With teaching contract in hand and air tickets tucked firmly into my pocket the Schneider family made its way to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport for the first time in three years and boarded a plane for Tel Aviv. We took a jitney to Jerusalem and booked a room at a local hotel until we found a place to live—the immediate task at hand.
Housing arrangements will usually be made by your hosts, as was the case in London. However, if it is left up to you how do you find accommodations in an unfamiliar city? How do you look for an apartment in a place that you have never been and in a country where you do not speak the language (Hebrew)? This is the type of agonizing question that can stop people in their tracks and keep professionals, myself included, from taking full advantage of attractive offers. During the long twenty hour flight I worried incessantly about finding a place to live. My fitful sleep was filled with visions of homeless shelters and cardboard boxes. Well let me reassure you that finding housing overseas is really not that difficult and more often than not you will find extremely pleasant accommodations.
Sometimes your hosts will arrange with a local realtor to come to your hotel on the first or second day in town, drive you around, and show you what is available. If this service has not been proffered, then simply make those arrangements yourself. Send email to your host asking them to contact a local real estate agent, one fluent in English, to arrange showings on your behalf. Then send email to the agent with rental dates, desired price range, and type of unit needed–which is exactly what we did. On our second day we found a lovely, and reasonably priced, two-bedroom apartment not far from campus for exactly the dates we needed–not a coincidence since the owners were Israeli faculty making the reverse commute—traveling to the U.S. for a three-month summer working vacation.
This phenomena–believing something will be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful only to discover that it was actually quite simple, has repeated itself over and over during our travels. Those nagging doubts about being able to “pull off” this kind of working vacation usually turn out to be totally unfounded. Just as it was easy for our family to find a lovely place to live, those deep-seated fears about your house, paying bills, finding accommodations, leasing a car, or finding a school for your children often turn out to be far less onerous than imagined.
A little bit of helpful advice (such as this blog) and a good deal of common sense will usually turn what appears to be a daunting task into a simple errand. Just as my unpleasant dreams about homeless shelters turned out to be foolish and baseless, don’t let your own specious nightmares stop you from enjoying that trip of a lifetime.