Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hiya! Y'all right?

January 28th

Oh hey window repair man, no, of course it’s not a big deal if you bring your crew, your saws, and your hammers into the room next to me when I’m trying to sleep. Yeah, no, it’s true, I just LOVE waking up to the sounds of power tools. Hmph.

However, today is Thursday which means no class until 4 and lots of free time. Happy day!

I’ve come across an interesting discovery. Everyone thinks I’m Canadian. Even Americans I don’t know very well. It’s called the West Coast people. We don’t have a drawl, a twang, a nasally pitch. We just talk like the people on the OC. Or you know, like normal. Anyway, this is a bit of an advantage, because I don’t seem to run into as much Anti-American feelings as everyone else. It also could have something to do with the fact that I practically whisper everywhere I go. I do miss being loud.

I went to Hospice today to see if I could volunteer for them. I’m such a big supporter of Hospice; they serve the community in such an important way. I think I’m going to do website updating and such for them. The only thing is I can’t technically volunteer anywhere over here because of background check stuff. But…I can “visit” places on a regular basis.

My mom and I started planning our Scotland trip a couple days ago. I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland, and I’m stoked we’re going to see things like Loch Lomond and Edinburgh. Ugh. I just want to go everywhere. I have the travel bug so bad. Because I was so excited about Scotland, I also started planning my spring break trips. I think Croatia is going to happen for sure, and I talked with Miss Bovee about visiting. Annnnnd then I went on travel channel’s website and looked up internships abroad. Now I know why the post-college back packing trip across Europe is a cliché.

I went to a small group with my friend Michelle last night. I couple people I had met before were there, Lucy and Ben, but it was mostly new faces. We talked about 2 Samuel 6 (which by the way the British say “Two Samuel Six”) where Uzzah was struck down dead and David danced naked for God. And we played with playdoh. I made the oxen that stumbled. It’s an interesting story, because on the surface it seems like Uzzah was only trying to protect the ark, but really he was being irreverent. Anyway, I liked the part where they renamed the place “Perez Uzzah” which means “The-Explosion-Against-Uzzah”. Perez made me also think of the gossip blogger.

Well the sun is out and I should probably do something productive.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Football, Tour, Church, everyday life?

Old stuff
Old carving

"Pssst, Sally...I'm not sure if sitting here is the best plan for crowd control..."

Mmmmmmm. LD.

So many things to write down. I’ll pick a few. Then probably write more after.

Last week was good. I really do like it here. A bit of sadness because my flatmate Hannah, has decided to take a year off to travel, so she moved out yesterday. I liked her a lot so I was bummed she left. Mystery flatmate moves in today or tomorrow.

I’ve talked to so many people from home this week, it’s been nice. I don’t feel homesick, but I can tell when I’m missing people, because all I do for a few days is stay at home on my computer. It was really great to be skyped from pancake breakfast though, and I got to talk to Mel, AND I’ve talked to my family a ton. Sometimes I get kind of frustrated at Skype, but then I think about that I could be talking via letters so…yay Skype!

Let’s see. Last Monday I went to club called Cruise with the other Americans, (and ended up seeing a bunch of people there anyway). It was pricey, but also crazy. Every floor plays a different type of music, from like 90’s to hip-hop, to pop. One of my friends knew a guy so we all got in as VIP’s. That was fun.

I met some kids at the CU the next night. I was really tired and kind of fighting a cold, so I was sort of out of it. We (meaning the Americans) all caught the same cold, apparently it’s called “fresher’s flu”, but hopefully it’s done now.

On Saturday Morgan, Melissa and I went to Liverpool again to go to an Everton game. Liverpool has two teams, Liverpool and Everton. Liverpool is the more popular one, but Everton is cheaper and apparently more family friendly (which I take to mean people of more ages can teach me to swear). It was so. much. fun. All three of us loved it. We got within a mile of the stadium and decided to get out of the (verrry expensive) taxi and walk. Thousands of people were pouring in. These stadiums are all old and interesting to me. We found the side we were sitting on, walked through this super narrow door and hallway and then found our seats. We were on the fifth row on the penalty kick line. It was so close to the field. I could smell the players. Landon Donavon, who will be captain of the US team for this summer’s world cup, is currently on loan to Everton, and he was like 10 feet away from me. Gahhhhh… and Fellaini, who’s super young and from Morocco and does all sorts of fun plays also started. I take back anything I said about soccer being boring. In person, those 45 minute halves FLY by.

I haven’t even talked about the fans. The stadium, which is always sold out it seems, is one body, one person, one spirit. Everyone is silent together, stands together, swears together, sings together, and yells together. I know you’re probably thinking, “Oh that’s just like American Pro_____” No. It’s not. It’s utter unity for 90 minutes. Ha, and the poor ref’s and officials. It’s utter unity against them more than anything else. Anytime the crowd gets rowdy, as in the other team is touching the ball, one guard goes to stand in front of the ENTIRE section. I can just see that meeting,

“Yes, Ron, um you take section 52. Make sure they don’t get too riled up, and if they charge the field, just stand in their way.”

“But sir, there are over 400 in my section…”

“Well we’ll give you a shiny yellow jacket of course.”

I should mention, after some conversation with some people at home that Everton is in the premier league. Here’s their website:

Everton lost 1-2, but it was okay.

We decided that we each had super power, and mine was hailing taxis. Melissa’s was talking to officials calmly in bad situations. This was discovered when on the train ride back Morgan put her feet on the seat. A man in a bright yellow jacket came by and asked to see her ticket and then began what seemed like an arrest or ticket. We all started freaking out when he pointed to these little (like two inches by two inches) yellow signs behind and in front of us that said NO FEET ON THE SEAT-YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ARREST-FELONY-HELP PROTECT AGAINST BAD HYGIENE AND DAMAGE. The guy was really nice, but I still was upset, Morgan was obviously upset, and Melissa was calm. Since when have English people cared about hygiene or dirty seats?? End of story, she got off with a warning, but never again will we put our feet up. I also obey crosswalk signs now too. I will NOT be deported for something like that. Or in general.

Sunday I went to church, and then went over to a couple’s house with about twenty other people. It was nice to hang out with families. The group was really diverse in age, jobs, and nationality. I was talking with one of the elders, and he gave me something to think about. He said “we don’t get to pick our biological brothers and sisters, so why we ever think or would want to pick our Christian family is beyond me.”

Today I went with Melissa and a guy from our church who, with his family, has sort of adopted us for our time here, around Chester and told us things about the history of Chester. I can’t even begin to write everything down, but here are a few things. Mendelssohn and Handel and Bach all three spent time or lived here. Messiah was first test run here. At least four saints come from Chester, or were beatified because of experiences in Chester. In Canterbury Tales, the Miller was based off the Miller of Dee, who lived in Chester. The club I talked about earlier stands on what used to be fields where John Wesley preached to about six thousand people most days from 4 am to 6 am. Below a bunch of stores, like Claire's and Spudz-U-Like, are Roman ruins, mostly of their indoor heating and bathing systems. The first racecourse in the UK is in Chester. There are Norman and Saxon arches everywhere.

The plague hit Chester quite badly, but above various houses where the plague passed over, Bible verses are carved. Many houses, that are now stores, have secret passage ways and hiding spots for religious leaders of whichever religious sect was being prosecuted at the time. These are called priest holes, and there’s usually some sort of one way viewing system out of them so they knew when it was safe to come out. When criminals of the state or traitors were drawn and quartered, parts of them were always sent to Chester. King Charles spent his last free days in Chester, which was a huge Royalist stronghold in the Civil War. Matthew Henry’s biblical commentaries were written when he lived here. There are all sorts of naughty carvings from the end of the Tudor time through the Puritan times. People felt the best way to poke fun at strictness was bawdy carvings on the underside of chairs, beams, porches, etc. The Cathedral is stunning, and has everything from Roman ruins to Norman arches to contemporary stain glass art. King Edgar the Peaceful, King of Mercia, and eventually all of England was crowned here, (and in Bath, but it’s disputed which one was first). All the water in Chester is from the River Dee, 3 miles north of here. The best doughnuts in the world are under the second most photographed clock in all of the UK, which is on the Roman wall, but is a dedication to Queen Victoria.

So there you have it. I now have the Dee in my veins and Chester in my heart.


I thought of more things.

I appreciate the legal system here. Apart from silly seat/feet laws, they have good ideas. For example:

If you are pregnant and you cannot find a toilet, instead of illegally peeing on the street, you may pee in a police officer’s hat.

If you are Welsh and inside the city walls after Sun down, you may be shot dead with a bow and arrow. Don’t feel bad for the Welsh. They’ve caused a lot of trouble over the years.

I also forgot about accents. Apparently on television and in the movies, the only accents they ever use are super posh London/Oxford ones. Now you know. That bad accent you’re impersonating isn’t even inclusive. I started telling my friend Ben the other day that I now could identify the difference between Welsh, Northern, Southern, Scottish, and Irish accents. He asked me where I thought he was from. I said London. I guess I meant Northern Wales.

On the bright side, the UK has heard my pleas about the leggings-as-pants issue and has offered up a compromise. Jeggings. They are called this because they look like jeans, but are actually leggings. Thanks European fashion, I knew you could be accommodating.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

....cold :(

January 21st

Last night I had a dream where I was at the wedding of someone from Whitworth with all my school friends, and I had to watch the bride’s son who I loved and was like maybe two years old. At the same time I was being pursued by Edward Cullen (which is embarrassing even in a dream). It was not a good dream to have to leave. I’ve been having a lot of vivid dreams lately. I think it has something to do with the amount of pizza I’m eating and what time I’m actually going to bed.

I’ve have decided to make a list of things I will do this semester. My only real New Year’s Resolution was “Get to Chester and Stay there until Finals” so now I have a list of, goals? I also just watch Bridget Jones so…

1. Start sleeping at normal times. Being nocturnal is for bats, not people.

2. Use inordinate amount of free time for self betterment. This does not mean roaming the internet or YouTube. This COULD include: working out, reading for fun, learning French/German, meeting people, the Bible, relearning how to knit…etc.

3. Go to as many countries as I can afford.

4. Work on spiritual life.

5. Think about what the heck I’m doing after graduation.

6. Eat more fruit. Preferably exotic fruit like kiwis, mangos, and papaya.

7. Write letters.

8. Write anything on a regular basis.


That’s all I’ve got so far.

I DIDN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT THE SPIDERS YET. They’ve followed me here. And no joke, the ones we have are related to the Spokane Hobos. Ugh. One tried to kill me in my sleep the other night. But we killed it, twice and then put it outside.

Tonight Morgan and I went to a pub with some new friends from Germany for Curry night. I decided to try the spiciest chicken curry dish they had, because I mean, come on I have practically been eating peppers from birth. I was thoroughly defeated. I have never, even with wasabi, wept from spices like I did tonight. At least it seemed to help with my cold.

Rain and Curry

January 20th

Oh man, I’m pretty full right now. I mean with life, not food. Although I think I’ve finally found nutritional happiness over here J Hello curry Thursdays at the pub!

Ugh. On a totally unrelated note, I reread some of my earlier entries and found a bunch of errors/bad formatting stuff. I’m sorry about those. I need a copy editor and seeing as I don’t have the money to pay Mel or Flynn…I look like a bad writer and the nerdy English major inside of me dies a little death whenever I catch the mistakes.

It’s been weird weather here. It changes almost on the hour. Two days ago I could have worn shorts, but then today it was cold and damp and even the Welsh kids were sad. Oh well. I did do laundry. NPH would be proud.

I’m learning a lot about bureaucracy over here. You thought the UK dwellers were good at queuing? You have no idea. They have been here for 2000 years, and they have been piling up laws, committees, forms, and bureaus since then. Everywhere I go I fill out a form. Go to a store? Fill out a form. Go to the Christian Student Union? Fill out a form. Try to get a date? Fill out a form. There’s a scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where Arthur Dent is trying to save the woman he loves by standing in line, filling out forms, and talking with these dull and sort of scabby creatures called Vogons. Read it, or watch it. That’s my life. Only I have no woman I love or galaxy to save. But the ultimate answer is most definitely 42.

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately. At church they’re doing a series on what it means to be an outsider/living as individuals in western society/the early church. In class we’ve been talking about man’s estrangement with the world, each other and himself/identity/purpose. I’ve been thinking about who I am, American/woman/adult/kid/Christian/young/shy/loud/angsty/moreblogtagshere/writer/need a job soon. I feel really free, but I feel the future looming. Or brightly shining? I didn’t mean to sound all gloomsday.

That is all J Soccer and clubbing stories soon maybe?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Liverpool and History!

January 14th 2010

Banes of our Existence:

- Scheduling

- The UK’s alcohol percentages

- Weird times things are open

- Wet snow

- Outlets

- Sarah’s phone

- Morgan’s Computer

- Money

- Boys

- Dickens

- Textbooks

- Laundry

Things that Brighten our days:

- Strongbow

- Bookstores

- Harry Potter

- Tea Time

- Digestible

- Nap Time

- The Radiator and electric blankets

- Yorkshire pudding

- Pubs

- Pub food

- Chester

- New friends

- Old friends

- New Places

- Old places

- Really old places

- Museums

- Fish People

- Chocolate

- History

January 16th:

Tomorrow I will write about:

- Poo vs. pew

- Charlie

- The museum

- Liverpool.

January 17th

Well in response to yesterday’s short post:

1. I had a tutor this week, while in the chapel tell us all to do things like “watch out for that pew” or “careful, that pew has a nasty history of catching people off guard.” Of course, her accent made pew sound like “poo”.

2. To all you internet nerds out there, I was with some guys a couple days ago (that’s not the joke), and at one point in the evening, one of them said “ouch that really hurt!” It is now definite. Charlie-bit-my-finger brother is British.

3. Morgan and I went on our own historic tour where we walked a lot and eventually ended up at the Grosvenor museum in Chester. There we saw Roman artifacts, which blew my mind, and lots of Victorian paintings. It was really cool to learn about the continuous history of Chester. People have inhabited this spot in form or another for over two thousand years. Mostly to keep out the Welsh and the Scots, but also because of the river and microclimate. It really is strange to know that my flat is above a Roman cemetery. I still can’t process the history here. I read a sign a couple days ago that talked about a recent remodel of a building…by which the sign writer meant 1868.

4. Liverpool.

Which leads us to today! I had the greatest day I think I’ve had of yet today.

We took the train for uber cheap from Chester to Liverpool today, and it was the single greatest 10 hour stretch of time of yet I’ve had over here. So we boarded the train bright eyed and bushy tailed at 11:00 this morning and began our adventure into the great wide wonder that is Northern England.

I love trains. I think it’s because they’re like a hybrid between car trips and airplanes.

We got there and walked down this giant pedestrian street, lined with every giant stores in giant buildings that made me feel like Liverpool was one giant outdoor upscale mall. Which it kind of is, BUT! it also has a fabulously rich history and contains vibrant displays of life. We walked for a while until we found The Cavern, the place where The Beatles played for the first time, as well as where a ton of other fabulous bands have performed. It’s been a good year for music, with a choir tour to South America and talking with composers and performers down there, with my family’s various stops in the south like Beale St., Graceland, the Grand Ol’ Opry, a really nice Christmas tour, choir here and yesterday’s Beatles homage. I feel very musically enriched.

After that walk and lunch, we walked down to Albert Dock. Wow, so interesting! The dock in itself is cool, there are all these old churches and buildings around it, a new city center, but also TONS of museums. We briefly walked into the Maritime Museum, and we walked by the Slave Trade museum, and then we went to the Liverpool branch of the Tate Museum. I love love love love art museums. I think if I had a choice of what my house would be someday, it would be part aquarium/zoo, part my house in Phoenix, part library, and mostly an art museum. The first floor was a collection Mark Rothko’s The Seagram Murals, which consisted of a large room full of giant canvases progressing from black on burgundy to burgundy on black. He was inspired by a cityscape at dusk, and there were a lot of people talking quietly and using expressions that could be applied to drinking wine or making furniture, things like “I’m intrigued and feel suddenly introspective by his use of layers sublimated through a surrealist lens, over construed of course with his use of media and space against light. There’s a deep sensual and organic nature to this piece with an oaken finish. I’m interested to hear what Renée thought.” Although I respect that Rothko’s work is both unique and very influential to a lot of people, I couldn’t help but feeling like the kid in the Emperor’s New Clothes. They just seemed like purple squares to me. But they were nice purple squares? After that there were various galleries full of super interesting pieces, ranging from sculptures and paintings to mixed media, photographs, and videos. Some of my favorite pieces were R. Mutt’s “Fountain”, Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Can”, Pablo Picasso’s “Seated Woman in a Chemise” and “Weeping Women”, Salvador Dali’s “Autumnal Cannibalism”, Arman’s “Condition of Woman”, Piet Mondrian’s “Composition B (Noll) with Red”, and Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Age 14”.

After that, we went to the other extreme of experiences and fought everyone and their mom at the IKEA of women’s clothing Primark. Primark is like a zoo. People say that, and they mean a place is really crowded and blah blah. No. Primark is just like a zoo. There is display after display of clothes, shoes, household things, jewelry, hair bands, hosiery, EVERYTHING. And there is every type of person on every floor; fat, skinny, tall short, young looking too old, old dressed too young, men looking for clothes, men looking for women, women looking for shoes, women looking for purpose, women looking for any way out of that store. And a hyper organized line system that tells you where and how to stand and where to go to pay, to buy more, or to find meaning in life. I was really overwhelmed, so naturally I bought things.

Then in our final stop, we ate dinner at this Irish pub, (Irish stew good, Irish beer not my fave) and watched the football game. It was the best game ever. Everton actually score two points in the first half! And! there were yellow cards, lots of them. I miss sports where things happen on a regular basis, so this was a nice change. After some discussion, we decided to come back next Saturday and actually go to the Everton game, which, when we got back, found out was a discount game. Yeah cheap seats!!!

The train ride back was lovely, I felt less ill, or I was so happy and full of food and memories that I didn’t care. Sigh. I love Liverpool.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

England England England, that's the (singing) Country for me!

Monday Monday.

So, if there ever was a place where a musical would actually happen in real life, it would be the UK. Now, you folks out in the Midwest might argue, no we have the best concert choirs. Or the kids in the South might try to imply that their uncanny ability to sing and dance and have big hair puts them as winners in the “Most Likely To Be Troy and Gabriella” category, but they are mistaken. It is the folks on this island. The people here sing for everything, and they sing well. The other day when we watched the football game on TV, the fans sang the entire time. And they actually sang, it wasn’t like yelling with rhythm. Of course, the fans in the pub watching those fans sang too. Every time I’ve gone out, the people in all the bars and pubs sing to almost every song (specifically Lady Gaga. La la oo la la…). In church, most of the service was worship, and the congregants sang responses. And of course today, in choir, naturally, singing occurred.

Choir was so much fun. Well, it was more like a release actually. Singing is such an outlet for me, and I never really realized that until college. There are about forty people it seems, but it’s way more age integrated than any choir I’ve been in before. There are at least 8 uni staff, and two children. I definitely am going to commit to going every week. I was especially excited to hear that at the end of February they are going to Canterbury to sing at a conference of all the university choirs in the UK! And, what’s more, we get to sing at the Cathedral! And they're singing Rutter! It’ll be just like Chaucer, only on a Greyhound. I’m quite excited. To answer Ellie’s question, they warm up almost the exact same as the US choirs I’ve been in. We even did “My Bonny”. I got a good chuckle out of that.

Church was wonderful. We went to Northgate, which is a non-denom church about 5 minutes away, housed of course in a building older than our country. It turns out to be the church that a lot of students from school attend, and the worship and people were almost a weird mirror image, slash British version of New Com. The people were so nice and welcoming. Before I left, we had Dr. K. over to our house for dinner, and we were talking about living in another country and how he couldn’t see his family for a while, and his almost immediate response was “the church is my family.” It was so true. Walking in Sunday morning and worshipping and having communion was both being with all the people I love in spirit and being with other brother and sisters in Christ who were at hand. Kind of a cool thing. The other girls and I planned on going back for sure.

I also had a lovely lunch with all of Tammy’s friends. I tried Yorkshire pudding, which is delicious and had lots of good coffee. Her friends were really fun and easy to hang out with, I hope I get to do more stuff with them J

Tomorrow I actually have class, which is sort of a rare thing for me. Today, like my other non-class days consisted of biking a bajillion miles at the gym, reading a book (on architecture, it was fascinating. Now I know the difference between Victorian, Georgian, Norman, Saxon, and Elizabethan), taking a nap, fighting with megavideo, and trying to decide between soup or stew for dinner. How exotic. At any rate, the point of that was that I am excited to have class tomorrow. It’s Shakespeare, and we’re talking about Henry IV Part One. I’m also excited to go this famous museum with Morgan (the roommate). It has artifacts and displays about the history of Chester, Cheshire, Northern Wales and England and Southern Scotland. Should be quite grand J

And the best news of all. I discovered yesterday that American Starbucks gift cards work in the UK. God bless globalization.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pubs and Church and New Friends

(Is it a camera? A Perspective shot of many washing machines? A beheaded robot? What law am I suppose to abide!?)
(This was above the sidewalk, instructing pedestrians to walk on the left side. At the bottom is a Flying Spaghetti Monster sticker, which is a pretty fitting statement about the spirituality of Europe...)

(notice the tights as pants, not the use of LiLo...)

January 10th

As of tomorrow morning, I will have successfully survived one week on this island! One week of classes, of a new country, of a new school, and a whole ton more self reliance.

So I have that going for me.

Everything’s going great, I’ve settled into a routine more or less and so I don’t have a ton to observe. It’s just like Jan. term at Whitworth, one class a day, working out, going out with (new J) friends and a lot of sleep. Which is more than I can say for last semester.

Today I just sort of recovered from a reaaallly late night last night (I finally crashed at about 6am). It was a lovely day. I did some homework, hung out with the new roomie, and went with Melissa to the pub I have adopted, George and Dragon.

The pub was fun, today there was a football game at 5 between Manchester United and Birmingham. The pub was PACKED. I’m getting the impression that Man Utd. is sort of like the Yankees. You either would die for the red and white, or you’d give every measure of your worth to root for anyone BUT Man Utd. Well, my pub fell into both of those categories. In the end it was a tie, 1-1, but both of those (single and pain stakingly long to happen) goals were well cheered, booed, and yelled at for by the fans. Or I guess supporters are what they call them here. Afterwards, Melissa and I were confronted by a gentleman who wanted to say hello and talk about the game, but mostly see where our personal politics lay. We talked about this very sort of meetings in orientation before I left, about how many people are confrontational in other countries about the US’s politics, and that we shouldn’t be offended when it seems like they are personally attacking us. Even so, it was still hard to respond to this guy after he, very colorfully, told us how stupid all Americans are, and then educated us about why we vote the way we do. I was appreciative he knew so much about my country’s voting tendencies and intelligence because he knew nothing about his own country’s last five years in politics or any UN decisions in the last ten years or basically global news period. But at he could tell me about all of our communist-hating-capitalist-worshipping-*&^%*-idiots who vote against truth, goodness, and health care. I was lucky I had him.

Anyway, I need to work on getting less offended from stereotypes, everyone has them, and even that guy was nice after his rant and welcomed us to Chester and said he hoped we had a nice study here.

I went out with a bunch of my neighbors last night to the bar/club thing at our student union. A guy from a TV show who was quite famous and good-looking was the DJ, and everyone was excited. It was really fun to hang out and dance. They’re really nice kids, and they remind me other various friends either from high school or college, which also made me feel all happy on the inside.

And! to continue on the chain of meeting kids here, tomorrow I’m going out to lunch with a bunch of kids Tammy hung out with last year. I’m really lucky to have Tammy as a friend, for a bunch of reasons but in this instance, because she has given me so much advice and help for school here and life abroad. I like her lots J

But first tomorrow, a couple of us are trying a local church. It’s been kind of hard not having either my family/friends from home or my Whitworth community up here, and it’s been really strange to be in such a secular, well actually full out atheistic environment for the first time in three years. I sort of forgot what it was like to not have church and school and a million Christians be a part of my daily routine. In some ways I can breathe a little more, but mostly I miss it and I appreciate what kind of community and common belief keeps me going normally. I tend to keep my faith more personal, but being here and alone makes me want to share the spiritual side of life more openly. I’m definitely going to grow/struggle with independence in that sense while I’m here. I think this will end up as a blessing though.

Well, to wrap things up tonight, I thought I’d post some random funny things from the last few days.

1. Women wear leggings AND tights as pants here. Frequently. I don’t think I need to explain why this is humorous.

2. Road signs here are foreign to me and therefore funny.

That’s all folks! Good night Chester.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I wish I could use the Indiana Jones song as a title...

January 6th

The last couple days have just been great.

January 7th

Well I’ll follow that brief and helpful last entry with a longer one J

My first week is over half way through. It hasn’t been exactly the same as being a freshman again, but it has been close. Which is sort of like being here, everything is exactly the same but totally different. I’ve really bonded with the other American students, especially the ones in the English department. I’m taking Absurdism, Shakespeare, and Victorian Lit this term, and in May I’ll be taking Varieties of Writing. Shakespeare and Absurdism seem great, I love the Tutors (they don’t call themselves Profs over here) and they are both seminar classes which is also quite nice. I’m super appreciative of my Whitworth background right now, I am prepared for everything and in a lot of areas more prepared than the students over here it seems. However, I don’t speak French which is a bit of an issue in their Literature department, but I’ll get through.

Victorian Lit was cancelled today and I assume will be cancelled tomorrow due to weather. It’s been snowing off and on all week, and the British have been going mad. They both love it and hate it. Apparently it never snows here like this (we have probably 8 inches on the ground) and England has been virtually shut down. School has been closed early every day, and more than 10% of people didn’t go to work or anywhere for the last three days. They have no idea how to function in it. They’re all worried about how this is going to affect the economy, but more importantly how to heat the UK. There was a break in a main gas line from Scandinavia and prices went up so now there’s a shortage, but I don’t really see what the problem is because from the feel of it they never heat anything anyways! I am convinced that the people over here just are adjusted to being freezing all the time. We sang “In the Bleak Midwinter” in chapel yesterday, and it seemed altogether too appropriate to me.

I think I like the Anglicans. The service was in the eons old chapel on campus, all lit up with candles and the PowerPoint presentation. Michelle, one of my new friends a Theology major/Lit minor from Texas, another gal, and I went. It was nice. Afterwards they served dinner (yummy little finger sandwiches and wine) and talked. They were really nice kids; I hope I get to hang out with them more. It was funny, alcohol was very much a part of all church things, which makes sense because it seems to be the driving force in most things over here.

Alcohol and walking everywhere. I think I’ve walked at least 3 miles every day since I got here. Because petrol is so pricey, and all the gas is being used theoretically to heat things, and since they love checking up on the weather, everyone walks everywhere. I now understand why British people think places are so far away within the UK, it’s because they calculate everything at a walking distance.

Here’s how most of my conversations go:

Brit: Oi, ye’alright?

Me: Yeah, thanks how are you?

Brit: Fine thanks, just thinkin about the snow and ice. Strange weather we’ve been having? Coldest in thirty years.

Me: Indeed, it’s quite snowy out.

Brit: More than quite! I had to phone me mum three times yesterday to see how it was in [insert various small towns in places I don’t know about yet]. Don’t know how they do it up in Norway.

Me: Yea, no kidding or Canada.

Brit: Pardon?

Me: I just meant it’s cold in Canada.

Brit: Oh right, that’s like the states’ version of Wales huh.

Me: What?

Person from anywhere north of London: Mehafaffawwumm. Bop.

Me: (blank stare)

Brit: I agree, it is lookin’ like some sort of new an’ interesting weather outside.

It is interesting hearing and reading a new version of English (or old I guess). For example, they still use articles over here more than we do in the US. Like a fire extinguisher had a label on it that said “Use in case of the fire”. I wondered when I would know that this fire was the one. Another tricky thing is that they’re hyper polite but also quite blunt. The other day I asked a lady where the restroom was, to which she replied, quite softly and gently “do you need a rest my love, we have some very comfy chairs right here.” I now say toilets.

It really is beautiful here now though. Saturday we get a historic tour of the city, I’m quite excited. I walk to class every day and get to see the mountains of Wales in the distance next to the river all lit up by this gorgeous pink light that dances across the valley and the snow. It gets dark here even earlier than Spokane. I’m still a little jet lagged, so today I woke up at 2 pm, and had to get outside quick to get the one hour of sunshine left. Oh well, sleep was nice J

Next week will probably mean less cancelled classes, starting choir, CSU, going to the gym and who knows what else! Carpe Chester.

Well, I should probably get started on reading the Bard. Ugh.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 1 & Day 2

January 3rd

First day here. I’m so overwhelmed. I’ve had next to no sleep, and I’m in a new country, at a new school, with new people. I’m also unbelievably homesick and desperately want to go home. However, if I dwell on that I’ll never make to the end of this week. I really like my roommate, and several of the other American international students, but many of them are so different from my friends at home, it’s kind of alienating. The UK is so strange. Tonight people were watching this dart match like it was the super bowl. It was the world championship, but I’m told the British love anything they can bet on. So weird. My dorm/flat is different than I thought but okay, and so far the people have been really warm and nice. Pubs are awesome, they’re like what bars should be. Everything here is so old though. Today we went to a Walgreens type store, but the building was built in 1517. We then past a dance club that shared a wall with a roman ruin. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. Well. I’m exhausted and need to sleep. The countryside was lovely, and the children here all make me think of The Holiday.

January 4th

Today was much better. We had orientation and class placement and a whole bunch of things. I live in an apartment right next to campus and it’s lovely. I’m sharing a room with Morgan, who’s form North Carolina, and Hannah who’s from the UK. We have a kitchen where everything is in these weird mini sizes, (I’ve never seen a mini oven before. So strange) and a bathroom where everything is abnormally tall. I have to cook for myself, so today I bought food at the café and made peanut butter and jelly J.

My classes will be cool I think. I’m taking Shakespeare, Absurdism, Victorian Lit. and Varieties of Writing in May. I’m for sure staying here until June now and flying back and forth for Heather’s graduation. I really like the adults I’ve met here. They’re warm and kind and answer loads of questions. It also has been beautiful weather wise. Frigid but beautiful. It’s sunny but so cold. I think the dampness cuts through clothes in a way that’s different from Spokane. Our room was so cold last night, Morgan and I both wore like three layers so bed. However, tonight I am armed with an electric blanket, so ha. Take that stupid radiator.

Also, chocolate here makes up for a lot of problems J I guess attitude is everything, and with a little sleep and some food and my new attitude, things will continue to look sunnier.

I hope to take pictures soon. I’ll have them up for sure by the end of the week. Tomorrow I start classes and real life here. Wish me luck!