And so it begins

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Well, here it is: the first entry by a PIRE student in a PIRE location. Get the champagne ready--or in my case, the tapas y cerveza! I arrived in Granada, Spain 2 days ago to clear weather and friendly faces. Two graduate students in Teresa Bajo's lab, Luis Morales & Julia Morales (no relation), went to pick me up at the Granada airport which rivals our own University Park Airport in grandeur. After a short 10 minute drive, we arrived at the apartment that I'll be sharing with the other Granada PIRE students when they arrive later this year. The apartment is right in the heart of Granada near the cathedral. It was thanks to Luis & Julia that we were able to get such a great apartment.

In many ways, we truly lucked out with housing, which I want to make the focus of this post for the benefit of other PIRE students traveling soon. This part of PIRE travel preparations can be very time consuming, nerve-wracking, and certainly demands patience. Part of the frustration is that looking for housing from abroad is like trying to hammer a nail that you can't see using one of those extendo-claws. You have no idea what the apartment looks like; it's hard to estimate what neighborhood you should live in; and you are far away, making it difficult to contact owners and agencies. 

In part, differences are due to place. For example, Bangor, another PIRE site, is a smaller community but the research centre is accustomed to receiving many visitors, so the centre staff are incredible in helping one find housing, essentially booking a place for you as long as you provide advance notice. On the other hand, Granada is a mid-sized city with less support infrastructure for visitors, so more than likely PIRE visitors will have to figure out housing on their own. In addition, Spain in general relies more upon interactions and queries made through phone and not as much through internet or e-mail.

Not to fret, it is not impossible to find temporary housing abroad! Below the fold are some suggestions for making the search perhaps a tad bit easier. 

  • Ask to see whether the site has support for short-term visitors (e.g. Bangor). This could make the search a lot more efficient if there are already lots of resources available.
  • Inquire about dorms or housing available at the university. The different PIRE sites will differ on what they have available but this could be a convenient option.
  • Get in contact early with the grad students at the site that you are visiting. They are usually connected into a network of other grad students and post-docs and may know of others looking for subletters during their own travels abroad.
  • Look for sites like craig's list which have gotten a lot more international but still depend on whether the target site has an established culture of online classifieds (it's getting better, little by little). In addition to listings for housing, usually you can post a request for housing where you specify length of stay, whether you are looking to share or have your own place, etc.
  • Finally, what's great about a lot of the international PIRE sites is that we already have an established collaboration. Chances are somebody from PSU has already been to the site--whether faculty or student. So ask around and figure out who has been to the place you are going to visit. They may have some helpful advice that is catered to that specific site.
I can't stress how important it is to remain calm and patient throughout the process. Take a breath, something will turn up! Consider it your gateway into a really amazing experience. Hopefully, others will post suggestions in the comments sections if they have some experience looking for temporary housing abroad. I'm excited to share my experiences both in terms of logistics and research. In my next post, I'll focus on what to do once you get housing. ┬íHasta pronto! 

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Jorge, I'm glad you're doing so well! I am also grateful for the wonderful housing and look forward to joining you soon. Are you guys ready for us??

Thanks again for all of your help!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by JORGE RODRIGO VALDES KROFF published on April 1, 2011 7:04 AM.

PIRE Partners in the News: VL2 and Memory and Language Research Group was the previous entry in this blog.

APS Fellow Kroll Receives $2.8 Million from NSF to Study Bilingualism and the Brain is the next entry in this blog.

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