I promised an update, and though it’s a bit later than I’d hoped, I’m finally snagging a moment to do it. I’ll try not to make it too long!
The past three days have been a bit of a whirlwind as I acquaint myself with the city and start to take care of a few things (like bank accounts and housing). In the interests of not making this update entirely novel length, here’s the “readers digest version” (or at least as “readers digest” as someone as prolific as I am can make it.)
Monday marked my first foray into central London. I got a little lost on the way to the tube station, but thanks to the GIANT signs above every tube station (that you can see for blocks – provided there aren’t several dozen people blocking it) I was able to find my way pretty quickly. My first tube ride was rather uneventful and I quickly found the building where the SANZA/Tradewind Teaching Agency is located. After my TWO HOUR appointment (mostly filling in forms and discussing my hopes for employment and next steps like bank accounts and housing – mostly boring stuff, really) I explored the area a bit before heading to the bus stop to meet up with Adeola (my sister-in-law whom I’m staying with right now).
This is where things got a little interesting (or frustrating, depending on your point-of-view). I got on bus 24. What I didn’t realize was that it was bus 24 going in the WRONG direction. So I waited ages for Parlaiment Square to be announced and it never was. Before I knew it I was in Hampstead Heath and had to catch the bus going the other direction to get back to where I needed to be. In the end it was an hour long diversion and I learned that you must ALWAYS double check which direction the bus you want is going in so as to avoid this predicament in future.
Tuesday morning I finally started to look at the HUNDREDS of housing messages that had been piling up in my inbox since I signed up on a london housing site from Victoria last week. After weeding through them for at least an hour, I called several and set up some appointments for that afternoon – unfortunately all 3 places that I went to yesterday were EXTREMELY far from each other and to get from one to the other I ended up using Bus, Train, Underground AND Overground. The advantage to this is that I have now figured out how the different systems work and am getting quite good at taking London Transit. The disadvantage is that it’s EXHAUSTING.
Sadly, all 3 places I looked at were duds. All three of them were rather out of the way, particularly if I end up having to supply teach in September, and all 3 were rather run down. I knew pretty much from the moment I arrived at each place that I wouldn’t be taking them.
Despite my exhaustion when I finally finished the flat hunting for the day, I was DETERMINED to do some sight seeing, so on my way back to town from the 3rd place I got off at London Bridge station and walked across the bridge. I took some pictures from there of the tower bridge and a few other London Sights and then I walked for a bit along Canon street. Finally, just after I passed St. Pauls Cathederal, I caught a bus to Trafalgar Square.
I did a quick walk through the square, took a few pictures and made my way back to the busses, I was getting hungry so I grabbed something to eat and got on the bus.
I only made it two stops before I got off again because I saw Big Ben all lit up and I wanted to see it closer up and take pictures. So I walked that way and ended up eating my dinner on a bench along the Thames just across the street from Big Ben. So my view as I ate was lovely: The London Eye (just lighting up since it was getting dusky), two of the bridges near there and the water. I’d like to go back there another day when I’m not so tired and do a proper walk around the area.
Today started with an appointment at the bank to set up an account. Which is done! HURRAH! It took ages and ages though and I was late leaving for my first appartment viewing.
I had 6 viewings scheduled today and only 2 of the 6 were even remotely in the same area. Oi. To make matters more challenging, I forgot to plug my cell phone in last night and it died around noon. Which was VERY inconvinient and made my day a whole lot more difficult than it needed to be. (since despite having directions, I still got lost – so many areas that were completely new to me.) In the end, I only made it to 3 out of the 6 appointments. I did go to two others but couldn’t find the right place and finally gave up and moved on. Not much else I could do without accessing the numbers/text messages on my phone.
I’m happy to say that despite these frustrations, today was still a more successful flat hunting day than yesterday was. All 3 places today were MILES better than the places yesterday, and not nearly as far out. I experienced my first transport hiccups today though. This morning the bus got caught in road works and was delayed by 30 min so I was late to the bank (this is apparently fairly normal in central london since the bank person I met with was completely unfazed by my being late due to traffic.) Then, when I was on the tube on my way to see two of the places, the doors wouldn’t close and after a long delay they asked everyone to get off the train – it was a VERY crowded train and there were LOTS of people at the stop we were to get off at so this meant waiting two trains until I could get on again. And it was HOT. Then there were more delays on my way back to where I’m staying.
After all that, I met up with a friend of Ali’s who lives here in London and we had a lovely time. She’s a journalist and she’s very nice and we’ve already decided that we’re going to go see “Toy Story 3” together sometime soon (it only JUST came out here this weekend). It’s nice to have a friend already in London. She was giving me some good advice on areas to live and areas to avoid. She also said she’ll help me work on my English Accent so people back home won’t be disappointed!
Before I left this morning I had a call from a rep at SANZA about a potential job teaching music twice a week for a school starting in September. She’s sent my resume through and its possible I’ll get a call tomorrow for an interview. Then, when I got home tonight, and finally plugged in my phone, I had a message from another SANZA rep about a potential job at a “really lovely” special needs school in South London. He called at 4 and they close at 5, so obviously I missed him, but I’ll call back first thing in the morning and see what’s up. Anyway it’s looking good. I’m glad to finally have some real opportunities coming through.
It’s late, so the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow.