coffee or brunch. It really helps to know people already living in your host city. They are excellent sources for information. Tricia received a rice cooker, pots, pans and several sweaters from aunts who lived nearby, while Titchie’s cousin, who grew up in the US, helped Titchie pick out the all important winter coat and backpack.

13. Ask your school’s student services office about free Internet services. Most schools have computers available for all students in their libraries or student centers. Some dorm rooms are Internet ready. They have an Ethernet hook up or wireless connections.

14. Consider applying for a local driver’s license. If you’re in the US, apply for a state ID or local driver’s license, both of which will come in handy when you are asked for identification in bars, clubs, airports, office buildings.



Wise Words: Once you are in your new home, stop coverting to pesos. It's depressing. Just stay within budget. You'll get the hand of budgeting after a month. - Jikee Santillan, University of Reading, Berkshire



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