the banks in england, for now, seem stable. my holder, HSBC, appears to have a solid foothold in the quickly crumbling mountainside that is the financial world. the other two major banks in england, and greater europe, Lloyd's TSB and Barclay's, also look to be in the relative clear. the latter bank, Barclay's, sponsors the UK's Premier League so their insurance policy is, in a way, the millions of fanatics who religiously attend matches with easy preference over such things as weddings, funerals and job interviews. (fun fact: Hull's F.C. just made it into the Premier League this year as a total dark horse competitor. go Hull City!)

but i digress.

HSBC has been a decent bank so far. none of the large banks in the UK charge ATM fees, i.e. there are no withdrawl fees on a Lloyd's TSB atm if you are withdrawing from a Barclay's account. each major bank has a wide ranging fleet of branches and teller machines across not just the west half of the country (think about it, wells fargo) but across the whole of europe. their staff is helpful and HSBC offers a solid checking/savings for students with their Passport program (the only drawback being a £6 monthly fee for the first 12 months). and with the oversight of the Bank of England, inflation is kept low due to preset interest rates. these are all good things.

but. a bummer occurs. i deposited my US loan checks to, you know, pay for school and live and stuff, only to discover that it takes HSBC up to ten weeks to pay them into a checking account. this means that i will have my monies over half way through my stay. hmm. something doesn't add up. so i went into the local branch this morning to talk with a representative, the same nice woman who helped me set up my checking account in the first place. she informed me that there are actually two ways that banks can cash these foreign checks: negotiation and another that i can't remember. the short of the yarn is that the teller who i initially deposited the checks to assumed that i would rather wait for ten weeks as oppossed to wait about two days for the negotiation method. i wasn't even informed about the option. the only difference between the two methods is that with negotiation your account is credited the amount and once the check clears (usually within three to five days), the money is yours. with the other method the check actually gets sent to your home bank for confirmation, to pakistan for target practice and then finally buried in soft peet for three months and recycled as firelighters (R.I.P.) before getting deposited in your account. so, if you're at least 10% sure you have the money in your account, it's worth the negotiation route.

one check is still waiting for deposit via the long method and one check was deposited by negotiation this morning. this will actually be good, spreading the money out over a longer period of time with the bulk coming in the latter half of my term here, when i'll need it the most.

other than this little hang up i have had relatively few problems still. classes are humming along and i am rather enjoying two, War & Memory in 20th Century Australia and Medieval Yorkshire: from the Norman Conquest to the Wars of the Roses, while the third is a little tedious, America: from Colony to Republic. with the latter i was looking forward to getting an English account of colonial history after being imbibed with the US version for the last 22 years. so as luck would have it, and it usually does, my little plan backfired and i have a canadien who studied in the US as my professor. all classes will end with a final essay. i have encountered a great deal of interest among professors who find out what i was studying last spring as there doesn't seem to be a great deal of russian history available here (i.e. none).

i keep forgetting to mention that the director of the international office gave me his Hull University Faculty tie when i asked where i could purchase one. i thought that was neat.

on a somber note, not many people here have seen or know about the big lebowski. as a result they seem to miss the importance of a good white russian.


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