Posted by: TomA | 3 November 2008

Moving away, starting afresh

So, last week my MSc dissertation finally got given in after a long hard slog of data analysis, baffling econometrics and data procurement frustration. In the end, I think I’m fairly pleased with it. I’d stick it up here for your criticism were it not for the pesky NDA preventing me from doing exactly that. Briefly, I found more or less what I was looking for: people are dynamically inconsistent in the domain of online television, as they’ve been found to be elsewhere, and the externally validity of economics experiments is somewhat valid. There you go, 5 months work and 15,000 words reduced to an off the cuff and brief sentance.

All of this meant it was time for me to (sadly) leave Nottingham and move elsewhere to start in the world of work, to pay some taxes and be in the office drinking tea instead of the library. Leaving Nottingham was really rather sad, saying bye (if only for a while) to so many good friends who’ve made my time in Nottingham over the past 4 or 5 years the most enjoyable I’ve had. Driving back to the parental home was when it really started to sink in; leaving behind everything safe, comfortable and enjoyable about Nottingham to up sticks and set up shop somewhere completely new, somewhere where I knew no-one to start a job I’m still not sure I’m competent enough to do satisfactorily. Even harder was doing so alone – I’d always assumed that if I moved away, it would be in the company of someone else.

Yet I’ve found the move to some extent rather libertating. I stopped off in Oxford on Sunday on the drive down to have a walk around the Cowley Road area, where I’m looking to move. It was a thriving hive of activity, even on a drizzly Sunday evening. It reminded me of aspects of both 4th Avenue and Commercial Drive in Vancouver, a long street packed full of interesting cafes, ethnic restaurants/food wholesalers and friendly pubs and bars. With barely a chain on it (though I do imagine it was far better before C*sta Coffee made an appearance and before The Zodiac became the C*rling Academy), it just seems such an interesting and exciting place to be. Had a couple of nice chats with randoms in coffee shops; something I wouldn’t feel able to do in a city like Nottingham but seems so natural in Oxford.

However, Oxford is still a bit of a way from Swindon, where I’ll be 9-5ish 5 days a week. What is a touch scary, is that I’m not sure I’ll really be able to afford to live in Oxford. Rent and petrol could easily be over half my salary, which is ridiculous. Still, I’m holding out for finding somewhere cheaper – I know the commute would be a pain but I know it’d be worth it, to be able to walk into town and have a few pints in a lovely environment.

Swindon is everything Oxford isn’t. That’s to say, it has a tiny smattering of independent shops or restaurants, possibly a few non chain shops and no architecture of note that I’ve noticed. The town seems to be dead every evening I’ve walked around and I’ve yet to be impressed by any of the restaurants. In fact, as I’m staying in a B&B while I sort somewhere more permanent to live, eating out has become a real drag. It used to be something I loved, especially when over in Canada/USA, where the food was cheap, delicious and the restaurants almost without exception exciting and vibrant. Here, I find myself sat with a pint reading a book, doing my best to strike up conversation with anyone that looks reasonably [in]sane and more often than not failing, then eating quickly so I can retire to the relative comfort of the outside world or the B&B. It has become a chore rather than a treat.

Which leads me to the next couple of posts. As I’m forced to eat out expensively for the foreseeable future, I may as well put some short reviews of the places I’m eating in on this here blog. I don’t expect anyone to take any notice of what I say, but I do hope you’re mildly entertained by my quest for culinary ok-ness in Swindon.

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  1. […] a post by a guy who just finished up at Nottingham with an MSc in Applied Economics talking about his dissertation. This entry was […]


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