Finding my place – an epic monologue of new friends and share houses

On Thursday week before last I attended my first meeting of the English book club and I loved it! I had such a lovely time meeting expats from the US, the UK and Canada (and I’m told there are more to come). Between that and meeting lovely people at my job in the Cookie shop I really felt I’d found friends and began to see a life for myself in Germany.

I moved into the city to stay in the youth hostel where I met fabulous travellers who made me (again) question my own concerns and worries about travelling. If a Japanese girl (her family are fine they live far away from the disaster area) with reasonable English language skills but no other European languages can travel by herself around Europe what in the world am I worried about?! Then there were two Korean girls who’s English was very rough, yet they are having a wonderful trip together! They offered me an ice cream and we sat together in the dorm having a conversation which was very simple, slow and involved lots of laughing, gesticulating and looking translations up in phones! What inspirational women!

I found some more great people in my local area via couch surfing and arranged coffee catch ups so socially everything was happening.

This along with being well into negotiations for an apartment and having a job interview for a maternity leave position scheduled for Monday I thought I was finally getting it together!

Then, as tends to be the trend, my little house of cards fell down again.

The apartment was a scam, the Nigerians. The rental property market in Europe is rife with them. So I’ve found out. While feeling frustrated, angry and incredibly stupid when I found out I also had to think ‘well you’ve got to hand it to them, they are good at what they do’. If anyone is in the same sort of predicament (i.e. looking for a rental/share house in Europe – or perhaps anywhere) this is a great website to get you started and well aware of the tricks they play http://parishousingscamwatch.wordpress.com/nigerian-scammers-who-are-they/

So that absolutely sucked and left me hanging again as the Youth Hostel had no room on Friday night.

I have been fortunate enough though to have met some wonderful people in the short week I was in the city and was taken in by a couch surfer who has been wonderfully supportive and a lot of fun to hang out with! On Thursday night after I realised the apartment thing was dodgy I checked out of the hostel and was able to go straight to my couch surfing friends place. Staying with her has been a lovely way to lift the spirits and I feel very lucky!

There still remained, however, the problem of having to rely on temporary accommodation.

Straight away on Thursday night I had a quick look at wg-gesucht to see what was available and started making a list of favourites to contact. Friday morning I continued on and sent email and sms out to 11 people. By Saturday I had heard back from one, I phoned another on Saturday night and was able to make an appointment to look at a place on Monday, then got another email on Saturday from a person telling me they had been away and I could call on Sunday at 5pm. Yay! At least that meant the place wasn’t taken yet!

By the end of Saturday my list of possibilities looked like this:

Room 1 – What is called a ‘durchgangzimmer’ which means it is the room outside her room through which she must walk whenever going between her room and the rest of the house. For  370 euro which is a bit of a rip off considering you are essentially sleeping in an oversized hallway, still beggars can’t be choosers so it remains an option.

Room 2 – a furnished room but in a house with a ‘Frankfurter bad’ something that Frankfurt was famous for back in the day, before houses had bathrooms, these houses had showers/baths installed in other rooms of the house (mostly the kitchen) which was a real luxury at the time, but sort of an inconvenience now. In this case the shower is in the other person’s bedroom so you’d need to have a schedule. For 360 euro it’s in a reasonable part of town, the same street as the one above.

Room 3 – a furnished room in a family house with a couple (I think) who have a dog, you have your own bathroom a little bit further out of the city for 330 euro. This one is my pick of the bunch I will call her this afternoon and hope against all hope that I can look at the room very soon and that she likes me.

Then I had my set of back up plans in case I hadn’t found anything in a week which went like this:

Plan B is investigating the taxi drivers mother in law (maybe) – on the way to check out the dodgy apartment the taxi driver was very nice and chatted to my friend and I (I already was getting a funny feeling about the place and had a friend come with me to investigate). It came up that we were going to look at an apartment and he told us that if it didn’t work out his mother in law was living alone, her husband had died many years ago, and there would be a room and a kitchen etc. I think also he liked the idea of his mother in law not being entirely alone. He was very nice and both my friend and I found him to be genuine and trustworthy, he gave me the details to get in contact with him. I’ve had good experience in the past with Pakistani cab drivers so I was willing to have this as something to investigate as a plan B.

Plan C is joining http://www.wwoof.de/ and working on organic farms around the place

Plan D is becoming an au pair

I was asked to work on Sunday so I put a reminder in my phone to call about room 3 at 5pm and cleared it with my boss that if I could go and look at the place right away that I would need to leave and come back.

I called at 5, had a quick chat with the lady of the house and allayed her concerns that I wouldn’t be with young people (hardly a deciding factor at this point in time) and was invited out right away, given bus details and instructed to call if I couldn’t get the bus right to the doorstep and she would come and pick me up in the car. A good start! It took about 20 minutes to get there with the bus from the city centre, a distance my boss said was ‘a very long way out’ but which to an Australian is really quite good! It took me longer to get to work in Canberra!

I met the lady of the house and their fantastic, but old and somewhat deaf, giant sheep-protecting dog, we chatted and I was shown around. This lady had realised from the inundation of emails she had received that it was difficult to find a place at the moment and had taken pity on the ‘foreigners’ who were finding it more difficult than the locals. So myself and a fellow about my age from the US came to the top of her list. YAY!

The lady of the house and I were both happy with everything and she gave me a key on the spot! I will move in Wednesday! SUCCESS!!!

We both feel bad for the student from the US though. The lady of the house has said they have a spare room full of boxes which could be cleared out if the poor fellow is desperate. I’m going to call her today though and see if she will give him my details and tell him to get in contact with me. As I’ve already spent such a long time ploughing through the offerings of wg-gesucht I don’t see why I couldn’t just keep going and check some places out to try to help him. He’s not arriving for another two weeks. Either that or I could spend the next two weeks looking for somewhere else for myself. But there seem to be a lot of apartments looking for men of his age so I expect that would be easier.

So, that, at least for the moment, is where things stand!

I went back to work after taking two hours out of the day and came home to my couch surfing friend with cookies and cake to celebrate.

I will go to the Interview this afternoon and then we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Much love to all

Amanda

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