This is the kind of dilemma that would probably occur only to me.
Essentially, in any personal crisis I turn, if not to chocolate hobnobs, then to a book. Ideally both. So faced with emigration to a foreign land, I naturally sense that reading an awful lot that is somehow loosely related to the whole thing will make it easier.
So far I’ve read the Time Out Guide to Chicago, cover to cover; a 10 year old book called Culture Shock Chicago, which offers amusingly deadpan advice to migrants on how to cope with gay couples and snow; and several of Bill Bryson’s rather smug columns in Notes from a Big Country.
The question is, is it now time to stop?
I mean: not that anyone says this to me overtly, but I do wonder whether experiencing the whole world through books makes me a bit of a weirdo. Would it not be better, for once, to do something unmediated by what three or four different people had said about it before, and use my remaining months over here to binge on British culture? Do I really need to memorise the Chicago grid (as Culture Shock Chicago recommends) before I even get out there? And don’t even start me on the delights of the Time Out Chicago website. Is it helpful to have identified a couple of gyms and restaurants in Evanston that sound appealing when we aren’t even going to be there until September? You would think looking at a gig venue and realising they only had two listings for September so far would put me off.
A little, a little, but it’s hard to change the habit of a lifetime.