Procyon (procyonid) wrote,

Week Two

Life is gradually approaching a new sort of normalcy as the move recedes into the past and I take additional steps to set up my new life and new job. There's still a long way to go - there's no doubt about that - but routines are being established, conventions are being learned. After five months of having no permanent housing, spent on near-perpetual travel as I counted down the weeks before yet another international move, it's been a bit of a relief to be in only one place with no scheduled work travel and many years ahead of me in my career. Still- at the same time, the sense of having to build up a new life from square one is unmistakable.

My apartment doesn't feel quite as alien as it used to be, although getting set up remains a slow process carried out entirely on foot via repeated walks to the city center. I have at least - following three separate retrieval trips by rail - managed to bring over everything I brought from Copenhagen and had stored in Manchester, and I have a minimal set of kitchen items and some additional lighting. I'll need a few more little things and some large furniture items, but everything now works. And the bright outdoor lights have bothered me somewhat less than I'd worried initially: the main drawback mainly being that if I happen to wake up before sunrise it takes me longer than I might prefer to actually be aware of that. Of course, once the northern summer comes, that'll be a problem (outdoor lighting or no)! I'll have to look into curtains eventually, which won't be trivial given the size of the windows.

At work, things are off to a relatively leisurely start. I'm not teaching until autumn, and my first grant proposal and the more recent telescope deadline were due the day I arrived, so in their wake there's been almost nothing in the way of fixed responsibilities. Which is kind of nice: I've had evenings free (although only tethered internet at home) and a lot less of the nagging guilt that "I should be doing something" that follows me along for most of the year.

The contrast in my immediate working environment from where I worked before is certainly distinct: in Copenhagen I was seated in a big open-air common office with about six other postdocs and I was also right next to the front door, so the atmosphere was always very lively and people were always coming and going. Now I have my own office, of course, and it's on a floor that is mostly occupied by the offices of the department of veterinary pathology (it's just me and two other professors from astronomy). Furthermore the layout of the place is such that my office is set back from the hallway by a large interaction room, so I don't see anyone else unless they're specifically coming looking for me, or at outside events (of which there aren't too many, but I at least try to attend the informal staff lunches).

The department seems friendly enough, at least, although I remain largely in a watch-and-wait mode as I try to suss out the actual relationships between the various faculty and their expectations for me, in terms of social interactions and everything else. I'm well aware that, although I've now taken a major step up on the academic heirarchy, within my respective rank I'm now at the absolute bottom - and within the department I'm very much the new kid on the block, with minimal or no understanding of department conventions or other local knowledge. Fortunately the fly-on-the-wall approach comes pretty much naturally to me; the challenge will be to break out of it when the time comes.

In any case - when it comes to pursuing social interaction beyond working hours (and department-sponsored dinners and things), I decided to take a different approach than my last couple of moves and dive right into the furry social scene without hesitation. Right away I joined a bunch of Telegram groups and I headed over to the Manchester furmeet last weekend, despite knowing no one there in advance. The UK fur scene holds quite bit of promise: one can ride a train for two hours to a large-scale public furmeet on essentially any given Saturday of any month, providing the opportunity (in principile) to get toasted with a group of 30 random furries in a bar 52 weeks a year. Now, admittedly, my goal would not be so much that in the short term as it would be to meet more locals and make some longer-term friends. We'll see how that goes: the crowds at these things appear to trend kind of young, and I suspect any truly lasting friendships I make out here will need to be with people at least reasonably close to my own age (and something like a comparable level of educational attainment). In any event my first meet went reasonable well (it didn't take too long to end up chatting with a group) and I'm hoping to go from there.

Oh, and I'm in a new country! That's been a relatively easy adjustment, fortunately. The first week certainly was a bit odd: Denmark (where I did not speak the language) had come to feel somewhat like home, while the UK (where I did) very much did not, which at times could be kind of disorienting. That contrast has lessened as I figure out how things work around here. Certainly one thing I'm appreciating is that, after having my expectations for how much things cost set by living in central Copenhagen, buying things over here often feels like I'm getting away with an unreasonable bargain.

OK, that covers most of the bases for now. More next time!
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