After the airport, I went straight to my residence. No problems "checking in" at 8:30am. The residence has a gate around it; if you look at it on google maps (I put a link in an earlier post on the blog), the entire cul-de-sac is gated. I'm at the western end of the cul-de-sac, on the north side of the north-south west end.
... well, I'm sure that somebody understood what I meant there. Not that it actually matters whether or not anybody can pinpoint me to within 10 meters on google maps. If anybody comes to visit me, we'd probably meet elsewhere, and anybody targeting a missile at me doesn't need to be that accurate. :) Unless it's a small missile. But I'd hope that I would merit a big missile.
Ok, tangents of dubious comedic value aside, I'm on the ground floor. The flat consists of a relatively narrow corridor, with institution-off-white walls, institution off-gray-brown carpets, and institution thick metal doors. There's 5 bedrooms and one kitchen/lounge.
The room was slightly larger than I expected, which is nice. Of course, I had very small expectations (pun intended). There's plenty of storage space -- maybe twice the "drawer" (well, shelves in a closet) space as I had at home. I can now afford to have my underwear on a separate shelf than my socks!! Are you guys as excited as I am?!~! LOLBBQ :-)
My bathroom initially stuck me as small -- there isn't enough room to stretch out my arms and turn around. But then again, how often do you need to twirl around in your bathroom flapping your arms?
That was a rhetorical question. Please don't answer. Especially not you. (you know who you are)
Anyway, it comes with a shower "area" (with a curtain, but no door) and no paper. That somewhat annoyed me. Or rather, it would have annoyed me, if I wasn't overwhelmed with the newness of everything. But really, I know that they want to save money, but they couldn't give everybody one roll of industrial cardboard-like toilet paper? I mean, looking for a Tesco's or Sainsbury's so I can buy toilet paper shouldn't be a top priority when moving to a new continent. :(
This annoyance was mollified somewhat by a package (I think from the Student Representative Council, although I wouldn't swear to that) with various introductionary materials, flyers, coupons, plus a packet of tissues, soaps, shampoo, some candies, and an energy drink (boost).
Enough of my underwear and bathroom fixation. Let's move on to important matters: so far, I'd say that UVic has better-looking girls. I'm even tempted to say that NUS has more attractive girls than Glasgow, although the comparison is a bit dubious since Singapore weather suggests body paint as adequate insulation, while Scottish weather suggests wool.
No, I never saw anybody wearing body paint in Singapore. Although the climate suggested it, the culture did not. Instead, the culture suggested jeans or shorts which imitated body paint. The tops were relatively loose. I mean, in the "breezy" sense. Not the "coming off" sense. At least, not during university hours. I don't know what happened after that. (hey, Yang, Yinsheng, and Dillion? Are you still reading my blog? I remember you guys being interested at my observational abilities when we visited Sentosa Island and were at the airport, so I figured that you'd be interested in more observations)
Ok, I'll get back to serious stuff now. Otherwise I'll never get to my topless story.
The walk to the university was fine; I cross one somewhat well-used street at an intersection, but the rest has very light traffic. The park and river have plenty of trees, bushes, and ivy. That's a relief to me; I was half-expecting to see a bunch of lifeless, carefully mowed lawns and sculpted trees. I'm sure that those exist -- actually, I recall seeing some squash or croquet or cricket or whatever courts -- but there's at least some patches of natural-seeming overgrown trees and ivy. The creek moves along at a decent clip, too. It's definitely a pleasant walk.
I wandered around for a bit, then had breakfast/supper at a Subway restaurant. That's my total comfort food, but this particular one didn't turn out well. They were out of tomatoes, didn't have barbecue sauce (although the paper taped to the display case listed it), and the diet coke was inexpertly mixed. To be fair, part of the reason that Subway tasted so fantastic in Singapore was that I was almost always starving when I went there, whereas this time I was merely hungry. Still, three strikes is a substantial burden. I'll try a different location next time. (I've already found two others... no, I wasn't actively looking for them. :)
I met with my supervisor. There were three other students in the lab at the time, and I met two others later. My supervisor then took me on a tour of the building, meeting various academic assistants, the IT guys to get my engineering computer account, various labs, etc.
After that, I followed a map that one of my lab-mates drew for me to find the UK equivalent of radio shack. Unfortunately they were out of US->UK physical power adaptors (£2.99), so I ended up buying a US->UK transformer power adaptor. Thankfully it was only sale for £11 off, so it was only £8.99. It makes a bit of noise, and is much heavier, but I definitely needed one. I'll go back there in a week or two and see if they have the physical adaptors, since they make no noise and are far lighter. Hopefully I can give it to somebody who visits from Canada.
I got some pizza on the way home, then went to sleep. The bed and sheets are the most uncomfortable sleeping things I've ever seen, including the camping gear I used as a youngster. I've never given much thought to beds in the past, but I'm actually considering buying new sheets. It would be difficult to do something about the actual mattress, much as I'd love to junk it.
Anywya, I think this was around 1 or 2pm. I woke up at 7:30pm, and after a bit of debate I decided I was too thirsty to try to get back to sleep. I should have drank much more during the morning, since I was dehydrated from the flight.
I found a nearby Tesco express, where I bought some packaged sandwiches with a deal for chips (or crisps) and bottled water. I saved £0.76, and got 10 Tesco points. Along with the toilet paper. It's probably a toss-up as to which is worth more.
On the way back, I decided that I wanted to try proper UK food, so I stopped at two pubs. The first stopped serving food at 8pm, and the next stopped serving food at 9pm. Hmph.
I think I've discovered why the UK has a reputation for binge drinkers -- you can't get bloody food by the time you get to a bloody pub, so everybody ends up drinking alcohol with no food. I've heard that alcohol hits you harder when you don't have food to digest it with.
I mean, seriously. It shouldn't be that hard to find food at 9pm. That's not late. I saw some Asian take-out places that were open, but I definitely wasn't in the mood to try such food. So I went home. I noticed a vending machine in the general reception lounge, so I eagerly went there to get coke. Unfortunately, it was only stocked with energy drinks (?!?!). After some debate, I got some flourescent orange stuff. I also got a mars bar, although the vending machine didn't deep-fry it.
In my flat, I discovered that the internet connection no longer worked. Previously, I'd just plugged in the cable and DHCP worked; now I had to go through a web-interface login thing. I had the login information, so this was no problem. And after doing this, I could send email.
Anyway, I downloaded email, then sat in the kitchen to eat my cold sandwiches with orange energy drink and salt and vinegar chips as a private party. I finished the orange thingie, then opened one of the bottled waters.
Except this was no ordinary bottled water -- this was MUTANT BOTTLED SPRING WATER FROM THE NETHERWORLD!!~! Otherwise known as "disgusting fizzy garbage".
My laptop was quickly sprinkled by sparkling disgusting fizzy garbage. So what did I do? Well, I obviously grabbed the kitchen tissue which the residence provided for us... not. I took of my t-shirt and used it to soak up the spill.
Memorial (later correction: memorable) event: check if bottled water is actually disgusting fizzy garbage. Do this before buying it (whee, I saved £0.76... by purchasing £1.04 of undrinkable disgusting fizzy garbage), but most importantly before opening it next to a laptop.
PS: I thought about beginning the last paragraph with "... and that's when two of my flatmates, a pair of female gymnastics students from Sweeden, walked in the door. They politely followed my example, and soon..." but then I figured that since I haven't met any of my flatmates yet, I shouldn't make such jokes.
PPS: I now have met one flatmate: he's from Luxemburg. I thought he was Scottish (from the accent), but apparently everybody here thinks he's from America. I have no idea how anybody can confuse his accent with American, but I guess that just goes to show how confusing accents can be...