Week One

I’m here! Actually, I’ve been here for a week, but everything’s been super overwhelming and I haven’t had a spare moment to give y’all an update.  Boy, Disney’s pretty crazy.  But crazy in the best possible way, of course!

I moved into my apartment last Monday.  The check in process was quick and easy, which was nice, but (unfortunately) I was placed in a two bedroom apartment with five roommates.  This means three people to a room.  I’d done my very best to avoid this scenario.  When signing up for housing, you listed all your different housing options from most desired to least desired.  I put every combination of two people to a room, regardless of the housing complex they were located in, at the top of my list.

From what I can surmise, the reason I got stuck with one of my last choices for housing is because I wasn’t that picky.  Ironic, right?  I was fine with random roommates since I thought that might give me a better chance of getting the housing unit I wanted.  But, everyone I talked to who found people they wanted to room with in advance got nicer housing.

What I didn’t know was that some of the housing units here have people checking out and checking in at different points in the year.  Not everyone moves into their apartments at the same time.

So, when I walked into a decidedly lived in place (located in Chatham Square, which is actually pronounced “Chattam”), I was confused.  There were bags of food all over the couch and the dining room tables and the counters, dirty dishes in the sink, laptops and books on the coffee table…  Did I have the wrong room number?

But no, there was a sign on one of the doors that said “Welcome!”  Inside was one empty bed.  The top bunk, of course.  No one ever wants the top bunk.

As it turned out, all my roommates are ICPs, or international students in the Disney College Program.  I think this is awesome.  There are two girls from Africa, one from Italy, one from France, and one from Norway.  A girl moved out of their place and since I was alone, I simply took her spot.

While I enjoy hearing about my roommates’ cultures and they are all super nice, I kind of wish I had the experience of moving into an apartment with a bunch of other newbies.  All my roomies already have their own lives, their own groups of friends, they’ve already been working for a while, etc.  (I think it’s kind of funny that most of the ICPs work at Epcot in their respective country.)  I can’t really hang out with any of them, so I had to go out of my way to meet new people.

This was fine with me.  I was up to the challenge!  I came to Disney to get out of my comfort zone, after all.

This brings me to another problem: because the CPs in my apartment have come and gone on a rotating basis, I don’t know the last time this place has had a good, deep clean.  If everyone moves out all at once, the tenants have to scrub the whole apartment from top to bottom in order to get it ready for the next batch of CPs.  That’s not the case, at least not where I’m staying.

Remember how I said I arrived to find a ton of food strewn everywhere?  That was because our place has roaches and the girls had to move their food out of the cabinets so the bug guy could come spray.

Ew.

I haven’t eaten in a week.  I refuse to go near the kitchen.  Once I walked over to put my dirty coffee mug in the sink, and a roach was scuttling over the dishes.

Granted, this is partially our fault.  Before I got here there was a ton of dirty dishes in the sink and multiple bags of trash.  I got the place back in order, though, and hopefully if we’re all a little bit cleaner the bugs will find another apartment to terrorize.

I was complaining about this to some people at the bus stop and another girl chimed in.

“Oh, yeah, when my roommates and I moved into our apartment in Patterson, we decided to clean it.  We tried moving the fridge to sweep underneath it, and hundreds of cockroaches scuttled out.  The exterminator came to spray, and immediately he went right back to the front desk and declared our apartment unlivable.  We had to move buildings, and Disney had to pay for us to wash our laundry because the roaches lay eggs in everything.”

Now, keep in mind that this is just a story I heard and I have no idea if it’s true or not.  I’m not trying to defame Disney’s good name.  And most of the other places I’ve seen have been pretty nice.  I guess I just got the short end of the stick this time.

I do think it’s kind of ridiculous how much rent is.  It’s about $100 a week for me, which means between the six of us we pay $600 a week.  That comes out to $2400 a month for a roach-infested two bedroom apartment.  Orlando is expensive, but not that expensive.

Other than my housing arrangements, I love it here so far.  The people are nice and friendly, I get free access to all the parks (and I’ve visited almost all of them so far, except for the water parks), and I’ll be working at Pecos Bill’s Cafe in the Magic Kingdom!  It’s basically a cowboy-themed fast food place in Frontierland.  I know Magic Kingdom is the busiest of all the parks, but I’m glad that I’ll be in the center of the action.  Plus, you get a tiny bit of a raise if you work in MK.

Today I had my first day of training, which was basically eight hours of safety videos, food prep instructionals, and lectures on Disney’s core values.  Nothing too bad (I was thankful just to be in the air conditioning) but it was very difficult not to fall asleep.

I’m champing at the bit to get out there and actually start work.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the program from my fellow CPs (last night on the bus, there were two guys from custodial who didn’t have a single nice thing to say about Magic Kingdom), but I’m still confident that I’ll enjoy it.  I like people, I like interacting with them, and I hope I have lots and lots of chances to brighten someone’s day.

Even in the short time I’ve spent exploring the parks, all the employees are so nice and friendly.  With luck, all the guests will think the same thing about me!

More later,

V

P.S.  Disclaimer:  None of my views in any of these blog posts reflect the views of Disney in any way whatsoever.  (Please don’t fire me, Disney!)

P.P.S.  Three of my roommates know that I’m gay, and they seem fine with it.  I feel really safe being open about my sexuality with Disney, since they’re such a big ally.  I’m lucky to work for an inclusive company!

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