Imagining a London Life

Right now, I’ve been checking out apartments–er, flats–on Gumtree, envisioning myself adjusting to various scenarios: sharing a place with strangers, living on my own in a bedsit, riding buses, trying to find an apartment in the first place, sharing a house with a boisterous band of Australians and Kiwis, etc.  I’m a bit early in actually contacting some of these places offering spaces in April and May, although I have already fired off one e-mailstaticmapldn inquiring if any tenants will be moving out of one bedsit in August, yet it’s good to get an idea of how much I will likely be spending on rent.  Currently, sharing a little duplex with Clark costs me half of the $750 rent, but it is unlikely I will be able to spend only $375 a month living in London unless I live with people.

Ah… but I’m so shy.

Okay, really, I’m just afraid of living in an unsavory situation with unsavory folks.  Getting a roommate is kind of like playing Russian Roulette.  Okay, maybe it’s not that bad.  We’ll call it Roommate Roulette.  Since I have lived mostly with male roommates, I have a strong preference towards living with guys.  But even still, guy or lady, I would like to actually physically meet someone and get to know him or her before I decide to share a bathroom with the person.  Since this is difficult in my current situation to have heart-to-heart conversations with people about living habits, I’m inclined to try and see about getting a place on my own just for me, even if it means I have to pass on certain luxuries, such as a garden, a division between the bedroom and living room, maybe even a private bathroom.  Yes, I’m odd in that I would rather share a bathroom with someone than a kitchen, and, funny enough, I found a place on Gumtree with this precise set-up.  Really.

Looking up these various flats also enables me to learn a bit about London’s geography, through the magic of Google Maps.  Eventually, I will be able to tell you whereabouts Central Croydon, Southwark, Wandsworth, Gravesend, Middlesex and Raynes Park are, as well as whether or not I am considering living in these areas.  Also learning a bit about the various London neighbourhoods through a few books I’ve borrowed from the library.  In addition to a couple of the standard guidebooks, I’ve begun reading Anna Quindlen’s Imagined London: A Tour of the World’s Greatest Fictional City.  So far, it’s quite engaging, and it’s rekindled my curiosity about many of the titles Quindlen has mentioned in the text: Mrs Dalloway, Howards End, The Pursuit of Love, Vanity Fair.  Perhaps the best book, or at least one of the best, to read in order to learn about London is London: The Biography, by Peter Ackroyd.  I have a paperback copy I hadn’t finished, but, thanks to the humidity of Florida and perhaps also its thickness, a huge chunk of the book has separated from the spine.  I haven’t even finished it and it’s already falling apart!  Boo.  Either I’ll be gluing the pages back in, or I may need to buy another copy.  In hardback this time.

At this point I don’t know how much money I will have for the move and for my education, as I am still in the dark about what sort of financial aid and loan package I will be getting for school.  At work, a coworker and I have a running joke with each other, as we both are waiting to hear back on financial aid for our respective Master’s programs; hers here in Orlando with UCF, and mine with SOAS.

“Hey, Doreen, have you heard anything about financial aid yet for school?” she says.

“Oh…”  I wag my finger at her while grimacing into a smile.  “That’s funny!  How funny you are!”

And we go back and forth with this.

So, given the dark unknown which currently habits my awareness of financial aid, I’ve been trying to budget my money more.  I’ve begun a Mint account after reading about a friend who had done the same on the blog he and his girlfriend have started to document their ’round-the-world journey beginning next year, Our Excellent Adventure.  I’ve had it for about two or three weeks and so far… I’ve gone overbudget in my “Alcohol & Bar” expenses for the month.  Thanks a lot, Total Wine.

Also in preparation for the move, I’ve been turning in CDs for trade at Park Ave CDs to lessen the amount of CDs I have to pack up later.  I’ve also been copying recipes down in notebooks from the two shelves of cookbooks and numerous copies of Everyday Food so that I may only need a couple of notebooks in my luggage, as opposed to several thick cookbooks.  As for the cookbooks themselves, I am anticipating selling some of them, either online or to friends who might want to buy them.  I own so many, and although it’s nice to be able to flip through these books and see the gorgeous pictures, I need to ask myself how practical some of these recipes are, and how often I would be able to make some of the book’s contents, especially with the more omnivorous selections with tips on cooking pork or chicken, stuff I don’t eat.

I’m thinking about all of this now in hopes of not having to rush as much in July and early August.  I still need to get a visa, but I might have to wait a bit until I apply in order for it to not expire while I am still in class (the schoolyear ends 18 June, 2010).  Also, haven’t bought a plane ticket yet, because I’m still waiting on word regarding financial aid.  Hopefully, everything will fall into place as time progresses, but in the meantime, I’ve been appraising some of my belongings with a keen eye, and asking myself if I truly need three cookbooks devoted to cookies.

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