Woke up – relatively late for the hostel on account of being knackered, relatively early for me on account of having gone to bed early due to being knackered. This was a bout 7:30 am. Had breakfast of bread and jab, muesli, and coffee, then a shower, then checked out and proceeded to the bus stop to go to the university, hoping I can find the AAA this time. Fortunately I met a nice Ukrainian girl at the bus stop who was also going to the university. Again, having no clue as to how to pay for the bus journey, I didn’t.
Turned out that the central part of the campus is on a concrete plateau, which you get to by some stairs – rather like the University of Essex, but less accessible, there being no lifts (and one set of stairs being cordoned off as unsafe). I was still knackered from dragging the suitcase (and having a heavy rucksack as well, though by this point I had offloaded my A4-sized German dictionary into the suitcase to spare my shoulders). I went into the AAA room and gladly took a cup of tea (apparently not as rare as I’d feared, though it seems to be sold in very small quantities, with the teabags in individual packets like with herbal tea). I got my keys, and had explained to me what I had to do in the next two weeks, with the help of a ‘welcome pack’ (not actually called that, but that’s what it would be called in a British university). Among the welcome pack were maps of the university and the city (the former being comprehensible to me only because I now knew that much of it is not at ground level), and a (more or less) London Underground-style map of the bus system. I still failed to understand it but at least I had a chance to find my way “home”.
Before going to my new room I got a Mensa-Card, which is superficially like the Flexible Dining Card in Swansea in that you can (read: must) pay for food in the refectory (Mensa) with it; opened a bank account, which is apparently necessary for paying rent as they don’t accept cheques; and (rather late, having found it hard to find the lecture hall where it was taking place) attended the first information lecture, which was just general information about (again) what needs to be done in the first weeks and how to do it, and what pitfalls to avoid.
I picked my suitcase up again from the AAA (having managed to leave it there instead of lugging it about everywhere), and somehow figured out which buses to take to get to me hall (which had been highlighted on the map so many hours earlier). It was probably here that I finally undertstood how the buses work – very like the London Underground in fact, as you just buy a ticket for a journey regardless of how long it is as long as it’s inside the zone you bought it for and doesn’t last longer than 90 mins. Later I figured out that you can buy a ticket in advance (e.g. from a vending machine) and use it by stamping it on one of the little machins on the bus, which gives it a timestamp.
On each floor of my hall (rather annoyingly my room is on the 3rd floor, so I took several minutes to get up) are two or three living rooms, with their adjoining kitchen and 2 bathrooms, plus the common room for the whole hall. Off my living room (at least when I arrived) are Lidija (Slovenian), Rafael (Brazilian), Kasia (Polish), and a German girl and another bloke whose names I forget. There’s also another Slovenian called Lea in the next group of rooms.
Being knackered again I went to bed pretty early, just unpacking, chatting with the other people, and having one of the instant rice packets I brought from home, before going to bed.
Posted retrospectively on Monday 10 October 2005