Wow. So… so much for avoiding the massive posts. To be fair, I’ve been quite busy so haven’t had time to take things as they come and write them down.
To be honest, most of the last few days hasn’t been particularly interesting – looking at untold numbers of flats in all parts of the city. I guess the one plus side to flat hunting is that you get to see the city in which you are living. Because I don’t think I ever would have ended up in Hackney on my own (and trust me, you wouldn’t either). Tuesday through today was pretty much full-time flat hunting, with a slight break to pick up a job. In London, it’s very common to flatshare. This means you live in a house with other people you don’t know (at first) and it’s really hit or miss what you end up with. There are flats from groups of all students who have group dinners and all live in the sitting room to groups of various aged professionals who live in a place without any sitting room at all and never see each other. And that’s just the good range of options. You can use your imagination. In any case, I’ve seen quite the range.
The best part of the week was when, on Wednesday night, I had dinner at the home of this absolutely wonderful woman named Kim and her husband. Kim is a good friend of my uncle and aunt from when she met my uncle while they were traveling the world themselves (like I’m doing now!). They’ve stayed friends and Kim was kind enough to cook me my first home-cooked meal while in London (and what a relief that was after so long having eatten out!). It was a very fabulous and a bit surreal experience. I say surreal only in that on top of the delicious food and the champagne she was very liberal with (having found out it was my birthday only a few days previous), I had mentioned I was going to the Dierks Bentley concert later that summer and she insisted putting him on the digital radio during dinner. So, I was just the slightest bit tipsy from champagne, in London, with people who knew my family but I had just met, eating a delicious homecooked meal, talking about classic literature, and listening to an American country music star. I have to say, it was fantastic.
The only thing this week that could compare is the fact that tonight, after four solid days of searching, nearly 20 flats and some pretty dodgy experiences, I have finally found a flat. I had been out all day and had come back to Mimi’s place to relax for a bit and have a quick dinner before my last look of the night. I was so disappointed in not having found a good place yet, and exhausted after a week of running about the city, I almost bailed on the last viewing but finally dragged myself out to go see.
The flat is owned by a landlord who lives out of the city but currently inhabited by a 24 year old girl named Ann who works as a radio broadcast producer for the BBC. She runs a Girl Scouts troop, loves Doctor Who and Harry Potter, is very tidy, a bit of a techno-geek, despises smoking, and has been nearly as panicky about finding a flatmate as I have been about finding a flat. I planned to stop in for five minutes then run back to relax and ended up staying for two and a half hours chatting with Ann. I’m moving in tomorrow.
The flat is in a perfect location, in Hammersmith, which is a neighborhood on the west side of the city, north of the river. It’s a really posh neighborhood and almost all residental families but with a really fantastic scattering of shops and pubs and restaurants in the area too. It’s going to be about a 45 min commute to work, but that’s about standard for the city (some places were a lot worse!!) and it’s very reasonably priced given the area. I have my own double room, we share a (huge!) bathroom and there’s a giant sitting area with attached kitchen and eating area. The flat is a bit plain at the moment but we can decorate it as we like.
I’m so so happy and I’m really glad I went with my gut instict and agreed to move in (and to keep looking before!). It just feels like the right move and by this time tomorrow I’ll be in my own place! In the morning, I’m going to do a bit of shopping for proper bed linins and such but other than that, it’s all furnished! Ann is actually out all weekend so I have the flat to myself to get settled and prepare for work next week.
Hopefully over the weekend I’ll have some time to related some of the funnier stories of my flat hunt experience but for now, I’m happy to have someplace safe, comfortable and best of all, friendly to live! I’m getting well-earned night’s rest.
Two weeks and I’m set with a job and a flat. How ace am I?
Alright, still homeless. But… I have a job! I am [unofficially as the paperwork isn’t take care of yet but will be soon] employed!
I’ve been chatting for a while now with a guy named Alex Will who is the cofounder of a site called Spoonfed and playing around with the idea of me working with them and today we basically decided on it! They seem like such fun. It’s a small internet startup created by these two LSE students while they were in school. It gives London citizens the chance to view all upcoming events in tons of different genres, and get customized event suggestions based on their interests. So… all of you people who thought I had gotten out of the event planning side of things, I just can’t escape!
I’m going to be doing marketing and PR for them and I’m basically the only person working on that full time (it’s a really small group, and Alex and his cofounder do a lot of it, but they need to deal with the business development side as well and the financial and executive stuff. The rest of the group is mainly editorial staff to write the event articles). Because I’m really working on it myself, I’ve got a ton of freedom to try out tons of different methods and since they’re small, any sort of work could be helpful. It’ll be a fantastic learning experience and I hope I can be a valuable asset to them! It seems like such a fun group.
Alright, it’s really time to find a place to live now.
Super tired after a day of house-hunting. Eh, so so effort – better than before but still nada. Hopefully a more positive update on the housing hunt tomorrow!
This has been a weekend of museums! Oxford seems to be full of them and, best of all, most of them are free or very inexpensive for students (shh, don’t tell, I’m still using my Colby ID card because it doesn’t have my graduation date printed). On Sunday morning, I took a tour of the Oxford Castle, a structure built in the early eleventh century and has been used as a prison since then (it just stopped housing prisoners in 1996 and at that point it was opened to the public for the first time). I took a tour that led us up to the top of the tower which over looked the whole city – clearly at one point in history it was used to keep an eye out for invading armies but yesterday it offered a great vantage of the Oxford business school to which I’ll be applying in a few years. We then went down into the crypt, supposedly the most haunted place in Oxford and got to view the old (and newer) jail cells. After that, I got to go on a special tour (they’re only running it a few months and only on the weekends) of a new area of the castle they’re just beginning to excavate.
After the castle tour, I went over to the Ashmolean museum, another Victorian style museum with a little of everything. It had some of the most eclectic collections I’ve ever seen including a wall of fob watches, a wing full of Egyptian artifacts, a room of porcelain painted plates, and a hall of master painters including Monet, Picasso, and Cézanne. I ended up spending a lot more time there than I expected and it was getting a bit late in the afternoon by the time I left to walk through Christ Church College (the Harry Potter college) but didn’t feel like paying the L5 entrance fee to go inside a few of the buildings so walked around the meadow and down to the water where there were hundreds of students enjoying the nice weather (the weather has been spectacular this weekend).
I was quite tired so after some more Indian food for dinner I had an early night getting ready to check out of my B&B and head back to London the next day.
Today, I started off by going back to the Oxford Museum of Natural History and Pitt-Rivers Museum again because I hadn’t really had time to view them properly when I visited the Friday before. I ended up spending the entire morning there and still felt like I hadn’t see most of what they had to offer. It was great! The Pitt-Rivers museum had an exhibit on body art and appearance and covered all styles of bodily adornment from all over the world. It was really interesting and they had some very unique artifacts.
After that, I had lunch with Mikki and Sophie, the girls who took care of me on my birthday, and we ate in this cute little coffeeshop in Gloucester Green Square. They’ve been so nice to spend so much time with me when they have finals this week! After lunch, I said goodbye to my new friends and headed to the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments which was such a strange little building! I thought it was going to be a proper museum but it was a side room off of the Oxford music buildings and I had to ring a bell to be let in. It was a fantastic collection, though, and there were some really beautiful old instruments.
Now, I’m back on the Oxford Tube, heading into London. I’m spending the night with my mom’s friend Mimi again but I really hope I have a place to live before the end of the week! I’m going to take this week to get settled with house and job for the next three months. Let’s see how that goes! Besides, there’s plenty of museums to keep me busy in London alone! 🙂
What a fantastic last few days! I’ve done so much fun stuff that I’m going to try to bullet point the last few days so this doesn’t become another mile-long post.
– Got off bus in (gorgeous) city centre and walked the 1.5 miles over to my B&B (a task made more difficult by the giant backpacking backpack I had – I must have looked ridiculous!) and checked in, cleaned up and ditched my bags.
– Headed back into the city proper to explore, ended up walking around for over five hours and wow, this city is beautiful! I wandered through the old Bodleian library area (the library itself was closed but we could go in the courtyard) and saw the iconic Radcliffe Camera:
– Continued my walk through the city and found myself at the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt-Rivers Museum. The MoNH was fairly standard – dinos, bird replicas, stuffed animals, and had a lot of cool specimens however the really fantastic bit was the Pitt-Rivers museum. It was arranged like a traditional Victorian era collection hall with rows and rows and rows of shelves of international “curiosities” from all over the globe. They had everything from sewing needles to string instruments to shrunken heads. It was impossible to even get an idea of a small part of the collection because there was so much there. Hopefully I’ll swing back today or tomorrow to continue looking.
– Started to make my way back towards my B&B and cut through the Oxford park where I saw the large cricket pitch. If there’s a match on today I might try to watch for a bit, although I don’t have the slightest idea how cricket is played.
– Had an early dinner at an Indian restaurant and then crashed at about 9:30 and slept for 10 hours after my busy day!
Yesterday was my birthday (22! Yikes!) and I was perfectly prepared to spend it the same way as the day before, sort of exploring on my own (seriously, this whole trip is like, the world’s biggest birthday present) but I had the treat of meeting with Mikki and Sophie, two girls that my friend Laura met while studying abroad at Oxford and who had come to Colby to visit. I had spent they day with them when they visited at Colby and I was going to have morning coffee with them. They ended up showing me all around their college (Worcester) which was great because it’s exam time and most of the colleges are closed to public viewing and taking me on a tour up the tall church tower which was approximately three thousand steps up (alright, so like, 150) but at the top looked out over the whole city. It was amazing! I have tons of pictures which I’ll be uploading soon. I mentioned that it was my birthday and they really generously offered to make me a cake and celebrate with me that night! I let them get back to their studies and spent the rest of the day as follows:
– Went to the Botanical Gardens, which were stunning. They were first created to house plants used for medical experiments but now have plant species from all over the world in really nice gardens.
– Headed over to Christ Church college, one of the filming sites and set inspirations for Harry Potter but the college was closed to visitors so I couldn’t get in. Instead, I went in the picture gallery, a site on Christ Church that houses dozens of really fantastic Renaissance art from some incredibly important artists.
– Made my way to the Oxford Museum of Modern Art but it was closed while they set up a new exhibit – guess I’ll just have to come back to Oxford in a few weeks!
– Checked out some of the shopping areas, specifically looking for something cute to wear that night when I met Sophie and Mikki’s friends but gave up as by the mid afternoon, the crowds had gotten overwhelming!
– Headed back to the B&B for some relaxation and to get away from the crowds.
– Got an early dinner at a well reviewed sea food restaurant. My first Fish and Chips in Britain!
– Went back to the B&B for something I’d been looking forward to all week – Doctor Who!! I finally got to watch my first episode live and it was fantastic :). Had way too much fun watching and am really disappointed there are only four more episodes this season!
– Walked over to Mikki and Sophie’s college where they had made me a cake, complete with candles and had gathered their friends (who can resist free cake?). It was so much fun spending time with them, they were all so nice and friendly and we got along really well. After cake and Pims (the Oxford drink of choice apparently – consumed with lemonade and strawberries), we went to a traditional English pub where I got hard cider (a traditional English drink) and continued to make fun of one another’s countries until I had to catch the last bus back to my B&B.
Wow, so much for keeping this shorter! I’ll just have to start updating more frequently or doing less.
I think I’ll updated more :).