Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Lands

Time for a new tag, I think.

And a proper blog post. Because the key to motivation is to have ten people ask you if you're going to do something. I always cave to peer pressure.

I am sitting in my office looking out on a very wet, but at least still green, courtyard garden. I am sure it looks stunning in the summer with the bushes and creeping vines. It is still a better view than what I usually see from my office window (a brick wall and grey sky). The important thing is that I have an office which is, 6 days of the week, private (on Thursdays, as today, one of the MA tutors comes in to do work, but I still get the nice desk).

I'm settling in here in Odense (1.5 hours west of Copenhagen, on the island of Funen). The city is about the size of Leicester, or a little bit smaller, but the university is about twice the size (though not twice the student population, interestingly). It is set 2km outside the city on a huge expanse of property, larger than anything I have seen since brief days of venturing onto University of Waterloo's vast campus in Ontario (and this one is bigger than theirs). It takes a bus or a bike to get here, and today I figured out the bus, which is pretty good. It leaves from not far from my flat and drops off right at the front door of campus, for only £4 for a day ticket (or return, same price). It goes passed the big shopping mall, Ikea, and the big grocery store, so at least if I need to get things I can take the bus to and from, rather than trying to fit shopping on a bicycle.

Living here is certainly as expensive as they say, though most of that is food cost. Things like rent and utilities are actually very similar to England (Odense = Leicester), but food is almost twice the price in many cases. Going to have to be very careful of what I eat, and definitely much less eating out then I used to do in Leicester (read: I will not, therefore, be eating out AT ALL). I guess people get around it by owning a bike instead of a car (though there are plenty of cars around) and decent wages.

However they manage it, going to the grocery store is painful for me, as I'm used to the cheap prices of the UK. This is more similar to Canada (though different things are expensive. Except yogurt. Yogurt is just as expensive as in Canada). But as I've long since had to stop worrying about Canadian food prices, I'm trying not to mentally do the tally in my head when I shop. I've been told doing so is a recipe for insanity anyways, especially when converting Kroner to Dollar. It's a bit better Kroner to Pound, only because the Canadian dollar is so crap at the moment (and don't get me started on Dollar to Pound rates, it makes me cry).

But enough about never-ending money issues. I do like Denmark. The people are very friendly without being overly friendly, and helpful. Everyone is polite and follows the rules and the rules are simple. Things are very well organised and I can only hope that Line is having as easy a go in Leicester of it as I'm having here. My last goal is to rent a bike (imagine that won't be cheap, but probably cheaper than taking the bus 3-4 times a week). There is a place down the way, so might venture there on Saturday (bit of a trek from my house, but if I get a bike I can bike back!) Certainly walking to campus is not an option. So it's bike or bus. We'll see. I can only go and ask what it will cost.

It's looking as if I might not stay in Odense for that long, just until the end of February. I need to find out if I'm contracted in my accommodation here or not. If not, I may move to Roskilde for a month and be closer to Copenhagen and the main base of the DREAM department (I'm in one section of it here in Odense, but most live and work in Roskilde and hour east of here). It's apparently a beautiful town and in the spring will be perfect. Practicalities to figure out first, but it might all work out. It's easy to stay here in Odense, but might not be as much fun. I'll sit down and figure out the cost and see. They are happy to have me if I go and will be able to find space for me there, despite the fact there are more people around. I'll find out and make a decision next week and then can plan out my long-term time in Denmark. I think I will be leaving for England on the 1st or 2nd of April either way, via Birmingham this time, because I've had enough of Heathrow Airport and the blood underground until the summer. It's more money to fly to Birmingham, but on the flip side its a cheaper train ride back, so it might equal out to about the same (or near enough). Either way I have to leave from Copenhagen, so it's back there for a day (if coming from Odense) or right to (if coming from Roskilde). Wait and see. I'll feel better when all is sorted next week.

Right now I am trying to get back into my PhD. I've not done any work on it for a week, but I needed that mental break. I've been exhausted since I got here, and that's probably from working all through Christmas as well as moving. Feeling better today, so hopefully by tomorrow I can start some serious work. At least get the next chapter planned this weekend so I can get to writing. Painful, painful writing. I expect I'll have a post about that in the next couple of weeks.

For now, this one is long enough.

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