So, I’ve just turned on my laptop for the first time since I got here; the wonders of the Universal Powersupply meaning that despite having no battery the laptop works over here on the 110volt supply.
Being over here.
It’s very odd.
I guess a factor of my childhood and the bullying and the ‘aloneness’ is that I am generally at home anywhere; I can envisage myself living virtually anywhere (once I’m there). I had this feeling that Trey wanted me to come here not just to see her friends and be with her, but also to fall in love with the place and want to move here.
So, we all know that I hated America (not Americans; there’s an important difference there) until not that long ago. Poor ‘meriKate, she felt the brunt of it I fear when I first met her, being the first tame friendly American who had to withstand my abuse…
….so to find myself asking myself whether I could live here? That’s a very strange thing indeed.
It is just utterly, utterly beautiful. Words and pictures do the place no justice. I spend a lot of time, when we’re travelling places just attempting to absorb the atmosphere and sights and sounds. It’s funny, I was worried about the cold. It’s been nearly -20âˆžC here on more than one occasion; and I’ve been outside in it. Granted, wearing two teeshirts, a jumper a coat, leggings, jeans and three pairs of socks (although now I’ve got some *way* warmer ones). It’s just cold. I still spend half my time in the house kicking round wearing teeshirts.
I guess America and Alaska are separable and distinct; certainly that’s what everyone says. At any rate; it fails to meet my prejudices; not everyone drives around in huge cars / SUVs. Actually, there’s a fair mix of normal saloons and SUVs; SUV’s being a hell of a lot more justifiable when you’re driving through large quantities of snow! In fact, I’m suprised by the sheer volume of normal saloons; and they’re not huge either. Which yeah, it’s funny. Look Kate, you’ve stereotyped Alaska from the TV. Yeah, okay shut up…
So, it’s beautiful and yeah, I’d love to live here… except…
There’s one thing I really believe in. Really. It’s healthcare. Healthcare which should be ‘free’ (free at the point of delivery) and provided on need not on your ability to pay for it. I’ve had this argument running in my brain; that the cost of living is meant to be lower here* and that since there’s a lot of competition in Healthcare the relative cost of private healthcare policies should be lower; but… I don’t think I can sell out that principle. Which is such a shame; because it is unutterably gorgeous here.
Trey’s been posting photos all morning; so I’ll link to them in a sec.
Odd things, though, about being here. I’m starting to get used to people driving on ‘the wrong side of the road’; 4 way stops? Yeah, I follow them now (suddenly I see the joy in roundabouts! Traffic flow is…yeah. Mmm. Watch me shut up now). The whole style of the road system is very different here; I’m glad I didn’t have to drive as soon as I got here, although now I’ve been here a week, it’s fine. I’ve not driven yet, but if I do it should be fine anyway. A lot more use is made of signage, rather than road markings (for obvious reasons, here at least!); a lot less use made overall of road markings and signage. America’s bizzare predilicton for speedlimits ending in 5 is okay…I don’t get it, but it’s okay…
American signs, they’re weird though. Europe’s pretty ‘harmonised’ on sign style. The symbols are all pretty similar and there’s very little use made of text except to clarify stuff, or for parking rules. So, to see signs consisting entirely of speech is kind of odd. Getting used to it though. Ages ago I saw something on a US site about someone visiting Japan and being impressed by how most signs are understandable without being able to read the langauge which I didn’t understand until I came here…
NTSC still looks astoundingly bad. I know people complain that PAL flickers, being 50Hz instead of 60 (mind, we’ve got 100 Hz TVs now, not mine, but we have); but it’s got a larger range of colour reproducion and it looks more accurate to my eyes. That and NTSC seems to have dreadful brightness artifacts – the whole picture’s brightness is affected by elements in the picture. And you’re still like selling *lots* of 4:3 TVs. I mean, only the meanest, cheapest TVs in the UK are still 4:3. Jeeze!
I’m getting better at on the fly translating. It still sounds weird to say ‘gas’ in a British accent, so I’ll stick with Petrol, although I’ve got a few ‘Huh?’s doing that.
Food. Now there’s an oddity. Kara mentioned how good food in Europe tasted, and I understand now. A lot of food here lacks… something. It’s nice, Kara’s mum’s a great cook, but the ingredients are lacking in punch somehow. It’s really hard to explain.
It’s like in the UK how, if you have stuff from a farmers market, and compare that too the same stuff but from a supermarket; well, it’s that same step again coming over here. Which would frustrate me, were I to live here.
The amount of space though, the amount of space is just incredible. Just the sheer vastness of it all, suddenly I see Britain for the tiny little island it is. It’s really shocking how one small country got so powerful; when you look at how small it is. There’s just so much of Alaska alone… And the mountains. Looking out the window and (when it’s not snowing, which it hasn’t done for a few days now) the mountains.
Last night I got my first look at the Northern Lights; it was a bizzare show according to Kara and Kaisa; the lights looking like clouds illuminated by an etherial green light; changing and moving through the sky. Earlier I got a brief glimpse of them doing more ‘normal’ Northern Lightsy things; and again, awestruck by the beauty of it all. My camera’s been dug out of its bag and checked over, ready for me to take out if they happen again.
I can’t believe I’ve only got 12 more days here.
We’ve also lost one of our party; Rachel who only came up for a few days has headed back home; it’s very weird to be… well… part of a group of friends. A few days ago I’d never spoken to Kaisa and Rachel, and Kara only on the phone, and suddenly it seems really incredibly sad that I’ll be thousands of miles away…
I can look across the room and see the mountains reflected in a picture :-)
It’s different. So different.
Trey’s pictures are here.
* Presumably this is in lower taxes; because at least in Alaska, food’s no cheaper than in the UK. DVD’s are… a bit cheaper, but not so much as to make me want to take a big pile back to the UK with me …. Books…. about the same… clothes are a bit cheaper (or at least underwear is, but then that was the Evil that is Walmart).