Friday, 30 May 2008

Homeland Insecurity?

One thing I have learned in my short time here, is that the UK takes security of information very seriously. Let me explain my banking situation.

Upon arriving, I of course needed to open a bank account here. So, I identified the bank I wanted to join and went in with passport, work permit, and a bill with my name/address on it. After some struggle (they didn’t like that I didn’t have a 3-year credit history in the country), they agreed to open a debit account for me. Lovely.

In order to use my account, I require the following:
-Sort code (indicates the branch holding my account)
-Account #
-Member # (separate 10-12 number code for logging in online)
-Online login password
-Debit card #
-Debit card pin # (separate from other passwords)
-Secret code word (when logging in online it requires me to enter various letters of the word—even if my login and password are correct)
-Telephone banking member #
-Telephone banking pin # (different from other pin and password)
-Debit card reader (my favourite) – when logging in online, I have to insert my debit card, get an 8 letter password, enter it online…did I mention it’s the size of a calculator?

I may be wrong, but isn’t this a little overkill? Couldn’t we consolidate passwords a bit? I can barely remember how to login to my various online accounts that JUST require a password. Then I think…well why isn’t the US as strict?

Home, Sweet, Casa

Yes, so I've been MIA for about 3-4 weeks now. The neighbor that was unknowingly letting me steal his wireless internet cut me off and it wasn't until now that I actually got my own internet hooked up. I'm back!!!

The most amazing thing in the world has happened….my furniture and personal items have arrived! Thank goodness they weren’t on the Titanic! I don’t generally think I’m super materialistic, but my GOD living in an apartment with 1 suitcase worth of clothes, a folding chair, 1 plate, 1 bowl, 2 forks, 2 spoons, 2 knives, and a bed, for 6 weeks is just not ideal. So, as you can imagine I was jumping for joy when the truck arrived with my items.

It’s funny, though, because when my items were packed in California by 2 spanish-speaking men…I thought nothing of it. In fact, I thought nothing of them marking the outside of my moving boxes in Spanish. It wasn’t strange at all until my boxes arrived here and I had 2 English guys unloading my things and trying to figure out what boxes went in which room. I don’t speak Spanish and I don’t fully understand English accents just yet. What a mess! I had to draw upon my 2 years of Spanish in 5/6 grade to remember that libros means books, etc!

Another learning for me this past week was that the holidays are different here. Yes, I know that probably sounds incredibly obvious (apart from International Holidays like Christmas and New Years)….but what about, um, Mother’s Day. It is not that I don’t understand or believe in the importance of such days, but it is part of the culture to advertise and remind the public of these events, in the US. I no longer can rely on just knowing when these holidays are, I now need to actively seek out and be proactive to ensure I am aware of such holidays. I will need to purchase a US calendar for this exact reason, and a European/English calendar so that I remember the week numbers. Over here, people do not refer to ‘weeks beginning on’ or ‘week of’, they refer to the actual week # in a year. It actually makes perfect sense, but it’s quite confusing if you aren’t used to it and difficult to relate dates to one another (for me).

So, as if I wasn’t poor enough already at keeping dates and remembering holidays, I now have a few more items working against me. I hope not to disappoint, but if you know of a holiday upcoming, please send me a note with the week # and date as a reminder. I will mark it on both of my calendars!