Gabrielle's having a ball in Chicago

Gabrielle Ball, from Mitchelton QLD, is in the middle of her Work and Travel USA program. She’s currently living in Chicago and has some useful advice to help make life easier for people looking for accommodation in the States.

“Things have pretty busy for me over here pretty much since I arrived. I have travelled over here with my partner who is the recipient of a scholarship to the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University in Chicago.

When we arrived we enlisted the help of an apartment finding service as we had no idea where to live, which areas were good, which areas are best when dependent on public transport and the like. We were able to sign a lease three days after arriving in the country! I highly recommend similar services to others travelling to the USA if they are available. Apartment finding services here are free of charge as well!

Something else that I highly recommend after arriving in the USA is getting a State ID card. I have discovered that passports are not acceptable forms of identification. I found that I couldn't even hire a DVD without a form of ID issued by the United States. I didn't (and still don't) feel comfortable about getting a US Driver's Licence (most states require both written and practical driving tests before issuing a licence). I was able to obtain a State ID card from the Department of Motor Vehicles. In order to obtain a State ID card, applicants must first have their Social Security Number.

At present the people of Chicago are celebrating the election win of Barack Obama. He has very strong ties to Chicago and his historic victory has become a victory for Chicago as well.

These are the best pieces of advice that I can offer you from my experience thus far.

I'm also really looking forward to seeing it snow here in Chicago. The last few days have been only a few degrees above freezing so the snow can't be too far away!”