I honestly don’t know where to start. So much has happened past week, that I probably won’t even manage to describe it all.
Let me start with my new job. The lab is absolutely fabulous. I couldn’t wish for more, every experiment I could think of, is doable. That’s quite different from my old lab, where the equipment was partially outdated and money was always an issue. The core facilities are really good. Looks like I don’t have to make any basic materials myself, like I was used to. Instead, they have a basement where one can sneak into to get those things ready made. My colleagues are absolutely fabulous. They have been very helpful and seem incredibly nice. We already went out for a beer twice within a week! In January, three more will start, but thus far it’s a dream. I think I’ve been really lucky. The boss doesn’t see to be around much, which is OK for me, as I’m quite independent. I’ve plenty of ideas to work on and can structure my work. Not so sure how good this is for PhD students or less confident people, but I think it should be fine for me.
The supermarkets are also quite the experience for me. When paying, I’m used to being pushed out of the shop as quickly as possible, which means that the staff usually scans the items as fast as possible with you trying to put everything in your bags as fast as possible. Otherwise, it might drop… Here, they are incredibly relaxed and some even pack your bags for you?! I definitely have to get my mother over to see this as she works in a supermarket…
The traffic is a disaster. Seems like there is a big traffic jam into Oxford like all morning, until some time in afternoon when it switches and the outward traffic is stuck. Which means I definitely have to get a bike soon. Although the roads aren’t as good as I’m used to, it is a much better option than taking the bus. The buses are so slow in these traffic jams, that I even considered getting out and walking to work. So a bike it is.
Letting agencies are a necessary evil. I’ve found a flat, but it wasn’t fun. It’s just not transparent enough. When you ask them about a flat you’ve seen online, they mostly reply with “sorry, that one has been let already”. But then they do have a bunch of other apartments that aren’t visible online?! After quite a few fruitless phone calls, I ended up walking into as many of their offices as possible, until one of them showed me the flat I’m now renting!
Banks are way too random. To get a bank account here, most of them ask proof of ID and proof of address. Which, in my opinion, a one-year rental contract is. But the first bank I tried, turned me down because a contract isn’t acceptable as proof of address. So I got a letter from the University asking the bank to open a bank account for me, so that they can pay my salary. In this letter my address information was included. I tried another bank and was told this letter also isn’t good enough. I needed utility bills. Which comes earliest at the end of the month?! The fourth bank I tried told me I can open an account, but won’t get any debit or credit card with it. They couldn’t really explain what the use of such an account is… And then I walked into the fifth bank with a smile plastered onto my face and a big stack of papers ready for attack. “Your ID is enough to open a bank account, miss.” I could have cried. If only I had tried this one first!
There’s probably more I could bore you with, but I won’t. As a first impression, this should do! The conclusion of this slightly random and unorganised post is that I think that after getting through the inevitable initial struggles, Oxford will be quite a good place to spend a few years And now that the dust of moving is settling down, I should be able to post a bit more useful things on here soon.