Finding A Flat in London for Study Abroad
THE REAL STORY OF 6 STUDENTS CHOOSING TO STUDY AND LIVE ABROAD IN ENGLAND
By studying abroad through Syracuse University there are two options for housing. Every student has the option to either live in a school provided dorm or to opt for independent housing and find a flat in London. Yes this did mean that when people from home asked me where I would be living when I arrived in London I had nothing to say but “I don’t know”.
I chose to opt for the independent housing and had to find not only a flat but also flat mates. Luckily, I knew friends going so it was a matter of figuring out who was living with who and starting the search for a flat. Syracuse gives students a list of past used landlords and off we go! The second they release the list just imagine House Hunters International meets Rat Race. Everybody runs off in every which direction looking for the “best” flat, which they tell us over and over that there is no such thing of course but they just have to say that. We definitely do not have the best flat but at least we don’t have the worst flat either.
The first flat we saw was just about the opposite of what we would have wanted. Two words: bunk beds. However, the area this flat was in was absolutely beautiful. It was in the area Knightsbridge which is a very expensive, exclusive area with many high fashion shops and restaurants. Although we thought about taking the flat, we had to determine which of our needs were the most important. The space inside the flat was much more important than the space outside of it so we prioritized. Also, as I said before the flat search was a rat race. The landlord was showing the flat to another group of 6 students at the same time, talk about awkward! And it turns out, they’re our downstairs neighbors now.
After we decided against Knightsbridge flat we had another appointment with a woman who is now our landlord. For our group of 6 she had about 5 flats to show us. Luckily, we were her first appointment of the day so we got first pick. The flat is 3 bedrooms with one single, one double, one triple and yes .. only one bathroom. We chose this particular flat because of the open layout of the kitchen and living room. It is located in the area Bayswater bordering the north of Hyde Park and has pretty garden lined streets with lots of different ethnic restaurants close by. It has very nice stores and is in a diverse community that could appeal to people from all over the world, including us! Portobello Road, a outdoor marketplace is nearly half a mile away. It is a very popular outdoor marketplace with antiques, baked goods and lots of things to see and do. So far, we have loved the area we have chosen to live. As they say location, location location!
Once we decided on the flat we still had to move in. Did I mention there are 77 stairs leading up to our apartment? Luckily, our very strong and capable guy flat mates offered to carry our bags up for us (they’re available ladies) and in return we would take them out for a pint .. or two. I think we got the better end of that bargain. Settling into the flat has been a process. Were figuring our way and slowly realizing that 1. a fridge does not fully stock itself 2. a bathroom does not automatically clean itself and 3. where to buy a bath towel within walking distance in a completely residential area of London. With a little help from Google maps we now have a fridge that is not so fully stocked but stocked nonetheless, a cabinet full of cleaning supplies and yes, we each now have our very own towels. This is the first time any of us are living in this amount of space with with this amount of people so it is definitely a learning experience. We all have different ways of living at home and are trying to accommodate each other the best we can.
Although we have only been living in the flat for a few days now it feels like it has been so much longer. We have come to lovingly (sort of) call the flat “Mount Everest” seeing as the climb we take daily to get home is roughly the same as climbing the actual Mount Everest. We’re also considering taping our experience and selling the rights to MTV as the latest version of Real World: London. This is the real story of 6 students choosing to study and live abroad in London, have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite.. and start getting real. Kidding! But hey who knows, mediocre stardom here I come!