Tuesday, January 6, 2009

FREEZING in London!/First Day of Work

Can’t feel my fingers so bullet points will have to work (all those who have said my blog is too long to read the whole thing will appreciate this entry!)

- Finally getting the hang of telling military time (kind of, requires way to much thinking) and writing the date as dd/mm/yy. 02-01-09 is not February 1st but January 2nd. I still find myself trying to enter cars on the wrong side and have absolutely no idea what way to look when crossing the road. When thinking of the America ways I keep tell myself how inapplicable the following quote is for the American mindset, “Why are you trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.” (quote shout out for Anu!) Can’t America just try to fit it with regards to some of these things so that they don’t throw me for such a loop!!
- Forget technology, a good foundation brush and travel jewelry bag (thank you mom and dad) is where it is at.
- I had a surprise wake-up call at 5:20 this morning from sweet Jeff!! So thoughtful (he set his alarm for 12:20 to wake-up and call me)! And yes, he is constantly doing sweet things like that. What a great start to my first day of work!
- Using public transportation is like running and “OJ” through the airport every day on your way to work. A great little cardio work out first thing in the morning (hence my fashionable white chucks with my dress clothes, heels in bag). Sidenote: It’s heartbreaking as the door for the tube close and you see running bodies suddenly halt, angery looks on their faces, as their bags whale about their bodies and their lips mutter words that it is probably best that I cannot hear.
- While I have mastered the tube, including the infamous run from one tube line to another, I have yet to master the railway. I find myself hopping on one of 18 rail trains and HOPING with everything in me that: 1. The train is actually going to Romford and 2. It will actually stop at the Romford stop (as many go by but do not pass)! My theory: ask at least two people when getting on the train if it stops in Romford. While not logical or practical, it hasn’t failed me yet!
- It was so cold here today that 11 schools were canceled. CRAZY!! Have I mentioned we have no centralized heat and my only source of warmth in my basement, might as well be an ice chest, don’t need to put milk in the fridge because it says cold out on the counter, flat is a small metal panel that heats up and is supposed to radiate heat to the room (hummm, that is like turning your oven on warm, leaving it closed and expecting it to heat the whole house. Dream on! Praying for heat in my new place in Chelmsford!! And very thankful to have be given gloves and a scarf for Christmas (thank you, Jeff!)
- To fit in on the tube you must: be either reading a newspaper or novel & be wearing a pea coat of some kind (color, length, etc… does not matter! I’ve seen it all!)
- I feel incredibly blessed to be making a few more pounds/hour than originally told and more than many of the other people in my program. Again, total Favor (spelled favour here!) I was shocked to find out that I am actually making five pounds more than that, that my placing agency kindly takes. For real, 5 pounds a hour for all 6 months… just for helping me find a job. Lame city!!
- Because there are no preservatives and things in the food here, the shelf life is very short. Don’t buy more than you can eat in a day or two. (hence fridges the size of the ones we would use in our college dorm rooms back home).
- Organic products and free range eggs are so standard here, even subway and McDonalds only use them.
- I wonder how people on their stops don’t miss the tube in the morning, many look fast asleep, with their eyes clothes and mouths wide open. So funny to watch. It’s a wonder I don’t miss the tube with as much people watching I do.
- I paid 47.60 pounds for a travel card (with my Oyster Card discount) for the week. Seriously!?!? Thankfully I only have to travel from zone 1 – zone 6 this week. Praying that travel from Chelmsford to Romsford is cheaper!!
- Blessing: I believe I will have enough money to last me until my first paycheck!! (We are paid weekly here).
- I started my job today! Fabulous!! As soon as I arrived I was given three files, told to read up and that I would have a house visit at 11:00. So much for orientation. I was offered a cup of tea. I said yes to be polite… however, the Borough is green and doesn’t use disposable cups, so I was instructed to grab a mug off the counter and wash it out. But, no soap. EWW, crusty old tea in the bottom and all I could do was rinse it. I used to most scalding hot water I could and hoped for the best (tea ring still in the bottom as I prepared my tea). EWWW!!! My high level of sanitation has been severely compromised since being here. All worth it…
- They drink tea and eat biscuits (cookies) all day long!
- On the way to the home visit (my supervisor drove me) I found myself getting severely car sick and nauseous. Blahhh – drivers here are crazy. Lucky (or unlucky) or me… I get to attempt to take the bus to my client’s house tomorrow… goodness! I hope I can find it!
- I met a new friend. A girl, who is from Oregon and also came from UK-Pro, also started today. So cool, I think we are going to be great friends. I fore see lots of traveling adventures in our future.
- Everyone at the office was so nice. I liked it so much. However, the lady to my left, also American – from South Dakota, complained the entire day about EVERYTHING. Such a drainer. What happened to being an optimist!?!?!
- There are these incredible advertisements here, put out by the bank, which show two objects, e.g. chocolate cake in one from (with the words good) and then broccoli (with the word bad) and then flipped… chocolate cake with the words bad, and broccoli with the word good. IT then mentions how things are a matter of perspective. There are several of these… a teddy bear and a man in a tribal mask (scary, comforting, comforting, scary), a biker tattoo and a henna tattoo (cultural, trendy, trendy, cultural), etc… SO COOL!!!! Perhaps I should share that with the lady that sits next to me. We are in LONDON!!!! BE HAPPY!!! CHOOSE JOY!!
- The UK system is so different… in the US a social service job is generally lower pay and considered a bachelor level position. IN the UK, child protecton work is reserved for high qualified social workers and the pay is very good. Family support workers (family therapists) are not even qualified social workers and make little pay. SO different, but I appreciate the importance and value placed on those working in the line of fire!
- the voltage is so much higher here that my blow dyer (used with the UK adaptor) coils look like that are on fire… I think I might need to get a UK one.. it seems a little not safe!
- It is so difficult to find vegetables here and my water consumption (based on sheer convenience) has decreased tremendously. Crazy how quickly your body can begin to feel sluggish and icky. It makes me appreciate how wonderful it feels to live a healthy life style. No more eating out… icky!!! Back to healthy for me. (Said after having ice cream tonight… yes, so cold and I had ice cream!) I am not normal!

SO much for keeping this short…

Jealous of your warm weather!


  1. Carina, you never talk too much! How else are we going to really visualize what you experience.
    Love ya, Aunt Audrey

  2. I agree-if you talked any less, my imagination would have to work doubly hard and that would be no fun! I feel like I am there with you in your cold flat freezing my toes off, and let me tell ya, that takes a lot of imagining to do....=)

    enjoy work and keep writing!!!!


  3. Carina,
    I agree with Aunt Audrey. The only thing better would be hearing about it in person. Once your time is finished there, and if you are still searching for the ultimate cultural experience, then I invite you to come work alongside me here in AL. The possibilites are endless my friend:~) Take care. Love and miss you lots... Jodie