extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-16 09:17 pm
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I got my flat! On Thursday, the lady who has been helping me find a flat (she has been calling up places so that the initial contact is a) in German and b) from the MPG, to make a good first impression) asked how the viewing on Tuesday had gone. I told her that I loved the place but wasn't sure if I would get it and she offered to call the estate agent for me to find out more. Apparently there was another person also interested in the flat and the only possible problem with me is that I would want to flat for a short time only (3 years! This is the upper end of a short-term contract in the UK and not considered to be that short at all!) but she assured them that the department always has new people in need of accommodation, so she had no doubt they would be able to fill the apartment again if need be. The estate agent seemed happier about this and said that they were trying to get through to the owner but had been unable to reach him, and they would let me know by the end of the day, if possible.

A little later in the afternoon, I got a call from the owner to ask if he could meet me - which we arranged for today. I still didn't know at that point if this was a case of basically having the flat, as long as I didn't punch him in the face or let slip that I kill babies in my spare time, or if he was also seeing the other person and he would then judge us both from the meetings. Either way, I thought it wouldn't hurt to go to the other flat viewing I had organised; it was an our before the meeting, and a five minute walk from the other flat so hardly an inconvenience. And I'm really glad I went - because it was fine and would do at a push, but it wasn't nearly as nice as the place I saw on Tuesday. The bedroom was tiny, barely room for a double bed, and the lounge was large but quite dark and the balcony overlooked the high street. So I was all at once feeling better about the prospect of going for the first place I viewed, and terrified I wouldn't get the place I wanted.

But it was fine! I turned up five minutes early to the flat downstairs where the owners parents live - the owner wasn't there and his mother was lovely but didn't speak a word of English and my German is still not good enough to actually have a conversation not lifted straight from the textbook on a very specific topic. But then the owner arrived and he was lovely and seemed to like me and so I got the flat! It was a bit of an awkward meeting because there wasn't really anything to do once he had realised I wasn't an axe murderer or a complete nutcase. The estate agent will deal with all the details, contracts and where I should pay money and all of that stuff. He did show me pictures of the school in Sri Lanka where the rent money goes - it turns out he and his wife have an adopted daughter from Sri Lanka and as a result of this they set up a girls school in Sri Lanka to promote the education of women; I think they spend a few months of the year there teaching. And all the rental money from the flats goes to the school, which is fantastic. Education of women of something I feel very strongly about and support a number charities that focus on the education of girls and women, so that my rent will be helping to fund the school is kind of awesome.

After the meeting, I wandered around the local area and fell even more in love with it; I'd had a good general impression from February when I'd gone for a short potter around the day following my interview after finding out that it was a popular place to live to see if I liked it and could imagine living there. And an even better impression from when I'd seen the flat on Tuesday and had walked from the tram stop to the flat. It's such a gorgeous area; loads of quaint, beautiful, buildings, lots of little shops and pubs, and a little market too - though I guess that is probably just Saturday. And I discovered a little park too, not five minute walk away from the flat. I HAVE A FLAT AND IT IS AWESOME!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-15 10:47 pm

Of health insurance and German classes

Today was a very bitty day - broken up by a group meeting and a German lesson - so I planned to accomplish little tasks instead of big projects, and was generally successful. I sorted out health insurance (finally! and more on that in a minute), transferred all my data from my old department to my new department, organised my desk and made notes on the papers I've read this week.

The group meeting was good, and the first one EVER, actually, as the dynamics group is new and not previously established. My boss only started here 12, maybe 18, months ago, I'm not exactly sure. Recently, anyway. And he got a grant to form a new dynamics group here, which he has done. There are seven of us in total; my boss, three postdocs and three PhD students. One of the students is actually half way through a year-long visit here, and one of the postdocs has been here for three months already. The rest of us all started in the past two weeks. So the group meetings are very much what we want to make them, there is no precedent here - the idea is that we come along with anything of interest; stuff we're working on and stuck on/puzzled about, interesting results we find, interesting papers we read, reports on conferences we went to. If they continue to be as good as the meeting today then they will be great - everyone in the group is fantastic and the meeting was useful, can't ask for better than that!

The German lesson was okay; I find the pace of the classes a little slow. My first class was fine, but then it was the fifth class for everyone else so I had four lessons to catch up on (which I did fine). The group is great (although will be split in two as there are too many of us for the room, the smaller classes will be beneficial too), very friendly and the classes are a laugh. The teacher is quite a character too. The classes are predominantly in English (when we're not speaking German - I imagine (hope!) that the English:German ratio will change as we learn more) and I'm the only native English speaker out of 17 of us. It's quite fun because he'll often get people to translate things into their own languages (and occasionally he'll get me to say the English because he likes my accent!) - for example, we were doing jobs today and so he got everyone to say the job in their own language. All together we have people from France, Italy, Spain, China, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Iran, Taiwan, Sweden and India - I know this as "I come from ..." is one of the phrases we have learned!

Anyway, health insurance isn't something that I've ever had to deal with before, so this was all a bit new to me. People who get a salary get health insurance as part of the job, but people on a stipend (that's me) have to sort it out for themselves. The department gave me a list of health insurers they recommend and what they cover for what cost, etc, but I was still a bit clueless. They all seemed to cover roughly the same thing though. I ended up going with one company that had a package for visiting scientists as I figured that was designed for people just like me! I was a bit surprised to find something so specific, I guess it just shows how many people (scientists) come to work here.
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-12 09:54 pm
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I spent this morning in bed. My cold is really not that bad, I've had worse, but I slept maybe an hour last night - my sinuses were so blocked I couldn't breathe and that meant I couldn't sleep and that meant I felt pretty awful this morning. And then there was no point in going in to the department once I was finally up and moving, as I had to leave early to go to a flat viewing and I would have spent more time travelling to the department and having lunch than I would have actually working. And I can read papers at home just as well as at my desk anyway.

The flat I saw was amazing. I loved it! It's perfect for me. It's a two-room apartment on the first floor (or second floor if you're from the US), the living room is at the back with a balcony that looks over a garden and the bedroom is at the front with another small balcony that looks out over the street - can't see myself using that one so much as it is a) small and b) looks over the street, but it'll be nice to have the air flow in the summer, I'm sure. Both rooms are a nice size, not too big, but big enough for what I need and fantastically light. The kitchen is a little small, but perfectly adequate, and the bathroom again is small but I don't really need anything more anyway. The flat is 5 minutes walk from two different tram stops (though for the same tram lines) - two trams stop there, the first goes to Bizmarckplatz and Neuenheim (and the market I found on saturday) and the other goes to the main university campus (which is not where my department is but I will undoubtedly go there for talks and meetings occasionally). It's also close to quite a major route into/out of HD, but it's set back a couple of roads so it's nice and quiet. It seemed to be a very quiet street. I really, really loved it.

So, of course, I said to the estate agents that I wanted to take it. The viewing appointment I had was a block booking and I had been lead to believe that these things were done on a first-come, first-served basis so I made sure to arrive at the start of the block (early, in fact!) and I had also dressed smartly so as to make a good impression. Only the estate agent said that there were four other people viewing that afternoon and the decision would ultimately go to the owner. But could he take my photo and get me to fill out a form with my info to send to the owner. Given the picture-taking, I half-wondered if the form would require such gems as my hobbies and my favourite colour, but actually it was the understandable name, contact info, place of work, salary etc etc.

A part of me is a bit wary at the prospect of taking the first place I've looked at, however, while it may be the first I've seen in person, I've done a lot of looking around online. I started all the way back in February when I first accepted the job offer and I wanted to see what sort of things were available and for what sort of prices. And periodically over the intervening time, I have had a little look at some of the property websites occasionally to see what was there. I obviously didn't start looking in earnest until I got here - I knew I would have accommodation sorted for the first 6 weeks, so there was no point in trying to accomplish from a distance what is far easier done in person. So I feel like I do have a fair idea of what else is around.

I really, really hope I get this one, because I loved it. KEEP EVERYTHING CROSSED!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-11 10:24 pm
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Of buses and (a lack of) lemsip

My day started with more fun and games with the buses. My journey to work involves a tram journey to the centre of town and then a bus journey up the hill. The trams run every 10 minutes, that particular bus runs once an hour. I got to the tram stop at 8:35, in plenty of time for the 8:39 tram. I know the time because I realized I had left my phone at home and wondered if I had time to up back and get it. I decided I didn't. Well, the bus never showed up. I know from last week that the 8:49 tram gets in too late to get the 9:00 bus to the department (and that's when it's on time, which it wasn't today). When it became obvious that I was going to miss the 9:00 bus up the hill, I went back to get my phone and then headed to Bismarckplatz early to be sure to get the 10:00 bus. Not that it really mattered if I got that one or not. There was a meeting at 9:45 that I wanted to go it that was already out of the question.

While waiting for the bus up the hill, I went to the pharmacy where I made the unhappy discovery that the Germans do not believe in the magical powers of lemsip :( Indeed, they do not sell decongestants over the counter at all - I was given some herbal tablets instead. So I will have to stockpile the next time I am in the UK.

The rest of my day was not that productive; mostly because I was so tired as I hadn't slept the night before (thanks, sinuses). I did have a German lesson though, which was good. And I had a good evening as I met a friend for dinner, who I know through both astronomy and dancing - it was great to see her and she gave me lots of advice on number of issues; about the university, about living in Germany and about dancing :)
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-10 10:17 pm
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The cold that was threatening last week has hit full force today. Well, it's hit my sinuses at least. I had the beginnings of a sore throat on Thursday - it never got worse than a-little-bit-sore-and-kind-of-annoying but it's been a persistent little bugger and has left me feeling a bit under the weather nevertheless. I don't know which is worse, low-level pain for days or agony for 24 hours. There is nothing low level about the old sinuses though. I can't breathe and this means I can't sleep too well either, which would be kind of useful. The joys of too much stress and too little sleep for far too long. And the introduction to a whole country full of new germs!

Anyway, this pretty much sums up my day; a sat around the flat feeling sorry for myself, drinking tea, reading a paper and bonding with my new toy.
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-09 10:54 pm
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Of markets and iphones

Today was a good day. I had seen an apartment online and I wanted to find out if I could see it today, so I went to the address on the estate agents website. I didn't find it - I assume it must have been the private address of the owner or something because it was a residential and not commercial area. But it wasn't a wasted trip by any means! Firstly I was up by Philosophenweg, which I have never been along before, despite having been here twice as a tourist. It's really beautiful so I had a lovely time wandering along; I was amazed at the size of the houses though, they were huge.

The best thing though, was a discovery I made on my way there. There's a little square about ten minutes away where a couple of nearby restaurants have put out chairs - I been there a couple of times for lunch and coffee. It's very pretty and the food is good. Today there were no chairs and tables. Instead the square was filled with stalls of fruit and veg and meat and cheese and flowers.

I didn't want to carry everything around with me all morning so I didn't stop, but I deliberately went past on my way back. I found a fantastic Austrian stall selling meat and cheese, and the owner was very friendly and patient with my non-existent German; and his food was amazing, I shall definitely be going back next week. I also bought some delicious peaches and strawberries - I enjoyed my lunch!

And my day was made better still by the fact that I finally got a mobile here. If it were merely a phone, then this would be unremarkable save for the fact that it is another thing to cross off my (very long) list of things to do.... But it is not just a random phone; it is an iPhone and I am very much in love! I have wanted one for ages but there wasn't much sense in getting one in the UK as I knew I would be leaving and they are expensive to jailbreak. And I didn't want to buy one twice! So I am a very happy girl :)
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-08 11:50 pm

The language barrier

I didn't sleep at all well last night, despite being really tired and I woke up this morning feeling pretty rough; the cold I had anticipated yesterday seemed certain to be a reality pretty soon - but it never showed up and I felt better and better throughout the day.

First thing this morning, I tried to arrange a test drive for a car. It cannot be said to have gone well. I called up and asked if they spoke English; the guy I spoke to obviously didn't have amazing English skills but he knew enough to understand me when I said I wanted to arrange a test drive and he transferred me through to the appropriate person. I then asked him if he spoke English. A little bit, he said. Now in my experience so far, everyone answers the question with "yes, a little bit" and then they are amazing at the whole English thing. This guy was the exception that proves the rule. I said that I wanted to arrange a test drive and he replied in German. I told him that I didn't understand and repeated slowly and clearly that I wanted a test drive (hoping he would understand and that "a little bit" meant he would understand phrases related to his work and that I am not the first English-speaker to want a test drive) - he replied again in German. So I just said (again) that I didn't understand and thank you and hung up because otherwise we were going to go around in circles.

This was somewhat frustrating. Mostly, I was frustrated with myself for not speaking the language, because I really don't know anything - I am taking lessons (more on that in a bit) but I can't say anything useful yet. And yeah, I was kind of pissed off at the guy, not because of the German thing (because it is totally me who sucks here - I am the one who is at fault for not speaking German, he is in no way at fault for not speaking English) but because he said yes he spoke some English when he obviously didn't. All he needed to say was no, and then I would have said okay, thanks and moved on with my life. Instead there was horrendous confusion with us both speaking different languages at each other and getting absolutely nowhere and I ended up just feeling like shit. I could have done without that.

After the phone debacle, I took a tram out to Eppelheim as I had seen a nice flat advertised there but didn't know what the area was like and wanted to have a look around. It seems okay but I don't think I want to live there; a little too far out from Heidelberg for me, and the flat was actually on the main street, which isn't ideal. The pictures did look nice though, so maybe I will have a look anyway - there's not much to be had by way of flats at the moment, so I can't afford to be too picky!

When I finally got into work, I went and got some stationary from the receptionist, my desk is looking more like someone lives there now, it's good! And then after lunch, I had my first German lesson. The teacher is great, he spent a lot of time bantering with the class, so it was a really relaxed atmosphere, but we actually got through quite a lot. I have missed the first four classes, but was able to pick things up okay, so it's not the end of the world.

After the lesson, I had a meeting with Glenn, who continues to be awesome; he's such a nice guy. At lunch (after I had explained about my telephone woes this morning) he had offered to call around for me if I needed help and then gave me lots of advice and info about cars and related issues in Germany and also offered to give me the details of the guy he went to for car insurance as he spoke good English and got good deals. So the first thing he did when we started the meeting was give me this insurance guy's details. And the repeat the offer to call around if I needed help, or just generally offer to help in anyway. Did I mention how he is awesome?

And the we chatted about science and he suggested some good papers for me to read, so it looks like I'm going to be busy reading next week. And we've arranged a time to go over the data and code he has (that I will eventually be modifying) a week monday.

Now though, now it is the weekend and I so need one of those!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-07 11:43 pm
Entry tags:

Life as a postdoc

My day today was filled with talks; first there was Galaxy Coffee in the morning and then a Theory Meeting in the afternoon. Neither were on topics I know very much about or am particularly interested in and I was so tired, so I honestly didn't pay that much attention, though I tried! I met some more people though, which is good, and everyone seems really nice and everyone seems to get on reasonably well.

The rest of my day, as yesterday, was spent working on my thesis corrections - I think I'm nearly done!

I think I might be getting a cold though, my throat is just beginning to hurt and I'm exhausted (which also could be attributed to the busy week I've had - or maybe this is chicken and egg). Do not want.
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-06 11:27 pm
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I went to a salsa club this evening, which means that I managed to survive for four whole days in Heidelberg without dancing.

It turns out that I have really great officemates - Tatiana I met on Monday when I was shown to my office but Max wasn't in. And then yesterday I wasn't in. Finally, today I met Max. They're both nice people; friendly and very willing to help the new person settle in and both fairly quiet when working, which suits me. What really sealed it though, is when I came back after lunch to find them dancing in the middle of the office. Doing a little salsa practice for tonight, they said. Of course, at the mere mention of dancing I got very excited and said that I was a dancer and had done a bit of salsa in the past. It turns out that there is a bar/restaurant just off Bizmarckplatz that has a back room with a dance floor and every wednesday night they have a salsa night. Max and Tatiana, and a few others, go along every week and they invited me to go along with them. Now it's been an incredibly busy week already and I was feeling rather exhausted - and it was only halfway through - so I said thank you for the offer and that I was interested but would probably be too tired. And I honestly didn't expect I'd go. But tired as I was, the chance to dance was just too good to pass up, so I went. Kinda surprised myself with that one, but I'm so glad I did.

The club was great - the floor wasn't huge and it was pretty busy, but it wasn't completely crushed; the music was loud but not so loud that it gave me a headache and I could still chat to people, though you still had to be quite close to someone to talk properly. And the floor was a bit sticky in places, but mostly it was okay. And there was dancing :) I didn't really how much I needed to dance! I really enjoyed it. Max was pretty good, though I sometimes found his style a little too relaxed for me and he was sometimes a bit hard to follow (I am the opposite in that I tend to be too tense when I do salsa as a result of all the latin I've done). He also does rueda (it gets better!) so he revised some basic rueda with me too and told me about a rueda class on sundays - I might have to check that out. There was also another guy from the MPIA there, and he was very good - he had a very clear lead and was so easy to follow, and he had obviously done a lot of salsa so he made me do all sorts of things, it was really good fun.

So I had a really good night!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-05 11:25 pm
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In which I register and acquire a bank account

As I am an EU citizen, I didn't need to get a visa or work permit or anything before I came to Germany, I just got on a plane and then, a little bit later, got off the plane. However, there are some admin bits that do need to be done, even for EU citizens, if you intend to live for more than three months here. The first requirement is to register with the local municipal registry within a week of arrival - this was a painless affair; the building was easy to find and all I had to do was show my passport and then sign a couple of forms. The only bad thing really was that I had to wait for around 45 minutes to be seen, but there was a ticketing system, so I could sit down while I waited. There is some further administrivia to be done (I need a residence permit) but for that I need to have proof of health insurance and that requires me to have a bank account with money in it.

So my next task of the day was to obtain a bank account. I was keen to have one that had online banking in English and I had seen references online to people using Commerzbank internet banking in English but I couldn't find reference to it on their website and when I asked in the bank they said it wasn't something they offered. I ended up going with Commerzbank anyway, in the end, as I wanted to go with one of the big banks and not the smaller, regional ones. For this I had to make an appointment, though luckily I was able to do it on the same day. I had a couple of hours to kill - not enough time to go up to the department as it is a 30 minute bus journey there and back, and not really worth going back to my apartment, so I ended up pottering around town. And I found a tea shop! The owner was lovely and her English was excellent so we had a good chat, and she had loads of loose teas, including some decaf ceylon, earl grey and darjeeling, and lots of tea pots and strainers and tea tins. I was so excited! So now I have tea again :)

Back in the bank, the lady who opened my account asked me the weirdest questions; she took my passport and wrote down the usual name, date of birth, place of birth etc etc. Then she asked me where the passport was issued. So I said "Great Britain, I'm British", thinking she wanted my nationality or something. But no, she asked if it was issued in a consulate and in which town. Uhm, I just wrote to the passport office. Never been asked anything like that before. She also asked if I wanted a credit card, to which I said yes; the she asked if I wanted a credit card or a prepaid card. So I said a credit card because prepaid card = pointless for a personal account, that's just like a debit card and I'm already getting one of those. But she gave me a prepaid card anyway. So confused.

I spent the evening trying to figure out how to log in to online banking and then trying to decipher what I found once I had managed to do so. And then I wanted to try and transfer some money from UK account - this is quite a faff. I obviously don't want to transfer all of my UK money as I will be getting paid here and I don't want to convert any more than I have to, but I will need quite a bit to set up here, what with health insurance, mobile phone, flat deposit, flat admin costs.... and that's not including the car and car insurance I want to get too. I spent ages trying to find the IBAN and SWIFT numbers for my new account, with no joy, and while I found magical calculators online that told me how to work them out, I want to be sure I've definitely got them right if I'm pushing significant amounts of money around so I'll check with the bank tomorrow.

There's still loads more to do, but at least I have checked two more boxes.
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-04 07:29 pm
Entry tags:

First day

Today was my first day at the MPIA and, as I suspected it was mostly filled with admin tasks and no actual work was done at all.

My day started with some fun and games with the buses. It turns out my watch is a couple of minutes slow and so when I decided I had time to go and buy breakfast before getting on the bus, I managed to miss the bus I had intended to get to Bizmarckplatz. No worries, I had planned to get the earlier bus than I needed just in case this happened, and they run every 10 minutes so its not like I had to wait long for the next one. Only the next bus was a couple of minutes late and got stuck in traffic so I just missed the bus up to Konigstuhl. The bus timetable said there were buses at 00 and 35 minutes past the hour, so I went and found myself a coffee then waited and waited.... No bus arrived. Ten minutes after it was due, I gave up and decided to walk through the old town and get the funicular instead (actually, this possibly took slightly longer than waiting for the next bus, but it was a pretty journey and I was less bored by waiting). This only reinforced my decision to buy a car because one bus an hour - not so useful.

When I arrived, I was met by Glenn (my new supervisor, who is completely awesome) and also given a list of people+offices+jobs - the idea was that I went to visit each person in their office, introduced myself and then learned what they do and how they can help me (and also got them to sign my form, which I then had to hand back in to prove that I had completed all my tasks!). So I had a tour of the library, met the travel people, the admin people who gave me more forms to fill out, the computer people and got myself an email account and the technical people who also gave me a key to the department. While I was busy collecting signatures, I also met Remco, the other postdoc Glenn has hired; he also started today and was wandering around clutching his form too and he seems cool.

Once I had seen everyone, it was lunch time, so we all met for lunch; we being Glenn, Remco and me, and two PhD students he is working with - Ronald, who has been at the MPIA for a while and a-girl-whose-name-I-have-forgotten who was also new today. Everyone is really nice and it seems like a fantastic group! It should be good. I'm sharing an office with two other people; one wasn't in today, but I met Tatiana and she seems nice and very friendly so that'll be great too.

Once lunch had been accomplished there wasn't really much I could do in the department as I didn't have internet access at that point, so I went back to town again. I need to register because I will be living here for more than 3 months and had thought to get that done but they closed at midday so I'll do that first thing tomorrow. Once that's done I can get a bank account and then I can start to get health insurance and a mobile phone and other fun things. There's so much to do! I did manage to do some useful things with my afternoon though - I bought myself a monthly bus pass and finally went food shopping :)
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-03 04:50 pm
Entry tags:

Some pros and cons

The pros:
- today is a truly glorious day, it is like the middle of summer here, not the beginning of October. Having left England yesterday in heavy rain, this makes a nice change! I went out for a walk earlier in tights and boots (in which I was far too hot) and a jumper, jacket and scarf (all of which were quickly removed as I started walking). And even when I was sitting outside in a cafe to have a quick lunch, I was happy in just a t-shirt. It's very nice of Heidelberg to put on such a fabulous display of weather to welcome me here :)
- I found a lovely little cafe in the middle of a square of lunch - both the food and the coffee were excellent, and it wasn't very expensive either!

The cons:
- nothing is open on a sunday. I had been forewarned about this, but hadn't thought about it when I made my travel plans. In hindsight, arriving late saturday was not the best plan ever, as all the shops were shut by the time I arrived, and won't open until tomorrow. Oh, there are cafes and restaurants aplenty, so I shan't starve, but I can't go and buy ingredients to make my own food. I wondered if maybe things would be open later in the station so I walked out there last night, but no joy. I did find a McDonald's though, so I had a coffee and bought a muffin for today's breakfast. I also saw a sign for a Lidl on my walk back and I wondered if they might be open on sundays, I wasn't too hopeful but thought it might be worth checking - their website said yes. The stores themselves said no. I went to two Lidl's, neither *that* far away from where I am - maybe half a mile? - but in opposite directions, but both were closed! Great website there. So that was a two and a half mile round trip all told, and I still have no food!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-10-02 11:04 pm


I am in Heidelberg! Honestly, I feel a bit like I'm on holiday at moment rather than living here now, but I'm sure that will pass, particularly once I start work!

My department are great and they give me accommodation for the first six weeks so that I can find somewhere to live while I am here instead of having to do it from a distance over the internet. And the accommodation they have given me is great. I had to pick up the key from another nearby department so my taxi from the airport dropped me off in the middle of the main university campus and I was surrounded by buildings and had no idea which one was the one I needed. I was debating which to try first when a man walked by so I asked him which was the Max-Planck-mediwhatsit-somethingsomething and it turned out he was the guy I needed to see about keys! So he told me to wait where I was (excellent for me as I had two Very Large and Very Heavy suitcases) and he went and fetched my keys and even gave me a lift to the apartment building. It wasn't far but would have been a nightmare with my suitcases so I was very grateful. My apartment is on the third floor and my heart sank a little when I found out - all those stairs.... only it turns out there is a lift!

The apartment is great - I even have a balcony; it's not huge but has a table and a couple of chairs. One wall of the bedroom is all window and has a door out onto the balcony, and I can also get onto the balcony from the main room. The main room is open plan and nice and light with a sofa and coffee table, dining table with four chairs, a desk, a tv and some bookshelves. The only slightly downside is the TINY kitchen which only has two hot plates. I did find an oven in a slightly larger communal kitchen down the hall though, so that will do. It will certainly do me very nicely indeed for the next six weeks (or less if I find a flat sooner) and I would be very happy to find something similar, only with a larger kitchen!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-07-15 01:16 pm

Visas, voting and the FCO

It appears that the FCO have a lots of information relating to moving and living overseas, including a handy leaflet in pdf format that gives you things to think about. It's all mostly common sense (like the fact that you will need somewhere to live and it's a good idea to check out rental or purchase prices in your chosen destination) but it gives you a list of common sense things to consider and check off. I like lists. And given how much there will be to do in the next few months, I think a list is a rather good idea to make sure that nothing gets forgotten, even if it is all stuff I should know already!

One of the most important pieces of information for an EEA citizen (that's me) moving to another country within the EEA (that would be Germany) is that I don't need a visa to live there. I have a right to live anywhere in the EEA that I choose. So a visa is one thing I don't have to bother with. Hurrah! I will need to register with local authorities when I arrive and get a residence permit, but no visa is required.

There's an FCO page especially for Brits in Germany, which looks quite handy (though hopefully parts like "registering a birth" will be unnecessary for me!)

They also provide a facilty called LOCATE for Brits travelling or living abroad. It means that they know where you are should they need to contact you or should any natural (or otherwise) disasters happen wherever you're travelling to, and they also have emergency contact information for you. Of course, I'm not expecting to run into too many problems in Heidelberg, but the idea is sound enough. They also advise to register with the nearest embassy/high commission/consulate (which as far as I can tell is in Frankfurt for me), but I think signing up with LOCATE takes care of that anyway.

Finally, Brits abroad can register to vote - very important!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
2010-07-15 01:07 pm
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What's this all about then?

I'm a British astronomer, currently finishing up a PhD in the UK and soon to be moving to Germany to start a postdoc. I'm Very Excited, although as I've never lived abroad before, I'm also a bit daunted by the prospect of doing the actual moving thing.

This journal is a way for me to document all the bits and pieces I have to do in order to move to Germany and get step up there. I anticipate there will be Forms. Lots and lots of forms. And health insurance to sort and bank accounts and cards and I'll need somewhere to live and... yeah, you get the picture.

I hope that I shall be writing lots of success stories about everything has been incredibly easy to accomplish, however I anticipate that there will be a few hiccoughs (followed by ranting posts from me) along the way. Time will tell, I suppose!