Saturday, July 20, 2013

Four Months In!!

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We arrived in Birmingham with our giant suitcases on March 20...four months ago!  It's hard to believe because we have already come to feel so comfortable where we are.

We took the train from the airport to our new neighborhood, Stirchley.  The first thing that happened to us as locals: still lugging our suitcases only a block or two from the train station, a car pulled over to ask us directions to "that store that sells homemade bread" (referring to Stirchley Stores, which currently sells bread baked by next-door Loaf bakery and cookery school).  We already knew the answer and were able to help her out!  Just before pulling away, she asked, "Are you Canadian?"  The first of many.

I think the reasons we already knew about the bread shop are some of the same reasons this move felt so easy and we felt settled here so quickly.  First, because we were living so close before the move (compared to our US-to-Germany move), we could actually both came over to visit three times before moving here.  On two of the trips, we came to Stirchley to look at apartments.  On the first of those we became interested in the area and could focus more on it the second time around - when we started to notice things like the cute side-streets and the cookery school.  On the people front, D's new mentor set us up with a few people he thought we should meet, and we saw them on all the trips so we already knew them a bit by the time we arrived.

My first-ever Stirchley picture: while visiting in February 2013.
Second, I think we owe a lot to - of all things - Twitter.  I didn't have much use for Twitter for many years.  I eventually set up an account to go along with this blog. I started to use it to make Germany-related commentary that was too short to warrant a blog post and to communicate with fellow expats, but I wouldn't say it was terribly useful.  Just an outlet for chatter and #expatweathernetwork.  However, while googling around for Stirchley-related info after we decided on an apartment here, I discovered that there's tons of local information here on Twitter - and it's been unbelievably helpful in finding places to go and things to do and giving me an understanding of the area.  Before we moved I'd already started following several Stirchley-related Twitter accounts, including Stirchley Market, Stirchley Stores, Loaf, Stirchley Park, and Stirchley Happenings (that one seems to have really slowed down, though). Maybe a little too keen, but, well, Americans. We're excitable. Sometimes. Several academic friends here have asked how I always seem to know things that are going on and when I tell them it's a little embarrassing because nearly all of them seem to think Twitter is "a bit weird" or something "I never really figured out". Following useful Twitter feeds is effortless and can really fill up your calendar with worthwhile ideas for stuff to do and make you feel involved even if you aren't very. Volunteer opportunities, festivals, pop-ups, markets, almost everything we've done that wasn't through friends was found out about through Twitter.  If only it had been so useful in Heidelberg!

We caught this exhibit at BMAG on its last day after hearing about it on Twitter.

And those are my theories as to why Birmingham felt like home so quickly.

That and English.

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