Thursday, October 29, 2009

A visitor and a cold

Sunday I was back in Brighton and Jena and I went to see the Brighton Orchestra together for one of her classes. It was nice but we were definitely the youngest ones there by quite a few years! Then of course we got milkshakes. Class was fine this week- nothing too exciting. Outside of school though, a neighbor from home/friend from elementary school, Frances, visited me! She is studying in Florence and Paris and came to Brighton for part of her break between the two programs. She got in Monday night but unfortunately, I developed a severe cold the next day! I was still able to show her some of the sights of Brighton and we toured the inside of the Royal Pavilion (one of the principal landmarks of Brighton) and walked on the Pier. That night we made dinner together and it was super delicious and way more elaborate than anything I’ve cooked on my own so far! Then we went to karaoke night at the King and Queen pub with some of the other international students. Wednesday I had class while Frances explored Brighton on her own and then we went to Amy’s field hockey game together. We then went out to Brighton for dinner at this giant oriental buffet (not nearly as good as Fire Wok but the desserts were good!) and then stayed in and watched a movie for the night. Frances left Thursday morning and I went to the health centre on campus because I was tired of being sick. I think it’s the change in climate and different germs, but I’ve been sick almost this entire month with one cold or another. They suggested some medicine for me and it’s been helping, but I’m planning of taking it easy the rest of this week. Thursday night I carved my pumpkin, Sir Alfred, so that I’m all ready for Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another London Weekend!

Thursday I attempted to do homework until it was time to leave for London. I got into London around dinner time so I met Aishlinn (a friend of mine since I was twelve!) at her place and she made a delicious dinner for me (she’ll be upset if I don’t put in a disclaimer that the quiche was cheap at the grocery store, but I was very impressed by the salad she made me- it was made from several ingredients!). Then I headed to the tube station to make my way over to the football game which had been arranged for us by ACCENT (WashU’s London orientation program). I met a nice family on the tube who was going to the game, so they made sure I didn’t get lost. I met up with the other London WashU students at the game and we had a great time. The game was really intense-Europeans really do take their football seriously-we cheered for Fulham over Roma. There were two brothers on opposing teams who wore the same number which I thought was adorable! Fulham was winning 1-0 until a goal in the last minute of the game made it a tie. I was a little sad until I saw the brothers celebrating together, and then I remembered I wasn’t a real Fulham supporter, more like a borrowed supporter. I’m a fan now though!

On Friday Aishlinn and I hung out together. She showed me where she goes to class at LSE and we did some shopping at Oxford Circus. I made sure that we stopped in the Disney Store. I was also excited about my first experience at Argos, a store where you order out of catalogues. Aishlinn and I had dinner with her friend Matt and then we hung out with some of her flat mates and her other friend who was visiting from Italy.


Saturday I met up with the WashU students again for a tour of Greenwich with Angie, our awesome tour guide who did the London tour. We took a river cruise down the Thames and had lunch at his lovely outdoor market. I had some mulled apple cider to get into the fall season. Then we hiked up a hill to the Prime Meridian line and I stood in two places at once! It was a lovely day but unfortunately, London transportation was not on the same page as I was and due to closings, delays and work on different tube lines, it took me two hours, two buses and two tubes to get back to Aishlinn’s place so that I could pick up my bag and head back to Victoria Station to get on my train to Brighton. It was quite the evening. I made it back to campus without any problems though. Overall a very good London weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Milkshakes

The weekend was both relaxing and productive. Rachel’s friends were still in Brighton visiting, so we had dinner with them at an Italian restaurant with a crazy waiter Saturday night. Then Rachel and I went in search of a pub that was showing rugby, but it turns out Saturday night is football night, we were unsuccessful in our search. Sunday some of the Sussex in September people went on a hiking trip to Seven Sisters but I was supposed to have a WashU friend from London come down to Brighton that day so I didn’t go. My friend ended up cancelling and I ended up getting a lot of work done instead. Rachel’s friends had told us about this delicious milkshake place they had found in Brighton, so we went back into Brighton (we bought week bus passes and wanted to get our money’s worth!) to find Shakeaway, bringing Nick and Joya with us. Shakeaway’s gazillion and half flavors are intimidating, but Rachel and I quickly decide this is our new favorite place. I also tried to watch the Chiefs game online, but the closest I could get was a play-by-play view but I was super excited when the won! And then of course my weekly Skype date with my parents Sunday night.
Monday I had my two classes, with a presentation in Jane Austen class which I think went well. Then I did my Wordsworth homework for class on Wednesday. Because I find Wordsworth class so intimidating, I also went in to talk to the instructor, and I think it helped. After this I still had plenty of time on Tuesday to go back to the milkshake place with Rachel! Tuesday night, some of my floormates and I (Jena, Amy and Anne) made breakfast for dinner together with bacon, hashbrowns, eggs and really flat and thin pancakes! It was a lot of fun and then we watched 17 Again together. Wednesday was Wordsworth class and I felt much more comfortable. Then Rachel and I attempted to go watch the school rugby team play but there were no other spectators so we felt too uncomfortable to stay. Clearly our rugby fandom is going to need some work. Throughout the week I’ve been attempting to catch up on my American TV shows, but I’m not allowed to watch them from their own websites from abroad, so I have to be creative in finding the shows and it’s such a pain! It takes about two hours to watch one 42 minute show! Good thing I’m good at multitasking (which is what I’m doing right now!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homesick and Hogwarts (Watchdogs and Windsor)

Thursday started off nicely; it was beautiful outside and I got my laundry done. Then, instead of going into Brighton for the afternoon, I stayed in and got a good part of my reading done. I didn’t feel like buying a bus pass into Brighton for the night either (they can be quite expensive) so I again stayed in, but Rachel had some friends visiting so I watched She’s the Man with them while coloring. I was having a great night! Until I went back to my room to make some hot chocolate and discovered that someone had stolen more than half my loaf of bread (that I had just bought at the store and that was supposed to last me two weeks) right out of the refrigerator in our shared kitchen. I lock all my dry food up because the University’s policy is that stealing happens, but I can’t control what is in the fridge (and this wasn’t the first thing to be stolen). This is when I went a little note-crazy and wrote a note on the kitchen door that we need to start locking the kitchen (I also suggested watchdogs or security alarms to lighten up the note a little) and then while I was at it, I put a note on our bathroom for the person who has been smoking in there to please stop. I think this might have been me experiencing culture shock because I decided in my anger that these were instances of European inconsideration and lack of values. Then to top it all off, I realized that my favorite band, Relient K, was playing in KC Thursday night and for the first time, I really wanted to be at home.
Friday when much better. Rachel, Amy and I went to tour Windsor Castle. It was about a two and half hour train ride (we got lunch on our train switch) and then we were there! The outside of the castle is very classic and castle-y, so I pretended I was at Hogwarts the whole time. I’m pretty sure the queen was in while we were there, because her flag was flying! We got to see Queen Anne’s dollhouse which was very detailed and gorgeous. Then came the state apartments, and I have to admit that I’m sick of audio tours. The rooms were all very pretty but I think I would have preferred to walk through them on my own without the audio guide yapping in my ear the whole time. But we made it through and had time to make a quick walk around St. George’s Chapel. Outside the castle we hit up a few souvenir shops and McDonalds for a Cadbury caramel and chocolate McFlurry. Then it was already time to head back to campus where I made some dinner. Then some friends and I all went out to a few pubs for the night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week two of classes

Last weekend was pretty low-key. It was nice to be at school and not have anywhere to go. I went into Brighton several times and did a lot of reading for class. Monday I had two classes and really enjoyed them! The topics really interest me (Jane Austen and Women & Writing) and I managed to speak up in both classes. The girls and instructor in my second class kept using good British expressions too, which made class even more fun. Tuesday I went to the Brighton beach with Jena and Amy to do some more reading and then we went out to dinner with Jena’s family who are visiting. Wednesday morning I had Wordsworth class which still intimidates me. I thought we would be learning about Wordsworth in class but it seems the instructor expects us to already know everything there is to know and to discuss it in detail. Needless to say, I haven’t said anything in that class yet but I’m working on it! Then this afternoon, I went to lunch at a pub in Brighton with a girl who goes to the University of Sussex and studied abroad at WashU last year. It was so much fun to reminisce about WashU and learn about all the good places to go in Brighton! After lunch I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and spent way too much money! I’m going to try to not go to the grocery store for the next two weeks because I have way too much food right now!

View from the beach (of the burnt down West Pier) where I did my reading Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rain and Shine

Sorry for the delay in posting but I don’t want to bore anyone with the trivialities of my life, so from here on out I’ll probably update every few days with the highlights. I didn’t have any class Thursday or Friday so I tried to enjoy it while still getting work done. The reading I have to do here isn’t usually handed to students like it is at home. For one of my classes, I spend a good two hours simply finding online or copying or checking out from the library all the reading for Monday. It’s frustrating but that’s just the way it’s done here I guess. Outside of school work, I went into Brighton to do some shopping both Thursday and Friday with different groups of friends which was fun even if I didn’t really buy anything (except a few things at the pound store!). Thursday night I went to dinner in Brighton for a friend’s birthday and Friday night I went to a pub with some friends. While the weather has had its sunny moments, it’s still been pretty rainy at times too. I’m almost completely over my cold and have been drinking a lot of Cadbury hot chocolate to keep warm. In more exciting news, I’m still getting birthday presents and cards in the mail (thanks everyone!!) since it takes a good two to three weeks for me to get anything from the States. But that’s okay, I like checking my mail everyday in anticipation! I don’t have any exciting plans for the weekend other than relaxing and getting work done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First week of classes

I started my classes with the other British students this week and was surprised at how different the format is from American university classes. I’m taking three classes for ten weeks(while it seems most third year students only take two) and each class only meet two hours a week. So this means I have two classes on Monday (Jane Austen and Sense and Sexuality: Women and Writing in the 18th Century…side note: both these classes only have girls in them!) and one on Wednesday (Wordsworth). Despite not going to class for very many hours, we are expected to read a great deal. I have at least two novels to read each week as well as long poems and then on top of the core reading, we have critical and background reading. It’s much more independent than I’m used because at home, where the professors tell us exactly what to read and when our papers are due. While as here, for my Jane Austen class, we have a 1,500 word paper due in the middle of the term that isn’t graded at all, and we do presentations in class that are also not graded. The only real thing that we’re graded on here is the final essay, which for the British students is due in the Summer term (June), but for us unlucky Americans, is due before we leave. This means I’ll be writing at least 10,000 words (over 30 pages) due in December (4,000 or more each for my two Special Author courses and 2,000 for my Women Writing course). This is very different from WashU where I write three to four smaller essays per class throughout the semester and go to class at least 15 hours a week. The final essays here are often referred to as dissertations, as if they weren’t intimidating enough already. It’s also intimidating because all the students studying English here only study English, which means they are experts at studying English and they often know one another and even the instructors. It’s a less well-rounded and a more focused way of learning. It’s definitely going to require a lot of self-discipline to get through this term. I’m certainly not in the US anymore, and this has been confirmed by the rain that started last weekend and hasn’t really stopped since. Hopefully I can come up with a workable schedule for myself that allows me to get all my work in but still enjoy being abroad!

Monday, October 5, 2009

London Orientation Weekend

On Friday afternoon, I took the train to Brighton where I met someone from the ACCENT program (WashU’s London orientation program) and she bought me a Young Persons Railcard for cheaper train travel in the UK and my ticket to London for the weekend. We then took the train to London and she got me settled in my hotel which was tiny but adorable. I then went to dinner with the 6 other WashU students who are studying in London at an Indian restaurant and it was nice to talk with other WashU students for a change! I only knew one of the other students from WashU, Morgan, so I hung out with her and her new friends after dinner. We went to her London College University’s Student Union, which had a pub in it where lots of students hang out. Apparently, not having a pub on campus is unheard of in the UK.

Aishlinn and I in London!

Then on Saturday we had a seminar on British culture compared to American culture which was very interesting and then we had lunch at a different Indian restaurant. We were on our own for the afternoon, so I met up with Aishlinn, one of my friends from high school, who is also studying in London, and we had a great time exploring Harrod’s and getting dinner together. Then I was off to the Globe to see Love’s Labour’s Lost, another Shakespearean comedy, with the other WashU kids. We were in the standing section so it was tiring, and it started raining in the second half, but it was really funny play and very well performed. I was feeling a little under the weather (pun intended) with a cold, so I headed back to my hotel for an early slumber.
I woke up Sunday morning, got my free hotel breakfast, but then was late to the tour of London because of an ACCENT/hotel miscommunication about payment. But it turned out to be fate that I missed the beginning of the tour, as I randomly ran into Suzanne, who I work with in the Marketing Department at Olin (WashU’s business school), and her family on the streets of London. It was great to see another familiar face! And by this point, I was quite apt at traveling on the London Underground, so I managed to catch up with the tour group (three of the other WashU students) for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. They had only covered pieces of London I had already seen, so it wasn’t too disappointing that I missed the first part. Our tour guide, Angie, was absolutely amazing. She let us pick what we wanted to see in London and gave us all the good dirt that we couldn’t get anywhere else. We stopped by Covent Garden and browsed the markets there, had lunch at Wagamama, and then headed out to Kensington, which is the really nice part of town. We had decided against going to the standard touristy places because we wanted to find out the inside scoop of London, so Angie told us all about how much the houses cost and their long histories, then we happened by the house where T.S. Eliot lived and died and found our way onto the nicest roof garden in London. It was great! We then walked over to Kensington Palace (former residence of Princess Diana) where we had high tea. There were cucumber sandwiches, scones, cake, and I even drank tea! By this time it was getting late, and I still had to take the underground back to the hotel to pick up my luggage, take the underground to the train station, then take a train to Brighton and then one to Falmer where I walked back to my dorm! I was still feeling the effects of my cold, so it was nice to finally be back in my room.

Friday, October 2, 2009

PARIS!

Saturday, Sept 26:
We left campus for London around lunch time and had plenty of free time in London before we had to catch our evening train for Paris. And since the train stop was across from King's Cross Station, naturally, I had to find Platform 9 3/4! The train ride to Paris was uneventful, and only took two and half hours (I slept through the entire Chunnel part of the journey). We got into Paris around 10:30pm and I had to pull out some rusty French so we could figure out how to get on the right Metro to our hostel. Luckily, we found it alright, had a late dinner at a quiant pizza place and went to bed.
Sunday, Sept 27:
Our breakfast each morning at the hostel was a bagette with butter and jam, and then the first three days, we walked about 25 minutes to the Eiffel Tower to catch our ride around the city. I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time and then we caught Les Cars Rouges, our tour bus, to get to the Louvre. Since the Louvre was so huge, we missed a couple of the main attractions, but did manage to find the Mona Lisa. Then it was a ham bagette sandwich for lunch in the Tuilleries gardens before catching the bus to Notre Dame. We did some tourist shopping and I searched for the hunchback inside the church. Then we walked another 20 minutes to the Jardin du Luxemborg where we sat and enjoyed the nice weather. The girl I was traveling with (Min) had a friend in the city, and she met us in the garden and we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant nearby with her. Then it was another 25 minute walk back to the hostel before calling it a night.

Monday, Sept 28 (my 21st birthday!):
We walked to the Eiffel Tower to catch our tour bus again, which we rode to the Opera. I looked for the Phantom of the Opera, but like the hunchback, he too was elusive. We met Min's friend again and walked to a little restuarant recommended to us by our Activities Director at Sussex, Le Relais Gascon. We got huge salads topped with fried garlic potatoes before walking way up the hill to Sacre Coeur for a great view of the city. Then it was back down the hill to see Moulin Rouge and then back to the Opera to catch the tour bus one last time for a ride to the Eiffel Tower. I got some ice cream and then up the tower we went! Unfortunately, my camera died right in the middle section of the tower, but the others took plenty of pictures for me. Next we took the Metro to dinner at a cute French restaurant where we met up with a group of other girls from the University of Sussex. Then we went to a wine bar before taking the metro back to the hostel.


Tuesday, Sept 29
Min and I met with our other friend, Afua, and the friend she had been staying with, and we all walked to the Eiffel Tower together. Then Min, Afua, and I got on a boat tour down the Seine. Min and I explored the Musee d'Orsay and saw Monet, Degas, Van Vogh and more! Then we took the boat to the Jardin des Plants which might be one of my favorite spots in Paris. There were so many pretty flowers and I ate a crepe with nutella for lunch! Then it was back on the boat to the Champs-Elysees where I stopped in the Disney store! Unfortunately, they had pound and euro prices, the euro prices being much more expensive, but since when I transferred my money, the pound and the euro were about on par, it would have been a rip-off for me to buy anything. So I just looked! Then we climbed up the Arc de Triomphe- all 284 steps- for a great view at the top. On our way down, we encountered the daily honoring of the tomb of the unknown solider. Next it was dinner time and we found a nice Chinese restaurant, but like everything in France, it was really expensive. We walked back to the Seine to catch our last boat ride to the Eiffel Tower so that we could see it at night. It was so pretty and every hour it sparkles! Then it was time to walk back to the hostel.


video
Wednesday, Sept 30:
It was just Afua and I on Wednesday since Min was staying with her friend (they rotated who would stay in the hostel with me). We took the Metro to the Louve so Afua could see it, and I stumbled upon the upside down pyramid under the Louvre! Then we took the Metro out to Versailles where we walked around the massive gardens and toured the castle. We then had dinner at a "Tex-Mex" restaurant where their idea of tortilla chips was Mexican flavored doritos. But it was still yummy (and of course expensive). Then we headed back into the city to find "Footsie" a bar whose prices change depending on the stock market! But instead of getting drinks there, we decided to get some cheesecake across the street. Then we took the Metro back to the hostel.


Thursday, Oct 1:
Afua and I woke up early, checked out of the hostel, ate our last bagette, and took the Metro to the train station. Then we took the Eurostar to London and a train from London to Brighton to Falmer where I finally returned to campus to find all the first year students had moved in! Now that I'm all unpacked, it's time to head to London for the weekend for WashU's orientation program.