I’m not sure if this is true in all of Great Britain, or just a London thing… But you can pay your bills at multiple locations like banks and post offices. We have a post office around the corner from us, so we’re able to walk over there with cash (which gives us a better exchange rate than using a card) and be done with the bill in 5 minutes. I love it! Especially since when it comes to bills that have to be mailed back home, I rarely remember until the day before they are due 😉 I’m really bad about that. The slight downside is that for some reason they like to bill way in advance for things here. We got our first water bill in a lump sum for 6 months. But we were only going to be in this apartment for 3.5 months. So then they split the total bill into 4 payments which we thought “great! once per month!” but it turned out they split up the 6 months of the bill over 4 months. Frustrating! Anyway, we called and worked it all out so that after paying 2 of the bills, we only owed 3 more pounds!
Speaking of pounds, the pound has weakened a LOT while I’ve been here. When I got here it was around 1.86 dollars to 1 pound (which was already lower than when I planned to come to London). Now, it’s at 1.46 dollars to 1 pound. So rather than things costing nearly double, it’s more like 1.5 times the price. This has made my rent gradually cheaper than I expected in the interim, but this also has the downside of causing us to lose a lot of money in our deposit. We have a deposit of 1300 pounds which cost us about $2400USD when we took it out, and at the current exchange rate, we’ll only be getting back about $1900USD. I’m trying to convince myself that we haven’t actually “lost” $500 because we’ve benefited from the lower rate in the meantime (our rent has been less, our bills have been less, etc.) but it still really feels like losing $500. Dealing in a different currency really is a little like dealing with the stock market!
Right now it is Saturday morning for me. I’m leaving London in approximately a week and a half from today (Wednesday, December 17th). (That really makes me want to barf because I have 3 huge finals in between now and then, but I am very excited to get home). I have a direct flight to Los Angeles, then I have to go through customs and everything and get over to the Southwest terminal for my flight out from there, which has a layover in Northern California before I finally reach Portland. I think by the end of the da y I will have been traveling about 21+ hours. It worked out a little cheaper to fly out from/back to LAX and then get a southwest ticket between Portland and LAX, but if I could go back, I would have just paid the extra money to fly out of Portland and save myself some of the extra hassle! But it’s all good. Finals will be over and I’ll be coming home!