Two taxis, four planes and 20 hours later, I arrived in Glasgow at 7 a.m. Monday morning. The first two things I did were shower and sleep for a few hours (the overnight flight was less than comfortable.) When I woke up, it was time to check out my new hometown! First, my partner took me to his favorite coffee shop, which is about a two minute walk from our flat. There I ordered a mocha and a bacon sandwich with no bread (basically, I ordered a plate of bacon. It was delightful.)
After some caffeine and nourishment, we headed over to “top up” my subway card (I’d pre-ordered it, so the card was waiting for me when I arrived.) “Top up” means add credit to, so we bought a month’s pass and were on our way! We headed to Buchanan Street, which is an area with lots of shops, to get some necessities for me and the flat. I finally got to go to Boots and it was everything I’d hoped for – I picked up shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc etc… they had all the brands I use in the U.S. except for deodorant. Here, you don’t see many stick deodorants, they are mostly sprays and roll-ons. I managed to find a Nivea stick (they have so much more Nivea stuff here than the U.S.!) and I’m happy to report that I smell pretty good. After shopping around the area a bit longer, we also picked up hangers, and a whole set of bedding for the spare room since we’re expecting company this weekend. Also while shopping, we visited a local Mexican restaurant called Topolabamba which was actually pretty decent, considering where I am.
After dropping off our haul at home, I unpacked one of the big suitcases before finding myself starving again – this time, we headed to a different area and visited The Hanoi Bike Shop, which is not a bike shop, but a Vietnamese restaurant. Despite my initial minor panic over the many ingredients I didn’t recognize, I ended up with some beef rolls and some really tasty greens sauteed with garlic. We ended our night with a big grocery shop and another subway ride home with hands full.
Today I followed my partner to work, since we’ll be working at the same university – after he went in, I went and found the building where I’ll report for duty tomorrow morning! I walked back, found a cash machine, and started the epic task of getting a pre-paid cell phone SIM card. Here, you buy the card for £1, but then you either have to buy a top up voucher from the store, or go online and top up that way. Since I had no idea what the plans were, and my partner had a stash of SIM cards he got free from his hotel when he first arrived, I researched the four we had on hand. I picked one, and then couldn’t top up online or by phone, and finally after about 30 minutes of fighting with this, got an actual person on the phone who recognized my accent and figured out that I couldn’t use my U.S. credit card to top up. So, back to the market down the street to buy a top up voucher, then home again to activate it. But now I have a working cell phone, so that’s good news. I started to take on the other epic task of opening a bank account, but I took a wrong turn and couldn’t find the bank (pre-working cell phone, so no map) and decided I’d deal with that one later on.
I’ve spent the rest of the day unpacking and organizing (finished!) and cleaning up around here. I found a dehumidifier in a closet and hooked that bad boy up – it’s already pulled a considerable amount of water out of the room it’s in, which is awesome, because the laundry is taking way too long to dry and I can’t wash anymore until I can clear the drying racks. Oddly, we have a washer but no dryer – and this is normal here! Also odd – the bathroom light switch is outside of the bathroom; the shower is mounted in the middle of the tub, and the shower curtains are hanging from a ring above the tub – but it’s not the size of the tub, it’s much smaller, so you basically shower in a tiny capsule. Obviously nothing in there dries out properly either, so that’s the next place I’m hauling the dehumidifier. Oh, except there’s also no electrical outlet in there, so I have to dry my hair in the living room. My hair dryer is hanging inside the closet/office on the door. The closet/office is a closet, with a desk and chair in there. Really. Oh and I’ll post a picture of the keys to door later – they are old school.
In a few minutes, I’m going to make dinner in this currently unfamiliar kitchen of ours – what better way to learn my way around, right? So far, despite the differences and minor frustrations, it’s been pretty easy to adjust. I can’t understand everything everyone says (the accent is strong here), but I’m getting better. We’ll see what I think after starting work tomorrow!