Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Yes, I did read your e-mail (those that have sent me one) and I did read your comments and thank you for both, though I have now not the time to answer all. And, do have in mind, I do have FUN! I look forward to a year of holidays, talking about my favourit subject: Autism. And I did get lightbulbs today (1 ½ hour expedition) and they do work (still) and I got a toiletbrush at the same place. I could have used it to defend myself, waiting for the bus in the dark.
I had my first two classes today, each 2 ½ hours and between I went shopping (the bulbs), read in the library and got my first books home with me. Now I have to sort papers and get myself ready for my next class tomorrow morning.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Yes, I am busted. Worst is to walk endlessly, and I am not the only one to complain. I got painkillers for my back and try to take the bus when I meet it. Didn´t meet it today. Yes, the day was full of information, I will have to take 3 modules each term, just like in Iceland, that would give me here 30 ects and in Iceland 15, three courses, each one 5 points. Beside I can train my English in two different courses, using my module contents, I suppose and I will use that opportunity and I went to the gym and got one time for pilates on monday and belly dancing on friday, must have some fun too, isn´t it?
My toilet was fixed when I came home and my dripping water in the kitchen, dinner: roastbeef(?), turnips and brokkoli with a yorkshire pudding (it looked like a piece of smjördeig) and a creme caramelle at the Hub.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Yes Lisi, I did buy a knife(?), two knives, a big and a small one not only the bulbs. The knife came so late because I didn´t find any before, they were sold out at wooloworths And a chopping board, a treespoon and nailsissors. A beanseat is like a rather big cushion to sit on, very light and very comfortable. Good to sit on when smoking outside and when my back is hurting.
Já Valgerður, ég er stanslaus að lenda í ÆVINTYRI!

After sunshine in the morning it´s drizziling now, probably will turn out to be rain. Nice for the grass seeds.
In the night my toiletwaterpushbutton dissappeared into the wall with a pling. I phoned right in the morning to get it fixed but nothing happened and I stayed around – these girls in the reception aren´t as quick as the ones before – but after a walk to them somebody looked at it, promised to send somebody else and asked me to stay in. Thats fine for me, anyhow, I took a quiet day today, reading, sleeping, knitting, surfing the internet. So my lightbulbs must wait until tomorrow, as it is Sunday today that might be as good.
It is strange here to walk the streets: everybody is driving on the wrong side, that is to say on the left side, not the right. Of course I did know that but walking around in a wrong way direction traffic is another piece of cake. My reflexes are all on the right side that is to say not the left and therefore the wrong side. Yes. I look to the side the cars are not coming from and jump in front of them when they take a turn. The funny thing about this is that I took my driving licence while there was still left side traffic in Iceland and had no problem going from the right in Germany to the left in Iceland. But maybe that is something that is easier for a young brain, my brain is so stuck already and my reflexes so ingrown that it will take some time to change them. And it is not really a joke, it does make me uneasy in the traffic, I take my time to cross the road and look for traffic lights when possible. Even the pedestrians tend to follow this rule so I must take care not to walk against the stream where it is crowdy.
Even if I am in a no smoking appartment it seems not to influence my smoking pattern but for one, two sigaretts a day. I do write down when I start a new package and it is about 20 a day (no, not packages, sigaretts). I thought I would automatically smoke less in this environment, but no. Not that I worry about it, I was just curious.
I look forward to tomorrow when the real life will start. It seems to me that there will be a program from 9 o´clock in the morning to 16, 17 o´clock in the afternoon with a hour break for lunch. I hope that then I will get a lot of answers to my many questions. It could be that I will be busted tomorrow evening, so maybe there will be no post.
Finally, as I could not wait any longer I found the solution for my toilet flashing: I´ve got a bucket and just filled it with water and down everything went. I am angry that I didn´t think about that before as I do it everyday in my summerhouse, carrying the water in from the raindrains. As I had the bucket out- part of the flats inventory- I washed the floor in the kitchen and the bathroom and now I guess the apartment is cleaner than when I got it.
I´ve made me a nice dinner with my knew knife chopping away on the new chopping board, using my new pan and wooden spoon and eating from my new dish with flowers on, what a beautiful time I have!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

There is no hot water this morning, so the shower has to wait. I was looking forward to try out my new towel. I went with my little shopping on wheels to the university store and bought heavy things, like water, potatoes, milk and such. It is ok here I suppose to drink the water but the taste is chlorine and worst when it is mixed with coffee, it just doesn´t work together. But really, starting a new life can be exhausting. Just take light bulbs. I bought this little cheap lamps yesterday but forgot to buy the lightbulbs. So, they don´t have these light bulbs with a little skrew in the university shops. So, in the late afternoon I went out again, walked to the busstop, took the bus to Birmingham center and searched for light bulbs. Kilometers of shops for clothes, shoes, juwellery: no lightbulbs for a long time. Woolworth rescued me, or so I thought. There I had bought the lamps, they had the right lightbulbs so I bought four, owning two lamps, to be on the safe side. First thing coming home: I put the first bulb into its socket. It blinked at me and burst. Ok, I´ve got another one. Use that, ok. Now to the second lamp: I got the wrong bulbs, with a skrew I´ve never seen before and hope never to see again. OK, one lamp burning. I mean, I am a person in good balance and nothing, I repeat, nothing will disturb my wonderful mood. So, stay with me: travelled for about 2 hours, from home to back home, like inclusive waiting for the bus and such like, came home with four lightbulbs, one of them useable. When I come back into my living-bedroom that one lightbulb has gone dead, too. Still, during these two hours I also bought two kitchen knives. I killed some vegetables. No, I will not give up. Tomorrow will see me at Aldi in Edgbaston. I mean, they do have light in their houses here in England, don´t they?

It´s a sunny, warm day with a blue clear sky and The Lake is sparkeling. Outside garderners work on overtime and lushy bushes are appearing. I bet they will finish the ground before the beginning of term, it´s fun to watch. I slept really late, cleaned my flat (a huge vacuum cleaner for this little flat and works beautifully, I whish I had one like that back home), but the flat gets more homely with the minute.I did change my sofa position so I can use my skype more confortably.
Friday seems a day for cleaning up all around, in the flat opposite mine where I can spy, the pizza boxes have dissapeared and on the widow sill is an arrangement of empty beerbottles, sorted by type and colour, mostly green and it looks quite funky.
The sunshine draw me out of the house and I discovered a shortcut to the train station – and the university as it is – a lushy green walkway under big trees away from the traffic. I got my BP 20 back for the faulty inkpatrons, bought me a banana for breakfast, a very good banana by the way, sweeter than I am used to and launched onto the train to Birmingham center, about 15 minutes, one station in between. Nice the good old days when there was a person who sold you the tickets, you just stated your destination and got the right ticket for the right amount. Now you stare at coin machines, two there and one out of order so there was a long queue, once again, and not only I had trouble talking to the coin machine. First thing in Birmingham center trainstation I went to apply for my senior bus pass: “But you don´t look it!” I like to hear that. But that was not as small a deal as I thought so I will go there once again today with all the stuff they need and will get it send within a month. Then I can ride busses and trains for free outside the rush hours and that is fine for me.
Straight out, connected to the railway station is a mall and I didn´t get further than to Woolworths and am now the proud owner of following new items: A fluffy bathtowel, two dishes, a bowl and a cup, two table lamps (without light yet as I forgot to buy the right bulbs), a very pink beanseat, diverse small stuff and, last not least, a tiny coffemachine which looks like a toy but makes coffee and so I had my first cup of icelandic Braga coffe back home, see, it´s getting home. As my back is killing me, which I try to ignore, I bought me a little “shopping on wheels” which was a splendid idea to get all my things home and still had a huge plastic bag and my pink beanseat in the other hand. That was not heavy but took a lot of space on the train and me bumping into people all the time.
The evening had me skyping with family and friends and then I looked, while knitting, at the movie “The Winter Guest”, a very “deep” movie about relationships which I got at the university library. The thing that made me most happy at that point, was that my little computer can handle things like that. Still, I should look for sound boxes, the sound is not really enjoyable. Oh, I nearly forgot, on my new little pan I cooked my first “real” dinner, improvising with sissors for a knife. It was a saturating experience and I got this really great fan over the oven so I can smoke a cigarette under it from time to time, no smell whatsoever. Strange to use these really small kitchen utensiles, being used to my big family with huge everything.
Outside there are still more plants, but they saw the grass, don´t roll it out like home, so it will take a while to become green. I am quite curious to follow that progress.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

My dear ones, who have commented my blog and had the patience to read me, thanks to you! The comment section doesn´t want me, so I use this way. Valgerður: University of Birmingham.
I should give out a cookbook for people with nothing but a microwave: Dinner: a scrambled egg with some cut down wild smoked salmon cooked in a noodle box. I will keep my noodle boxes.
The night let me listen to The Big Party once again: The money for my single flat is well spent. But to be fair, in the Vale there are said to live about 3000 pupils, you only need 20 to sing loudly. About two o´clock the phone rang, after the second time I disconnected it. The morning found me awake with the ducks on The Lake and the rising sun, at six and I soon gave up to try to sleep any more and had one more noodle soup instead. (yes Doug, I got THat flavour too:)
It did me good to rest a day, my legs have stopped hurting and the shower is great, hot and strong. The machines around the house are banging away again, having their party and I will walk down to the university and look for more adventures.

And adventures I got! This day has been like a huge chocolade cake with extra icing, or, better still, like Jakobínas Nókropp tertu!
I left my flat about ten o clock this morning and took a bus... I don´t know where it went but not near to the place I wanted to go to. So I had the view and took another bus back to start. The people here are extremely nice and helpful.”So, here you would go out, dear” said the elderly lady whom I had asked for help. Of cause I walked first in the wrong direction, but found the university again after not so long a walk. It´s clock tower, a copy of the Big Ben, distinctive in the landscape. Now I also know where the train station is. Once again to the computerstore as my printer wouldn´t work, and yes back home I tried it and it were the colour patrons that didn´t work. So tomorrow I will get that money back. So, the printer is doing it´s work and a friendly young man at the “computer help desk” found my university´s e-mail port so I will be able to use that.
At 11 o´clock I went to a postgraduate welcome coffee where I finally met students nearer my age and had a chat. At 2 o´clock again there was a postgraduate introduction session where I met still more folks and had many chats. I bought as everybody else flowerpots at the studentsguild and was ready to wander happily back to my flat in sunshine and nice weather. On the way I dropped in at the education building, just to look at it and now comes the icing on the cake: after half an hour there would be a talk about autism by Stephen Shore, self autistic and the author of several books on autism. Of course I jumped at it and not only listened faszinated for one and a half hour but also met my future teachers- of course- and classmates, most of them women and rather mature (and chatted away) so that all looks immensly promising.
After that the walk home seemed shorter than before and it gets more homely with the flowerpots on the windowsill. I am settling in and got a nice dinner at the Hub.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

It is evening and I haven´t been out at all but for the staircase to smoke. I didn´t get my printer to work, e-mails I send to the payment office come popping back and I am not able to open my new e-mail account as offered by the university. So this whole day really went into trying and not getting. I had a noodle soup with a spoon opposite to crochet needle and only talked to working man who checked the oven, the blinds and the water. I don´t really have the energy to climb the hill for a real meal. I do feel old today, with all the youth around me and a bit out of place as a grandmother spoiling their fun. I am tired after all the excitement of leaving home and trying to settle into a new place. I will be patient with myself and crawl into bed with Terry Pratchett´s “making money” and for tomorrow I plan to meet some other postgraduate students I did not find before, surrounded by freshmen as I am now. I am sure that there I will find help with all my little problems and I look forward to my free senior bus ticket I read about.

My first days

A new beginning as a postgraduate student in Birmingham, coming from Iceland to the United Kingdom (There you got the title as I havn´t reached the continent yet): a privat diary I hope I will be able to keep up to date. Intended for my family and friends, but be welcome to read it anyhow. So, lets just start and you get my first three days all at once:

Arrival day. As usual the plane at home leaves before you wake up so we had to get up at five o´clock and my husband, of course, drove me to the airport. And that was that, the plane, a long route drive and in the end, at 19 hours a taxi which dropped me and my impressive bags at dusk somewhere as it seemed .. a beautiful road and many trees. “This is fine, love, the road is closed, no I don´t know love and good night.” No, the road wasn´t closed...(?) Half an hour later, after a smoke, some asking and dragging of luggage I arrived where the taxi should have let me out in the first place.
So, there I got a key and a (big and heavy) bedpack. At that point I gave up and asked for help which a friendly man my age (“young lady” he called me) provided and got me and my things to my future home, walking, of course as cars are frowned upon. A nice enough block, VERY new and as my friend guessed rightly, the surroundings are still under construction, but a walkway is there and I got a beautiful view of treetops and, craning my neck in the other direction, The Lake. There is central heating and nice warm water.
The forth floor, which will train my legs and lungs and keeps me a bit away from the hublums of all the kids around me. Since then I found out: There are shared appartments beneeth me, as in all buildings in this cluster and on top of each building are two apartments with a shared door to the staircase. The appartment opposite mine still is empty. The smoking facility is nice: on the open staircase and maybe sometime I will arrange for a little seat there.
Outside there is The Big Party.

Finally I got toilet paper. plus 20 swing bin liners (lila and smelling strongly of lavender), whashing up liquid and one bred. I didn´t get a knife, I did hope for a plastic knife and dishes and a toilet cleaning brush: How important things get when you don´t have them. But toilet paper goes a long way to happiness.
Just now I did cut my smoked salmon with a pair of sissors which I took with me – always use for sissors I thaught – I´ve got a cup my grandchildren painted for me and nescafe, so with help of a microwave ad a crochet needle to stir I get my coffee.
And here the computer went dead, like black and no green or orange dots blinking.

Yesterdays strongest impression was the young man at the information desk who asked if I wanted the information for my daughter. He had the decency to blush. And the walking, hours after hours. Today then, not only walking but standing in queue after queue. But, I got my registration and my student card. What I havn´t yet got is a net connection which I did walk far and worked hard for.
Yes, my computer went dead yesterday afternoon. As my phone didn´t load either I blamed the connectioncable and today I walked down to the next shop to get me another one, yes, about 45 minutes. Being there I got me a printer too and paper and some food and somehow and with the help of my little travelbag on wheels and a bus I got it all up to my 4th floor flat. On the way I rested by the lake and fed bred to a very white and friendly swan. So, back home, no, not really home yet, but anyhow, my flat, I hurry to connect all these cables and find the adapter wanting. Searching, no, no adapter. So I suspect that I had forgotten it in the shop as I took my cables with me to check. To start with I had to walk in the other direction to get my signed inventory paper to the office and got the direction to a bus. I waited at the wrong busstation and looked after it, driving away. The weather was nice, so I decided to wait for anothe 30 minutes and have a rest in the grass. And the next time I was at the right place but not going to the right direction. “No, love, I go the other ring now, I come back after half an hour to pick you up.” So, that was that and in the end I got offered a shared taxi by a mom and her daughter who wouldn´t let me pay, God bless her. But, we are still looking for my adapter. Back to the shop, “no sorry, nothing found here. No, we don´t sell those, they must be ordered, will take some days”. I retraced my (many) steps from the morning until I got again to before mentioned bus, still the same driver. I went with him now, in the other direction. I was frustated, tired, hungry, all my lower limbs hurting. Young people jogged past me. And what did I see near “home”, in the gras by The Lake? Yes. My adapter. Flirting with the swan. It was a happy reunion. So, up again, all 8 stairs and connecting. No connection, no little green lights nowhere. So, to the reception, only 400, 500 meters uphill and the electrician really did come soon and turned a little key only he could turn: there had been no electricity in the wall sockets in the living/bedroom and so..the blinking lights could do their jobs: My computer is connected to it´s food and can work again. Now, I would love to try the newly installed skype, not having talked to anybody all day long but asking for directions. To use skype, I have to have an internet connection. So, I go uphill to above mentioned office and, after a bought, rather nice dinner which I felt I had earned, I got a broadband disc, gratis I hope, but do not yet know. So, happily I climb my 8 stairs and start feeding the computer: I would need a 8 bits PC cable that I haven´t got. “Please, contact the reception”. Up the hill again. “No, love, you’ve got to buy them”. First time this day I rushed out without my purse. So, back, up 8 stairs, get the money, climb the hill, buy the right cable, up 8 stairs... I think I´ve got the right cable now. It looks right, it fits into the right sockets but it won´t connect me. Probably I will need Window Vista or XP but got Word 2000 so tomorrow will see me walking 40 minutes back to the computershop – or information. My, my, hopefully I will become slim!
There is not yet any water in my shower and I havn´t found a toilet brush. BUT I got a set of cutlery from my neighbours, so tomorrow I will not have to eat noodle soup with my fingers- the crochet needles goes only so far...
Outside, The Party is still in full swing. The animals gone wild. At least it´s an experience to listen to it.
OK: ten to ten there was silence. (and started again around 2 o´clock)
I DID get my internet working. With my own feet, hands and brain. I am proud of myself! And that´s a nice end of a day.

24th of september

finds me trying to install my new printer. It doesn´t print yet. But some nice men turned on the water in my shower. So, things are developing. And, as you see, I just opened my blog, all by my own. Clever young Lady!