Thursday, January 12, 2012

Settling In

Hello All!

I'm starting to feel like I'm finally settling in!  The first few days were a whirlwind of orienting myself in London, meeting tons of people, and buying some of the necessary items to feel at home (like a duvet cover - which, speaking of I forgot to post a picture.  Fixing that now!)

My nice new green duvet cover and bed runner!  There's a pillow case too peaking out behind Agnesi's giant head.  The duvet is SO WARM!  Seriously, I went from being cold at night to waking up in the middle of the night sweating.  I think I'm going to have to take off the Donny blanket!

Today I went on a bunch of errands and I'm actually starting to feel like a UK student.  Most importantly, I bought a phone!  Unfortunately, my iPhone doesn't work here and I need a UK number for the people I meet here to be able to contact me.  I also need a UK phone so I can contact USC's resident director (he plans the USC weekend and day trips) in case of an emergency.  Basically, having a UK phone is just an overall good thing to have.  I bought a Samsung Chat 335 phone with a T-Mobile sim card.  I went with T-mobile mostly because they are connected with Orange's network so I am pretty sure I'm going to get service in other countries throughout Europe which is important if I'm going to be travelling and taking weekend trips.  The plan I'm on is £10 per month which gives you £10 credit towards calling with unlimited texting.  They also have a £20 unlimited internet for 6 months option, but I figured I'd do the trial £2.50 for 5 days first to see how much I use the internet and if I really need it (since my phone has wifi).

Secondly, I signed up for the grocery store rewards program!  The store is called Sainsbury's and it's pretty similar to Walmart in that they carry all different sorts of items although not quite as large.  It's exciting because you can get points at lots of different stores (including iTunes and Gap) and redeem them online for things like EasyJet!  This will also motivate me not to take the easy way out and go to the more expensive grocery store that is cheaper so that I can still get my rewards points!

And thirdly, I have an oyster card which lets you tap in and tap out of the London underground and the buses for a slightly cheaper fare than buying individual tickets.  I'm still working on getting the 16-25 card which gives you an additional discount, but I'm starting to feel like a real Londoner!  The underground is so easy to use that I already feel comfortable planning trips and making my way around the city.  It's totally different from Los Angeles where anytime I try to plan a trip using public transit I realize that it's way too confusing and I end up begging a friend for a ride.  London is such an accessible city using the public transit although I would never want to drive here (the roads are crazy, literally crazy).  There's no such thing as a straight road in London and they definitely are clueless about grids.  But, it's still pretty easy to navigate if you have a good map and know where you want to go.

In other news, we had our USC orientation dinner last night but the show we were supposed to go see the show "The 39 Steps" after.  We went to a Asian noodle place for dinner and everything was covered by USC so everyone ordered way more food and drinks than they normally would, but it was really fun!  After dinner, we rushed out of the restaurant because we thought we were late to the show, but it ended up being canceled because of a water main leak!  So, instead of going to the show, we went and hung out in a pub for a while before all heading back.  Apparently, the tickets are supposed to be refunded so we're going to go see a different show some other as yet undetermined night.  Doesn't really matter when, it should be fun!

The night before last, we had the Thames boat tour organized by Queen Mary.  It turned out that it was actually a party boat and not really a sight-seeing tour like I had expected, but it was still pretty fun.  Anyway, I have a bunch of random pictures to upload with captions and such but I need to go through my camera and sort out all the pictures which is going to take a while - so maybe tomorrow.  Anywho, that's all for now!

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