Category Archives: Moving

Home Sweet Home

Well it has been far too long since we last wrote, sorry about that!  As most of you know, we spent the first part of the summer visiting family, making moving plans, and just enjoying the land of the free!  It has been really good to be home.  Ben and I are now settled into our new place and absolutely loving it.  It would be hard not to love it though after three years in university accommodation!  Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to show you our new place and mention some of my favorite details.

It was pretty fun moving into a place and getting to unpack all of our belongings for the first time in three years.  It felt like we were getting married all over again!  I have to say though, one of the things that God really changed in me while we were in Cambridge was my attachment to “stuff.”  I love stuff.  I love to decorate and entertain, and keep every special memento which means that it is very easy to accumulate.  There were times when Cambridge was really hard because we had so little, and yet the simplicity of life there changed me.  I loved having space.  I loved having empty drawers and cabinets that weren’t packed to the brim.  So as we moved into our new place, there were moments when I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we had.

I counted eight spatulas.  Eight.  I have certainly never cooked with an octopus so it just seemed a tad excessive.  There was a point when I was unpacking our kitchen that I became overwhelmed as I was running out drawers and cabinets (granted, we don’t have many at all), and I just kept thinking, “what am I going to do with all this?”  I had never even used some of it.  So after we had opened every box, I started really looking at things and making “keep” and “give away” piles.  I had so looked forward to moving home, but I did not look forward to feeling like we were already bursting at the seams.  So we took about four boxes of stuff to goodwill and now I feel like we can breathe.  We have space.  Not every shelf is taken and not every drawer is filled.  It feels good.

So here is just a quick glance into our new home…

Entry way...I love the birds  :)

Entry way…I love the birds 🙂

I have my own couch again!!!!

I have my own couch again!!!!

My new dining room table...love, love, love!

My new dining room table…love, love, love!

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Hallway to the bathroom and bedroom...love all the colors in the house!

Hallway to the bathroom and bedroom…love all the colors in the house!

Very small bedroom but it works!

Very small bedroom but it works!

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Hands down my favorite thing is having a dishwasher again!

Hands down my favorite thing is having a dishwasher again!

Ben's little garden

Ben’s little garden

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We needed extra storage and Ben said he liked these wire racks...I was not a fan at first...now it is one of my favorite areas! Smart man that one!

We needed extra storage and Ben said he liked these wire racks…I was not a fan at first…now it is one of my favorite areas! Smart man that one!

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Home Sweet Home

Well it is time for us to share our big news with all of you.  Yep, you guessed it, we moved into a new apartment!!  I cannot begin to express the change that has occurred in our lives since moving into this flat.  We are warm.  We have hot water (well, most of the time).  We can have more than two people in our apartment at one time without it being a fire hazard.  We no longer have to weather proof our windows with sheets of plastic in order to keep the wind out.  And after 13 months, we were actually able to unpack all our suitcases!

Peterhouse knew of our desire to leave our old flat, so we were quite thrilled when they contacted us in late September and told us that they had a flat for us to look at.  It is literally a stone’s throw away from our old flat so we are still in a great central location.  We came for a viewing and I was so excited.  We walked through the door and I was instantly sold.  The living room was at least double the size of our old one and it has this amazing wall with built-in shelves.  The ironic thing is that we have always wanted this kind of built-in bookcase, but we have none of our books with us!  So, for now it is an empty bookcase.  Empty, but beautiful.

The living room is my favorite room because it has the bookcase, an old fireplace (that doesn’t work, but is still pretty nonetheless), high ceilings with large windows.  Large windows covered with the same motel 6 curtains, but I think this pattern is significantly nicer.  Or maybe I am just becoming blind to crazy patterned curtains.  The highlight of the living room…we have a real couch again!!  The kind that you can actually sit cross-legged on, or you could even lay down.  Amazing.  Beyond the living room we have a nice size kitchen though it is a bit on the blue side.  Even the cabinets are blue.  Very au-naturel.

From there we have a little mud room with a washer and dryer.  That’s right, no more coins or hefting laundry out into the cold and down to the grad laundry room.  They are two very strange machines though.  The first time I did our laundry I took it out and it was soaking wet.  Then I realized (or rather, Ben did) that there was a separate spin cycle.  Never seen that before.  Then the dryer took about three cycles before our clothes were actually dry.  That was when we found this huge cylinder of water that you have to take out to empty.  Once we figured that out, it worked like a gem.  A gem that was built in 1960 perhaps, but a gem nonetheless!

Our bedroom isn’t anything too exciting, but it is warm and a bit bigger than our old one.  The bathroom is lovely though.  It has an actual bath so now I don’t have to be a contortionist just to shave my legs.  It is painted bright red, but as we are Sooner fans, we are pretty happy with that.  All in all, the new place is a huge blessing.  It feels so much more like a home, and even though it is really old, we love that it has character.   It doesn’t feel like our dorm at OU.  It feels like me and Ben’s Cambridge flat.  It feels like home.


Finding a Job in the UK

As I am finally starting to get settled into my new job, I thought I would take the opportunity to write about looking for jobs in the UK.  We have had a couple people ask about what the process was and how I went about finding a job so hopefully this will help anyone who needs it, and enlighten anyone else who cares to read it. 

To begin with, as the wife of a student I was given a dependent visa.  I am not sure of how these differ (if they do) but in my case I was given a visa with no restrictions when it came to working.  This has been extremely helpful as I think it is much harder to find jobs if you have to obtain a work visa.  I didn’t specifically apply for a work visa, but thankfully as a dependent I was given one.  As Ben can work no more than 6 hours on his visa, we were very happy that I didn’t have any work restrictions!

In regards to actually looking for a job, I knew that it would have been extremely difficult and unlikely that I would get a job before I arrived in Cambridge.  Had I been a teacher or a nurse I think I could have looked for something before coming (as I have several friends who obtained jobs in these careers before they arrived) but my experience was in HR.  I also knew that I couldn’t begin working until I applied for a National Insurance number which I couldn’t apply for that until I arrived in the country. 

We arrived here in late September and I took the first month or so to settle in and really acquaint myself with the city and just British life in general.  Towards the end of October I began looking for jobs.  I started by looking at jobs at the university and searching job boards.  As anyone who looks for a job does, I spent hours filling out applications and writing cover letters.  Mostly to no avail.  I will say one thing about British recruiting processes, they do not leave you in the dark.  In most cases a job will tell you how long it will be posted for (normally about two weeks), when the closing date is, when interviews will take place, and when a decision will be made.  Not only do they post this information but they actually get in contact with you if you apply.  They send you an email letting you know they received your application.  Then, if you aren’t successful, they send you an email or most likely a letter (well at least in the case of the university which is mostly where I applied).  They are very old fashioned when it comes to the whole letter writing business (though I secretly like it).  This is extremely different from what I experienced in America.  When I applied for jobs back home, I rarely heard if I didn’t receive the job.  I really like how they do things here in that regard.  It helps you to know where you stand and is just very straightforward.

From my time in the states I knew this wasn’t the best way to go about getting a job, but I wasn’t sure what else I should do since most places like you to apply online nowadays.  When we first got here I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I also applied for random retail jobs one afternoon.  I printed off my resume (or CV as they call it here), got dressed up and walked through town dropping off my CV to any store that appealed to me and said they were hiring.  This is always a little embarrassing but I did find it effective.  I was offered a job early on but unfortunately it didn’t work out for various reasons. 

So the job search continued.  I managed to get a few interviews after pouring over cover letters and applications for hours.  Even still, nothing came through.  I had several friends that encouraged me to register with a temp or recruiting agency which I dragged my feet on for a while.  Having worked alonside recruiting for the last several years, I knew that companies rarely resorted to using recruiting agencies and finding people through there is always more expensive than just hiring someone who applies for a job online.  Yet again though, I was forgetting that I was not in America.  Here in England if you want a job, the best advice I can give you is this…call a recruiting agency (or all them for that matter) and you will have a job. 

I registered with the university temp agency but they had a large supply for temps at the time.  I continued to apply online and then one day I applied to a couple of jobs that a recruiting agency had posted.  This agency contacted me and from there things moved very quickly.  They had me in for an interview within just a few days and then I had the option of temping, interviewing for temp to permnanent positions, or just going for permanent positions.  I said I was fine with all three…I just needed a job. 

I can’t tell you how diligent they were.  I received emails and calls almost daily.  Iwas first contacted by them during the last week in November and I could have lined something up earlier but we ended up going to the States for Christmas and then taking a trip to Rome in mid January, so that put everything on hold.  On my last day in Rome (which was a Wednesday) I received a call and asked if I could interview with a company that Friday for an HR job that would be temporary to permanent.  I agreed and went to the interview that Friday.  I recieved a call that night and began work the following Monday.  Within two weeks I had moved from being a temp to a permnanent employee. 

Finding a job here is very different as a lot of companies use recruiting agencies here.  I am not sure why it is so different, but now I know from experience that it is.  A couple of pieces of advice that I would give to someone who is applying for jobs in the UK would be this:

1. Do your research and know what kind of position you are looking for as well as what kind of company you want to work for.

2. Register with a recruiting agency (or multiple).

3. Tell everyone you know or meet that you are looking for a job.  Always be ready to sell yourself and your skills.  Most people are willing to help you if they know you actually need (and want) help. 

4. While you are looking for a job, research companies in your area (find a list of top companies to work for or ones that have received awards for being a great place to work) and stalk their websites for job openings.  Read as much as you can and be ready to pounce if something of interest comes up.  Be creative in how you set yourself apart and know your audience (what kind of recruiters are going to be reading and viewing your CV/cover letter/application-know when to be creative and when to keep it simple).

5. Don’t waste your time applying for every job that comes along.  Really spend time on the ones that you are interested in.  Write amazing, flawless cover letters.  I have a general cover letter that I start with, but I spend about an hour or two on every cover letter I do.  I tailor them to the job and the company. 

6. Keep going even when you feel discouraged.  Make looking for a job your full time job.  I am bad at doing this, but I was better this time around then I was last time!

Well, those are some of my thoughts on how to get a job in the UK.  It is never easy looking for a job but there are things you can do (things I should have done) that make it a lot easier.  Don’t make it harder than it has to be.  And like my friends told me, don’t worry something will come through.


The Countdown Begins

In about 30 hours, we’ll be leaving the United States for the foreseeable future.  It feels somewhat surreal to know that this long-awaited moment has finally arrived.  For the past year, we’ve thought over and over about this trip.  Everyone has known about it.  Everyone has asked about it.  At church, at school, at work, on the phone – scarcely a day has passed without conversation turning to the move to England.  Now that it’s here, it’s hard to know what to feel.

 Gratitude may be the predominant emotion we’re feeling at the moment.  For the past four months, we’ve been living out of a suitcase, visiting friends and family all across the country.  While it will be nice to settle into a routine once we arrive in England, this summer has provided a unique opportunity to reflect on God’s blessings up to this point in our lives.  There’s something about breaking out of the routines of everyday life that can really bring clarity to how God has been working in and around you. 

So, we’re grateful – grateful about the past, grateful for this summer, and grateful for the chance to move to Cambridge.  We can’t wait to experience a new culture, and we’re excited about the chance to set aside the next few years for a prolonged time of concentrated reflection and preparation for ministry.  This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and so the second emotion we’re feeling at the moment is anticipation.

There are so many things we’re looking forward to right now:  Different foods (despite the reputation of British cuisine), new friends (not that we don’t like our old ones!), traveling to new places (this is especially exciting for Rachael as she has never been beyond Mexico), the history, the architecture, the chocolates (again, Rachael is especially excited about this one)– in some ways right now it feels like Christmas Eve, and tomorrow we’ll wake up and rush out of our beds to open all of the gifts.

In other ways, right now feels totally unlike Christmas Eve.  We’re sad to leave behind the people and places that we love.  It’s hard to know we’ll miss major events in our friends’ lives.  We’ll miss graduations, births, parties…even things like Bible studies and dinners with friends will be hard to leave behind.  We won’t be around to be a part of planning our siblings’ weddings.  There’s also a sense of loss that we feel about forfeiting the comfort that comes from being familiar with our surroundings and cultural customs.  So, sadness is another emotion that we’re feeling right now.

Surprisingly, one thing that we aren’t feeling at the moment is fear.  Maybe we’re just naïve to how difficult this move will be!  On the other hand, we have received so much encouragement and affirmation from the people around us over the past couple years regarding this next phase of life, and God’s work has been very evident to us throughout the whole preparation process for this move.  We have been praying about it for a long time, and we are grateful for how much prayer support we have received as well.  We feel very confident that this move to England is the right thing for us right now. 

We will be posting updates (and pictures from the summer) as we get settled in, so stay tuned and keep us in your prayers as we leave tomorrow!