Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Twelve Days of Flat Hunting

On the twelfth day of flat hunting my true love gave to me:

  • 12 cups of coffee
  • 11 flats a-looked at
  • 10 rude estate agents
  • 9 miles walking
  • 8 absolute rat holes
  • 7 diff’rent Tube stops
  • 6 complaining phone calls (to my parents)
  • 5 panic attacks

(ba-dum dum dum…)

  • 4 moldy bathrooms
  • 3 post codes
  • 2 missed opportunities
  • and 1 flat to call all my own!

I’m going to share some pictures with you, but only if you promise to keep in mind that I still have a lot of work to do on it, okay?  Good.

20150923_094658 20150923_094708 20150923_094746 20150923_094800 20150923_094806 20150923_094823 20150923_094840(0)

Also, these are the “before” pictures, so of course they’re low quality.  Obviously. 😉


Moving abroad: tips


  • Keep a small binder or folder with all pertinent travel documents with you in an easily-accessible location.
  • Scan your legal documents and e-mail them to yourself.  In moving from one place to another, you never know what could happen.  Have backups of anything you might need and keep them readily accessible by having them on your phone in the form of an email.  I sent copies to both my personal and school accounts just to be safe.
  • Unless you can afford a storage space or international movers (or have incredibly obliging parents) you’re going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff.  Start doing it as soon as possible.
  • Don’t trust those Pinterest infographics that tell you the best time to buy tickets is 8 weeks before you leave or whatever.  The best time to buy your ticket is as soon as humanly possible.
  • Find a temporary place to stay before you get there, even if it’s only for a week.  PLEASE don’t assume you can just arrive and find a hostel.  Don’t make any long-term living arrangements before you arrive.
  • Save as much money as you can.  I’m personally afraid to total exactly how much it cost me to move myself from the US to the UK.
  • Have a backup plan for everything.
  • A friend recently told me, when it comes to banks, multiply the amount of time you think it will take by 2 and then go up to the next unit of time.  So if you think it’ll take 2 hours, it’ll actually take 4 days.  I would say this is completely true (in the US as well as the UK).  I would also say it applies to almost anything legal or financial you’re doing, including looking for flats.
  • You’re going to need a lot of money.  How much?

Cost to move: single person, moving for school, 2 years

Visa fee = $502

NHS fee = $585

Airfare (extra miles + ticket + bags + exit row seat) = $150 + $265 + $420 + $83 = $918

Homestay, 1 month (deposit + payment on arrival) = $289 + $536 = $825

School deposit = $2346

Total = $5176

and then my plane landed in England.

Tray Frawnch

Last week I had the misfortune of taking a mandatory trip to Paris.  I know, what a bore.

Thanks to some slight miscommunication about travel times, my visa wasn’t valid until 23 August.  But, by the time I’d gotten my visa, I had a plane ticket leaving 20 August.  Therefore, I HAD to leave the country and come back in, in order to “activate” my visa.

My life is really hard, you guys.

Here are just a few of the amazing pictures I got!

DSC02447 DSC02342

DSC02409 DSC02401 DSC02269

Check out Flickr to see which photos didn’t make the cut.


A few of my favorite things


And when I saw a few, I mean a few.  This list is not exhaustive in any way, shape, or form.

  • I’m living with an Indian couple so I eat delicious authentic Punjabi food every other night.  I’m sure you’re jealous, and, if you’re not, you’ve probably never eaten Indian food.  Stop reading, go do that, then come back and be jealous.
  • PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.  Yes, I had to squeeze through a crowd so tight last night it felt like being given birth to all over again, but otherwise public transportation is  I mean, I hate driving and like day drinking so it’s a win-win.
  • I don’t have to wear shorts and I get to wear sweaters all the time.
  • Walking, walking, everywhere.  It turns out the physical activity I was made for was leisurely strolls in beautiful parks.
  • There are so many dogs here.  On the street.  In cafes.  Big dogs, little dogs.
  • The museums are free so you don’t have to feel bad about leaving if it’s too busy/hot/boring for your tastes.
  • Tea time: basically a built-in period during the day for snacking.  Such a good idea.  Also, a great excuse to eat biscuits.
  • If I had done this move 10 years ago, I would have only been able to keep in touch with all of my friends and family via expensive international calls and e-mail.  Skype, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger have been godsends these last few weeks.  So, as much as I generally and pointlessly rail against social media, it has finally proved it’s utility to me.  Two for you, Social Media.  You go, Social Media. (I mean, someday we’ll have teleportation devices and distance will cease to matter at all, but that’s probably going to be the weird generational thing I turn Luddite over so I won’t be able to enjoy it.)
  • I’m going to see Nicole Kidman in a play.  So… yeah.
  • The sheer multiculturalism of London has astounded me.  You think you know what that word means when you’ve visited New York (and, to a lesser extent, Washington, D.C. or Boston) but it completely surrounds everything that happens here.  You would be hard-pressed not to interact with someone from outside the UK on a daily basis.
  • Want to go to Paris for the day?  Done.
  • Donald Trump is an ocean away.  Now that’s peace of mind.
  • People know how to pronounce my name.  I have not been called Ellen/Elaine/Irene once since I’ve gotten here.

Like I said, that’s not even a full list.  hashtag blessed.

And also, since it feels a bit weird not to mention, there is a great way to donate to the refugees pouring into Europe, specifically the ones currently in Calais: purchase a sleeping bag, sweatshirt, or food item for them from this wonderful wishlist. (UPDATE: the wishlist has now been closed)


Here I am!


Well, the last few days have been exciting and hectic over here in jolly ol’ England.  The weather has been gorgeous – one day uncharacteristically hot, the other drizzly and cool, but I loved them both.  I kind of feel like I might be getting the hang of this place – knock on wood!  But it’s not all been easy sailing and I don’t expect that to change.  Despite all of my preparations, I made a few mistakes and I’ve also learned some valuable lessons.

  1. If you’re so jetlagged that you find it difficult to function, go to sleep!  I tried to power through it and made some avoidable mistakes along the way.  The fact is, there’s really no rush to adjust your sleep patterns, so don’t pressure yourself.  It’s more important to feel up to the task than to defeat jetlag.
  2. Despite all of my checking and hoping and praying that, since my phone was unlocked, I would be able to use it, none of the UK sim cards worked.  I tried 3 different carriers and it was always the same: texting worked, calling worked, but I couldn’t get it to access the network to use data.  Which is kind of important since the only way I can contact friends and family in the US is with Skype or another messaging service.  If I had a UK credit card I could have paid monthly for a phone (like the Verizon Edge program) but since I haven’t been here long enough to get one I had to buy one.  It cost about £200, which seemed to be a median price in their selection.  I would also recommend going to one of the shops specifically for whichever company you choose, versus buying from one of the smaller shops that stock all of them.
  3. Exchange any currency on you as soon as you get there.
  4. If you decide to ride a hop on, hop off tour that takes you all around central London like I did (especially on a summer weekend) start early.  Before 10 am.
  5. On that same note, don’t go to the Natural History Museum on a drizzly Sunday unless you love crowds and heat.
  6. Have an umbrella, hat, or hooded jacket (or all three) on you at all times, even if it’s sunny.  But especially if it’s overcast.
  7. Buses run less frequently at night.  Okay, okay, I know, I’m showing my suburban stripes with this one.  Yes, it was stupid to assume they run as frequently after 11pm.  Just don’t assume that and you won’t end up standing at a bus stop by yourself for half an hour.