One month had passed since the day I started looking for housing in Chicago, the city where I would be living for the next year, and It seemed like I was never going to unpack my suitcases and settle down. In the course of five weeks I visited countless apartments searching for shared rooms in all neighborhoods and every day I would give up something on my list just to get a little bit closer to finding a place.
It turned into an exhausting competition with other full-time employed applicants, and we know who is the favorite for landlords. My profile just seemed to be not enough for the housemates neither; uncomfortable interviews in cafes, unending awkward personal questions and annoying application fees (lost money if you are not selected). At some point, it resembled a reality show.
A few weeks before my arrival to the windy city I was contacted by my local ambassador, a local volunteer or “first friend” to the Fellows during our year in the US. She offered me to stay at her luxury apartment during the first month while I searched for a place. Her invaluable and generous support was significant as I explored the city and familiarized with my work routine. Helen and her husband would drive me to work every day, cook the most delicious stuffed peppers and take me to latino markets just to make me feel more like home and alleviate my homesickness.
November came and I was finally accepted to one apartment just two blocks away from my job. I was about to move with three American girls in a promising neighborhood but a more attractive offered was made to me. A friend of a friend of Helen was interested in hosting a student or young international professional at her house. I would have my own bathroom, living room and no rent… yes no rent! Her name is Feith and she lives with her husband in a wealthy, acclaimed and lively area, their two sons are in college and they wanted to share their space and learn from a different culture.
Living with two families and cats, sharing their traditions and feeling supported by their unselfishness actions have resulted in a pleasant experience and I wouldn’t be more grateful with their hospitality and kindness.