Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chad the social buttefly

Chad's newest update from this afternoon:

Bath: Bath is as it implies a city built around a bath. However, the city developed as it is today is relatively new to Britain. 16th and 17th century to be more exact. The city center is actually an old Roman bath, preserved for the dull eye of a busy tourist. Entrance to this magnificent structure of course requires the purchase of a ticket-the price of which I have not yet enquired about. Still, there are a great deal of other free things to explore and photograph. Churches for example range from Catholic to Baptiste, which I don't yet completely understand. Transportation via bus is boundless and both the train and bus stations are clean, friendly and straightforward. Backtracking though....the reason (I think) Bath is so easy to orient around is that it really isn't that big and several looming landmarks provide excellent points for orientation. They are of course, the churches. In addition, streets and walkways are broken up in a variety of pedestrian friendly ways, however, it is indeed important to look in a counter intuitive manner when crossing the street or you may have to flick a crinkled car off your knee.

The University of Bath is a decent University. Built in the 1960's- it is a top science school in the UK that draws a serious population of Chinese students. The department of public policy and social science is also filled with quite a few big wigs and I have been assured (without asking much) that the University of Bath can claim itself as one of the more prestigious universities in the UK and definitely, England. In fact, if I may boast a little, Allan Kellehear, whose work on community dying has created new grounds for Australian end of life care policies, is now becoming increasingly recognized in the UK to the point where legislation is being crafted to accommodate his theoretical developments (which apparently have worked extremely well in Australia)- he told me that he'd be willing to work with me (as a faculty mentor of sorts) when it comes time to complete my thesis. Yay!! But more importantly:

I have already met with several grad students to discuss experience and practical matters such as renting a house/flat. Tara is currently a first year doctoral student who would like to direct her sociological attention towards the role of women in the funeral industry. Having worked as a funeral director for several years, she is now looking to pursue an academic course. We had coffee Monday evening and she showed me around campus through places like the gym, the stores, and common areas. She was very willing to be helpful and reassured me that as a grad student going for a PhD, she still does not have a complete vision of where she'd like to be in the future. This of course kept it real and I'll be able to touch base with her at Thursday's seminar when everyone adjourns for discussion and possibly a dinner outing.
On Tuesday, I took the bus down to the Bath Square in order to meet Hans and Regina (courtesy of Tony). They are a Swiss couple who moved here with their two children so that Hans could complete the MSc in Death and Society. We ventured to a cafe and talked for a good hour over cappuccinos. They were very reassuring and provided me with there contact information. Regina actually provided me her email and extended the invitation for Sarah to email her with any thoughts or
concerns about the whole process of moving to Bath or finding employment. It seems that there could be some out of the way opportunities.
On Friday, I will meet with Aliki, another grad student who moved to Bath from Germany with her dog. I'll go ahead and forward you the email exchange between her and Tony that lead to us planning a meeting time for Fri. It's hopeful. Anyways, my trip to Shrewsbury and visit with Jonathan were great!!!!!!!! We (I) have a legitimate bank account (checking and savings) with
Lloyds and it's an "in country account" rather than an international one. Sweet! No worries with American bureaucracy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chad's trip to Bath!

Here is an excerpt from a recent e-mail from Chad, who arrived in the UK yesterday, March 9th, at 8:30am, UK time.

After arriving at the airport, I found Tony (my program director), standing with spectacles on and nose buried deep into a book. He is a great guy with a sincere smile, who provided me an itinerary of people, contacts, and locations that I may consider during my stay in Bath. Finding our way to his car (no big deal as Bristol IA is about as complicated as Bangor IA) we ventured along the country routes for a good 15 minute drive into the downtown Bath area. Note: The city of Bath seems to sit low at the base of many lush rolling hills made up of farm fields and country sides. A good part of it's down town border is defined by a water way that flows past several city parks.

Once we arrived at Tony's flat (just outside of the general city area) I was presented with a detailed overview of the city layout, rental prices from region to region and of course, general info. for the common foreigner. After talking at length over a cup of coffee, I ventured out with map in hand to get a feel for the city center. It was surprisingly easy to negotiate and certainly entertaining as one of the oldest cities in the UK. Cafes, shops, students and people wearing black are just some of the immediate things that surround the area. Although
people generally look quite stern and unapproachable while walking on the street, they also present as quite warm and sincere- so long as there exists the appropriate reason to interact. Note: Always preface inquiries with strangers with a polite and clear "Excuse me,..........". If not, they'll answer you- but the look on their face will imply that you are a "wanker" (or worse yet, if they themselves are not British- an "American").