Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Room

I'm starting this blog to (hopefully) keep track of what I'm up to at Cambridge, how the year is going, and my general impressions of the place. I'm going to try and post at least once a week, and hopefully more.

Right now it's cloudy and raining (which shouldn't be a surprise, but the last couple of days were sunny and nice) so I'm not taking any pictures outside. But here is a guided tour of my dorm room.

I'm living in a really nice complex (which I'll have pictures of later), on the fourth floor (which is called the third floor here). First, the room itself:

I couldn't get a good picture of the room as a whole, but it's a deent size, about 2/3 of my room at home. The closet situation is kinda funny, because at first I thought I had a lot of closet space,

but then it turned out that half of it is a sink:

(And yes, the sink has the silly British two-faucet thing. And the hot water is scalding while the cold is lukewarm. Silly setup.) When we first got to the room, I asked where the bathroom was, and was shown

the bathroom. Not exactly what I had in mind, but undeniably a bathroom. There's also a toilet

(it also has a tiny sink, you just can't see it) and a shower.

The shower is interesting because it's just in a long skinny room (no curtain or anything) and there's a bench on the other side of the room (the dry side) so that you can put clothes and towels there. There's also a kitchenette (which for some weird reason is called a "gyp room") which isn't large and doesn't have a stove (although the one one floor below does), but which out to be ok.

At least it has a tea kettle. (And that's me making a cup of tea next to it.)

Everyone here is really nice and helpful. This is wonderful and very important, as without people being nice and helpful it would be impossible to get anything done around here. It's completely decentralized, which means that nobody has any clue of what is going on or who to talk to to get things done, or where to find any information. I'm not sure I would have been able to accomplish anything on my first day here (with a redeye flight and a 3 hour bus trip and all) without a very nice guy who showed me around, helped me get internet set up, and explaining to me where the stores were. Also, since everything is different in each college asking friends that are here is pretty useless.

Here's an example of what I mean. In order to get around the dorm, I need a key card. When I signed in to the dorm I got a card that would work, but which I needed to return as soon as possible. Everyone thought that my personal card would be in my "pigeonhole" inside my "Freshers pack." Unfortunately, everyone was wrong: there was a card in there, but it was my Gates Scholar card (whose purpose I'm not yet sure of). Everyone I talked to thought that the "porters" (the people who run the local equivalent of the superintendent's office) would have my cards, but they were wrong (and the porters didn't know where it was). The only way that I found out who to go to is because the person showing me around knew where the graduate secretary's office was, and it turned out that she had the card. (Actually, two cards, whose different purposes I'm not yet really sure about.)

In order to set up the internet, you need to first find a computer lab and set up your account (which you can't do from home, and for which you need your application number (which I luckily had in my email)). THEN you can go back to your room and set up your computer, which involves registering a bunch of things with Trinity and waiting 24 hours. (Actually, it turned out that most things worked after about an hour, but the website clearly said that you MUST wait 24 hours, and also set up your browser to use their proxy settings). Also, you're entitled to a free ethernet cable, but this isn't written down anywhere and there's only one place to get it (and I only found this out because uf the nice person showing me around). Another side effect of whatever stupid setup Trinity has for their network is that I can't ssh/telnet/ftp ANYWHERE, and if I try to use a browser other than Mozilla it won't let me connect to the internet. And they don't have wireless. And the internet connection is slow. And they block Skype. And I can't install a different software for talking online because I need to upgrade some library for which I can't find the source online and I can't connect to the Debian repositories because of the aforementioned lack of ssh/telnet/ftp. So I'm pretty pissed about the whole internet situation here.

I had some interesting experiences while shopping for things. First off, the grocery store here lies about what's in each aisle. They have the usual signs above the aisles, and the signs say things like "tea and coffee" or "frozen desserts", but what they omit is that there are likely fifty OTHER things in the aisle that they just don't mention. Like pasta, and rice, and spices, and bread, and wonderful things like that. So I end up wandering up and down each aisle looking for whatever it is that I need. Also, finding contact lens solution here is incredibly difficult, because (a) nobody seems to know what it is and (b) there is only one brand of it (that I could find, anyway). It's also impossible to find clothes hangers. The only store that I found that sells them is sold out until November (and it took me about 20 stores before I found that one). The grocery store sells towels, dishes, magazines, knives, but no clothes hangers. And everyone here looks really really confused if you ask about them. Maybe they're called something different?

But this is all just minor annoyances. Cambridge is beautiful, the area around my dorm is beautiful, and I really like just being here. I haven't seen the math department yet, but I'm hoping to go tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a detailed report? Seems like you have to much free time :).

Are the bathroom/kitchen/shower in your room or on the floor?

Is somebody you know is already there?


12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a detailed report!!! Seems like you have to much free time :).

Are the bathroom/kitchen/shower in your room or on the floor?

Is somebody you know is already there?


12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like that your room has 4 windows.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous mama said...

It's a real treat to read all this :)

Please do more and include the pictures!

Have you found the equivalent to 'hangers'?

How does the food taste?


3:25 PM  
Anonymous Elya said...

Inna, the room looks wonerful and the closet/sink is cool too. I hope you like it there.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Kathryn said...

it sounds like you have a great set-up! better than a mather single at least :)

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Edward Wallace said...

This is very amusing.
We call them "coat hangers". Good luck.

1:08 AM  

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