We joined the ranks of the workforce this week, having both been accepted to be notetakers for the disability center on-campus. This is nice because you get to sit through a class in your field and take notes for students who are otherwise unable to take their notes. You get to learn and get paid for it. Not too bad a deal. We had to apply for an IRD (Internal Revenue Department) number at the post office, and it was a surprisingly easy task. The form was two pages long and just required copies of our passport and student ID. The lady processed the forms, gave us a receipt, and said to expect our numbers in the mail in about a week. What won't be so simple is figuring out all the tax stuff, but we'll just have to wait until the end of their year (March 30) to deal with that.
There were two holiday parties, one with some of the arts college's departments and the other with a small group of postgrads. Unfortunately, the first party suffered from the typical clique problem where each department's people just sat at their own table and didn't interact or leave room for anyone else. The second party was at a vegetarian restaurant which suffered from the dinner party problem where you may or may not be seated next to interesting people, and you never get the chance to talk to anyone from the other end of the table. Perhaps because the university has a small but growing animal studies research group, we have been encountering a large proportion of people working on animal rights-related topics and bringing them up in conversation. One lady was against the concept of pets and another was a vet who believed all vets should be vegans. I'll admit, hearing these new points of view has made me think more about humans and their relationships with animals than I did before.
With the new year just around the corner, I decided to ask the head of school for a meeting to discuss some of my frustrations at the lack of communication and events for postgrads in my department and others in the arts. This was the professor I met the first week I arrived whom I knew it would be advantageous to have talked with, and I was right. I felt comfortable going to him and we had a great meeting going over my concerns and coming up with solutions. As I suspected, he already knew a lot of what I was saying was happening, but it took someone speaking up about it to put it back as a priority on his huge to-do list to revitalize the school. I'm encouraged that the next few years will see the build-up of a strong postgrad community that supports us and reflects well on the school.
We saw our first movie here, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, which came out ahead of the U.S. release for a change. On this side of town, the movie theater is actually reasonably priced at $10 a ticket, and the theater was very nice with stadium, comfortable plush seating. The weird thing was they have assigned seats - which we didn't realize - and someone came in and made us move because we were in their seats. This system makes sense to give an incentive to buy tickets in advance online so you can get the best seats, but it was ridiculous in the huge theater to have all of us bunched up together in the middle. We moved over one after the movie started to avoid a smelly guy - it's called a buffer seat people!
At the house, we had another visit by insurance inspectors. After about half an hour of walking around and making notes, one of them showed up on the porch wearing a haz-mat suit and told us that we should stay out of the house for the next hour while they collected samples from walls and ceilings. We said we really didn't want to leave for an hour, so they compromised and worked on one side of the house at a time with a door shut. (Hopefully they don't find anything hazardous!) So now there are masking-taped-up patches all over, as well as numbers in Sharpies so they can match photos to rooms. No care taken to make the holes in inconspicuous places - I don't think this would fly in the U.S.
|generic aspirin was $2.59 for 20 300mg pills|
|brand-name naproxen sodium (Aleve) was $14.99 for 12 275mg pills|
We bought a 32" LCD TV at a garage sale for $100 which was a really good deal. Americans just need more than 1 television, I guess. A gift of fruit mince pies was given to us, and though I tried the raisin and apple-filled treats, they are just too sweet and weird tasting for my palate. I think you have to have grown up on them. Having to buy medicine for D since his back went out, I was reminded how expensive medicine is here and how I should have brought more with and wish someone had told me how crazy the prices are for even regular stuff like pain relief. Thankfully there are generic versions of aspirin and ibuprofen, but most other medicines and anything name-brand is at least $1 or more per pill.
Although not many people decorate for Christmas, there is a website where people can put their address if they do put up lights and want others to come see them. We drove about 10 minutes to a suburb with a lot of postings and saw several really nicely decorated houses. A couple even had signs saying come on in and see more, so we stopped at one and had a nice walk around the house full of lights, trees, ornaments, and other decorations. Definitely made me sad we couldn't bring any of our decorations with!