Thursday, July 28, 2005

Check One Two

Since this whole shebang got started, I’ve been looking back and forth at my by now well-thumbed American Exchange Student Handbook. I was given this at the very first meeting, and it pretty much has everything I need to know about the exchange in it. At the back, there’s a checklist of everything I need to do before I fly to America. If I can check everything off on that, I’m sorted. So with less than a month to go before I land in Minneapolis, I thought I should probably go have a quick look it.

I can pretty much check everything off on there, but there are a few things I can’t.

10. Spoken to Catherine Bedford in Finance and arranged to pay your accommodation/tuition fees to The University of Winchester during your absence?

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. This exchange is bed-for-bed, which means that I pay for the American exchange student’s bed in Winchester, and they pay for mine at UWEC. However, as I live at home and commute to university, and don’t normally pay that sort of fee, it’s an extra thing to remember. I also need to work out how and when they want paying. I was told they’d get in contact with me, but I decided to fire an email off anyway. They told me they’ll get in touch soon. Sorted!

14. Ensured that you will have adequate funding for your time in America and have evidence to support this?

Hmm. I’ve been doing a lot of overtime lately, meaning I should have an extra £700 (roughly $1200) in my August pay packet, which will arrive just before I head off. That’s going to help. I also have about £3000 ($5300) in savings. Plus student loans, coming in September I believe. So yeah, I think I’ll be okay.

16. Checked that your cash/credit/debit cards can be used in America?

Totally. Now, this might look like a shameless plug, seeing as how I work for them and all, but Nationwide Building Society are the only UK financial institution that won’t charge you to use your card abroad. Most banks will charge a commission for any cash withdrawals made abroad, typically 2.5%, but Nationwide doesn’t. Of course, the individual machine might make a charge, but at least I won’t be paying any commission if I want to get cash out. Though, as I have a Visa card, I’ll be using that as much as possible. I can manage all my money online as well. The only problem would be if someone tries to give me a cheque in dollars, but that’s not really very likely.

21. Checked your luggage allowance with your airline or travel agents?

This I haven’t done either, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. I wasn’t planning on taking a lot of stuff – just the essentials, and I’ll buy anything I need over there. Like a stereo. And a cheap acoustic guitar, probably, because I doubt I’ll be able to go four months without being able to pay music.

So that’s that. Just a few more things to do, but mostly I’m set.

Actually, where on earth are my tickets?

Friday, July 22, 2005

A List Of Updates

Much like Ronseal, this post will do exactly what it says on the tin.

- I know where I'm going to be living next year on campus - Governors Hall. I can't remember if it was my first choice, or second, but I'm not really fussed. I'm in room 301, which looks a lot like this. Fairly sparse, but it'll be home for nearly four months. I'm sure I'll learn to love it.

- On top of this, I know who my roommate is. He emailed me earlier in the week to say hi, and ask if I needed anything for the room, had any questions. I'm planning on purchasing all the necessary big things when I'm over there, and travelling as light as possible.

- I know what courses I'm going to be doing. To whit;

North American Indians
Structure of the English Language
The Vietnam War
Social Class and Inequality

Not a bad lot, really. There's something of everything there, so I'm sure I'll be busy. I have a long list of books I need to rent/purchase, which I think I sort when I'm in America. My timetable's not too bad either: 4:30-5:45 every Monday and Thursday, and 9:30-10:45, 11:00-12:15, 4:00-5:15 every Tuesday and Thursday. Which means I've rather handily bagged Fridays off. Awesome.

- I just called the Student Loans company to make sure I'll be getting my loan in the right place come September, as it's all being paid directly into bank accounts now rather than cheques. This is good, because I’ll be three thousand miles away from a paying in slip at the time.

- I also dropped my phone company a ring, and gave my thirty days notice to cancel my contract. I'll probably buy a phone out there, and use my UK number for emergencies, and keeping in touch while I'm between airports, etc on the way over.

I will be in America in thirty six days. That's five weeks, today.