Calah McQuarters, MBA'23 headshot

Calah McQuarters, MBA’23

At the time I was accepted to Heller, I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was born and raised in Tulsa but moved in 2017 to attend my undergraduate university in Washington DC. In March 2020, like many people around the world, the coronavirus pandemic brought me back home from college to finish my junior and senior year on zoom. While I enjoyed living with my parents again and taking advantage of free groceries, post-graduation I was eager to figure out what the next season of life looked like away from home. First, I made a plan: work for one year, then start grad school. The end. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, where I wanted to live, or how I was going to get there, but I knew my plan and I was determined to see it through. So, when I received my acceptance letter from Heller on April 1st, two questions were answered. I knew I would be studying for a Social Impact MBA, and I knew I would be moving my life to Boston, Massachusetts. However, those two answered questions raised so many more. Where was I going to live? How do I even find an apartment? What do I need? Why are utilities not included and so expensive?!

And thus began the tumultuous, emotional, exciting, and draining journey towards August 12th, the day I arrived in Massachusetts to sign my first ever lease on an apartment. I will sprinkle words of advice as I detail this journey, but please remember this experience is different for everyone. I have heard the transition for some was seamless, while for others it was less than pleasant to say the least. 

I began looking for an apartment in the greater Boston area in February. Now, if you’re following along, you will remember I didn’t get accepted to Heller until April 1st, but I knew if I was to be accepted, I would need to be ahead of the curve. Having said that, I was definitely a little too far ahead. Any place I called, emailed, or messaged on Apartments.com said the same thing: “We’re looking for tenants to move in around June 1.” I wasn’t planning on moving until late July at the earliest, so this quickly dashed my dreams of finding an apartment fast and checking that off my to do list. (1) Start looking for an apartment a couple months in advance, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t find something immediately. Good things come in time! 

As I said before, I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a nice 2 bed 1 bath apartment (my exact criteria) cost no more than $1100 max (utilities included!). Armed with this knowledge, I began my search for an apartment with the same general expectations. My bubble was quickly busted. Not only did I need to adjust expectations for rent and utilities, but also for other necessities I had been taking for granted in the warmth of my parents’ home, such as groceries, gas, or fun activities (those are important!). (2) When looking into a graduate program, also look at expenses related to living in surrounding areas and take note of what adjustments you need to plan for in advance (eg. will you need to travel by car or is public transportation available). 

Fortunately for me, I convinced my sister to come along for the ride of graduate school with me, so I had already found my roommate. Check! However, in our excitement, dreaming of our new life together not far off in the distance, we may have dreamed a little too big and not quite practically enough. We spent entirely too much time at Target, Walmart, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ross, and Burlington in the month before moving to Massachusetts. Our list of “needs” very clearly and quickly expanded to a list of wants and that is how we ended up with a key bowl that now holds potatoes. (3) When thinking about what you will need after moving, stick to your needs! There are lots of opportunities to purchase your wants when you get to where you’re going. Targets are everywhere. This will also make the process of packing and unpacking so much less stressful. Also, take advantage of second hand if that’s your thing. I can definitely thank Facebook Marketplace for my couch and coffee table. 

August 10th, my sister and I began our three-day journey across 1,500 miles in a 10-foot U-Haul towing a car headed towards a new experience. This journey, much like our overall journey, was full of fun memories, hangry moments, exhaustion, and lots of coffee. And it was worth every second. Living, working, and studying in the Boston area has been a dream come true. The people are nice (mostly). The food is good (mostly). There is always something to explore (after getting through traffic). And life overall is good (and sometimes stressful). (4) Whatever your experience, make sure you take moments to pause and reflect on all that you have learned to make it to now. Don’t be discouraged. The moment is coming when life overall will be good (and still probably a little stressful).