Monday, August 30, 2010

Housing

I'm still looking for a place to stay. As of today I've sold enough cookies for 4 months of rent (86 jars!) so at least I'm settled for a term. Student housing is expensive at 405 euros a month, plus extra costs for cleaning (I can clean it myself for free thankyouverymuch). I've found some nice places online for 300 - 360 euros, and the landlords say I can come view the rooms when I arrive there on 13 Sep, so I hope the rooms will still be available. Both are about 2.5km away from my university, but I can get a bicycle and it'll be 15 minutes of cycling, tops.

Doing exchange in Valencia was good preparation. My friend and I stayed in a backpacker's hostel for 3 days and walked around for 10 hours a day viewing apartment, but it was sheer chance that we found the apartment we eventually ended up living in. We wanted to stay in the centre of town, even though school was about 2km away. And it turned out great because most of the town's cultural activities e.g. Fallas were happening right in our neighbourhood! We hardly slept during Fallas for the constant fireworks and when we did, we woke up to street processions.

Also, cycling to school on a bicycle bought on a (dodgy!) black market was exciting as long as we keep to the cycling paths. But the thrill of being able to reach school in 10 minutes! A total change from the hours on buses and the MRT here.

The Hague is flat and Holland is a country of cyclists! I can see loads of cycling paths on Google Street View, hurray.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taking stock

You're reading this because you've either:

1. Bought cookies
2. Bought books
3. Bought envelopes
4. Donated to my Grad School Fund!

Mille mercis to all of you, I can't thank you enough.

A short update on the state of things is in order (in other words, an order from Dad). I've been baking everyday without fail since 1 Aug 2010, bringing the total of cookie jars made to... 79! Productivity has risen since I got out the industrial strength Kenwood mixer of Mum's, cranked the oven up to 180 degrees (from 150), and hired an army of elves. Okay, so the last part isn't true. But I can roll cookie dough in my sleep now, I'm pretty sure of that.

I've sold 33 books and get this... 1059 envelopes. Even I had no idea it was that many.

It isn't easy to earn money in this way at all, and I had no idea. In the first few days, when I had no stamina for baking, I was exhausted after making 3 batches, but now I can breeze through 6. And making envelopes seemed like an awful lot of effort for a little bit of cash, but help from friends (Agent 1 of Operation Envelope, you know who you are!), I've got hundreds easily made.

Humility is something I need, and I will always need more of it. I've new-found respect for the man I met in Marrakech, peddling clocks to tourists sitting in cafes under the fierce Moroccan sun; and for the lady who sells karipap in the underground passage from Novena MRT to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

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