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Flat pack furniture and bank accounts.

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by | Sep 11, 2018

A couple of big things have happened this week. The first, and most exciting, is we finally had our bed frame delivered. Wahoo! It was a little like deja vu for Mike and I as, for those of you who don’t know us, the majority of our furniture when we first moved in together was good old IKEA flat pack. Versatile, nice to look at and, most importantly, fantastic for people on a budget. Really, we should have shares in the company by now as the majority of the furniture we have now ordered for our new American apartment is also flat pack IKEA furniture. Why fix something that isn’t broken? I should point out that when I say it was deja vu for us, I really mean deja vu for Mike. For this particular confession I will use the structure of my favorite podcast ‘The Guilty Feminist’ to admit something awful. I’m a feminist … but I remained in our kitchen and cooked the dinner whilst Mike (with our fancy new toolkit) assembled our flat pack furniture.

I also summoned the courage to FaceTime my family, parents-in-law and good friend Rachael. It wasn’t awful and no one cried! Although, as someone did rightfully point out, Mike and I have only been away for the length of some holidays. I don’t feel home sickness is justified quite yet, watch this space. The FaceTime with my family was most eventful as we not only had to squeeze all four of them (sorry Michael, you weren’t home!) into view, but the previously mentioned bed was delivered during our FaceTime. It could not have worked out better if I had staged it, my family and I had been discussing the many comparisons of living at home and living in America. One of these comparisons was accents. “I haven’t had many issues” I said. “Most people do pick up on the accent,  the majority think I am Irish, but everyone has been able to understand us so far”. Enter Ikea delivery man. Mum and Kim are on FaceTime sitting on our (makeshift box) dining table whilst the following unfolds. Picture the scene:

Man comes in and drops off bed slats. I say, “Do you want a hand?”. Man stares blankly at me. “Would you like me to give you a hand?” I repeat, gesturing at the van down the stairs. Again, he stares at me. It must only have been a few seconds, but as a socially anxious person being misunderstood/not understood at all is one of my recurring nightmares. Finally, I rephrased my question and (embarrassingly) slowed the pace of my speech. “Would you …pause…like some help…pause…moving the boxes… pause… up the stairs” I repeated. We were instantly both relieved. “Oh” he replied ” I had no idea what you were saying” (yes I got that) and he followed with “Your accent is just so exotic”.

Your. Accent. Is. Exotic.

What? The Scottish accent is many things, but exotic has never been the descriptive word I would jump to. My family have been present for this entire scene, and all I can hear is some (not well) muffled guffaws from the iPad screen. Three more boxes of bed are heaved up the stairs and the man makes his exit. “Never lose that accent!” he shouts as he leaves. I will leave you to your own thoughts and feelings about the Scottish accent being described as exotic.

The next task on our (very adult) list was to open an American bank account for myself, as I have been carrying around Mikes cards (I can feel the bank workers covering their eyes and ears) to pay for the essentials; lunch and coughasosclothesorderscough. Ahem. Mike signed up for a CHASE bank account as, we have been told, they own the system (?) that most banks will transfer through for international money moving. This makes us sound a little like gangsters. The actual reason for moving money internationally is a lot more bog standard; similar to the majority of millennial’s, we have debt remaining in the UK. Shocker. Simple things, our sofa is paid monthly, phone contracts etc. I digress. CHASE was a fantastic choice for us as we could make these transfers fairly quickly. UFCU is the bank we decided to try to open an account for me, as they deal primarily with international students. It was noted on ‘things I can and can’t do on a H4 visa in America’ that opening a bank account was not on the banned list. However, finding a bank that will allow you to open an account without a Social Security number, and without a student visa, is a little of a ‘needle in a haystack’ scenario. UFCU included. UFCU also described their international transfer as “small hamsters would have to take a written cheque over the Atlantic (via plane, trains and automobiles) and scurry to the nearest Scottish bank, before the money would show in your account”. Not ideal. The perk was, however, that as Mike is faculty his monthly earnings would appear in the UFCU account slightly earlier vs. CHASE – due to their links with the university. Success.

We are still waiting for the official UFCU card to be delivered, however Mike’s CHASE card was delivered yesterday and the letter bragged “now with chip and pin!”. An alien concept to some Americans I am told, although an every day occurrence for ourselves. I cannot describe the unnerving feeling of simply swiping a card to pay and signing the receipt. How odd.