All good things must come to an end, and with the changing weather comes an ebb and flow of students in the Woods Hole community. Unfortunately, I am in the former since I will be leaving Saturday morning. For the next round of summer student fellows, consider some practical tips for living at Woods Hole in the summer:
- Program dates: most students arrive from mid May to mid June and leave sometimes in August. In terms of the pros and cons of arriving/leaving earlier vs later, I’ve found that arriving in the middle of the pack was fantastic because of it maximizes the amount of time spent with other SSFers. However, if I had to choose between arriving later or earlier, I’d choose later because of the availability of advice for living logistics/getting settled in your project from SSFers who have already been there for a few weeks. Having said that, it does get lonely towards the end of the summer when most cohorts start leaving/taking their end of August vacations
- Living tips: try to share supplies with roomates. The end of the summer not only brings me sadness in the friends that I will miss, but also at the dramatic amount of food and household supplies that are wasted by merely 30 people. A little bit of planning can save quite a bit of money down the road
- no worries about the lack of things to do in a small town. It never fails to amaze me how busy I’ve found myself with work and recreational activities, so much so that I haven’t even opened the GRE books that I lugged from Canada with high hopes of studying. I would suggest planning to take the GRE’s at another time rather than the summer, since the summer on the Cape is much more enjoyable outside or meeting the wonderful scientific community rather than reading GRE books
- many bikes are bought and left neglected since there are so many short-term visiting students in the summer. Ask around before purchasing one at your own expense
- do not be afraid to speak with other scientists about their research or offer to volunteer in other scientist’s labs to gain more experience. WHOI is a refreshingly welcoming place, and the scientists take time to speak to interested students about their research
- take time to make friends in this area. In addition to beautiful sailing trips they can take you on, the people are very kind and offer a potentially lasting network should you decide to return
- Travelling tip: consider avoiding purchasing a return ticket from Peter Pan (just the one-way from Boston is enough). i. you do not get much of a discount with a return purchase (I think one way is $32, while return is $56). ii. their customer service is terrible – you cannot return tickets, and could only exchange them for a fee. Tickets are also non-transferrable. iii. there are many people driving out of Woods Hole at the end of the summer and it is incredibly easy to arrange a ride, since the housing arrangement is somewhat flexible as well. Should I have known this, I would have saved a decent chunk of money that could have been spent towards other more justifiable purchases (such as spending time at the Kidd!)
My last sunset at Oyster Pond!
This was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I’ve met a very diverse and intelligent bunch of scientists, fell in love with the community here, and found that this is a wonderful place to pursue graduate studies.
I had just arrived over the weekend and am pleasantly surprised at how organized WHOI is at accommodating us. The security guard at check-in is on site 24/7 and ready to give you a ride to the Oyster Pond houses, where 30 SSFers, 2 guest students, and 16 graduate students will be residing this summer. I love this setup as encourages the SSFers to easily get to know each other and instantly immerse yourself in a group of interesting individuals. The residences are also surprisingly clean and spacious (but I may be biased since I live in a tiny apartment in downtown Toronto). Every house comes with a porch, huge living room, TV, two bedrooms, one bathroom, and holds four people. Since the Cape is a popular summer vacation location, the rent here is ridiculously high – our housing bill is $177/week, which translates into about $2800/month for this two-bedroom complex. Thankfully, WHOI covers this!
Cape Cod is absolutely lovely. It’s also extremely windy – I am pretty sure I have sand blown in every nook and cranny of my clothes/shoes, and can really use some of my Canadian fall clothes right now. Nevertheless, the air smells of salt, the scenery is beautiful, and everyone seems to be enjoying their vacation homes in the Cape. For what a Torontonian is used to, the people are surprisingly friendly (greeting everyone you pass by on the streets) and the prices for staples are decently cheap (another fellow Canadian and I were gushing about our dollar’s purchasing power here relative to Canada). The closest town is Falmouth, about an hour’s walk away or 20 minutes by bike.
Falmouth’s Main Street
Beautiful summer homes abound
There are several settling in events planned for this week, including an orientation, housing check-in, making WHOI student cards, and for international students, a check-in with the international committee and an opportunity to rent a bike for only $15 for the three months! Once again, WHOI is very accommodating and the program is thoroughly-designed to make our time here as comfortable as possible. Looking forward to what the summer will unfold.
The joys of summer research often entail subletting your apartment, occasionally at odd times. Since your summer semester may be longer than SSF program dates (eg. University of Toronto’s is from May to August), finding a sublet from June to August may be difficult. But no fear, Kijiji and your university’s housing portal is here. And if you’re really desperate, Craigslist is always another option. Although you’ll meet some interesting characters along the way, (including a few of whom you’re sure that, if you choose them to be subletters, your roommates who’d have to endure them through the summer would probably stab you in your first night back – eg. my first two prospective sublettees for our humble student-sized abode: 1. girl with a medium-sized dog [we stated that we have a cat] and 2. middle-aged single mother with newborn [I felt horrible for turning her down, but since when does student housing with two roommates imply the ability to accommodate newborns?]), eventually someone awesome with perfect timing will come along the way if you sufficiently advertise.
Here are some tips for looking for the “one”:
- take lots of pictures during daylight to include in your ad
- be diligent about topping up your ad by creating new ones and deleting the old ones every week or so (as an example, my ad was bumped to the 6th page within a day on Kijiji!)
- be honest regarding expectations and who you’re looking for, unless you enjoy wading through emails from people that you’d never sublet to
- during an open house, keep in mind that you are interviewing them just as much as they are selecting for a place – ask questions
- be considerate to your roommates (if you live with people). They will ultimately be the ones living with your sublet. Invite them to meet the prospective sublets and include them in the decision-making process
- always take first and last month’s rent up-front with a signed roommate agreement before stopping your search. Summer subletting is notoriously subject to spontaneous changes and this avoids last-minute backouts, which may leave you stranded
- keep a damage deposit, usually of a few hundred dollars, if you are also providing a furnished room. Subletting usually runs smoothly, but it is a good insurance against possible accidents
An example of tip #1. Looks airy and heavenly, no? Who would have guessed that my room is only 8′ by 11′?