Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Props to my Pops

First of all, I'd like to congratulate my dad who is now the president of the school board in Oshkosh. Way to go! Sounds like from the election report that his was being his usual goofy self:

And now back to Sheffield...

The reception on Sunday was really nice. Paige came along as my crazy surrogate mother, taking pictures of everything. I got a framed certificate and got to see the singing society perform--they were amazing! Then we walked home and got soaked in the rain. Called Dad later that night which was nice.

Monday morning I did some volunteer work for the school. I don't have a visa and someone just told me I couldn't volunteer on a student visitor status so, you know, lets just keep this on the down low. I'm thinking they might be wrong but who knows. It would be like the government to make people pay for a visa so they can give their time and energy towards making the world a better place.

Oh man, I can hear someone playing Hot Cross Buns on the recorder! I'm not sure if I'm having nightmarish flashbacks to elementary school or if there's actually a child running around outside blowing on a recorder. Good times.

Anyway, Monday I also got back my Modern and Crossover papers. I was sooo nervous but did way better than expected. I rocked the Crossover essay and did okay in Modern. I can tell there are definitely different standards between 2nd year and 3rd year courses (3rd being the final year here). I did pretty well in Modern though. That night I met up with the b-boys for drinks. It was nice seeing them all together again even if I couldn't stay long. We went to Harley first which is quoted as being 'The home of the lazy posers'. Definitely had the flannel, Riverwest vibe going on. Love it. Afterward, I spent the rest of the night doing laundry in preparation for my trip.

Tuesday I spent hours scrubbing down the kitchen, well kitchens actually. Dishes, counters, floor...the stove is white again! I'm not sure how long it will last but hopefully it'll stay clean before the inspectors come back. Then I read Holes for next week since I have to return it to the library. I love that book!

Today I got back my Working Class paper. I was the most worried about that one but did great as well. Now I have to start working on my next one. I have no idea what to write about. I'm also thinking about taking a stab at creative writing for my next Crossover paper; we'll see how that goes. Modern lecture was great today as well. The topic was American Modernism and the professor was hilarious. I was really interesting looking at your country as though it's a foreign land. It made me see certain things and historical events in a new way, like the introduction of mass production for instance. I guess I never really thought about how making standard sizes like small, medium, large, etc. shifted ideas about how people were supposed to fit into clothes instead of the other way around. It actually reflects a whole change in attitude during the early 20th century. I wish the lecture had been longer!

I'm headed to the train station in about 2 hours. I'll probably call it a night after I get to my hostel in Bath so I can get up and explore tomorrow. I'm meeting the family friends I'm staying with the rest of the time around 4 and going to their place a little outside the town. They seem really nice so I can't wait to meet them! I hope the weather holds up although it is England so I'm prepared for everything.

Have a great weekend everyone! Until next week,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

'Back to school, back to school...'

I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last post! And two weeks since our spring break ended. I have to admit that I was in Lala land my first week back to classes just as I had predicted. I turned two of my essays in on Monday and then tried desperately to churn something out for my final paper due that Friday. Basically that week consisted of me sleeping, drinking copious amounts of ineffective caffeine and staring at my computer screen. I don't know why I torture myself but by now it's become an unavoidable part of my writing process. I ended up unintentionally pulling an all nighter and watching the sun come up on Friday morning. I took a two hour nap then headed to campus to turn that last cursed essay in. Not my best work but at least it's over...for now. I have another paper due for that course in a month. Blah. I got to Skype the family Friday afternoon, or at least those who were already at my grandparents' house for the big anniversary party. It was awesome seeing everyone but it was a little sad not being able to be there.

Freedom, alas, is short lived. Due to my essays I let my readings fall far behind. I'm about half-way through half of the novels. I'm slowly catching up. I did go out on Friday night after turning in my paper. I finally got to check out Propaganda which is an indie/alternative club everyone seems to like. It was really fun even though I was running on 2 hours of sleep and was definitely ready for bed by the end of the night. It was also one of the loudest clubs I've been to and I swear my ears were ringing for days. I ran into some of the Broomhall boys but needless to say we didn't do much talking. We need to catch up boys!

I'm not really sure what I did last week. I think I spent most of the time trying to get my mind back in school mode. I was so out of it the week before that I ended up messing up my timetable and missing a seminar. Lectures were also a little messed up that week having 2 courses canceled. One of my teachers was stuck in Geneva because of the volcanic ash. Awesome!

Wednesday I went out with the house to Corp--a school dance night where you have to wear 'uniforms'. They go every week and I hadn't been a while so I decided to go. That place is so grimy but it was a fun night being with all of my housemates.

Thursday I think I read and spent the day planning another weekend trip. Thanks to connections and family friends, I'm staying with a family in Bath, England for 2 nights next Thursday and Friday. I actually leave Wednesday night after classes but since I'm getting in late I decided to stay in a hostel the first night. Emily also said she loved Bath so I think it will be good to have 2 full days there. May be I'll splurge and have a spa day in the natural hot springs, although it doesn't seem as fun doing it by yourself. I really hope the weather is nice. Saturday morning I'm taking a train to London to meet up with friends and heading back to Sheffield on Sunday. I predict an awesome weekend. Monday we supposedly don't have school so that will be homework day. I really wanted to visit Emily in Florence the weekend after but there seem to be no cheap flights that work on my schedule. It would be so much easier if Sheffield had an airport as well.

Friday, Paige and I walked around city centre. I wanted to go to the train station to buy advance tickets for York on Saturday since the website doesn't like my credit card. We somehow ended up getting kind of lost but got to see a new part of Sheffield. I did finally get my tickets. We also stopped at the 99pence store to pick up supplies for the house. We actually failed our house inspection because our ovens weren't clean on the inside and the floor wasn't mopped very well. It actually was mopped but someone walked on the wet floor with dirty shoes! Brilliant. Paige and I worked so hard cleaning the kitchen all for not. Although it could have been worse I guess. Our house seriously can't stay clean for more than a few hours. Oh and our shower curtains were dirty, and we have to put them in the washing machine with bleach. I swear they were like that when we moved in. So as you can probably guess I also spent the week doing a lot of cleaning for the inspection Friday morning.

Saturday, yesterday, I spent the day in York--about an hour train ride north of here. It was a beautiful day! The first day I walked around without a coat in England. My reason for going was to meet up with my cousin Lauren who was there for the day before going to Scotland. I got in before she did so ended up walking around the small center of this old, walled, Viking city. It is so cute and there are tempting little shops around every corner where I picked up a couple of things. I got some good deals though so I don't feel too guilty. Then I met Lauren at her hotel and we wandered until we found a place for afternoon tea. We actually ate at El Piano, a tapas bar that had all vegan friendly and gluten free food. Even the food was served in bio-degradable wood bowls. I had some amazing chai tea and hummas and Lauren had her first falafel. We caught up on each others travels and enjoyed the amazing smells from the kitchen. I had an open-return ticket so we decided to wander around a bit. We saw the beautiful abbey and walked on the stone wall. It was getting late so Lauren walked with me to the train station and waited until the train came which was really nice. I was about to step on when the doors closed and half the people were stuck on the platform. We didn't know what was going on but waited while they rocked the train back and forth. Very strange. They finally opened the doors and Lauren and I parted ways. The weather was still great in Sheffield and I enjoyed the 45 minute walk back home. The city was also buzzing with life as people celebrated St. George's Day. I have not idea what that is. I ran into Jon on the walk back and he was headed to our house for a pizza party. News to me. I guess Lauren and Daniela decided to make pizza dough and then everyone brought their own toppings and made personal pizzas. Paige didn't make one so they were nice enough to give me the extra dough and share toppings. Surprise, homemade pizzas certainly taste delicious! Thanks for making the dough ladies!

Today I have a scholarship reception for the American scholarship I got through Sheffield. I'm supposed to dress smart casual, whatever that means. I'll let you know how it goes. I think there are supposed to be performances so it sounds entertaining at least. Well I have a lot of work to do before my Bath/London trip so I should probably get to it.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Biblio Nightmare

As my title may suggest, I've had a rather horrible week finishing up two essays. Never again will I wait until the end to compile all my sources. Plus I've had to learn an entirely new way of referencing. I usually, oddly, like doing bibliographies but this was too much. And I'm in the process of writing and researching for another paper due Friday. I'll probably be fairly mentally checked out of my classes that start up again tomorrow. Adding to annoyance of homework has been the security alarm that kept going off this week. I think it was Thursday night when it wouldn't stop and not even the maintenance people could figure it out. There's nothing like the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor to keep you sane.

Besides the torture of writer's block, the weather and the virtual absence of human life in my neighborhood have been treats. All the freshies have gone home for break so it's been refreshingly silent. Without the students I've gotten a much better idea of the community and the people that live here. I've also gotten a lot of 'housekeeping' taken care of: went through emails, got info about a blog job I'm applying for, and had a Skype date with my adviser back home. Sounds like I might have to take a summer class or an online class...or both. Ick, there goes another couple thousand dollars. I also found certain secret items for my grandparents who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next week! I won't go into details since they read this but I think they'll like what I found. I haven't sent it yet so you'll probably get it late. Sorry! I also got some delicious veggie pie at a nearby pub and caught up with some people returning from their own travels.

The weather has been awesome which has kept me away from my work as well. Yesterday was in the 60s--the first time I've felt really warm in a while. Sydney and I decided to venture out to a shopping area after strolling through the botanical gardens. There are some amazing little shops just a 10 minute walk away that I definitely want to explore more later. We found an authentic Italian ristorante/store that has fresh, and expensive, Italian goodness. Yes, Emily, I'm totally jealous of your food experiences. In the spring mood, I also bought some flowers to liven up my room. Then we laid in the park for a while and watched families out enjoying the day. There was a big wedding going on so that was quite the spectacle. I did get research done when we got back so that day was wonderfully productive. Hopefully a draft will form sometime today. At least I'm not waiting until 2 days before like usual.

Just as a side note, I am having trouble uploading photos to facebook so I apologize for the unfinished albums. My internet shuts down or freaks out every time I try. If there's a particular photo you want just give me your email address and I'll send it to you.

Here's to another week of typing!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Not all lemonades are created equal."

I loved Edinburgh! Although I'm not sure Edinburgh loved me. I tripped at least 10 times a day (cobblestone...not so charming) and was almost blown off a cliff. But I had a great time exploring this amazing and haunted city and I hope I can go back to Scotland soon!

Wednesday, after a fairly pitiful attempt at trying to get work done in Sheffield, I boarded the Megabus to Edinburgh, Scotland. The bus had been delayed getting there because of the weather and the service bus supposed to meet us was stuck in Scotland. So I was a bit nervous about the weather after all these reports. Overall, the ride was great and I got an awesome tour of the countryside. Cozy farms with roaming sheep. Crashing waves along romantic cliffs. Gorgeous and rugged. I got into the city around 7 and managed to find my hostel amid the twisting streets and layers. It happens to be next to the castle so I used that as my landmark. After dropping my stuff I felt like dropping as well but a girl in my 6 bed dorm was going on the pub crawl so I joined her. I only planned on going to one or two but was having a great time with one of the hostel employees and a brother and sister from California so I stayed for the whole thing. We hit an Australian bar, an Irish pub, a metal bar and finally a dance club. Crazy fun first night!

Thursday morning I took a trip to the supermarket for cereal and lunch fixings. The hostel has really nice and fancy kitchens with refrigerators and cabinets to store food. Then I made it back to the hostel for the 11am walking tour with none other than our pub crawl lady. She did a great job telling us stories and making us laugh. Edinburgh certainly has a sordid past. Paige, my housemate from Sheffield, came into town that afternoon and we decided to meet up for tea at the Elephant House. It's a cute cafe where Rowling created Harry Potter. Major geek out! After catching up, we walked the Royal Mile down to the palace which is still used for some of the queen's functions. Deciding not to pay the entrance fee, we opted for climbing Arthur's seat, a cliff/summit overlooking the city. It was also beautiful weather so we wanted to take advantage of the sun. Brilliant views although the wind was a little frightening. I think I look either scared or wind-blown in all those photos. It was worth it though. Another friend from Uni, Darius, happened to be in town that day as well and staying at my hostel so I checked in with him later to see what his plans were. He was meeting up with some people and the guide from his tour of Scotland. Paige and I couldn't decide what to do but eventually just went out for some traditional food. I had haggis--a scary looking but yummy Scottish dish. Please, don't tell me what's in it. I do not want to know. Not really up for a big pub crawl, we decided to meet up with Darius and spent the evening at the Blackbull pub, or something like that. It was a great hole-in-the-wall with locals and good tunes. The tour guide bought us grenades which are aptly named I must say. Darius and I eventually headed back to the hostel and planned to meet up for coffee at 8:30 am the next morning before he left.

I woke up at 8:15. Totally unintentional. I was impressed at how fast I got ready. We met downstairs and walked to Costa which was supposed to have great views of the city but the glass was all frosted. After parting ways, I went back and cleaned up before meeting Paige at the castle. We debated about paying to see it but I wanted to do one big touristy thing so we bit the bullet. It was a pretty nice castle and surprisingly intact. In fact, some of the buildings are still used by the military. We went in some of the museums, saw a live, medieval musical performance and wandered through the POW prisons. Oh, we also saw the crown jewels and the stone of destiny. We didn't know what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day so we wandered in and out of free museums and did some shopping. Exhausted, we had tea and snacks at her hostel and relaxed for a bit. Around dinner, we went in search of food and found a cute place called The Tron that does specialty burgers among other things. It was super cheap as well. I got a chicken curry dish because I was really craving some naan. After hanging there for a while, we left to take a night walking tour. There are tons of haunted ghost tours but we did the free one. It was really funny but not scary. I think I'll invest in a really scary one that goes into the underground vaults if I go back.

After the tour we decided to find drinks and live music at an Irish pub but found intense rugby fans watching a game instead. So we wandered until we found a place with music and hung out there. Apparently we found a good place because it was crazy packed and had awesome music. A girl that was with us wanted to head back since she was leaving early so we parted ways a couple hours later. I went back hoping to pack and sleep but my card key didn't work so I went down to get it fixed. While at reception, 2 guys staying there--one being the manager--convinced me to have a drink next door with them and watch one of his lady friends dj. It was a really fun night but I was exhausted by the end and getting tired of the electro-indie mixes that all start to sound the same after a while. The manager was crazy too and pushed us all to the front. I think my ears are still ringing. It turned into a fun, interesting but completely unexpected last night.

I rolled out of bed on Saturday and somehow got packed up and checked out before 10. It was another beautiful day so I was a little sad to leave. I was planning on sleeping on the 6 hour bus ride back to Sheffield but ran into some people I met on a walking tour so chatted with one of them for most of the ride. I did get some shut eye and reading done. I made it into Sheffield around 4:30 or 5 and took the tram back to Uni. I walked from there and collapsed in my room around 6. After eating, skyping Mom and unpacking, Daniela and I caught up and decided to go out later since she's been cooped up most of the week. Matt and Pardeep were home and invited us over to watch a big boxing match. We ended up staying pretty late and by the end I'm pretty sure I was sleepwalking. Somehow I made it back home without falling asleep.

Today is Easter Sunday! I can't believe how fast time is flying. I plan on getting some work done today but I'm still so tired from traveling and such. I don't think I'm caught up on my sleep yet. Every time I try to read my essay my eyes blur and my brain feels stretched. When thinking hurts I don't usually do my best work. I may end up procrastinating again. Now that's something I'm really good at. Why do I do this to myself! Oh well. May be if the supermarket is open I'll buy some eggs to hardboil and chocolate to drown my sorrows...I mean, celebrate. Well, expect radio silence for the next week or two. I can't imagine I'll want to write anything until my essays are done.

Happy Easter!