Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I'm here, I'm alive, and my German is awful.

I had something of a mission trimming down my possessions to a level that I could take on the plane. Big thanks to Barnes and Kellie — I couldn't have done it without them.

Even so, I'm pretty sure I chose the wrong things to take, the wrong accommodation and probably the wrong direction in life. Oh well.

The people I'm staying with are great. There's an amazing mix of people there, and in fact the course itself is the same. I think that everybody comes from a different country, and nobody is American.

It's pretty cold here!

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Winter already?

From my window 2
Originally uploaded by Squirk.
Guess what I saw when I looked out my window the other day...

In other news, this is my last night in London. It's been swell.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The countdown continues

Four more sleeps until I leave England.

I've packed most of the essentials, organised my books into labelled piles. It's sad to see how many books are in the I bought them but I haven't read them yet pile. There's a fair number of unseen DVD movies, too, including Flash Gordon and the original Wicker Man.

I'm still considering an additional suitcase (for a grand total of two) to carry books and clothes. I'd much rather travel light, though. I arrived in London with just one backpack; I'd like to leave it the same way. (Sadly, the backpack was separated from its handy zip-off daypack in the Great Drunken Theft of '05. It shall be sorely missed.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Good afterble constanoon

YouTube is hosting a montage of road safety commercials since New Zealand introduced its hard-hitting advertising campaign in 1995. The ads over here seem positively tame compared to most of those!

The soft music and nostalgia factor makes it more sad than horrifying, I find. Actually, I think The Cars' song Drive is a brilliantly emotive song and probably a perfect choice for this advert's message.

Except for Danny on the porch, I think I remember every single one of them. It's got most of the classics, including the ever-quotable same day, David and she was only four singer. I couldn't see Mark your car's on fire nor the turn it off vampire, though.

Sadly, it's harder to find the individual ads themselves; the LTSA does provide some archived material along with their explanation on how the campaign works, but none of the good 'uns.

Good afterble constanoon!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reasonable force

The police in Atlanta, Georgia, apparently attacked a historian over the horrific crime of jaywalking.

From the notes:

After being thrown on the ground and handcuffed, the former Oxford don was formally arrested, his hands cuffed behind his back. Several policemen pressed hard on his neck and chest, leaving the mild-mannered scholar, who's never gotten so much as a parking ticket, bruised and in pain.

I dearly hope this was the result of a single, non-representative officer on a power-trip (and not an indication of wide-spread, systematic problems with the US police force).

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sleep like the dead

As it so often happens when I'm left to my own devices, my sleeping habits have become those of a late shift-worker.

One unfortunate side-effect of bedding down at around 6:00 am (and not rising again for almost twelve hours) is that I missed out on Lars von Trier's film The Idiots:

A group of perfectly intelligent young people decide to react to society's cult of an aimless, non-creative and non-responsible form of intelligence by living together in a community of "idiots". Their main activity becomes going out into the world of "normal" people and pretending to be mentally retarded. They take advantage of this situation to create anarchy everywhere they go and try by every possible means to make people annoyed, disturbed, miserable, ridiculous, angered, and shocked...

It was running as part of the Prince Charles Cinema's Greatest Hits Sundays, another of their programmes which I have left severely underutilised.

I only have a couple more weekends before I leave the country!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nostalgia and, er, new-stalgia?

Lucky Mr Bob is able to visit the Chur-Chur but I've had to make do with flying over my old haunts using Google Maps Mobile — boy, does it take me back!

I traced around the maps, finding a bunch of the houses I used to live in. (Anyone who's driven around Christchurch with me will remember my almost constant cries of I used to live down there!)

The whole thing brought back so many memories. Like swordfighting with flax-sticks on Marine Parade; crawling through secret hedge corridors in Keyes Road; reading the news from the clouds in Blake Street; building snowmen in Weston Road; recording parody mix-tapes in Rayburn Ave.

Wasn't childhood awesome? I mean, why should playing imagination games with friends be exclusive to kids?

Friday, January 05, 2007


I've been feeling pretty rotten over the last couple of days. I'm talking shakes and jitters, befuddling headaches, near-hallucinatory dreams; all that lovely stuff. Thankfully, my condition has improved to the point where I'm just regular old grotty, and I can keep myself entertained with reading and stuff.

Oh, and in other health news, I just received my European Health Insurance Card. This means that if I need treatment while outside the UK, it's all right that can happen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Prosit Neujahr! Happy New Year!

Warning: very long post ahead.

Wahey! It's 2007 already. We all live in The Future now.

I remember thinking about the future. I remember realising that we couldn't just keep using years beginning with 19; we had to run out sometime. I worked out how old I would be when the time came, and thought to myself: I can't imagine being that old. I'll almost be a proper adult!

These days, it's those 19— years that seem so far away.

What does 2007 hold for me?

I proclaim this year to be The Year Of Doing Stuff Properly, No Seriously For Real. I've done a lot of things in my life; I've seen what's out there. I don't think I'll stop Exploring and Discovering, but it might be time to ramp up the Building side.

I won't go listing my whole goal catalogue (especially with so many of them being technical or geeky), but in 2007 I expect to achieve goals like:

  • Learn a language well enough to chat at the bar (or the bus stop)
  • Cook decent meals on a regular basis (groceries not restaurants)
  • Learn some kind of structured dance (more than adlib monkey-flapping)
  • Live somewhere long enough to really talk about it
  • Work as a contractor or freelance
  • Develop software in a truly agile team

I'd still like to fit some poetry, acting or a musical instrument in there somewhere, but that's not really going to be in-theme.


No full-time relationships for me, hopefully. Like sushi from the sushi-man, I've had enough of that to do me for a good while to come.

Of course, I suppose the dancing and the cooking would work much better with company. I'll probably wind up accidentally falling into another relationship. Gah.


I expect to spend a good chunk of the year out of the workforce. Study will be a big change for me, but it'll be a refreshing experience.

I expect work to be challenging when I am gainfully employed, and I'll love almost every minute of it because it'll the good kind of challenging.


Quiet and solid, compared with the whirlwind of 2005 and the lightning storm of 2006.

I think I'll appreciate my own back-yard, and see more of Britain. (I'd like to say the same about Germany while I'm there, but I think time and money will keep that on a leash).


I've been running low on super-close mega-friends. That's mostly my fault for keeping myself to myself (and for being in a different country).

I'm not going to deliberately work on this, but I wouldn't be suprised if taking classes gives me good opportunities to bond with my fellows. Theatre and film was brilliant for that.


As if.

Life management

I'll put a bunch of techniques to use in the hopes of improving my personal productivity. Some will work for a while, some will keep working, and one will radically change my life.

Wow, I just spent several hours trying to respond to GodAwfulPoet's wonderful greeting. I might split up this post into a series when I wake up.

Update: I did actually split the posts but never published them like that.

Update March 2007: Almost a quarter through the year and the predictions are going all right. Now they're serving as excellent encouragement.

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