September 25, 2009

Runnin' with lemurs/ no time for beaver?

Heard this song tonight. I thought the chorus went "runnin' with lemurs/ no time for beaver". It turned out that its not, but a song about lemurs would be awesome.

Opening a Bank Account

First, I want to say hello to the couple people in Japan and Brazil who read this blog.

Before I came over, I had read online that some people have problems opening bank accounts since they do not have proof of address or for other reasons. Since I had no problem opening my account, I figured I'd post my experience here.

I decided to go with Lloyds because the vantage feature on their current accounts seemed to offer the best rates. The local branch is also on my way to work and is open Saturdays. I walked and told the guy at the "help desk" that I wanted to open a current account. He asked to see some ID and I showed him my passport. He handed me off to a person in the back. She made a copy of my passport photo page and also my visa. Nothing about proof of address. We then went though the standard questions, like name, address, birthday, employment status & length of employment (started the following day in my case), length living at the address (1 day), net monthly income, etc... I ended up opening a silver current account, which has a small monthly fee. I asked about the free account, but she kept trying to up sell me. The account does have some additional features that are kind of useful, like mobile phone and travel insurance, but I don't think I'll get my money's worth out of the fees I would pay over the course of the year. I'll probably downgrade after the introductory fee period ends. I also was given a small overdraft which surprised me. Got my debt card in the mail like 2 days later, followed by my pin and cheque book.

So in summary, the process was really easy. Looking back, I'm not sure why I was concerned in the first place.

Officially "In the System"

Over the past three weeks, I have been going around and doing things that government conspiracists would consider being put into "the system". I guess that I won't be able to live like an illegal immigrant now. I've registered with a doctor, opened a bank account with Lloyds TSB Scotland, received a national insurance number, and have a British American Express card on the way. I also applied for a European Health Insurance Card. All I needed now is to get a British driver's license and I'll be set.

Today was payday so I'm now officially a British taxpayer, not that that is necessarily a good thing. For some reason, I'm on tax code BR and paying emergency tax. This means I'm did not get my tax free allowance and all of my income for the month was subject to taxation. I'll get the extra amount back but its just a pain, especially since my first paycheck was smaller because I didn't start working until the second week. The plus side is that I can now use all those Revolutionary War slogans to complain about being taxed without representation in Parliament. I'll have to get some Patrick Henry and Sam Adams pins for my backpack, but only if I can get them without paying VAT.

September 16, 2009

View from my office

My office has this great view of the Ochil Hills. Here is a picture I found taken from the roof of the high school next door. This picture really doesn't do it justice.

I'm Back

Sorry for the lack of updates, but the good news is that this post is this blog's first from Scotland. My visa finally arrived at the end of August. I immediately booked a flight from Newark to Edinburgh for the night of September 1. I crammed all of my stuff into Space Bags and then into a suitcase and a large wheeled duffel bag. The duffel bag was a good choice since its starting weight was much less than the suitcase. This goes a long way in making sure that you stay under the 50 lb per bag limit.

I arrived in Edinburgh on the morning of September 2. Continental's direct flights between Newark and Scotland are a good product, especially when you get an exit row seat with an empty seat next to you. The food on the flight is pretty good and the VOD is good enough. After collecting my bags in EDI, I had the fun of maneuvering my two bags through the airport to the ATM right on the other side of customs, then to the kiosk to buy an airport bus ticket, and finally making the turn in the railings for the bus queue line. This is where the shortcoming of the duffel bag became clear. It was a lot harder to keep the bag stable while trying to do anything other than move straight.

Once I was at Waverly Station, I had to get to one of the side platforms for my train to Stirling. Rather than go up the stairs, I tried to take the elevator. The door on the thing won't close. I had to have been in it for close to three minutes before it shut. At least after it started to move, I had a laugh about how the elevators here talk. A 50 minute train ride later and I was in Stirling ...