Friday, June 27, 2008

Work Culture

Just when I think I'm beginning to get a grip on the differences between British and American work culture, I'm thrown a curve ball.

I'm on the social committee here (isn't that just cute?...), and am helping to organize our Holiday Party. Up until now, the only dates/days we've discussed have been Fridays. Which, strikes me as odd-I've only ever attended a company holiday party (mine or anyone else's) on a Saturday. So, I posed the question to the group, 'how about a Saturday?' You would think would have asked the group to set their hair on fire. Apparently, even if it's a party, it's considered 'work', and the thought of work interfering with the weekend is very, very bad.

Which, in theory, I kinda like. But, in the case of a swanky, dress up party-even further out of London than our office, it just strikes me as impractical. So, our holiday party will be on a Friday. To make the party-and in proper attire, I'll probably have to leave the office by 4p. Get home, get ready, get back on the train (in full dressy mode-and at the cost of *another* £10. grr), and trek back out to the party. Am I the only person who thinks this is a lot of freaking effort? No wonder the parties are apparently very poorly attended.

By the Numbers-an Update

This Tuesday marks the four month point of my move to London-where has the time gone?!? Feeling a bit nostalgic, I was puttering back to a few of my old blog posts today and came across the 'By the Numbers' post. It got me thinking about what the reality has become, so I thought an update was warranted. Though the details have changed (both for better and worse...), the outcome is still about the same. ughh. Old versus New numbers are below.

Monthly take home pay (post taxes): 4300
LESS:Rent 1500 (this is just my half assuming I have a roomie & we're crammed into 700 sf)
401(k): 200
Insurance: 50 (rental)
Medical: 50
Transportation: 300
Food: 300
Travel: 500 (yes, I plan to do this A LOT)
Utility bills (power, mobile): 200
Entertainment: 300
Clothing: 200
"Stuff": 200
Total expenses: 3800

Monthly Take Home Pay: 3700 (but, I'm still awaiting a tax refund for being an expat-long story...I think the final amount will be more like 3900)
Rent: 1565 (this includes Council Tax)
401(k)-here, a 'Pension': 200
Insurance: 10
Medical: so far, 0. Insurance is free.
Transportation: 250
Food: 300 (this doesn't count beer. see Entertainment)
Travel: 500
Utility: 150 (still just a swag. long will probably be another month or two before I've a firm grip on these costs)
Entertainment: Also known as beer:200 (hey, it's a drinking culture!)
Clothing: so far, 0. This doesn't count Seattle purchases, though! :)
'Stuff': 50
Total Expenses: 3225.

Which, still leaves me with ~£500 a month left over.

I gotta admit, I'm surprised I was able to swag the outcome like I did-4 months ago! Now that I'm fully settled in though, I do think some of the above will change a bit...I need to work a bit to get the Beer number down a bit, and hopefully, the Utility number isn't as high as my swag. I'll update again in a few months to see if my updated estimates are still holding true.

Bored Now

It's been three weeks since I've returned from the US. Three weeks that I've stayed in London and not gone anywhere. Slough does not count. I'm bored. I told myself I wouldn't travel until August (unfortunately, even the British Pound doesn't grow on trees, either...), but I'm getting antsy again. There is no known cure for the travel bug-nor should there be, come to think of it.

Any suggestions for a weekend trip? In the UK or elsewhere?... The weather thusfar hasn't been warm enough (at least, for me...) to lay out in a bathing suit to get some sun, so a beachy location would be nice. But, the Scandanavian countries (maybe Copenhagen?...) are also calling my name-it will be daylight well in the wee hours of the morning there this time of year...hmm..

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Only in London..

On my way to pub quiz night last night, I saw the funniest sight-and wish I had my camera. I guess a description is going to have to suffice...

On Marleybone High Street (a fairly busy road), a well dressed banker type rode by me on what is known here as a commuter bike. He had his satchel slung across his shoulder, one hand on a handlebar with a cigarette in it, and the other hand had a cell phone up to his ear in which he was talking.

I can barely walk and talk at the same time-muchless do something like that. God, I wish I had my camera.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Flip Side Of the Coin

Long story short, I stumbled across this random blog today, and couldn't help but laugh outloud (primarily because I identify all too well...) with a few of his posts on moving from London to New York.

I thought it worth a mention..

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The House is Officially Warmed

Sarah & I had our house warming party Saturday nite. It's safe to say, I now know I can easily fit 20-30 people on the 2nd floor living area without any problems. Hopefully, once the weather warms up (is it just me, or does it suck to have to say that in the middle of June?!?), we'll be able to have another gathering and take advantage of the rooftop. Preferrably with a grill!

Saturday was good fun. Yummy food (especially the Neal's Yard Cheese. I know Beechers imports it. Check it out!), good beer selection, and the Wii was great entertainment. Fun folks too! After meeting so many people in a one-off manner over the last several months, it was surprising to see just how many new friends I have-now that they were all standing in one place! I'm a lucky girl.

The one oddity of the evening? Due to the tube closing around midnight, most folks were gone by 12.30 (they were walking/biking home), and we were basically cleaned up by 1a. Crazy. Seems like this is the time when most house parties are just getting out of control in the US. :) Though, I don't think I'm complaining. Just an observation that makes me go, 'hm.'

I'll test the theory again this Saturday, as I have a house party to *attend.* We'll see!

This is Paul-he's Scott's (my bff) younger brother. Doesn't he look cute?...He was in London on business and was able to come to the party as well.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It was nothing short of a perfect two weeks that I just spent in Seattle.

The weather (at least, on average..) was good, the Mariners won the night I went to the game (miracle), I got to get my sushi and red meat fix (neither of which are that great here-at least at a price point I can afford!), time spent with Simon was fantastic-and he really enjoyed himself, and most importantly, I got to catch up with everyone that I've been missing the past three months!

It was a whirlwind trip, full of lots of nights out, eating and drinking-and funny observations....

-Oddly, I only had one home cooked meal (thanks, Eric & Kristi! you made my one meal to be FANTASTIC!). I actually thought I'd cook a bit while staying at Carrie's. I don't think the rice & canned tuna I had my first night on arrival counts...
-You know you've been in the UK too long when 'pop to the loo' makes it into your every day vernacular-even when you're not in the UK! I think my hair dresser is still scratching her head over what, exactly I meant when I said this.
-It's weird staying in a hotel in a town in which you own property. Between that and staying at Carrie's, I never actually went to my condo. So, I ultimately felt like a visitor who really knows their way around town-versus a Seattlite who was at home. Odd.
-I have too many shoes. I (only...) bought 3 pairs of shoes when in town. But, when added to my collection in London, I realize just how many I have. Maybe too many. Maybe...
-Hit and runs suck. Especially when you're the 'hittee.' Not that being the 'runner' would be any better...
-Being on a boat on Lake Union when the weather is good? There's really no better way to spend the day.
-And to that, when the weather is good in Seattle, there's no more perfect place I'd rather be.
-In an effort to consume as much good coffee as possible while in Seattle, I think I actually overdosed. I had one cup today-and could barely finish it!
-I think I barely walked more than 3-4 blocks on any given day in Seattle. A typical day in London is more like 3-4 miles.
-Though the London diet is a smashing success (to the comment about eating and drinking...), it's a good thing I'm back. I think I gained back almost every pound I've lost over the past 3 months during the two weeks in Seattle. Sad.
-I much prefer converting from dollars to pounds when in the US than from pounds to dollars when in the UK!

And, as much as I loved being back and visiting with everyone, towards the last few days, there was a part of me that really started to miss London. Partially because of Simon. Partially because of not sleeping in my own bed. But, I think as I was walking to dinner last nite, I finally understood the real reason: the hub-ub of London is contagious: people on the streets walking with purpose, the sound of traffic-and the sight of the double decker busses, the smell of (in this case) amazing Mediterranean food wafting from the restaurants we were passing by, just the 'feel' of the city. Don't get me wrong: I miss Seattle. But, at least for the time being, there is a novelty to living in London that I'm just enjoying. I'm sure at some point in the future, the things I just mentioned above will actually become the things I curse about this city (rude people plowing over you on the sidewalk, diesel fumes chugging forth out of bus engines, stinky odors coming from restaurants...), but until that day comes, I'm simply going to enjoy every moment of living here-and look forward to continuing to be a visitor in Seattle!