Excellent posts all around. ((((((((((margnurse))))))), I 'm very sorry you had such a bad experience your first time out. But I must fault your agency for a lot of this. As a new traveler it was their job to help you with being ready for your interview. Most of the time the phone interview is a causal one. And I usually can get a feel for what is what when I talk to that person.
Sometimes you can't, as they can be pretty good at giving great snow jobs. And yes Zoe was correct, your agency should have after a call from you about the apt. not being available to you, should have called around while you went and got yourself a cup or coffee, or a bite to eat. Found you a hotel, paid for it or reimburesed you for the cost, and for your food!
The agency I work for recently did this for a traveler, after the person who made the travel arrangements quit, and told them they had taken care of everything. Well the traveler ended up staying in hotel just a block from the hospital, with all the amenities, and the agency paid for her meals.
I can understand you taking a step back from travel after this experience. But believe me, even with 10yrs of travel experience, I had to learn by trial and error. I'm now going to an assignmnet that I might end up stayiing at. But only because I'm ready to settle down, and put down roots. But if it turns out not to be the place for me, I have no problems with continuing to travel until I do find what I want. Also I have had the apartment manager leave the key in an apartment before with no problem. I think that happened on about 3 assignments at least.
I sincerely wish you all the best in your new position. But if it proves not to be what you want, I would suggest giving travel another chance with a different agency. If I can ever help...please don't hesistate to ask..