Things what I have learnt (part 1)
One of the strange things about moving to the US from the UK is that things are so familiar, yet still so different. Simple things like supermarket shopping can be an adventure, as labels need to be scrutinized to determine exactly what the product I’ve just picked up is. The following is a list of some of my observations – some of them are new, others may just be labouring well established facts.
- The weather in Minnesota is prone to as much change as the UK. The extremes may be a bit more, well extreme, but the temperature easily changes by 20°c from one day to the next. Except around these parts, that’s about 68°F. Learning a new temperature scale is one of the many challenges I face. The thunder & lightning storms are awesome, and definitely something I look forward to attempting to photograph.
- Minneapolis is the 8th most likely place in the US to experience Tornadoes. I knew that they had them in the area, but didn’t realise we were so far up the list. At 1pm on the first Wednesday of each month, the city tests it’s tornado warning sirens. The nearest one is very close to our building, so there is no way we’ll miss the shrieking if a tornado does come our way. However, there is a chance my head will explode before I make it to shelter.
- The air is much drier here. For the first couple of days, we constantly got static shocks off just about everything. Even now, sparks fly when I insert my key in the front door lock. It’s also meant dry skin and hair, but I seem to be adjusting to it now. I’m told that soon the dry air will change to humid air, and so another challenge to look forward too!
- Driving is scary, but only when you first arrive. It isn’t just the fact that we are on the other side of the road, but the road systems are so different. Yesterday I drove for the first time, after 6 weeks as a passenger. It wasn’t so bad, but I’m glad I waited to get into the mind set. Now all I need to do is memorise the driver’s manual, and take my test….
- There is always something going on in the Downtown area of Minneapolis. Sometimes it’s organised, like the pep-rally for the start of baseball season. Sometimes it’s political, like the group who like to hang out opposite the Christian Science building. And when the sun shines, the buskers come out in force. When the Twins are playing at home, the streets are bustling with people in their Twins shirts, I often feel a bit left out.
- The library system is fantastic, and free and easy to join. I’m allowed 100 items at a time. Yes, that’s right, ONE HUNDRED. I brought home 2 books. It was all I could carry.
- Ponds Dry Skin cream smells different. Exact same product according to the labelling, but a different smell.
- As already mentioned, a trip to the supermarket can be an adventure. Shoppers witnessed my triumph yesterday when I finally located Risotto rice – not in the rice aisle, but in the health food aisle. And we’ve already experienced puzzlement over noodles, that weren’t quite what we expected. Beer can be purchased in Supermarkets, but no wine or liquor. Gone are the days of our ‘3 for a tenner’ deals along with the food shop. On the plus side, Tetley Teabags were very easy to locate, and so I am able to enjoy a morning cup whenever the fancy takes me.
- Getting Passport photos done has been quite a challenge (I need them for my EAD application). I suspect (though have not confirmed yet) that my error has been looking for an actual photo booth, which can be found in most supermarkets in the UK. I had some done in a CVS pharmacy yesterday, where the photos were taken by an actual person using a digital camera, manipulated to the correct size and then printed off. Possibly this is the norm here.
- Everything requires a form to fill out (apart from joining the library). I think we’re making good progress on that account, now that bank accounts, social security numbers, health insurance, and my EAD are in hand. I don’t think I’ve quite seen the end of it yet though…..
The final thing I learnt this week, is that Apple Customer Services are fantastic. On Monday, the hard drive failed in my laptop, which is almost 3 years old. Due to an extended warranty program, they not only replaced the hard drive for me, but they also replaced the edging around the screen, and fitted a new keyboard. It’s all shiny and new again! The downside is that I have lost most of the photographs I have taken since arriving in the Twin Cities. So, I’ll have to do them again. Here’s a view from our balcony to keep you going until Part 2.