Week 2: UK Integration

Greetings All,

I am still here it appears. 2 weeks deep into having a go at life in the UK. I don’t know if it feels like I’ve been here longer or not. My last month in Halifax was such a blur that I feel quite removed from anything that use to resemble my bearings. I am interested to see how long it will take for life to normalize.

I spent most of my 2nd week getting life sorted. First order of business was to find a place to live. I did manage to find a lovely little spot. It is a 3 story house with 5 rooms of which 4 are filled. The spaces are quite nice and my room is very spacious. I don’t really need that much room given the fact that I didn’t bring that much with me but it’s nice to have all that space to stretch out in! And my room has a chair in it! I mean I haven’t gotten around to sitting in it yet but it’s neat that it’s there. A fireplace too! Fortunately most apartments here come completely furnished!

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Other exciting tasks accomplished this week include signing a never ending series of forms for work, applying for a National Insurance number (the UK version of a SIN), opening a bank account and registering with a doctor! Compelling stuff. I am sorry to disappoint you but I think I will skip the majority of the details here.

This week also saw a continuation of the never ending dental saga I have been embroiled in over the past year. Since I arrived in the UK, I have had a pretty serious toothache. Additionally I wasn’t feeling a 100% and was experiencing some painful headaches. This was clearly not something I could ignore so I made an appointment to see a dentist. He relayed the happy news that I need a root canal! And that it was going to cost a fuck tonne! Oh how the exchange rate is ruining me! A root canal is needed when the roots in your teeth die and become infected (which explains why I haven’t been feeling so great). I am on a course of antibodies and already feel much better. And pain free! Keeping perspective, I have had a pretty good run in my first 2 weeks so I guess I can deal with a bit of bad news. Holy crow is it expensive though! I was tempted to just have the tooth pulled!

The highlight of my week was going out for a run with a local running group. The Almost Athletes. They seem like an enjoyable bunch. They run 4 to 5 times a week and it is a good opportunity to meet some folks and push my training a bit. There are so many races around. So many! The Cotswold is a very …. undulating area. Good thing that my years running around Halifax has prepared me for hills! Happy trails ahead!

I thought about making a separate entry about my observations of UK culture but I think I will just shoe horn some into this entry since this week was relatively uninteresting.

1) Fish and Chips: In a country made out of bars, fish and chips are a staple food. When you order fish and chips in Canada you are greeted with a healthy looking plate of golden brown. The Brits on the other hand toss some “mushy peas” into the mix to make the meal include something healthy. They aren’t really anything to write home about (note I am essentially writing home about them now) but I guess they make you feel better about your dinner which likely also included 3 to 8 pints.

2) Eating In or Taking Away?: These limely bastards say “take away” instead of “take out”! And they often charge you more to eat in!

3) Coffee and Baked Goods: Delicious. Europe in general have really perfected the coffee game. I am in the process of canvassing the wide variety of coffee shops in Cheltenham. I am yet to be disappointed.

4) The Weather: The weather in the UK has a reputation for being dreary and wet. Confirmed. But it has been about 15 degrees everyday so that’s something.

5) Peanut Butter: Well the Brits really fucked up peanut butter. First, it is pretty hard to find it. And when you do eventually find it it isn’t very good. I mean it’s better than nothing I guess but how can you fuck up peanut butter? You take peanuts and grind the shit out of them! Pretty simple. I would have thought they would of been able to figure that out. I guess not. No wonder the Empire has been in a constant state of decay over the last 100 years…

6) The Brits: In all seriousness, the people I have interacted with over my first 2 weeks have been uniformly wonderful. Top notch people. And my sarcasm seems to jive well with them! It is going to be a great year or two.

I start work next Wednesday. I guess Remembrance Day isn’t a holiday here… With all of my setting up life business handled, this gives me a few days to explore Cheltenham. Stay tuned!

Take care.
Matt

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3 thoughts on “Week 2: UK Integration

  1. Gorgeous place! The natural light is amazing. Sorry to hear about the tooth….dental problems in the first week….you’re a true brit already 😛

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  2. Your new place looks wonderful! Sorry about the root canal – I had one done a few years ago, and I can honestly say that it wasn’t TERRIBLE. The drugs began to wear off toward the end and it started to hurt, but it was my bank account that ended up hurting more than my mouth afterward. 😉

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