Normalization, And Some Photography

I have finally reached a point where I feel like I can take some time off. Not just from work-work, but life-work as well. Without any real plans or last-minute trips to Florida this weekend, I had the time to finish getting my apartment sorted out (stage 1 at least), relax a bit, and go out for some light photography. Slowly but surely, I am making a home here.

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Up until now I have had mere fleeting moments of normality in my new home, such as throwing a frozen pizza in the oven and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix. Moments like that when I could take my mind off all the work to do and relax for a little bit, going through a small part of a routine I used to have. But yesterday I emptied my queue of furniture to assemble, and finally got my apartment into a generally presentable state. What once looked like this

ASO_0974

Continue reading “Normalization, And Some Photography”

Packing Priorities

As I mentioned in my last post, an overseas move is much different than a regular move because of what you have to leave behind. Chosing what I wanted to take with me I found to be an interesting exercise in determining who I am and who I want to be. When given a limited shipping allocation, I think it’s very revealing to look at what a person chooses to bring for a long-term stay. To illustrate this, I would like to share the decisions I made in this process.

In the intervening time between my last post and now, I’ve had a few minor interesting adventures, but have been too busy assembling furniture and doing more shopping to do much writing.

Continue reading “Packing Priorities”

Decision Fatigue

I have never before so comprehensively started over. Even at my first apartment, I had a lot of inherited/hand-me-down furniture. I left behind a lot of stuff when I left America, and European apartments come barer than any I’d seen before. As a result, there is entirely too much shopping to do, and the decision fatigue is wearing me the heck out. But it’s Sunday and all the stores are closed, so I have some time to tell you about it.

I’ve been moving in to my new apartment since last Tuesday, which means I’m on about step 587 out of infinity of roughly establishing a home for myself in Belgium. Two months ago I estimated that an international move was only about 25% worse than a regular move (It’s like regular moving, but with more paperwork!). It has gotten so much worse in the last week, I would now put it at 150% worse than a regular move. The reason for this is shopping, which I hate.  Continue reading “Decision Fatigue”

Househunting in a Foreign Land

Great news! I signed a lease today! It’s nearly my perfect apartment! Well, not really; it doesn’t have a gas stove, or an in-sink disposal, or even a two-basin kitchen sink, or bedroom closets, or any appliances (not even a fridge or oven), or a pantry, or decent cabinetry and countertops in the bathroom, and it’s “against the rules” to do grilling on my terrace (something about “smells” and “smoke” “antagonizing” the other tennants).

But you know what, it’s got two bedrooms (come visit!), a great living space (come party!), a nice view off the terrace (come drink beer with the sunset!), an elevator (come…elevate?), and (most importantly) an in-building electrified box garage in which I’m allowed to do my own mechanical work (you can find somewhere else to park). And it’s only 900 EUR/month. Check out that picture! Doesn’t it seem nice? Compared to the other places I saw, this is perfect. Continue reading “Househunting in a Foreign Land”

How not to order Euros

How’s a person supposed to get a large quantity of currency exchanged at a decent rate? I have no idea. Don’t go to a bank. Any bank. I don’t know how they get away with, like, anything they do. This particular incident could be adapted into a Seinfeld episode with very little embellishment.

People have, on occasion, told me I should start a blog. Usually my thoughts could be sufficiently summed up in pithy facebook or twitter posts to avoid writing more than a paragraph. But now I am moving to Europe, and I imagine I’ll have sufficient inspiration for more loquatious musings. Plus I’ll have more time to write on these international flights.

Things have been very busy for the last couple months, as things are wont to be when moving abroad. There’s the visa, the actual packing and moving part, and in my case shipping a car. I may or may not comment on these later (no promises). But one relatively minor task turned into much more of an ordeal than I would have expected. Words like “kafkaesque” or “seinfeldian” provide a rough summary within 140 characters, but to use those words to describe the process of a currency exchange demands more detail.

Going to Europe, one needs to have some Euros. I had a cashier’s check from an account closure that I thought I might take to a local bank (at which my parents were account holders) for an exchange. Plus I had a fair bit of cash in hand from craigslist sales. A suggestion had been made to me that “a brick of cash” is the easiest, most straightforward way to move money from one continent to the other, plus I would need a bunch for, you know, stuff. So with the cash I had, I thought I might get 5000 EUR. Continue reading “How not to order Euros”