Sunday, June 19, 2016

How to: navigate a new place

Right, I figured as much as I should be keeping you all up to date with what we are up to over here, you probably also don't really want to read a diary entry. So I'll give you a run down of the past week and then I'll write about something useful: learning to navigate yourself around a new place.

First thing's first: the past week. On Monday, Ian and I started work at an agricultural company. Ian as a "research assistant" and me as a "temporary assistant" working for the same person. the easy way to say exactly what we are doing right now is scoring the amount of a certain disease that is in plots of canola. They are trials for seeds. I know nothing about agriculture so, those are probably really bad ways to describe the job but that's what you're getting. We bike 12 km to work and 12 km home. On Tuesday, I got a flat tire. On the second day of work! I was noooot happy. So Wednesday we took the train and the bus and that evening one of our roommates was kind enough to lend us a kit to patch the tire. It held up perfectly until Saturday when we brought it back to the shop and we got a whole new tube and tire! We also got baskets on our bikes to make groceries easier on our way home from work. Honestly, that sums up our week - work. Saturday we went to a pub with our roommate and watched England vs Australia rugby. I have never really watched a rugby match before (except like five minutes of Tara once in Winnipeg) and didn't really understand what was going on but that's okay because the pub cheered when something good happened so I knew to look happy at least. We had some errands to do this weekend as well to help us get settled and today one of our roommates had her family over for a Father's Day barbecue - delicious!!! We played a game called Articulate which is very much like Taboo. Great laughs playing that game - I recommend it! I think next weekend we are going to go to London.

Now, how to navigate a new place..
Of course, no matter where you are, if it is your first time there, it's going to be a bit scary and you're going to be unsure of what you're doing and where you're going. It's easy enough to say "Okay, I've got to go to this place and this is how I'll get there" but it's not always that easy! Sometimes you might take a wrong turn or maybe the route laid out in front of you just looks sketchy. This is where the fun and adventure start. When you're in a new place - always allow yourself extra travel time. You never know what you might run into along the way and if you can't stop to take a look in a shop or just take in a beautiful site.. You might forget where it was and you'll regret missing it! Not to mention if you have to take public transportation, there can always be loads of delays! Late bus or train, missed bus or train etc. You always want to get to stations and stops early if you can.
Next, I would say learn your landmarks. And maybe I should have said that first. It takes a little while to get your bearings but once you do, getting to and from places is quicker and smoother. Initially, Ian and I just walked around to walk around. Just to see Cambridge. But then we felt like it was huge and we never really knew where we were. Once we got bicycles and were able to have quicker transportation, we realized a lot of the roads and areas we had been to were much closer than we thought to each other. Even just today we realized a road was a lot longer than we thought and we couldn't figure out how we didn't notice it before because it got us to where we needed to go.. Let yourself be surprised and let yourself step off the beaten path a bit.. Cause chances are you'll find yourself right back on it when you need to be.
That all being said.. Walk when you can!! I know I said it was easier with a bike, but honestly at the start, walk and take in as much as you can. Walking is slow - but tht just means you can actually take the time to see more and be more observant. If you whiz past a pizza shop on a bike or bus, you won't know it's there when you're a couple of blocks away and starving. Make note of what you see while you're walking around and you'll thank yourself later.
Always be careful crossing the street. I know this is advice you might roll your eyes at but when you are in a busy place, chances are there will be a body or a bike or a car coming out of nowhere. Hopefully it's not a bike. One thing we have noticed is that there isn't really any organization of people walking on the sidewalks. There is no "walk on the right", it's literally a free for all. So pay attention to where other people/vehicles are.
I guess these tips weren't really a lot of good advice, but it's a start. I mean, we haven't even been here for two weeks yet so you can't expect me to know everything :) Hope to get more tips and tricks to you next Sunday. But until then, dream big dreams and be reckless.

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