Chocolate, rain, and British humor!
The first month living in the UK passed far more quickly than expected. And to be honest, the weather was not bad at all! I came to the UK with the idea that it would rain quite often, but in fact until now I only arrived soaked at work once (!). A pretty good start I guess. Maybe I was lucky, let’s hope for the best for the coming period.
After spending the first weekend in a hotel, I found a room to stay relatively quickly (quite a large amount of rooms is offered on the internet); although I really recommend people who are going to the UK to visit the room before they sign a housing contract. It happens relatively often that houses are described online as little paradises, whilst they are in reality rather dirty, old, moldy etc. Visiting the room before signing contracts gives you also the opportunity to meet your housemates, which is good.
My overall first impression of the UK and in particular Birmingham (I’m planning to see other cities in the coming period) is a little bit ambiguous. On the one hand, people at work, in the city and in the house really give me a feeling that I’m welcome in the UK (good humor as well!). On average everyone is easy to go with. On the other hand, the state of wellbeing across the city is widely divergent. Simplest examples of that are the differences in road conditions and the amounts of rubbish on the streets in different areas. Although some neighborhoods are better to avoid, Birmingham and its surroundings has lots of great and beautiful places to go. The city center is heavily modernized in the last years with the Bullring shopping center as its crown jewel: an enormous amount of high quality shops find their home in the futuristic building that, as I’ve heard, had cost around a stunning £500M. Also the library is worth visiting as an architectural masterpiece.
More peaceful areas can be found outside the city center. Running around the local reservoir just outside the center (see picture!) is a really nice experience when you want to escape the busy life of the city for a moment. The place where I do my internship (Bournville) is located 25 minutes South by bike. Bournville was founded by the Mr. Cadbury: the man who started Cadbury chocolate back in the 19th century. When you travel further away from Birmingham, a beautiful countryside is there to fresh up your mind. Definitely worth visiting.
O, and about the work at Cadbury itself: there is an gigantic amount of chocolate available, but fortunately also a lovely gym to compensate for all those treats :)