First week in UK

Again, this article is mostly event description that would mostly interest my relatives, but this part of it still goes to the Planet in case someone out there would be interested in how I am doing here.

I spent the first week in Cranfield, UK settling in in all possible ways.

First of all I found, rented and moved in a shared house off campus in the Cranfield village. My new address is Springfield Way 14, Cranfield, Bedford in case anyone is interested. It is a nice, relatively newly built house in a street full of very similar houses. A quiet neighborhood close to a shop and not too far from the campus. The house has four bedrooms for students, a living room, bathroom and kitchen. At the moment only two of four rooms are occupied.

The university campus is 2-3 km away from the village and there is a bus service around twice per hour going there, but I prefer walking to the campus and plan on getting my bike here when I will be returning from Debconf6. Now it takes me around half an hour to walk from my house to the campus, but it will only take 7-10 minutes on a bike.

Also this week the final topic of my research was decided. Unfortunately much of it is sensitive business information, so until I clear with my supervisors what exactly can I divulge here, I will not be speaking about my research in this blog. I am pretty sure that I can say that is related to Web and A.I.

Cranfield village is an interesting place - it is not your typical British village. In Cranfield almost all the life is around the Cranfield University and its airfield. Most of the villages 10k inhabitants are in some way connected to the university. That leaves a very unique mark on the place.

What follows is a braindump of first impressions or things that I noticed as strange to me:

  • Sky seems to be bigger here. I think the main reason is that at least this part of Britain is very flat, so horizon is low and the sky takes a larger part of the view. Also large formations of clouds contribute large part of that feeling.
  • Lots and lots of birds, rabbits and squirrels.
  • Prevalence of very small shops. There is no supermarket in Cranfield - there are two shops that pretend to be supermarkets, but in a similar sized town in Latvia there would be 2-3 supermarkets each at least twice the size of these shops here plus around 5 smaller shops sprinkled across the town. Also we do not have the tendency to shop for a week.
  • We do not have that many "buy one, get one for free" deals.
  • People look at you very strangely if you say that you enjoy a good walk
  • There is much higher tendency to pay in cash here
  • Banking is much more complicated
  • You can not get starter kits of prepaid cards in small shops