My basement to apartment story. Seems like yesterday, when I moved with a few luggages from Nigeria to the United States. I had just enough to get by with feeding and barely enough to sort out tuition and the bills for my basement shared space. So, moving into my apartment recently has been both exciting and humbling. Exciting because I get another chance at re-imagining my space and humbling because the bills won’t pay themselves.
But before we get into today’s story, I would like to acknowledge my readers who have been patient with my long absence. The world as we know it is changing rapidly, hence my absence has not been intentional. Life is happening fast for me this year. And after moving to my apartment, I figured it was a great time to settle in and get back to a regular blog routine.
One week on non-writing has spiraled into about 3-months of absence and it is the longest I have been away from the blog in almost 11years. I got a double-promotion at work and my new role has taken a lot of my time. Fingers crossed to keep my word about easing back to a regular blog schedule.
The Basement has not been all rosy
My longtime readers of this blog would remember my gofund experience and how I solicited for funds to attend grad school. I remember the backlash the request unearthed, barely enough funds were raised, and I lost a lot of brand leverage. But I left with a little quid and a lot of hope. But since that experience, I have taken deliberate steps to only share my victories and keep it pushing in tough times.
And boy has it been tough. There are many moving parts to how I got here that won’t be narrated in today’s post. But I will try to make this read a worthwhile experience. When I got into this country I had to share basement with another Georgetown undergraduate student- that experience was alright, but I was leaving with a group of girls who were younger and that in itself was challenging.
If you know a thing about living with people, especially those outside of your culture, you would be familiar with how my living arrangement played out. And for three years, I lived in similar circumstances up until 2020, when life began to feel a little warm, as it felt like the clouds in summer, surrendering to the sun after a heavy rainfall.
Up until 2020, when I got a full-time position to afford a room of my own in a 2bedroom apartment, I had lived with 4- more people. Although the living experience came with challenges, I love the people and relationships I built by having roommates. And when things got really tough, they where my buffer, preventing me from falling off the edge.
Forging Past the Shame
Sharing and being transparent about my journey on the blog, despite my irritation with in 2017 and how I was shamed for wanting more, has allowed me to see that stories inspire people. Mine did, and I got to see people pursue their dreams afraid.
Recently, a section of a poem by Laura Hershey allowed me ease into a new way of dwelling, of seeing life after feeling shame. Below is an excerpt of that poem.
Remember, you weren’t the one
Who made you ashamed,
But you are the one
Who can make you proud...
Learning Patience in the Middle of a Storm
Let me pause, if you’re moving to a new country as an international graduate student on a strict budget, roommates are great and allow you ease into your new environment while feeling safe. But what’s more fun is that you will save money for unforeseen challenges.
We also have to realize that it is ok to have little beginnings, and your life should not all be perfect by 25! I feel blessed to understand the concept of little beginnings, in a world that pushes us to constantly put our achievements on a pedestal, where we weigh our odds against other peoples success.
But it is also great to take leap of faith and I did. After my last roommate situation, I decided that the best way to thrive was getting my own apartment. I realized that a lot of my poor mood, lack of creativity, and general outlook towards life was due to my living situation and I needed to change that.
Finding an Apartment
Getting an apartment in the states as a lone renter or buyer is very very challenging. One thing I got to know is that a hard check is done on your credit which also affects your score if you are applying to multiple places at the same time.
So, I know now that if I decide to apply to different apartments at the same time, I would prefer not to use my social security. Some apartments could require up to 3-months of rent in advance as a security deposit to be able to lease you a place – the rent is not included in this deposit.
As an immigrant there is a lot of layers and processes you have to go through before you’re able to get an apartment either to lease or to buy. But renters and buyers can cross the hurdle by choosing to use a guarantor who has to earn 3times more than the rent, and will go through a similar background/credit check process before you can lease with ease.
I just had to pay 3 months security deposit to be able to secure a place because I was really desperate to move. But for now I am excited to be decorating the space with one of my favorite sustainable brands, Burrow, who I have worked with on previous Home Echo posts.
As I think of my journey, I am thankful for community both online and offline that provide a fortress when the pursuit of life gets tough. I am learning patience, I am learning to trust the process and everything that comes with pursuing the mundane things of life.