Adjusting well

So far so good in the UK. Of course I am staying with family which makes things a bit easier I would imagine. Yesterday had us out at a birthday party for a friend of my aunt and uncle, and the night before was more birthday drinks for yet another friend. Friday also was Spa day when my uncle and I went for treatments at my aunt's spa. For those in the London area, consider Savana Urban Spa — the services are fabulous.

I have been put to work though doing various IT jobs for the spa and at home. Nothing too taxing, and it is nice to get a chance to do a bit of work to get me ready for school after a summer of relaxing.

18Sep
Location: West Hampstead, London @ 5:15

Travel made easier

oystercard Yesterday when I was headed downtown to the spa, I decided to get an Oyster Card at the tube station. At this moment this allows me to get pretty much anywhere in London via the Tube, bus, tram or rail until next Saturday. It also allows me to add Pre-pay money to the card and use that if I ever want to visit London on the weekends. It is cheaper using the pre pay than to buy tickets which is nice and the oyster card is easier to use.
19Sep
Location: West Hampstead, London @ 1:39

No Internet Yet

I am currently sitting in an internet cafe called Blue Mango about a 10 minute walk from my dorm. The ergonomic here are unheard of so I won't be long, but suffice it to say that I don't have the Internet in my room yet because the entire campus network is down. My first inclination was that maybe they didn't activate the res room connections until today, but word is that the whole campus is affected. A kind soul at reception directed me to this street after I enquired about the Internet situation. Talk about feeling disconnected.

I have met some people here already though. My next door neighbour is from Calgary and there are a couple of German students that I have eaten some meals with. It is funny — there are about 6 German students that I ate lunch with and they only met today (and yesterday perhaps) but the national groupings are already becoming apparent, especially since the international students where here first. And thank god for that, because today is a zoo with all the new undergrads moving in.

My room is weathered, but a decent size and I will get some photos of it online as soon as the Internet thing is resolved. I have unpacked and I do think that I will have enough clothes. :) Val and Terry and I went on a shopping spree yesterday after I arrived to get the things that I didn't have and some snacks. I even have a plant that if all goes well might still be alive when I am ready to leave. There was a bit of a confusion yesterday when we queued for a registration which wasn't for me — even thought it said Erasmus. But everything was sorted out and I think that I have done everything that I need to so far. I even found the computer science building this morning on a self-guided tour of the campus. I find that to be more useful than a guided tour, because there is nothing like getting lost and then finding yourself again to help you remember which ways you should and should not go.

If the internet outage lasts long, I may have to come down here again, but hopefully the next time I post it will be from the comfort of my own room.

25Sep
Location: Reading, England @ 7:52

Good to go

I am back on the Internet and I finally feel connected again. They actually served us supper tonight because it was the first night, but normally Saturday and Sunday suppers (or dinner if you prefer that name) are up to us. There are a couple of tasty looking Chinese, Indian and Turkish restaurants up by the Internet café I found earlier — so I don't think I'll have too much of a problem. They were serving fish and chips as well as lasagna — and although the lasagna was a bit greasy, it was pretty tasty and have no regrets about living in catered accommodation yet :)

There are some photos of my room and of campus up now in the photo section. Tomorrow I am to go enroll with the Faculty. At this point I have my NUS card — which is like a national student union card, but I don't have the access card that will get me places (like into the meal hall after this week) and apparently I will get that tomorrow between 14:00 and 17:00 when it is computer science's turn (along with Physics) to queue up to enroll.

I met a large portion of my floor mates and they are mostly new undergrads — all guys in this corridor which is how they do it. My next door neighbour (not the one from Canada) is starting into computer science and is quite excited to be living next to a CS grad student. My floor is also technically a quiet floor, but I get the impression that the chaps on my floor aren't too keen on that.

There is only one shower on our floor and that is a bit concerning, but I guess we will see how that shapes up. Fortunately the sink in my room means that if the shower has a queue, then I can still freshen up a bit if I need to.

25Sep
Location: Bridges Hall, University of Reading @ 12:35

Freshers' Week

So far so good — I have managed to enroll in my program (and they even knew about it this time) and yesterday went through the process of setting up a bank account at the Lloyds TBS branch here on campus. Everything has been relatively painless so far, but I have had to wait in a couple of long queues.

But on the bright side, I have met five other people so far who are taking part of this same program. It is good to meet the other people who I am going to be spending the next 18 months with. I only wish that they had set up an email list — even an opt-in one, which would have allowed us to contact each other in the three months leading up to now. A common question asked of me is why as a Canadian I would come to Europe to study when it is often the other way around. My answer is of course how else would I get a chance to explore four different European countries for free. And in that time earn a postgraduate degree.

Of course being someone in residence with a computer science degree means you are automatically given the badge of tech support technician. Not that it wasn't a problem during my first degree, but now I get to be the recipient of: "Oh, you're that bloke in IT who can fix my laptop if it is broken." I knew that most of the Freshers on my floor were aware (although there are two other CS undergrads around), but now word it spreading. Altruism is highly overrated.

On the academic front, I found a new document yesterday buried on the University of Reading website (seven levels deep) that gives the program specifications for my program (PDF). If I read it correctly, then I was right about my class format — each module (or class) is delivered in one week with 30 hours of contact time. I'm not sure whether or not we have a second week for working on projects for a course, but I would suspect so with five courses in a ten week term. In any case I also found out that the program seems to be pass-fail at 50% which is good.

28Sep
Location: Bridges Hall, University of Reading @ 2:29

What Now?

Well, it would seem that for the most part, my Europe Adventure is over. It has been an amazing time. Now, I am reviving the ailing colinbate.com and going to make a go of it over there. All the best.

Times

Nova Scotia, Canada
6:05 (Dec 2, 2020)
Reading/London, United Kindom
10:05 (Dec 2, 2020)
Thessaloniki, Greece
12:05 (Dec 2, 2020)
Madrid, Spain
11:05 (Dec 2, 2020)
Guatemala, Guatemala
3:05 (Dec 2, 2020)

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