Friday, September 23, 2005

Travel Diary 5: Finding my Office

There is a good reason for the lack of pictures here, for which apologies. It seems I didn't bring the lead to my digital camera with me, but at some point I'll try to liven up the text with some pictures and conversation. And I suppose I will have to stop calling this a "travel diary" soon because North Carolina is to be my home for the foreseeable future. At the moment, though, I'm in that transitionary period where I am just beginning to find my feet here, but it still doesn't feel like it's permanent. We are, after all, still living in a residence inn and will be for some weeks yet. Speaking of which, we re-visited our new house today and began to get a feel for what we would like to put where. We will close on the house (you see I am getting used to the American jargon) in mid October if all goes well, but the main barrier at this point is waiting for the social security number to come through.

I had a little more success with finding Duke today and I wasted much less time driving up and down and round and round. I parked in the multi-storey car park by the chapel, which at $2 an hour makes the University of Birmingham's 90p a day look like a real bargain, especially as there is really no choice here but to drive everywhere. I went into the Department of Religion and met several of my new colleagues again, and got all sorts of important things done, like getting a snazzy new ID card, which really makes you feel part of the place, and a parking permit for Campus Drive which will make things substantially cheaper than the multi-storey visitors' car park.

Although now my third time on campus (after March interviews and presentation and July visit), I'm now getting to see the place properly. Forgive my enthusiasm, but it's a superb campus with a great feeling. It has that excited "buzz" that I remember from Oxford towards the beginning of term. The glorious sunshine on this first day of "the fall" is really new to me, though. University sunshine and heat means May hayfever and examinations, yet here we are towards the beginning of term and there's no autumn chill in the air.

I entered my new office for the first time and I am very happy with it. It has a nice sloping roof on one side, plenty of room for books when they arrive in a few weeks, a small table and a couple of chairs, and a curved desk with a view out of the window. My new computer arrives on Monday. My office is Bruce Lawrence's former office, and Bruce has moved into Ed Sanders's, just down the corridor. I am opposite Richard Hays's office, so hope to pick up some good NT ambience. The physical relationship of the Dept of Religion and the Divinity School is an interesting one in that the offices of members of each entity are spread across the three floors of the Gray Building with no physical separation.

Tonight we had another great American experience, going to the cinema. But of course it is not called the cinema here; indeed, I noticed that when we were directed to our screen, we were told to go to the "theater" at the end of the corridor. It's not my first American cinema experience; I've been to two Bond films when they have coincided with the SBL (Boston, 1999; Toronto, 2002), and we went to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when we were over here in July. Tonight was another Tim Burton film, The Corpse Bride -- a really interesting piece, but annoyingly I drifted off and missed the end. No sight of the new Pride and Prejudice anywhere. And very few at the cinema in Raleigh we went to, and on a Friday evening too. Don't Americans all go to the cinema all the time? Not in NC, it seems. Anyway, it was a bit cheaper than in the UK, the popcorn was ten times better (actually made on premises and not brought in ready-popped and polystyrene style by the sack like in the UK -- we have a lot to learn) and it will continue to be one of our most regular habits, no doubt about it.

Thanks for all the helpful comments. It turns out that others have struggled with the Durham roads; Harris (not Harold, sorry) Teeter is indeed at the expensive end of the market and that people don't mind this bending of NT Gateway blog rules to mark this major change in my life.


Brandon said...

I saw The Corpse Bride last night and even stayed awake (which is a rarity for me). It's good to see that you're beginning to get settled in and learning the strange customs of us Americans.

Rafael said...

As an American doing research in Sheffield, I'd like to warmly welcome you to American popcorn. You've made my mouth water . . .

Michael said...
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Michael said...

We only go to 1 or 2 movies a year... at $7-$8 a piece its highway robbery. My experience in the UK was that food, in general, costs roughly the same as the US, though I've heard Harris Teeter is more expensive than most places. Try Bi-Lo, Food Lion, Kroger, and Food World for better options. And of course there's always 'Super Wal-Mart'!!