Sunday, February 28, 2010

hockey, cheese cake and no particular order

Well the rest of my week didn't pan out too well work wise. My laziness sort of spilled over into my school work. Oh, did I say spilled? I mean it's spilling...spilling everywhere I tell you! Plus Emily's visit this weekend didn't help although it was fun!

I took the tram to the Meadowhall interchange to get Emily on Friday. I got there kind of early so I used that as an excuse to walk around the shopping mall connected to the station. It's huge! I don't even think I saw a fraction of it and it's like black Friday every day there. Insane. Anyway, Emily calls to tell me that there's been a major accident ahead so they're delayed. Luckily I brought some homework and did get something accomplished. Also lucky that I was sitting by the entrance b/c I missed Emily's phone calls so she had to track me down when she finally arrived. Since we were at a mall, Emily wanted to look for an outfit for the club that night. Three dressing rooms later she decided just to stick with what she had which worked out fine. Already a bit behind schedule, we jumped on the tram and walked back from the university stop. Most of my house decided to go to Space (a dance club night at the Uni) that night because they were having a black light party, so Emily and I changed quick for that when we got home. The Broomhall Boys decided to come to Space as well and met up at our place before. We had a lot of people at the house and had to kick everyone out by like 11. Long story. Anyway, we got to Space and it sold out before 3 of the broomhall boys could get tickets so only 1 got in. Lucky we bought them ahead of time! It was an awesome night which ended at the broomhall house where we met up with everyone again and had some tea and noodles.

Saturday I got up way too early but couldn't help it. I ran up the hill to get baked goodies for Em and I--iced fingers and sausage pastries. We then spent most of the day at home planning our trip over break. After going back and forth we've finally settled on the south of France (Nice, Cannes, etc.). We're flying into Brussels for a night or 2 and staying with a friend then heading south for the week. It won't be swim weather but it should be moderately warm. I just hope there's sun because it's sooo gray here. We still need to figure out how we're getting from Brussels to France and where we're starting. Whatever we do, Em needs to end in Florence for her new study adventure. I might go with her to Milan for a day before I fly home. I can't decide what to do with my last 2 weeks. I might go back and explore more of the UK and write papers which are due right when I get back. Blah. We got a late lunch at a pub down the road, watched some rugby and stuffed ourselves with greasy pub food. Sat. was pretty chill and we just went to Bar One at the Uni for a couple hours later that night. After, we came home and only made it through part of a movie and a cheese cake before falling asleep.

Today Em's bus left at 14:15 so we didn't have much time to see Sheffield before I had to get her to Meadowhall. But we walked through my Uni and around downtown a bit so she could get a feel for the city. I enjoyed the walk but I think I may underestimated the weight of Em's bag and her energy level. We got to the train station and took a train instead of the tram (shorter and cheaper) to Meadowhall. We waited around in the freezing cold bus terminal for like 20 minutes. I was about to put a choke hold on some kids who kept running in front of the sliding doors and letting in a blast of cold air. They're lucky I had a candy bar to distract me. After sending her off, I hoped on the train back into city centre and started worrying I got on the wrong one. I swear we were going the wrong direction, but it pulled into the right station so I guess not. I stopped at the common room on the way home to say hi to the b-boys who reserved a table to watch the big football match (Aston Villa v. Man United). Side note: The Broomhall boys are now officially the b-boys (sounds a little more street). After warming up, I walked back home and actually did some work on my scholarship essays. US was playing Canada in hockey at the Olympics so we headed to the edge to watch the game. I left early and tried to do more writing but major writer's block has set in. I thought blogging might get the juices flowing but no luck. Even this blog is feeling a bit dry. Hopefully I'll get out of my writer's funk tomorrow and finally finish those applications!

Well, I should probably do something productive so I'm going to say goodnight and finish reading Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass). It's my 3rd time through it so I can probably skim.

Sleep tight. Don't let the beg bugs bite!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Madness...? This is Sheffield!

This week is definitely the week for accomplishing things. Or at least it's supposed to be. I've done pretty well and have actually started working on my scholarship applications--due in about 2 weeks. Hopefully my usual procrastination won't lead to a mad rush and an expensive air mail situation. Once again, people really need to start utilizing online forms.

Today I finished up my last lecture for the week around noon. I can't believe my classes are done! Where did this week go!? It's been a seriously laid-back few days since most of my housemates are sick; I'm still trying to fight off the sniffles myself. One of the boys got food poisoning or something and had to go to the medical center on campus. There's nothing like hearing a sick roommate calling for a cab to the medical center first thing in the morning to get you out of bed.

Last night we went to the free movie showing near our house. Found out they were showing 300--not my favorite but I did get free popcorn. Then I tried to get some reading done but James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' is not exactly stimulating reading.

Today I've been trying to work on reading and scholarships but am feeling completely unmotivated. Joyce's chaotic writing style is a lot like my current disjointed mind which makes reading his craziness even harder. The maintenance guys have also been running up and down the stairs all afternoon trying to fix our water issue. I think after 2.5 hours they've finally figured it out! I may even have a warm shower tomorrow! Ah the little things in life. I'm trying to decide if I want to join my housemates at Corporation tonight for another white shirt/neck tie dance party. I'm definitely going to the pre-drinks since it's at our house, as usual, and apparently the boys are unveiling a strobe light they bought. Should be interesting. Hopefully no one gets light-induced seizures.

Walking back home from campus through Broomhill, I discover a new cute shop/restaurant/cafe every day. I'm definitely going to need to explore soon...may be this weekend with Emily! Too bad the weather has been so crappy lately. I can't wait until spring break...or whatever you crazy Brits call it (yes, I'm talking to you Headford Gardens...there will be no crazy Cancun trips I'm afraid).

I learned two new British words this week! Plaster (a.k.a. Band-aid) and Trav (or chav...I can't remember). I looked both up on; the def. of chav is hilarious...although not very PC. It seems like the writer of the entry may have had a personal encounter with a chain smoking 12 year old that led to this sarcastic entry. Feel free to explore.


Monday, February 22, 2010

So I spent the better part of my night getting my living situation sorted for next year. My roommate back home, Jordi, is freaking out about our lease renewal b/c apparently it's due March 1. eeek. Not only that, but we have to sign an entirely new lease since one of our roommates is moving out. Such a fiasco. Poor Jordi is dealing with all this lease nonsense, security deposits, etc. while I'm off gallivanting around Europe. Sorry lady! So like a responsible friend I used my Skype coin to phone the leasing office and get things sorted out. Luckily, they're somewhat sympathetic to my distance issue and are letting me sign the lease when I get back. We thought I might have to sign all this paperwork and fax it in. People need to start updating to online forms...that all I'm saying. Or we need to have classes on how to use fax machines b/c they tend to hate me and cause unfortunate situations. Anyway, I still have to send them a letter of intent...which I did. Mission accomplished. Now to finding a 3rd flatmate. If anyone needs a place next year close to campus let me know!

Say cheese!

This past weekend in London was really fun and I especially loved seeing Emily! Friday morning I boarded the train in Sheffield and arrived around 1:30 pm. We took the train back to her place and I got the official tour of her home/classroom. They actually study in a little shed in the backyard! Cute and strange at the same time. We went off to a big outdoor food market off of a tube stop and had some great grilled cheese. I could smell the grilled cheese stand from yards away. With all that melting, wonderful cheese I'm sure you can imagine why:

The tube is great, usually, but they were doing a lot of engineering work this weekend so it was really annoying to get around. I also had a bit of a hiccup with my oyster card. I went to the counter to top it up and the woman says "Why did you spend so much money yesterday! What happened!" Surprised, I wasn't sure what to say and just looked confused. I guess I didn't properly swipe out of the tube at some point so it charged me a lot. Then she kept asking what stop I got off of at 4:30 the previous I'm supposed to remember! I didn't even know where I was at that point. After getting sassed a bit by the underground lady, she did give me back some money which got me through until Sunday.

Despite London's expensive reputation, I did snag some sweet deals on some going out clothes and Irish food. I got some yummy Irish stew and soda bread on Sat. night for only 2.99! Not bad. Back to Friday night, we spent some girl time primping and getting pretty for going out. I wore my new dress and leggings as is popular here. After some wine and hanging out, we worked our way to Koko--a huge club with balconies, live music and crazy Irish people. Emily and I had a good time after splitting from the wasted group. See Emily's blog for more details.

Saturday we went to the British of my favorite London spots. Definitely worth multiple visits. After dinner, we spent time getting ready again. I read some Harry Potter for class, giggling out loud quite often thanks to more wine. As a group we hit up the Argon House--a lounge/bar/club with a really good vibe and 2 live bands. One of the band guys went around collecting emails for their mailing list and I gave him some canvassing advice since he wasn't doing well. All those months of canvassing have to be put to use once in a while!

Sunday we met up for brunch with Rohan, ate way too much and learned about the epic book he's writing. Can't wait to read it! Then Emily and I ran, yes ran, to the 11:30 train, making it just in time. We seem to get into those situations too often when we're together. Ahhh Atlanta. Anyway, after an hour detour added on to the train ride, I made it into Sheffield around 3:30. Since I was already in the city centre, I called the broomhall boys to see if I could stop by on my way home. They were all home watching soccer, so I stopped by with croissants. We chatted for an hour or so and I left them working on plans for latter that night. Got home, freshened up, ate. I finally skyped Dad and talked to him for a bit. The broomhall boys stopped by later and finally got a tour of the house. They were coming over to pick me up b/c they decided to go out for food and the cinema. I'd already eaten so just had some delicious soup and bread at Table Table. At the cinema, we bought tickets for Book of Eli and then I was introduced to the candy grab bag wall! I was, literally, like a kid in a candy shop. You can fill your bag with whatever candies you want and it charges by weight. So awesome...I think US cinemas need to invest. The movie was interesting...well shot, but I'm not sure what the message is. It was a really nice, relaxing night overall and the perfect end to the weekend. I also finished reading Harry added bonus.

The shower wasn't working again this morning so I had to wait until this afternoon after lecture. I'm trying to be productive today but we'll see how that goes. It's almost 6pm and all I've done is blog and wash the dishes. I hope this blog doesn't seem too rushed but I need to tear myself away and do some school work.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

bungalows and bears

I wish I had thought of that cute title all by myself but it's actually the name of the bar we lounged at last night. I say bar, not pub, because it was very Riverwest-style with a laid-back atmosphere, comfy seating everywhere, walls littered in flyers and, of course, tons of hipsters. If you don't know what a hipster is check out this site: (Please excuse the language). I'm not sure what the British equivalent would be but I'll find out. It was a really nice bar and was hosting some live first in Sheffield! Plus I got to hang out with my housemates and the broomhill boys for a while. I opted out of going to Tuesday Club at the Uni--although I apparently missed the best night of the year for drum and base--as I had a class this morning and reading to do. It was also 8 pounds and I'm trying to save money for London this weekend.

I think I'm doing pretty good with money although I'm spending way too much on tea and coffee. But it's the little things that make me happy and I can't give up. There's nothing like listening to the hiss of the steamer and watching as the barista carefully concocts the perfect caffeinated beverage.

Today I had my Working Class Lit seminar and Modern Lecture. I'm really liking both courses although my working-class British history is fairly limited. My prof is going to recommend extra reading for the international students--great. Modern Lit, as always, is a little intimidating but the fact that my Monday (and main) professor sounds like Professor Snape from Harry Potter makes his lectures more than tolerable. To add to the whole HP thing, he teaches in a huge lecture hall inside an old gothic-like church. Very hogwarts. Today we had another guest lecturer for that course; he was amazing! Now I see the value in having different professors every week. It was a really awesome lecture about post-colonialism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and it made me anxious to finish reading it. It was kind of weird b/c right after that great lecture I was reading in the union and some girls came up to me with a video camera and asked if I would be willing to say a bit on what makes a great lecturer or who are some good lecturers on campus. Luckily I had the perfect response!

I trudged home to get some more reading done in my warm room. James, one of the Aussies I live with, was going grocery shopping so I decided to tag along and grab some essentials. We went to the big Tescos like 15-20 min away (walking). James decided to do a major shopping trip which made for an interesting walk back. I ended up carrying some of his bags and now my arms are about to fall off. I'm also just starting to regain circulation in my fingers.

It's snowing pretty consistently right now as the sun sets for the day. Well, I assume it's setting although it's been pretty shy lately. The weather doesn't seem to be able to decide what to do. Luckily the plant life seems impervious to frost or cold and everything is still fairly green. Even our house has a creeping blanket of spongy moss covering the moist stone work. Nature and weather just can't seem to agree on what season it is.

Tonight is ROAR! Sounds exciting...not quite sure what it is but I have a ticket. I think it's like their version of a Pep rally; it's sort of a big party for the varsity hockey game this weekend. Go school spirit! Check back later for reports on my first official Uni party.

Hasta luego!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Photos...may be

Here's Queen's College in Cambridge.
You can hire out a punting boat to take you down
the in Venice.
I'm having a hard time uploading photos but I'll keep trying!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Buggin' Out

Sunday--a day of rest, relaxation, and major catch up on school work. Let's just say, it's going to be a long night...

Yesterday, however, I woke up excited for the university-sponsored day trip to Cambridge with a glorious sore throat. Grrrreat. I also overslept, finally jumped out of bed at 7 and rushed to get ready for the 8am departure of our coach bus. I desperately wanted (and probably needed) a shower but the water was ice cold. I opted for washing in the sink with burning hot water. Desperate times, as they say. Off track but, why the devil would you design a sink with 2 faucets? You either get freezing cold or scorching hot! Anywho...

By some miracle Daniella (housemate) and I made it to campus by 8 and met up with Natalie and Lilly. Our fun group of four ended up sticking together all day. I also HAD to stay with someone since I forgot my cell phone. Yes, as you may have guessed, it was a wonderful morning. I spent the 2.5 hour bus ride reading for class and watching the English country side go by. We arrived and headed out with our maps around 11 with instructions to return to the drop off point at 5:15. Time to explore!

The city is really beautiful although we were in the central, downtown area the whole day. It sort of feels like a walled-city the way its all clustered in a small area. The obvious points of interest were Cambridge's many colleges. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but there are a lot of small colleges like King's College and Pembroke College that seem to make up the larger university system. I'm assuming that the students that go there are university age although college's here also act like high schools for 16-18 year-olds, I think. The city has so much character and we were satisfied just wandering around and slipping through old doorways and into grassy courtyards. At one point we found ourselves in a cafeteria full of noisy students at long tables; it was like walking into a scene in Harry Potter! These campuses don't have very good security...just saying. We were almost tempted to eat in their cafeteria. But, alas, we decided to find the shopping center and eat at the food court--seemed cheaper. To make up for the fact that we were in a mall, I ordered a traditional English breakfast complete with eggs, bacon (really thick!), sausage, hashbrowns, and deep fried toast topped with a generous helping of baked beans. Extremely unhealthy but delicious! We then went to the very popular Primark which is an experience everyone should have when coming to the UK. I guess it's like a Walmart/H&M/Target but cheaper than all 3 and mainly clothing. My travel mates picked up some stuff for the traffic light party later that night. We spent the later half of the day visiting a really nice, and free...and warm, art museum and taking in the general splendor.

I read on the way back to Sheffield but didn't get as far as I'd hoped. We stopped at the grocery store on the way back and I picked up a big orange juice hoping it would help my impending cold. Sydnee and my other housemates were already celebrating her b-day so I made dinner and tried to stay awake. We got everyone out of the house and over to the Edge for the traffic light party around 10. I had fun dancing and eating the chocolate fountain but could tell I wasn't feeling great so headed home early.

I'm feeling much better today thanks to Sydnee's magic tea powder, sleep and a lot of liquids. I'm taking it easy and trying to finish reading but I keep finding more work to do. I've also been eating nonstop today in hopes of "feeding my cold." I need to be in great shape for London next weekend!

So as I was sitting typing this, something flew or fell on my chest and down my shirt. Wam! It looked like a massive bug so I flipped out and ran into paige's room. I was shaking my shirt trying to figure out what it was but it seemed to have disappeared. Walking back to my room I looked down and noticed a lady bug still clinging to my chest. The little bugger soon found himself flying across the room.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Death March

Another partially gloomy day to round out the week. That being said, yesterday brought a bit of cheer with blue sky and sun. I decided to take advantage of the day off and headed to the city centre to visit a bank and the train station. Although having come in from the station, I was lost most of the day trying to find it...luckily it was a nice day. My strategy was to head in the general direction of the station and the other Uni in Sheffield. That, of course, landed me in some seedy, abandoned-looking side streets and caused me to flash back to the safety talk during orientation. "Stay to the main roads," he advised. Well, you try finding a building, officer sir, with a crappy map and a poor sense of direction. I eventually used mom's strategy and followed a guy with a suitcase to the station. So London tickets are bought and I'm off next Friday!

After that, I went to Barclays to see about opening a bank account. Good benefits but a little rich for my taste...and wallet...which I discovered today after coming in again for an appointment. Wasted trip. This may also be a time to mention that the city centre is a 30-40 min walk from my house. I decided to hop the next bus that looked right and was heading in the correct direction. I got off by the botanical gardens and walked through them, up the hill, to Endcliffe. Miracle I made it home! Later Thurs. afternoon, I met up with the broomhall boys and others for yummy 2 for 1 pizza at Rise. So much for a reading day. Finally made it home, bonded with "the family", and read half of Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood.

Today, I went to two more banks to see what they had for international students. Then I went to the West Bank (?) Library on campus to try and read more. I love that library! It's so old school with smelly stacks and a big, open quiet room where you can study in peace. It also has huge windows that look out onto greenspace. My German friend caught me playing on my iPod, however, and we chatted for a few minutes before getting back to work.

Tonight I signed up for a Burlesque dance class to honor all my PHAs back home celebrating sexhibition. Miss you bunches! I also signed up for the Cambridge day trip tomorrow and will hopefully get some reading done on the 3 hour bus ride there and back. Sunday is going to suck. But life's too short to say no sometimes! May be the academic atmosphere will inspire me.

Skype ya later!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Move out!"

Really random but...

I've seen these crazy looking cars a couple of times now and I had to mention them. I guess the word "car" is kind of a loose term for the Range Rover Defender. It's more like a military invasion vehicle. To see this giant in all its glory follow:

Although completely unnecessary unless faced with rugged terrain...I secretly want one. Or may be I secretly want to be Indiana Jones. Hmm...

Monday, February 8, 2010

'Class'...or 'class' when I'm in distinguished company

First and only class of the semester and day, done and out of the way. Oh look I rhymed! Ok enough of that.

Not a very eventful day so far but I think I'm going to like Working Class Lit. The prof seems pretty cool and knowledgeable. I feel a little behind but hopefully I'll catch up. I wish I'd learned about Marxist theory! We worked in pairs to come up with definitions for 'class', 'working class' and 'working-class.' I was sitting next to the other American in the room b/c I knew him but now the prof is calling us the 'american team.' When we read off our defs he was like "What's the American point of view?"...pressure! No, it was fine. Apparently there are different ways of saying "class" and I don't say it the 'distinguished' way. After, I bought my course pack I trekked to city centre and picked up black flats and notebooks. By then I was super tired and hungry so was dreading the walk back to Endcliff. I really need to learn the bus routes.

It really has been "one of those days." I stopped at starbucks on the way home to break up the trip and get some much needed caffeine. I ended up spilling hot coffee on me and getting laughed at by a little boy. Then when I tried to open my fizzy water bottle it exploded. I think I'm going to call it an early night.

Random musings...

As I was walking home I took the time to look at my 'village'. It's so freaking quaint it almost hurts. Brick walls and buildings everywhere. Now I have to figure out how to not get lost.

I need to stretch tonight otherwise I may never we able to walk again or lift my legs. I'm going to be so fit after 5 months--mother will be proud.

I feel so overdressed with my winter coat but I'm glad I have it. I don't know how the Brits survive with just sweaters and leggings. [I saw 'jeggings' today!] The ladies really dress up around here. I feel like a bum with my jeans and t-shirts but I'm not giving them up!

Time for food. Cheers!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Settling In

Let's see...where did I let off? Oh yeah, Friday night.

Friday was fun but nothing crazy--thankfully since my internal clock was still a little confused. I had promised the boys a thank you meal for letting me crash at their place so Luke drove us to the supermarket to get supplies. I decided to make chili--very American and filling. Well, I think it's very American at least. After only a couple spills, the meal came together quiet nicely if I do say so myself. Matt, however, will forever be remembered for his failure at operating the oven; instead of heating it up he just turned the light on so that our bread would be warm in a week--may be. Later, we met up with one of Matt's friends I think at the Common Room (?) for drinks. I finally met a British female! It was nice having a conversation with someone of the same sex for a bit--not that I don't love chatting with the boys :) I was pretty tired so went home with Matt and watched Boondock Saints.

Fast forward...but still on rewind:

Saturday, after sleeping in, I took a cab to Endcliffe Village with all my luggage to pick up my keys. It was really nicely coordinated and they have staff to carry my bags and guide me to my house. I'm staying in a converted Victorian style house with about 12 others international students, mostly from Australia it seems. My neighbor's name is actually Sydney, however, she's from Canada not Australia. I tagged along with her and another girl to take a trip to the city centre for some dorm basics. I picked up some cereal and toilet paper--the essentials. By the way Mom, don't worry. I have bedding and I have been eating. Sydney accepted my invite to come to Matt's bday bash with me so we headed home to get ready.

Last night was crazy fun although my head's still ringing a little from being next to the speakers all night. Everyone met at the broomhall house (where I'd been staying) beforehand to chat and pump Matt full of alcohol. Around 11:30 our group of like 8 guys and 3 ladies headed to Plug to get our dance on. It's freaking cold and wet by the way. Anyway, the club had some great dj's and played mostly...the name is escaping me but it's like a mix of techno and electric I think. Whatever it was my feet certainly enjoyed it and I can feel it today. We left plug around 3am but went back broomhall for a couple hours to wind down and have, of course, tea. Ah good times, good laughs, and juicy stories. We took a taxi back and I crashed around 6 this morning in my new bed. Lesson of the night and word of warning: don't say the word fanny or fanny pack. It doesn't mean ass and you'll get a lot of shocked looks.

Thanks to Matt, Rob, Pardeep and Luke for making my first nights here fun, smooth and comfortable! Don't be strangers.

Today (Sunday), I've been trying to get organized and ready for classes tomorrow. I wanted to walk to campus and find my lecture/seminar rooms but I might do that tomorrow before my class at 2. I still want to go get groceries and put stuff away. Endcliffe Village is made up of a diverse collection of student housing and a main building with laundry, food, etc. It's a bit like a maze and I get lost really easily. However, there always seems to be someone around to point the way. Broomhill is the closest shopping area and there seems to be a cheap grocery store that I'll be visiting later. I just finished writing out my class schedule and looking over the syllabi. I'm a little worried about the work load and assessment. Most have two 2,000 word essays, due around the same time, that make up ALL of my grade. No points for participation like in my US classes. I may end up switching one to a irish language course or something. I'll see how this week goes. It's starting to get dark so I should probably get some food.

Until tomorrow!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


In a couple hours, the keys to my new place and my own room will finally be in my grasp! I was actually able to sleep in this morning...first time since I've been here...although I was going to try to go on the group trip to Meadowhall mall. Oh well. I should probably explain to those who read my title with a quizzical brow that I'm referencing a common practice (at least among my roomies) to call jerks "turds." (tee-he-he-he)

Yesterday, Friday, was pretty crazy and fun. The morning was exhausting as all the international students had mandatory orientation at 9am. We were sorted into groups and guided through the registration process for classes. It was a little confusing but all worked out in the end. First I signed up for my 3 English Lit modules: (originally Crossover Lit, The Novella and the Uncanny, and Post-Colonial Lit). When I asked the woman what I thought was a simple question ("So what is my schedule? When are my classes?"), she gave me a confused look and said she didn't know. So I went back to the English "tutor" table to ask them about my seminar and lecture timetable and they told me to talk to the department. What I eventually figured out, something that they should probably mention, is that after signing up for modules the students have to go onto their online class portal and sign up for a seminar time. Of course then I discovered there were conflicts in lecture times between 2 classes so I had to fill out an add/drop form and run it back to the union--twice--because doing it all on the computer is too difficult. The School of English reception woman was very nice and helpful and during my third or second visit she even circled all my class buildings on the map and labeled them.

I went to lunch with Marion, some S. Koreans, and 2 American boys in one of the many eating places in the union. The union is awesome b/c it functions like an actual labor union for students where they can go to deal with issues at the Uni. It's independent from the Uni and mostly run by students. Anyway, I finished up some orientation stuff and signed up for seminars. I'm now taking Crossover Lit, Modern Lit and Working Class Lit. So basically I'll be reading constantly.

Ah my computer's dying and I don't want to try and find my plug so I'll finish Friday later.

see ya!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Alright then?"

I can't believe it's Thursday night! So much has happened since I landed yesterday that I feel like I've been here at least 2 nights. Where to start...

Well I came into Manchester finally yesterday and got through customs really easily. There was no one in line after I finished filling out my declaration form so I breezed through. He barely glanced at my paper work and just asked me a few simple questions. So much for all the worrying, applications, financial letters, bank statements, etc. I do have to remember to carry my visa letter when I leave the country to travel so I can get back in. After picking up my bag...the only one left circling the claim area...I followed "the station" signs to pick up a train to Sheffield. The next one was in 30 min. so I used the pay phone to call Matt and let him know when I'd be in. As the platform was outside, I was able to watch the blizzard that suddenly hit. Big, wet snow flakes coated everything in a slushy mess. It of course froze later so that was great. I wonder if Emily got the same gift in London. Thanks to facebook pics, I found Matt easily at my destination. We decided to catch a taxi instead of walking 15-20 min in the snow which was a smart decision. It was only like 5 pounds.

I'm not sure I should say too much about where I'm living so that parental eyes don't freak out but it's all turned out great. Matt lives with 3 other gents in a side-by-side duplex, and they all have individual rooms...a very British thing. I was going to sleep on the couch but Matt is being very chivalrous and letting me use his bed. His room is really small so I'm keeping my suitcase in Rob's room. The other 2 are Pardeep and Luke. Anyway, the guys decided to keep it simple so we went out for food and drinks my first night. They took me to one of the many pubs in the city centre for beer and pizza. Pardeep had a massive chili dog which I'll be staying away from. After watching the Leeds vs. ? soccer match and failing at pool, we went home to change for the club. I was pretty wired at this point but also on autopilot so some of it's a blur (from lack of sleep I swear!).

My temporary flatmates are hilarious mostly because I usually don't have any idea of what they're talking about. I think it's because they have all these private little jokes that have apparently been hanging on for years. So we started at Cellar 55 or something because Rob insisted he heard good things. Luke was trying to make excuses to leave because it was pretty dead (but cheap drinks). Then of course they put it on me to make the decision like I'm going to pick sides. No thanks. We ended up leaving and going to a big club...gigantic really...with like 5 different rooms all playing different music, balconies, bars everywhere--all around craziness. The people were the best part and were dressed in all types of strangeness. I watched a guy in a 70s track suit with short shorts get felt up and may be scarred for life. It was pretty awesome though and I'm impressed I survived after just coming off a long flight. In another very British moment, we came back home and some of the guys had tea.

This morning I woke up around 8:00 for orientation day 1. I was so excited to take a shower but could NOT figure it out! I had to wake up Matt to ask. Apparently you have to flip like a light switch on the OUTSIDE of the door to get the pipes to work. Who does that...really. It seems a bit dangerous with prank-pulling roomies around. After succes, I found the Union easily and sat through a few speeches with a room full of other international students. I'm glad I did the orientation because I've met some great people. We got a mini tour of the "Uni", lunch, tour of the (amazing) Union and a final Q&A. I met a really friendly French girl, Marion, in my tour group and we agreed to meet later for the planned dinner at Ranmoor village--a student housing center.

I finally bought a cell phone! I didn't really shop around but I think I got a good deal. I going with the company Orange on a pay as you go plan. But, if I pay 10 pounds a month, at least, I get free texts and 10 pounds talk time obviously. Not bad. I got the phone before dinner, went back home, Skyped Em, realized I was running late and practically ran back to the union. As a group we walked to Ranmoor and had a pretty good lasagna dinner. Finished the night in the downstairs pub with some German, French, Italian, Spanish, South Korean and Australian aquantances. Well we're friends on facebook so it's official now.

I took the bus back and watched a nightmarish movie with Rob and Matt. Harry Brown...pretty good but a little cringy as the Brits say. Just a lot of "did that just happen" moments.

Well I am signing up for classes tomorrow at 9:15 so I should probably hit the sack. Hopefully by post will be shorter next time.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Plane sores

"This is the captain speaking. It seems we have a maintenance problem with the engine. I talked to the ground crew and they're saying it may take about 2 hours to fix."


3 hours later we finally gained altitude and were comfortably on our way to Brussels. I of course would miss my connection but American Airlines did a great job of quickly rebooking my flight. So I'm currently waiting for my flight to Manchester in less than 1 hour which after sitting for 10 hours on a plane is a relief.

The ride over was pretty smooth. I watched about 10 minutes of Fame before dozing off. Sleep was a little difficult but I think I got some good solid shut eye. Before boarding I starting chatting with a girl around my age who was headed to a small town in France where she's been living for 6 months. She's originally from New Orleans but followed her French boyfriend to Europe to start a new adventure. The plane was really empty so we were able to move around and sit next to each other. It was nice having someone to share my concerns about finding a connection, etc. We parted ways after landing...I hope she finds her way safely home!

I just got in touch with my contact in Sheffield, Matt, who is meeting me at the train station. I decided to buy airport internet access so I could call him via Skype. My first mobile call was a success! I'm glad I didn't have to use the pay phone because I haven't had the best experiences with those. I also was able to call mom and let her know I was safe. She's probably the only person I know that's up at 5:30am anyway.

Well, I'm tired and probably a little smelly. Airplane pillows have never agreed with my hair. I'm a little afraid to look in the mirror at this point. Other than that, none the worse for wear...or however that saying goes.

Skype ya later!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Oh Barbra

Can I just say, Barbra Streisand marathons are very helpful packing motivators.


Although I've barely had time to breathe or pee for that matter, my last full day in the US has been pretty productive. I may need to sit on my suitcase but I think I'll be well clothed for the next 5 months. I hope it doesn't exceed the 50 lb limit...tomorrow will tell.

My plane leaves tomorrow around 5pm but I'll be at the airport waaaay too early so that I can sit around and wait. Luckily, like a true English major, I have Pride and Prejudice to keep me company and probably a juicy gossip magazine (What's going on with Brad and Angelina! Now Madonna's going to have to adopt all those kids on her own.). Although airports can be stressful, there's something comforting in the overpriced merchandise, security scans, and boarding announcements. Even the chance that you could be randomly selected for extra screening or grabbed up by the TSA makes the whole experience thrillingly mundane. But the more mundane the better I say...our family doesn't need any more airport scares.

I want to thank everyone for the advice and well-wishes. Here's some words of wisdom from someone near and dear to my heart (I've taken the liberty of making it poemy):
Breath in that air,
close your eyes, and
memorize yourself right at that moment.
That way when you come back
you can see how much
you've changed.

Finally, I leave you with this; "diabolical" is an awesome word. That is all.