I'm leaving in less than a week! So many things have happened in the past week that I can barely describe them all. But here's what's been going on with me, in no particular order:
- The U.S. banking system is not set up for international transactions. At least not for the everyday consumer. International wire transfers can only be initiated from the U.S., in person, at a branch, which doesn't really help if you are elsewhere. And moving any sort of large sum of money, even for perfectly legitimate expenses like a 2-month security deposit on an apartment, is very difficult to do quickly unless you are content to carry cash.
- The good old USPS is the cheapest way to mail your stuff abroad, although they don't have any sort of "ground" (=boat) shipping. There is a neat trick for books: m-bags are the equivalent of domestic media mail for shipping copyrighted material internationally to a single address (see photo).
- My teeth are pretty sensitive and take a while to heal. I finally got around to testing out my fancy postdoc dental plan this summer (in grad school we had no real dental plan) because I wasn't sure about the European dental system... anyway, several fillings later, my teeth are finally back to normal. Now to kick that Diet Coke habit...
- Finding an apartment abroad while you're still here is tough. But I'm happy to report that it can be done, especially if you have friends over there to go take a look at it for you... I will be sharing an apartment in Switzerland with a very nice grad student from Stony Brook who also happens to be heading to CERN for the year. Assuming the security deposit part goes ok (see #1), we'll move in mid-October. I'll post pics later!
- Moving is hard, and furniture is heavy. I think we tend to block out how stressful and tough it really is because we're so relieved when it's over. Also, storage units are small. Consequently, the VVA on Long Island are picking up a very large donation today, and some local grad students are taking a bunch of furniture tomorrow afternoon. It's a bit traumatic for me to get rid of so much stuff, especially the huge bookshelf that I built myself when I first started grad school and the office chair that I sat in to write much of my Ph.D. thesis, but it's easier to let go knowing that someone will put it to good use.
P.S. In case you haven't seen the LHC rap... the YouTube video has really caught on! (As of this post, over 700,000 views!) The "rapper" is Katie McAlpine, who is a journalist and works for ATLAS. It's quite entertaining (and accurate):