Travel | When Your AirBnB Sucks!

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Traveling to the Dominican Republic had been long over due. On the agenda since 2015, on November 18 I was finally making my way to Santo Domingo. Just a disclaimer though, the above picture is just for visual appeal, because my real air bnb sucked! 

I admit, I absolutely love the idea of the AirBnb app, its innovative, easy to use and offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves directly into the local lifestyle and culture. Nothing against the big chain hotels and resorts, but when I travel, I want a genuine experience and not all the over priced bells and whistles that mask your destination’s reality and beautiful grittiness.

While preparing to arrange a reservation to Santo Domingo for 9 nights and 10 days, I probably spent three weeks filtering through rooms looking for decent, clean accommodation at affordable rates. Keeping in mind that I was traveling out of the country for my surgical appointment with one of the best breast reduction surgeons in the region, Dr. Mallol, I had to adhere to my planned budget for accommodation which was around $22 – $30 bucks a night. I eventually, decided to book a quaint little one-bedroom apartment for my mom and I to share which cost us $220USD for our entire stay in Santo Domingo. Judging by the pictures, it wasn’t anything fancy, just decent and comfortable enough for my stay. Once I have a clean comfortable bed, air condition and wifi, I’ll be satisfied. 

Prior to leaving New York, our host and I exchanged conversations about her apartment, and the purpose of my visit. Having been informed about the reason for my trip to Santo Domingo she became concerned about my dirtying her sheets and towels. Apparently, according to her, she had had a bad experience with a guest who stayed in the apartment who also had surgery. Understanding her concerns I promised in advance to be very careful not to damage any of her property. 

After my tediously draining 4-hour flight, I was finally on my way to my Airbnb, I had never been so excited to just crash into bed and sleep. Our host was very polite and she spoke English really well too. Opening the door to the apartment she began mentioning–as if she had only just remembered, “Oh, we are in a electricity controlled district. The power shuts off every day for a couple hours.” I wasn’t too bothered, although it didn’t concern me until it actually happened. 

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The next morning at about 10am the power shut off, and with that we had no air condition, no wifi, no sanity! The room became so humid and clustered that my mom sat out on the porch until the power came back on. My second day in the country and I’m getting the true experience of life in the Dominican Republic. I just wished she had mentioned this in her AirBnB ad. It’s ironic how one problem brought light to all the things that was wrong in the apartment. 

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Apart from the daily power loss, our host also chose not to provide sheets or towels. How in the world can you host a guest at your home and not give them sheets or towels? We also didn’t have hot water in the shower, and this wasn’t due to the power loss, the hot water didn’t work period! I know I said that I liked experiencing my trips in all it’s authenticity, but this was a little to real for me! At least she was courteous enough to have the maintenance come to try to fix the water heater. 

crocAnd I say ‘try’ because yet still on the fourth day of our stay we still didn’t have hot water. Imagine being hot and sticky with no air condition while also being to scared to take a shower in the icy cold water. We ended up having to boil pans of water to bathe which my mother hated greatly. 

When the going gets tough the tough gets going! On the fifth day yet another problem came up, the wifi stopped working. Our trip was beginning to suck, suck really bad! I was extremely disappointed. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions but I was beginning to like our host lesser and lesser with each passing day.

Not sure if this was just a way for her to make a quick buck, but the business of hospitality management isn’t for everyone. Taking on the responsibility of being a host to foreign visitors should be taken seriously, after all I did pay cold, hard cash. Had I just been staying there for free I wouldn’t complain. Shouldn’t there be certain standards that these hosts adhere to? I totally understand being in an electricity controlled district, it’s really not her fault, however hosts need to be held accountable for their integrity and honesty on their AirBnB ads. She could have inserted a disclaimer explaining the  true conditions of her apartment. I get it, it would probably affect potential guests interests, but you can’t advertise bread and cheese sandwiches and only serve bread! 

It all became a little too overwhelming, I had to check out of her sham of a lodging earlier than planned if I wanted to maintain my sanity. I contacted AirBnB for a refund for the balance of my reservation. I did appreciate though that our host wasn’t resistant and aggressive about our decision to leave. 

dreams-la-romana-resort-and-spa-23152457-1505313478-ImageGalleryLightboxLargeI definitely still stand by what I say, I always hope to have an authentic experience when I travel but I also like to know in advance what I’m getting myself into. So I guess when your AirBnb sucks you may find yourself having to upgrade to the fancy shmancy perks that I claim to not prefer, yet I will admit that perks aren’t so bad after all. Room service, breakfast buffet, housekeeping with clean fresh sheets and towels–I think I could get used to luxury traveling. Although, the last minute change of plans did put a major dent in my budget. Four nights and five days at the W&P Hotel cost us about $490USD, but when you consider all the carefree benefits, its a cost that’s worth affording. Bare in mind, I did say worth ‘affording’, because why stretch your budget if you’re going to go back home broke? 

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Who knows, maybe on my next adventure I will spring for the bells and whistles in advance. I really love traveling and I hope it’s something I could incorporate into my life at least once a year. Next destination on my bucket list is Costa Rica! 

Senior Year | Fall Midterm Jitters

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So I am finally a senior! It’s been five long years and I am so ready to cross that finish line. This year was supposed to be smooth sailing, I’d planned to finally have a social life, go parties, make friends, go out on dates and everything fun. Oh boy how was I fooling myself. As an English major I’m just stuck reading books and writing papers all day. I’m finding myself working overtime to get my gpa up after a horrible first year at Queens College.

My dedication throughout my first two years at community college rewarded me with my AA degree in Literature and Writing Arts and a 3.4  gpa but sadly life at a small school like Borough of Manhattan Community College was nothing life at Queens College. The classes are bigger, the work load is significantly heavier and the professors are less likely to make accommodations for the everyday circumstances of life. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t assholes but I’d wished someone would have warned me that things were gonna be so different.

Last year I when I started school at QC, I wanted to be involved on campus, I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself, I wanted to be a sorority girl! I thought it would have been a great way to make friends and build life long connections, someone should have also told me that Greek Life, given my age, personality and circumstances, wasn’t the way to go. I was a 24-year old pledge among bubbly playful 18 and 19 year olds but I figured that some way, some how we could still build a bond beyond the constraints of age. Wrong again! I was able to become acquainted with a few of the girls, I had a mom, a big and a twin of whom I was happy to get to know and love but after being unable to afford to pay dues, I saw our friendship fade away. I never became a sister but at least I thought the girls in my pledge class would still be willing to be my friend but, you guessed it, wrong! I was so disappointed, and looking back now, I’m disappointed in myself that I allowed that situation to affect my mood and also my gpa. I even tried to pledge again in the spring when I was more prepared financially but, they didn’t give me a bid, denied! I thought at least I would get a bid because they knew me and we did get to build some kind of connection, but maybe paying for friends wasn’t the way to go.

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It’s fall again, and no, I’m not pledging but I did join the yearbook club and I have been trying to be present at meetings however the schedule of a working college student isn’t as free as the average college kid. I can’t believe it’s almost midterm of my senior year already and the jitters are here too. I hate to admit it but I have been sucking up and kissing ass lately. I need these As! Do you know that you need at least a 2.0 gpa to graduate? Having a 1.7 gpa and being on academic probation really puts the odds against me but fortunately there’s a great possibility that my two INC grades  from the spring may be a bitter sweet opportunity to push my gpa over the borderline. It’s not going to be easy but I am determined to get all As this semester. My math isn’t all that great, but if my calculations are correct, if I get at least three As this semester and 3 As next semester I will be able to graduate with at least a 3.0, not too shabby for a girl who spent both of her entire junior and senior years on academic probation right?

Hope without work yields no results so I need to be consistent in my efforts toward my academic success. Although it seems like I may never get the oh so amazing college experience that I’ve always wanted, I value my long term success way more than a few shallow friendships and frat parties.

The Daily Post | Launch

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What do you want to be when you grow up? Every kid is probably asked this question a few times throughout his childhood long before he even has to start making direct decisions in pursuit of his dream. It’s quite normal for a person’s foresight to change throughout the different stages in his life. There’s our kindergarten fantasies, elementary and middle school curiosities, high school dreams, college goals and then were expected to have our life’s plans.

The average college freshman enrolls with an undeclared major, relatively undecided about what career he wants to pursue. Maybe after taking his rudimentary college courses, by the time he is a sophomore, he should be able to make a fair guess about what journey his life’s path involves. Although, as a senior in college I’m still not too sure about where my life is going. As an English major/Studio Art minor, I was leaning toward journalism and editing however, after working in an after school program, I gained interest in education. I could see myself motivating and inspiring young minds like Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers, but then again I’d have to go back to graduate school for education certification, not impossible but surely quite costly.

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Since I’ll be graduating in the spring, by now you’d think I’d be preparing for internships, and I am, after all the purpose of this blog is to create a portfolio, yet I still find myself applying to internships within the education field. Can I be an English teacher by day, Essence Magazine columnist by night? Is it possible to be efficient and successful in two careers simultaneously?

Just like NASA’s largest rocket of all time, set for it’s 2018 launch, designed to take astronauts further into space than ever before, I too have my own 2018 launch to prepare for after I graduate. For anyone, like myself, who can’t seem to define a clear path to follow, it is imperative that we work extra hard to gain the accomplishments we desire. Put in that overtime! We have to work twice as hard to launch ourselves as far as possible into the magical realm of success and happiness that we’ve been fantasizing about since childhood.

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Success isn’t made overnight! A lot of college students fall into the post graduation syndrome trap due to lack of planning. Its quite easy to fall off the hype of being a college grad into the pits of unemployment and frustration. Thankfully, many colleges offer workshops, seminars, job fairs and career days for their students, some of which are exclusive to upcoming graduates–where you’d find the most opportunities to help with devising strategies to approaching internships and jobs.

Start applying to internships and jobs you see yourself having after graduation during your senior year. Although most jobs may require that you must be a college graduate, be sure to create a telling resume and cover letter expressing your experience, knowledge and favorable attributes. Be assertive and confident, yet willing and humble in your cover letter describing your drive and eagerness to gain hands on experience. Even though you may not get a response every time, some employers admire proactive applicants and they may even offer you an interview.

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Practice makes perfect! Many websites have generic sample interview questions that you can use to practice. With consistent practice answering these questions in detail paired with some research about the company or industry to which you are applying you’d be able to gain confidence and it would also help relax those silly interview jitters.

So far, I have been to two interviews for positions within education. One interview went extremely well, but I couldn’t land it just yet. Although I had the experience and recommendations, I didn’t have the necessary teacher’s assistant certification. My most recent interview though went horribly wrong, the complete opposite of the first. I had the qualifications, yet I didn’t have the appropriate experience. Nonetheless, since it was a group interview, I did get to meet some great people and learn about their different experiences throughout their careers working with children.

I have not been discouraged, and as I continue to seek out journalism internships, I am determined to publish articles on my blog nurturing my writing style as well as building my audience as I prepare for my 2018 launch into success.

The Daily Post | Launch