Minh and I have now been in the UK for a couple days… let’s recap our adventure so far…
On Friday, we picked up our car from the office. This was a true eye-opener. At first we thought it wouldn’t be so bad, driving on the left side of the road, sitting on the right side of the car, manual.. BOY were we wrong! Minh got to drive first because he’s more comfortable with manual transmission than I am. The car came from Hemel-Hempstead, about an hour and a half away, and of course it comes pretty much empty.
We filled it with approximately £20 pounds, which should be enough for a little while. The driving is pretty nerve-wracking.. you can tell by the look on Minh’s face. First thing he did was hit the curb at the gas station. Then continued to freak out every time a car passed in the opposite direction, and I freaked out every time the car veered closer and closer to the left. The perspective is totally off with the driver on the right, we had no idea if we were in the lane or not.
We also did a Costco run while we were out, mostly for toiletries and household goods. We didn’t think that we would end up spending that much, but it ended up at about £144, which I guess falls into a “normal” Costco-run at home. Hopefully, all this will last us a descent amount of time and we won’t need to go back to Costco anytime soon.
After getting home from Costco, we stayed in the rest of the night. I was supposed to go out to “practice” driving.. but it started to get dark, so I passed on that. We did, however, get up on Saturday to drive to ASDA. This time, I was driving. The shifting wasn’t too hard (only stalled the car once), but it was weird driving on the opposite side, mostly because I thought I was going to hit everything around me. And I kept forgetting to watch my lane lines. The ASDA run was much more fruitful.. we were able to get a bunch more groceries for about £75. Plus some more toiletries and random household stuff.
We had an early lunch of sandwiches and chips. We’ve been trying to eat-in as much as possible, until we’re a bit more settled. This stops us from spending too much on restaurants and allows us to load up on the essentials. We’ve done breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast, lunch with sandwiches, pasta dinners, cheesy garlic bread.. it’s been pretty basic with the meals, but still good.
After our harrowing first adventure in driving, Minh and I were pretty nervous with driving, so we decided to take the bus into Nottingham to open our bank account at HSBC. We picked up a Mango card at the post office, which makes it easier to take the Trent-Barton busses because you can just tap the card instead of having to carry cash. Also, opening the bank account went fairly easily, which was a surprise. Everything else has been SO HARD.. (you can read more Minh’s frustrations with that on his blog).
We walked back to town in the afternoon in an attempt to get Minh a cell phone. Apparently you need to have lived in the UK for 3 years to get a two-year contract for a cell phone, so we need to go with the “pay as you go” route. One of the other great “opportunities” that we have in our long road to “settling in”. One I’m actually looking forward to is nursing these orchids back to health. I don’t really know what’s wrong with them, but Minh gave them a little water, and we’re hoping that this will help, since we don’t really want to re-pot them like it says on the internet. On the bright side, the sun came out today!