Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thanks for the Flat-Hunting Mojo, My Friends!

Let me tell you, I wish I had been taking notes about some of the 513 places I've viewed so far so that I could string them together into a stand-up routine (Hmm...maybe I will). The good thing is, it makes the fact that I've finally found a place that much more rewarding.

I viewed this particular flat last night after class. When I finally got home to check my email, I found the offer sitting in my inbox. The only real downside is that the room is unfurnished, so I have to buy a bed. It's no big thing, especially when it's in a cool part of town, has a good sized kitchen, two living spaces (one of which could probably be made into a dining area, but I'm perfectly happy with the drum kit that's sitting in there), broadband, and a small garden in the back. It's tidy, but comfortable, and the new flatmates are a guy (Gavin) and a girl (Claire) who are both in their early 30s and both artists. Gavin is a graphic designer who just opened his own gallery in Stoke Newington, and Claire is an up-and-coming videographer/filmmaker. Yay! I'll post pictures as soon as I give the landlady my deposit and move in. That's supposed to happen on Saturday. In the meantime, here's the map. It's the first road west of/parallel to Albion Rd., near where Newington Green Rd, Albion Rd, and Green Lanes intersect.
View Larger Map

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hat Flunting

Yup, I'm still hunting for a flat. I have a week left, so I may have to settle for something temporary while I continue the hunt. I've seen one place that is great, but it's one of those "I have to interview some more people before I make a decision" kind of things, so we'll see. Send me good vibes, people. I need them!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just Say No

I got offered a flat a couple of days ago. I said no. The flat itself was fine, but the people in it were just too bizarre. They both go to Central St. Martin's (not on my course), but they were just so damn anti-social, I knew that I would be miserable there. They go to school, come home, go to their rooms, shut the door, put their headphones on and work. They have a lounge. Do they use it to hang out? No. They use it to dry their laundry. I think that sums it up.

Yesterday, my course had to elect student representatives to act as messengers for any problems people on our course might have. These reps then deliver the messages to the staff. Two people volunteered themselves, and then two of the people in my group tried to elect me. I would have been the only one who was actually elected. I was flattered, but I said no. I've done that sort of thing already...I worked in Student Activities for 2 years...and there were two other people who were excited about it...I didn't want to take it from someone who really wanted it. Call me crazy, but I don't want to be a complaint messenger right now. I've got other things to tend to at the moment. ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I think this says it all...

Monday, January 14, 2008

First Presentation: The Pub and Pie House

We had our first presentation today, and I have to say...I think it went over quite well. As I mentioned earlier, my group was taken to a pub/pie house. We set up the chairs in small groups of semi-circles to make it feel more like they were sitting in a pub. Our presentation started out with Polly telling everyone a bit of history along with some photos that we took. We were sure to include little jokes (such as: "Mark to us to a very special place: a brothel...actually, let me rephrase that...he took us to a former brothel) throughout the history part.

Then we talked about the pub itself. While Richard was talking about the pub, I played background/ambient sounds that we recorded while we were in the pub, and the others passed out small glasses of bitter to everyone in the class to taste. All the while, we showed more pictures.

Then we got to the pie house part. Julea was the narator for this bit. We had everyone close their eyes and Julea took them on a journey up the stair to the pie room. While people's eyes were closed, Polly, Richard, and Subi (who was the interviewing queen) went to each group with a pie and let everyone smell them. When they opened their eyes, we had the video playing that we recorded when we were in the pie room. Once I figure out how to upload it I will. In the meantime, here's a picture of the pie.

Then we put a few reviews up on the screen, and I gave a somewhat off the cuff conclusion, where I explained that our target audience was Mark (our tutor) and his demographic: people who work in the creative industry somewhat near the pub, who come after work, but who have never set foot upstairs into the pie room. Our goal was to make people choose whether or not they wanted to venture off and find something new about a place that they had a preconceived notion about. We didn't want to change anyone's opinion, but deepen the existing perception of the average person who goes to the Newman Arms.
For our next assignment, we have to present one of the places that one of the other groups went to, so it's a combination critique/presentation. The group we have to swap information with went to the Imperial War Museum, and their presentation was very well done. It will be interesting to see how my group goes about presenting the Imperial War Museum, and how they go about presenting the Newman Arms. I'll keep you updated...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The acronym for my program is MADS. I don't think it could be more fitting.

The last time I wrote, I had my first class. In this class, we were split into small groups and assigned a tutor/instructor who had to take us to his favorite place in London. While there, we were given a brief with questions we had to think about and the target of our project. Here's the brief:

"Working in the group to which you have been assigned, you will visit the locations chosen by your project tutor and will define the sensory qualities, the myth, and the most affective strategy for communicating these values. You will be working towards a re-presentation of your destination that is targeted towards changing the perception of its value by a particular type of visitor. So you will make the decision on the target demographic, the myth, the sensory quality, and the most effective mode of presentation."

Vague enough for you? That's the point.

The place where we went was a pub called the Newman Arms. That's right. My first assignment requires me to visit a pub/pie house multiple times. Only in the UK! This was the sign on the women's room door:

(I'm not sure why it won't rotate, so just turn your head.)

Oh, and my group for this project seems to be great. We have a man from Taiwan whose background is in business, a woman from India whose degree is in fashion design, a woman from England whose degree is also in fashion design, and another American Woman (I think there are only 3 Americans in the class of about 30, and I'm the only one from the East Coast) whose degree is...yup...fashion design. Maybe they'll make me some clothes.

Yesterday, we met up again, this time with the part-time students as well. We had a lecture, and then, once again, we were split into small groups that included both full and part time folks. In this group, we have the same English Woman from my other group, a guy from England who's a menswear designer, a woman from Spain who's a Chemical Engineer for a makeup company, an Egyptian woman who's worked in TV, and another British woman who's degree is in Architectural Studies.

This group is posed with a question that we have to research in the outside world and then present to our classmates. My group's question is: To compromise or not to compromise? If anyone has any thoughts, feelings or experiences they'd like to share about this, feel free to reply to me or to this blog. It's part of my research.

I'm off to the pub again this afternoon with my first group. This time, we are going to the pie house upstairs. We had to call and book ahead because the book days in advance.

In other non-school related news, I went to open a bank account yesterday. I will pick up my bank card next Friday, and the other stuff will be mailed to where I'm staying now. I also have another flat to look at this evening. Let's hope I get there before someone else snatches it up. Flats go fast here. A few days ago, I walked out of Anne's flat to check one out, walked ten feet, and got a text saying that the room had been taken 2 minutes before. That's pretty typical here. It's almost a first-come, first-served kind of thing sometimes.

OK. I need to get back to working my brain.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I Done Be Registrated

Well, I'm officially an MA candidate at Central St. Martin's. I had my first class today. This building is like the freakin' catacombs. Our classroom is on the 10th floor. I took the stairs for the hell of it. The elevator (aka "lift"), I'm told, is touch-and-go, so I can look forward to many more flights of stairs in the coming months.

I have much more to say about my first day, but I'm pretty "shattered" at the moment, and should get some sleep. I will continue this tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We're walking, we're walking...

Yesterday, I met up with Norrie. We hit Leicester Square, Covent Garden, crossed the Thames at Embankment, headed up to the Tate Modern (my favorite!), back to the other side of the river, over to Buckingham Palace, and back to Victoria station. I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be today. We clocked it with this site: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ which I used all of the time in Beantown. It said about 7 miles, but that didn't include walking around in the museum or in the tube stations (which can be a ton of walking, depending on the station and what line you're trying to get to), so we guessed about 8 when all was said and done.

Tomorrow: Registration and checking out a flat.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I ventured back to Oxford street and got a mobile today. I considered getting my US phone unlocked and then purchasing a Pay As You Go SIM card from T-mobile, but I decided that it would be just as easy, to get a PAYG phone and SIM cards from Orange. So I did. The first Orange store I went to was out of stock of the phone I wanted, but they told me to walk about 2 minute down the street to their other store. Luckily for me, there was one left at this store. I got the last one. Score! I now have two different numbers: one for UK callers, and one for International callers. I just have to switch out the sim cards to call the States. This newfangled technology is good stuff.

Tomorrow I'm meeting up with Norrie, a friend of mine from Davidson. She works at Amazon UK and used to work with Cintra (another Davidson friend) at Amazon in Seattle. I'm interested to find out if she knows Steve and Joe (from my old kick-ass pub trivia team who also worked with CP out in Seattle), too.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Signing Loan Checks and the Return of the Nickelbagofunk

Yesterday, I went to the International Student Center to sign my loan checks. Scary. They come in two installments and are based on the exchange rate, which could change by the time the checks are transferred from dollars to pounds. I'll have to live off of my savings for the first 6 months, but I was aware of that. Good thing I was a penny-pinching kid! Others might not be so lucky. Anne is already scheming to get me in with her company as an intern. Hopefully, this will help with my finances a little bit. I've also been scouring flatshare websites to see what's available. I've emailed a few, so we'll see what happens.

Today has been chill. Literally. It's cold outside (not by Beantown standards, but still), so I haven't ventured out today. Tomorrow, on the other hand, I'm going to try to procure a cell phone. This may be difficult without a bank account, but we'll see. The whole process is a mess of red tape, but it's doable. I wonder if it's any different than if a Brit came to the US.

On another note, Anne returned from her marathon flying jag this morning. She went from Seattle to Minneapolis to Amsterdam to London. ¡Pobrecita!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year in a New Country

Well, I made it. I learned that Zoom Airlines is not so zoomy. I got to know JFK Terminal 4 like the back of my hand because my flight was delayed for 7 hours. Once we got a gate, we waited. Then we were shuttled to another waiting room where we--you guessed it-- waited for a tram to take us to the plane that was parked in some satellite location.

Once I got on the plane, I was graced with a bit of Aunt Scarlett's "good parking spot karma". I ended up sitting in a seat in an empty row, so I was able to get some shuteye when the "fasten seat belt" bell wasn't going on and off. When we arrived at Gatwick, we had to wait for another tram to take us to the gate. I zipped through Immigration (oddly, the non-EU line was shorter than the EU line), went to the correct baggage carousel (unlike the last time I was in London), got all of my bags, and got a ticket to London Bridge. At London Bridge, I met up with Greg who delivered Anne's keys. I knew that if I tried to maneuver the Underground with that amount of luggage, it would be a major ass-ache. So I took a cab to Anne's place, which was relatively nearby, and lugged my stuff up the 4 flights of stairs.

I took a shower, read for a while, and took a small nap (DOH!) until the fireworks went off. I went out onto Anne's balcony where I was able to see a few reflections of the show in the building across from me. The buildings were too tall to see much more, but the London Gherkin was in it's full glory (see the phallic building in the middle third of this very dark picture).

That's all for now. More soon.