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The proof of the pudding is in the eating

April 3, 2009
tags: ,

OK, this is more daunting than writing on a train. Got up, fed cats. Now? Writing? Really? Luckily, someone recently asked me about living in England and how that’s going. So.

I get asked something similar by British people not infrequently too, and I never know what to say. Sure, there’s some adjustment, but I really haven’t found the changes all that much different than what was involved moving from Chicago to New York City. Of course, New Yorkers also love to ask about how one is adjusting to moving to their metropolis, And I never knew what to say then either. I’m here. It’s fine. Yeah, I am that phlegmatic. You gotta problem with that?

Actually… It’s not really a problem in most ways, but it does make it a little difficult for me to come up with research questions.

Back to living in England, in Bristol. The pizza is a disaster. All the chinese takeout places also serve fish and chips. Bristol is pretty horrible to drive in, but it’s not bad at all for bike riding (compared to NYC). When I first got here, Bristol was a maze of twisty little passages, all alike, but at this point I’ve learned to navigate pretty well here, although not necessarily around the rest of the UK. I’ve come to hate Margaret Thatcher in a very real, rather than an abstract commutative property of Ronald Reagan, way now that I’m enjoying the fruits of all the services she privatized.

Oh, here’s an interesting bit for those of you in America. The UK seems bigger than it is. It’s fairly densely packed down here in the south and southwest AND those twisty streets are a fairly universal property. I’ve been out and about in the countryside quite a lot for my masters program and with the hedges, narrowness of country lanes and their propensity to wend around topographical features rather than steamroll over them in a straight line, it takes up to twice as long to cover a given distance here than it would in the US. And the UK really isn’t all that small anyway, although folks here love to talk about how tiny it is.

I’ve found that I don’t have to get drunk to socialize with my academic peers, although I do enjoy a pint, or sometimes two, with them on Wednesday nights on a fairly regular basis. I have noticed that we non-British grad students have tended to hang out with each other quite a bit. Just kinda happened that way, quietly. We do socialize plenty with everyone else too, but the main lot of folks I end up with at the pub by the end of the evening tend to be the North Americans.

British bureaucracy can be maddeningly byzantine at times, although it does seem to maintain functionality if you can figure out how to navigate it. I could tell you all about the ins and outs and history of heritage management here. It’s filled with odd ducks that are neither fish nor fowl. That seems to be par for the course, lots of responsibilities carved up in weird ways between different bodies with different origins and sources of authority.

OK, I’ve now earned my tea and some breakfast!

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