Thursday, January 8, 2009

The second necessity upon arriving in the UK

In addition to food, the most important other basic human need is shelter. This is particularly important being that it has been quite cold out here recently -- dipping below zero in the last few days (zero Celsius that is. Well, the Brits think this is cold at any rate). I can't remember if I already blogged about the place I am renting. Oxford is a bit like NY or the bay area -- everyone wants to live there so real-estate is insanely expensive. The university understands this and has various systems in place to help faculty find appropriate accommodations. In my case, I am renting a place owned by the college for a very reduced rate. Unfortunately, the college owns only a few places and most of them are filled, so I only had the choice of one possible building which I then accepted.

The apartment (or house, or flat, I'm still not sure what to call it... terraced house (in American terms it is a 2FL 2BR 1BA attached row house with garden) is actually quite big by Oxford standards in terms of total floor space - but it is rather strangely set up so I'm not actually sure how I am going to make practical use of this space. The downstairs would be a terrific living/dining area if they removed the wall between the living and dining room. As it is, the living room and dining room are both much too small. Unfortunately, the wall is there and I have to figure out a way to live with it. To make up for the tiny living room, the bathroom is huge. You could play football in there (the American kind, not soccer. I don’t think there would be room for that).

So right now I am staying in this rather large house and I brought only four suitcases, so it is a bit sparse. Of course I shipped all my stuff from New Jersey, but in the meantime, I had to borrow a bed from the university until my stuff gets here next week. On the other hand, when all my stuff was all boxed up in NJ, it ended up being a whole lot of mostly junk (mostly books and clothing-that-was-only-barely-good-enough-to-keep). I was rather hoping that the transporting ship would sink and I could just collect the insurance and start over. Unfortunately, I was just told that the ship did make indeed it to the UK, and through customs and they will deliver it all next week. I didn't send a bed, so I'll have to go buy one this weekend.

The biggest disappointment of this apartment is that there is a washing machine but no dryer. This means either I will have to set up drying racks and lines (which is a pain, particularly since it tends to be humid here so nothing dries quickly) or take my stuff out to be laundered. After living without laundry machines for the last five years or so, i was looking forward to coming into the 20th century. Alas.

The location of my flat is really close to the college and the physics department, in a neighborhood known as Jericho, which looks really nice. There is a very fine pub right across the street. I could be a frequent guest (See above comment about gym).

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