Sunday, 2 May 2010


So I'm drinking this juice right now that I haven't craved in a while. Probably because the first time I drank it I didn't know there was such a thing as juice that you use water to dilute. Quite a nice idea actually because it makes it last longer. Definitely not something that exists in America.

I'm sorry I haven't written the rest of my blog for "Easter holiday" as I have been lazy… I will write more soon (I HOPE!) :/

Saturday, 24 April 2010


When I arrived in Bath at the bus station, I was simply looking for a map, but they didn't have any. I walked to the rail station (which wasn't far and I saw on the way there) to see if I could find a map but I all I could find were rail schedules. So I gave up and asked a guy who obviously worked there, and he asked a taxi guy who said it wasn't far and pointed me in the right direction. They told me to just keep following that road on the right side. I walked down the road, encountering some breathtaking sights, such as the park and the lake that has a waterfall, and their famous bridge. The bridge was essentially the end of the road. At this point it began raining, and I took out my new umbrella from London. Confused as to where to go, I decided I needed to call the hotel as well. They gave me directions, telling me I wasn't far and I remember I accidentally dropped the phone (because it's hard to hang on to luggage, an umbrella and a phone at the same time).
When I got to the hotel, there was a guy waiting outside for me. He greeted me and carried my luggage up to my room, giving me the key. The hotel was REALLY nice! My room was small and did not include a bathroom, but it included a sink and they provided me with everything I needed and more! Even though the bathroom was up the stairs a little, it was very nice as well and I had no trouble with anyone else being in there while I needed to use it. They provided tea, so I thought "why not?" and had some. I looked through the closet which had all sorts of things…shower shoes, a sewing kit, magazines, and even a bag to put dirty laundry in (well, it was a service you had to pay for to wash your clothes, but it was still pretty awesome that they had that). My bed was super comfy! I slept very well that night.
The Mad Max tour people had called me earlier and asked if I would come on the same tour in the morning instead so I said I would. The tour was to start at 8:30 I think, and breakfast was at 8. I got up early to make sure I would get the shower (which I did, and they provided a shower cap, which I kept because it was disposable). I ate breakfast quickly and asked the staff if they could hold my bags for me for the day when I checked out (which they kindly did).
I set off to the Glass House (the meeting point) which wasn't hard to find at all (as it was next to that pretty park). A whole large group of people were already there, waiting. I stood there too, getting into a conversation with another American and a Canadian. They were nice and we went to get coffee since we ended up waiting for over an hour (surprisingly, as the Mad Max tour people are said to be really time-conscious. When the Mad Max tour guide finally pulled up, he called out names on a list and we got in the van by order of which our name was called. After getting in, I was looking outside the window. The two girls I had been talking to were talking to the man for a while and then walked away…the bus was full. I was a little upset about this since I felt like they were going to be my tour buddies, but I didn't know the situation so I guessed maybe it was their fault? Thankfully, we were getting a discount.
First, we were driven to Stonehenge, with lots of lovely countryside to see. It turned out to be REALLY windy and rainy for the most part of while I was there! When going in, we were given a handset with headphones to listen to…so not really a proper tour, which was odd, but I guess it was okay since I really had to bundle up and following a tour guide would have been strenuous. It cleared up toward the end of my tour of Stonehenge. I learned a lot of interesting things and it really felt magical being there (I didn't expect it to be that spectacular because I thought it might be overrated). After leaving, I noticed my nice swade boots had gotten all muddy. I tried to clean them off (didn't work and they're still a bit dirty from that!) :( The guide took us around to see some interesting houses with (thatched? Straw) roofs, including this really pretty cottage. We went to a national trust village that's really old and where lots of things were filmed, including parts of the Harry Potter films and learned interesting things about old buildings and the village itself. After that, we were driven back to Bath.
When I arrived in Bath, I went into this camera shop and bought more tapes for my video camera. Then, I ate some lunch (a panini and chips) at this one place. After that, I went to the Roman Baths which was AMAZING! It's charming and interesting to learn about the history of the baths.
After I left, I had a few hours before leaving. I browsed a few shops but didn't find anything and they were closed soon after so I went and got my bags from the hotel. I remember the lady mentioned (either then or when I checked out) that I had a really short stay and I kind of wished I could've stayed for longer because I really liked Bath. It was so charming and beautiful!

My evening consisted of riding trains to Wales.

London Days 2 &3

Day 2:
We woke up in time for breakfast. Despite his wanting to go for a run in Hyde park, Stuart was far too tired. :( Though he did say that he wanted to surprise me with something when he did go for a run the next day…
Breakfast was interesting, though I was expecting something a little different anyway. There was cereal and meat (ham, salami and pepperoni), croissants, cheese, water, orange juice, and a few other odds and ends. They also came to the table and asked us if we wanted coffee or tea and toast. I also found out (after Stuart's mention) that they had Nutella as well!
After breakfast, I showered and got ready for the day. Since we had the longest day, I figured we would go find Abbey Road. Stuart, wanting to save money, insisted we take the bus. I didn't really care much as long as we got there though I did think the tube may have been the best option. The bus was nice because it fulfilled one of my lifetime dreams…(to ride on the top of a double decker bus in London). I also saw a few interesting things on the way. The bus (and the walk to Abbey road) took a long time! Although we saw some interesting things along the way (such as a "Blues Bar", I took a picture of for my dad and giraffes at the London zoo), we both agreed that it was quite a strenuous walk, especially since Stuart's back was hurting from carrying his bag (which I ended up carrying for part of the journey because it was bothering him so much! :/) We did, however, finally make it to Abbey road.
Once there, I was bewildered by it, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The first thing I noticed was the studio which had graffiti all over the walls! After signing my full name (because I knew my parents wanted to be there really badly and that was the best tribute I could give them, plus I didn't want to write anything corny like everyone else), and Stuart writing his next to mine, I was wondering where the cross-walk was. Stuart and I realized it must be (duh!) the one we walked across to get there and the one right in front of the studio. So he took a video of me walking across and then he took a picture. There were loads of other tourists trying to do the same and cars trying to go by as well so it took a while.
When all that was finished, Stuart decided it really would be best if we just took the tube. :P It wasn't far away either. The station itself had a "Beatles Coffee shop" which was quite interesting. I went in briefly to look around but didn't order anything as I didn't feel the need to at the time. We took the tube to the station just across the street from Big Ben. Stuart made me close my eyes again. :P
The day was cloudy with a slight mist of rain. We walked across the bridge over the Tymes to where the London eye is. There were many people dressed up and a carousel (to which Stuart commented, "carousels are creepy") We were trying to walk to the Tower Bridge, but didn't know how far away it was. After an hour or so of walking we got hungry and tried to find a place to eat. That was when we found out we might as well turn back and get some sort of transportation there. We decided that if we wanted to go on the London Eye, it would be best to go ahead and do that since we were more close to it. While trying to decide if the line was too long or not, a woman came up to us and sold us tickets for £15 (the price for 2 adult tickets is more than that). We promptly got in line with our tickets, but as we were waiting, I realized they said "disabled child." Stuart laughed at this, but I was worried that we wouldn't be able to get on. We ended up getting on anyway.
After the London Eye, Stuart decided we should get a bus since they were cheaper than the tube. We ran around for about 2 hours looking for a bus, failed, and took the tube. The tube got off at the London Tower and we walked across the Tower Bridge and back. We were so exhausted that we decided to go back to our hotel.
We rested for a bit and figured out where we were going to eat. We found a thai place on google that had good reviews and was very nearby, so we decided to go there. It was very nice, not too expensive and interesting as the food came down (or up?) in a chute. It was also Stuart's first experience with thai food and he enjoyed it! :)
Well, after that, we just went back to the hotel and rested for the night.

Day 3:
Day 3 started with Stuart determined to get us by through the tube. Stuart went for a run that morning and told me what he was planning to do but didn't (which was to pick me flowers but he didn't think through carrying them back). We woke up and ate breakfast, then checked out and left our baggage at the hotel for the day. Then we got on the tube, looked through some shops, (I bought some sunglasses) went to the museum, got lunch, and went through some station must have been older because I remember it was kind of run-down. We were trying to go to St Paul's church as well but it was really rainy and we couldn't find our way around very well. I bought an umbrella but we left it in a bathroom and had to buy another. On our way back to get our stuff, we saw London bridge and we went in a tube that looked exactly like something out of a dream I had!
Then, Stuart got on his bus, and I got on mine.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Day 1 in London (28 March, 2010)

Sorry this has taken so long to post...I would've written it on the train had they provided outlets (I wrote part of this on one train that did), and I had an awfully long essay due last week when I got back. This week, I have a shorter one so hopefully I'll post day 2 either before or after it...

The day had finally come. After much planning for my trip around the UK, I was finally leaving…not by myself either. My wonderful boyfriend, Stuart had decided to come with me to London.
We spent the day packing, printing and eating as we were not leaving until the night. We were taking a night bus from Dundee to London via Megabus (a cheap bus service). Unfortunately (and ironically), my camera decided to die with the shutter open and somehow got jammed in this position so it would not work. Ice cream and Stuart holding me and letting me borrow his camera helped. Finding out that I was not getting into Wales in the morning (as I had thought) but instead at 1am did not, but I got that worked out as well and we were on our merry way.
The bus seemed pretty luxurious…like an airplane or something. However, I soon found out that toilets on buses in the UK are worse than porter potties! They are basically a hole for everyone to use that doesn't get flushed….. Needless to say, despite the fact that there was limited air and my bladder was full the whole time, it was a nice journey. I had Stuart to lean on at least. :)
We stopped several places along the way…Glasgow, Birmingham… Just outside of London was a lovely English countryside we rode through, during which I annoyed Stuart with all my songs about London.
We arrived probably around 8 in the morning on Sunday, March 28th. We were tired and hungry but couldn't check into the hotel quite yet. Despite this, we dropped off our bags and set off, excited. Poor Stuart only had one wheel on his bag and was halfway dragging it. :/ He ran ahead at one point to find our hotel. Since it was a Sunday, there were not many places open yet. We walked around…very far just to find somewhere to eat. During that time, we saw some interesting things… Walked to Hyde park. On the way to Hyde park, I saw the National Bank which is obviously what the one in Harry Potter is modeled after. I took a picture for Wendy. :)
There was a race going on in Hyde park. Stuart had said he wouldn't do it because he didn't want to walk around sweaty for most of the rest of the day, etc. but when he saw it going on he got really upset that he hadn't signed up to do it. (The next day he brought his running shoes with him…lol.) Also on the way, we saw a few shops that were open and browsed a bit. Finally, we settled on a Garfunkles, where we sat down and filled ourselves to the brim, as well as drinking 2 mochas each! After feeling wonderfully full again, we walked around some more, browsed some more, I saw Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square (which Stuart had me close my eyes for…hehe…he's so romantic… :D) and then we walked some more to where we saw a beautiful park and Buckingham Palace.
After this, we were very tired and it was about 1:30 so we figured they might let us check in a bit early and we were right. The hotel was lovely! It had a bath and a bode (sp?) I took a nice long bath. We rested until our Jack the Ripper tour that evening.
The tour started near Trafalgar Square and we walked there just in time. It was a nice tour as we got to get on a coach for half of it and learned more than I thought we would! It was also a nice dark, partially rainy night, which I thought was perfect for the tour. I saw some really cool things too such as creepy dark alleys, a market place that looked very modern on one side and almost original on the other. I also learned that one of the London School of Economics (Zareen's dream school) dormitories had once been a nunnery and was the place where Jack the Ripper had murdered his last victim. The car park near it also had once been part of the tour until someone was thrown!
After the tour, we were driven to a really nice English pub (called Sherlock Holmes) where I finally decided to go ahead and try fish and chips because you only live once. I was very glad I did because they were really good!!
Stuart was in a really good mood at that point and decided that we should go ahead and take the tube because we were both really tired. As we were walking down the partially-flooded sidewalk, Stuart asked me to close my eyes again, or at least to look down at the ground. When I opened them, there was Big Ben, all lit up (as well as the London eye). It was a really beautiful sight! :) Right then, I just wanted to tell Stuart….well that I love him (because we hadn't told each other yet and I felt it) but I think it was nerves that stopped me, mainly and a partial rush to the tube. That moment was really romantic though and I will never forget it. I remember we couldn't stop giggling when we ran into the tube station.
On our walk back from the Victoria station to the hotel, I got this urge to tell Stuart how I felt. I think I giggled or something and he said, "What?" and I said something like, "Nothing… I'll tell you later." But then proceeded to tell him the whole story of what led me to study abroad and to him after a short pause. Then, he stopped walking and stopped me and he was like, "Come on, tell me." or something like that. And I was like, "NO!" And he was all like, "It's three words…isn't it?" and I was all like, "…yeah…." and he was all like, "I promise I'll say it back." and I hesitated but ended up saying it there.
"I love you."
"I love you too." <3

Sunday, 21 March 2010


So, my boyfriend is just the sweetest ever…
• We're going to London next week together and I think he's more excited than me. Lol.
• This morning, I cut myself shaving and texted him "Do you have a band aid?" and he didn't text me back, he ran down here and gave me band aids!!!

Some differences I should probably discuss…
• So fire exits are all over the place, just about every door in a building will say "this is a fire door," which confused me at first because I thought I was going to set off an alarm. Then, in stairwells, there will always be green signs that have a little man running and a door that say "fire exit." It's really crazy.
• I don't mind saying "lift" although I still catch myself thinking "elevator" and I don't mind saying bin but I often will say, "trash…uh….bin…?" :P I continue to say "jeans" or "corduroys" instead of "trousers" because "trousers" makes me think of Pewee Herman's…uh… "trousers" (up above the belly button with suspenders…eww...) Pants mean underwear.... Why can't they just call them "panties" or "boxers"….or "underwear"? :P
• I'm really getting attached to some of the food here…like… "Ginger nut biscuits" and these scone-things they have at breakfast here. Oh…and PANINIS!!!!! OMG they're THE NUM!!! :D
• Yesterday I was labeled as a "suitable American" by one of Stuart's friends… apparently most Americans here are wild or something.
• I can't help but feel different as soon as I open my mouth, but at least I'm speaking their language… :)
• There are really friendly people who work in stores such as Tesco…something you wouldn't find in any Wal-Mart.

By The Way...
The New Hall Ball (last week) was amazing! There was a chocolate fountain, a regular dance floor and a Ceilidh! Stuart wasn't there but I went with all my other friends (Alanna and her boyfriend, David and friend, Martin...then we met up Angus, Sean, and saw others around.) I Ceilidh-ed with Angus and and Alanna and I danced to all these songs we really liked. It was really fun! :)

Now playing: Sugar Glyder - Without One
via FoxyTunes

Things I miss about America (not in order of amount missed)

• Best Buy
○ And their test rock band that you just go in and play at your leisure.
• I actually think I miss Wal-Mart
○ Just because I'm a lazy shopper and hate going on excursions to find shit
○ And because I miss the self service scanner thingies that say "Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart!" (the ones at Tesco don't thank you.)
• Pepto-Bismol
○ Thank you for sending me some, mommy!!! :D
• Rubbing Alcohol
○ They do not sell it here
• Hydrogen Peroxide
○ They think it's flammable, so they locked away and it's hard to get
• Various items that they do not sell here
○ Like the hair products I normally use and non-spray-on deodorant
• Canned spinach
• Grits
• Other various foods they do not sell here… :/
• The dollar is cheaper than the pound
• My mommy and her food
• My family and friends
• Maxxwell
• Driving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
• And my baby :'(
• Having a micro-fridge in my dorm room
• Taco Bell <3
• Dunkin' Donuts
• Being able to use my Verizon Wireless Chocolate 2 phone

Now playing: Sugar Glyder - Flowers
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 8 March 2010

A Magical Night

Instead of "dances" they have "balls" here which will often provide live music a DJ or a Ceilidh band. Each dormitory has it's own ball and so do societies. I attended my first ball on the 26th of February.
My friend (at the time), Stuart (who is one of the people who I sit with at dinner and the guy who played in the snow with me) asked me if I wanted to come to the DRA (David Russell Apartments) Ball with him. However, he did not specify if I was to be his date or whatever. I believed it was safe to assume we were going as friends. Despite that, I was still very excited and somewhat hopeful (since I had developed a crush on Stuart in the previous week). My friend Alana was nice enough to let me use her hair curler and I got ready in her room (which is, ironically, right across the hall from Stuart's room). Once ready, I went and knocked on Stuart's door. He opened the door very slowly and Alana came out of her room saying, "She looks pretty, right?" and he was like, "Yeah!" As we walked down the stairs he said that he really did think I looked good and I told him he looked handsome, as he did. :)
It was a very cold and rainy night and I was not only wearing heels and a dress but still recovering from a cold. We waited on our taxi, which he had ordered at dinner and did not come. Sitting in the lobby, we compared drivers licenses (which was interesting) and talked until we finally gave up waiting and called another taxi. The taxi took us to DRA, where the buses left to go to the place where the ball was held. When we arrived, there were a bunch of people blocking the front door so we ran to the side door. As we were running, I instinctively (and subconsciously) grabbed his hand. He laced my fingers in his. After this, I thought maybe he did like me too, but I wasn't quite sure. We waited inside for a while to stay out of the cold and I met one of his friends who oddly left us alone after a few minutes, which made me just a little more suspicious.
After a while, we finally decided to get on a bus. When we went outside, we saw the line ("queue") was huge! We got in and waited. As we ascended in the "queue", I noticed a bracelet on the ground, which Stuart urged me to pick up. I was inclined to see if anyone dropped it, while he was inclined for me to keep it. It was silver with hearts on it. Upon finally getting on a bus, (many came during our wait), and shouting to everyone if they dropped a bracelet and no one claiming it, Stuart put the bracelet on me and that was when he kissed me. The ball itself was interesting. Upon entering a tent, there were paninis (like subs, but more like sandwiches) being served along with other things and tables. Making our way back, we were looking for somewhere to put our stuff down. Through the tent was the building where ice cream was being served on the right, a bar in the back and a dance floor to the left with a live band. There were two rooms off to the side, a room where coats were taken and another dance floor and where the toilets were. We saw a few friends, got some free ice cream and danced for a while. The band kept loosing power, unfortunately but not much fazed us that night as we were so happy just to finally know the feeling was mutual. We danced until the DJ came on, which is when we left due to Stuart's distaste for the music.
Since then, Stuart has been my boyfriend. He has been great and is very gentlemanly. He likes to make fun of the way I say certain things and has made it his goal to "british-ize" the way I say things. The way I say "bridge", which is already funny to my parents makes him laugh and he is determined to make me say it the right way one day. He also has made fun of me for saying "jelly" instead of "jam", "pants" instead of "trousers" and makes sure that I am saying "chips" instead of "fries", "crisps" instead of "chips", and "lift" instead of "elevator". Stuart said that he hopes that I will go back and say things this way, which will somehow influence everyone else in the states to and so it will be all his fault. What big aspirations he has...
On a side note, another funny thing I learned at lunch is that they still call "curly fries" "curly fries" and not "curly chips". I asked as to the logic of this and my friend, Angus answered, "Chips are thick and fries are thin." Hmmm....interesting...

Friday, 26 February 2010

Different than Some…

At lunch today, one of my friends said his grandmother forbade him to date Americans. Although I said nothing because it would be something very odd I feel to respond to, I felt compelled to write this afterward. I obviously don't know how all people feel but I feel compelled to say that I am glad I am somewhat open minded to every culture. I absolutely can not stand when people make assumptions on someone else due to where they were born. Sure, most people in that area may act in a certain way, but that doesn't mean all of them are the same. I don't think it's fair to judge someone on something they are unable to control, such as where they were born, but people do it all the time. I know it's a natural tendency and I try not to do it. To be honest, I may do it from time-to-time but I am certainly not inclined to. To be even more honest, I would definitely date a Scottish guy or a guy from any nationality really, as long as he fit my criteria as datable (amazing personality, good looks). It always makes me sad when people are this close minded. I'm guessing that's why I was compelled to write this today.
On the bright side of today, I woke up while my tutorial was starting and made it to the next one and it was fine with the tutor! YAY! AND I saw a blue VW Jetta, in the same late 90's model as mine as I was walking back to New Hall for lunch! These things, despite my sickness and the awful rain and wind that soaked my pants ("trousers") this morning, brightened my day… maybe the medicine also has something to do with it… maybe, also, the fact that I'm going to the DRA Ball tonight with my awesome new friend, Stuart… maybe because I'm having the time of my life in Scotland!!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Culture Lesson #1

I have noticed that it is really hard to write a blog everyday. I have not been able to keep up with it. Not because I can't, but well because I'm worried about not keeping up with class for the sake of my blog. :P I've decided to start some topic blogs as well so that I can keep writing without feeling like I must recount a WHOLE DAY!

Today's topic is differences. It is a quite odd concept to go to a country where everyone speaks your language but the culture there is different. I think I'm going to do this in list format.

• TRAFFIC: Quite obviously, a big difference between the British and Americans is which side of the road they drive on. But there is much more to it than just the SIDE they drive on…
○ LOOK RIGHT FIRST BEFORE CROSSING!!!: well, it seems self-explanatory, but in America everyone looks left first because that's where the closest cars are coming from. It's a confusing concept too because you're thinking…"oh….they drive on the left…so, left?" but it's really right.
○ WATCH OUT!!! (no J-walking): there seems to be no such thing as "pedestrians have the right away" here. I'm used to that being the #1 rule to driving so it's no wonder that I'm surprised when I run out in the street and cars don't slow down. (DON'T WORRY MOMMY! I made sure they were far enough away first!!!! And I haven't been hit, and I know better now, so PLEASE DON'T WORRY!!!)
○ USE THE CROSS-WALKS!!!: there are two types of cross-walks: ones with traffic lights where you have to push a button for the light to turn red (the light doesn't stay red very long though so if you're not right up on the street when the light turns red, you're probably going to have to wait for it to turn green and then red again) and then there are the cross-walks with big poles beside them that have yellow blinking lights at the top. These are the best because it seems cars have to stop at these whenever a pedestrian is crossing.
○ Round-abouts: these are used at intersections instead of traffic lights. A little more convenient for the drivers (not having to wait for the light) but less convenient for pedestrians (having to go find a cross-walk nearby, that's usually a traffic light one)
• FOOD: oh, the dinning hall…
○ We're all starving: Upon entering the dinning hall for the first time, I was excited to see that it looked somewhat similar to Gee's set-up (kitchen inside, with lots to choose from) as for some reason I was expecting them to give us a general plate of food that everyone got. However, as I went off naming the things I wanted, I was yelled at, "You can only choose ONE entrée!" (I was quite upset…I am used to an all-you-can-eat buffet in Gee dining hall). Another reason why this is upsetting is when there are long lines and I cannot see all there is to offer, I'll often see a more desirable food after I have already settled for something I was unsure of. However, I am not able to get this more desirable food and it really does upset me. Surprisingly enough though, they seem quite generous with breakfast as I can get an entrée, a cereal, a fruit, toast, AND coffee!! During lunch and dinner, however, we can only get an entrée, fruit and a side (either appetizer or desert) so if you're really hungry you're screwed! At least the entrée comes with salad…
○ Shortage of Ketchup: I have also had a hard time with ketchup! Whenever I get "chips" (fries), they only give me two packets of ketchup. However, that is sadly not enough to cover all of my "chips." :'( I tried going back to get just one more and got YELLED at and then they called seconds (yes, they call seconds and you can go get something else if there's anything appetizing left, but I don't know how exactly it works so I haven't done it yet and whenever I want to it seems I come too early and must wait 45minutes before seconds, so I just leave) and I tried to get more ketchup again and got yelled at again. :'( I guess I'm too American.
○ Pitchers: When going out to dinner, everyone will get a glass and a pitcher of water to share. I was worried about my "endless cup" going away, but this works. :)
• Academia: here's what I want you to find….now go off and find it!!!
○ Print your own syllabi!: "Hello class, welcome! I assume all of you have been on Web CT and printed off the syllabus, yes?" (Web CT????!) "It has a list of readings on it. You have to do all of the ones on Section A, but the Section B readings are optional." (Readings??? Wait…what textbook do I need to buy??? I'm confused!!!!) This is how my first lecture began. The lecture's words in quotes and my thoughts in parenthesis. She went on to confuse me more by talking about some other professor coming to talk to us in week 3 and in the tutorials. The only thing I understood correctly is that I was not going to be GIVEN a syllabus, I had to go print it myself. It was the same in my psychology class, but in my other philosophy class, I was lucky to have a professor who handed them out. I did find out what Web CT is (had to do a search) and I logged on and all my syllabi were on there and a few of the readings as well.
○ There's no such thing as a "textbook": Upon reading my syllabi, nothing made since to me. Every reading is a different article…so what textbooks did I need? I didn't find this out until my first Philosophy of Mind course when the professor was talking about 3 different textbooks we could buy. I raised my hand and said, "So…do we have to buy them all or just one of them…?" He responded, "Oh…well, yes…uh…I believe textbooks mean something different in America…textbooks are books to give you just a background information on the topic." I was still a little confused, but basically I only needed one and I really don't need it very often either. :/ There is also a collection I needed as well. So far, it's more of the "textbook" of the course I guess you could say. I'm glad it's useful.

There is, of course, the different things they will say, but I will go into that another day...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Day 3: (2/5/10) Matriculation and Ceilidh

After finding a more suitable alarm the night before, I woke up to Sugar Glyder's Bcde! :D A song that plays soft serene music then says, "It's time to wake up! It's time…" and then plays alarm noises. A very nice way to wake up! :) Maybe I should do something about it repeating though… :/ I really don't want to get sick of it. I showered and went to breakfast. They had a potato and beans. Other than that, I got the same things I had the day before.
My advising meeting was at 10:45 in the library. While I was walking over there, I was thinking about how happy I am to be here and how much I love this place! When I got there, there were a few people at the psychology table but the philosophy table was PACKED! So, I saw the psychology advisor first and got put in Developmental Psychology and Assessment in Clinical Psychology. Turns out, they are at the same time because Developmental is for the first half of the semester and Clinical is for the second half. I was advised not to take Philosophy of Mind because it is a really high-level philosophy course, but it is not offered at Converse, so why not take it while I can? I'll see if I can handle it… I am also taking Rationality and Action. Funny enough…none of these courses start until Tuesday…so I don't have to do anything on Monday, but find out where they are and what books I need for them.
After advising, I went to Younger Hall where I showed them my passport, paid my tuition fees, got my ID and turned in my health care form.
After all of that was over, I went back to New Hall for lunch and dinner and chilled for a while.
Victoria, Ruth (Victoria's acquaintance from her home school), Michael name that texted Victoria at 3am the night before, and me walked over to the student union for the Ceilidh festival. This was a festival of Scottish food and dancing.
When we arrived things had not started yet. Wendy encouraged us to get a drink. :P I thought it was pretty funny. The haggis was actually pretty good, despite some hard to chew parts.
I was hesitant to dance at first but I did do the group dances. After a while of wondering around and such I asked this guy that was randomly standing by us to dance. Afterward he stuttered and I felt bad because my intentions were not to make him feel uncomfortable but I feared I must have been the only girl to do this…or I'm just really hot…or he just stutters frequently. I do not know. However, Victoria went on to dance with him and I danced with Sahd. I met a few people that night, including this one guy I got into a really deep conversation with that just left with his brother.

Day 2: (2/4/10) Meeting and Drinking

Not wanting to miss out on any more events, I planned ahead for day 2. I woke up at 8am, showered and ate breakfast (eggs, a flatbread apple tart thing, Rice Krispies with "semi-skimmed milk" aka 2%, a piece of bread and another café mocha) with some really nice Asians. I can't remember the girl's name, but the guy's name was Chi. I decided to sit with him after he greeted me while I was getting my food. The cafeteria ladies were nicer and helpful because they realized I was new. So for breakfast I can get a main course AND cereal or porridge (I don't think I'm brave enough to try that), a fruit (or bread) and a drink.
At around 9:30, I headed out to the Introductory Talk. I figured out the day before, it takes me about 30 minutes to walk into town. It was cool because I followed a group of people that were apparently going to the same place. Upon walking in, I looked around thinking about where I should sit. When I looked to the left, I spotted a girl sitting all alone. I thought to myself, "Well, I should definitely make some gal pals" and sat down beside her. Turns out her name is Victoria, she's an English major from NC, an hour outside Charlotte, and goes to school in Kentucky (I believe). She was really nice (and knows who Sugar Glyder is!!!!) we expressed our desires to travel, learned that we live on the same floor and decided to stick together. We both agree that British accents are AMAZING! :D The session itself was quite useful since I learned about the St Andrews travel agency place where I can get student discounts on traveling, saw who Wendy (the SSS-Student Support Services lady) is and signed up for a tour (Victoria's going too!) to Lochness near the end of the month.
Victoria and I shopped around for a while. I found some cheap brown shoes (they were on sale at a consignment shop for £4.99--about $10) and some postcards for 40p (pence, they're cents). Both of us were looking for a phone and almost found one (they apparently ran out of that cheap model). We also found Tesco and that's when I realized the place I had gone last night (although right across the street and convenient as well was probably not where I was directed last night). There I bought heavy duty tape (for my plug so it will stay on my adapter, it does not fit tight enough, but it is fixed now due to the tape), laundry detergent and Special K bars.
I decided I was not going to pay more than £9 (pounds, about $18) for a phone, since I would have to pay an extra £10 (about $20) to "top up" (put minutes on it, for pay-as-you-go), so I still haven't gotten one yet. Everyone keeps asking me for my number, so I hope I can get a phone soon. I looked online and apparently they only ship to your billing address…and only in the UK and that's not applicable to me. :(
During this time alone, I went and took a library tour and found out that although it was on my map, the town library was not the University Library… my bad :P This helpful guy who's wife apparently studies here as a post-grad showed me to the right place.
On the tour, I met Sahd from Pakistan who has been studying in New York and a girl who's name I can't remember. Sahd was delighted to hear about Zareen. The three of us went to the session about "studying and living in the UK" at 2pm. Upon leaving the session, I met up with Victoria again and we went to get our tickets for the Lochness trip.
We proceeded to the wine reception where professors were available to meet and I had my first LEGAL alcoholic drink (red wine). I met some philosophy professors and a few other people studying abroad. Wendy talked to us again and some important figures gave some interesting speeches about the university. At the end we bought our tickets to the Ceilidh festival happening the following evening.
After that, I walked back to New Hall to put my stuff down and get dinner. However, on my way back I made plans with people who happened to live in new hall with me (Carter and Amelia…I believe) to go out to a pizza place.
When I met up with the others, we all went to the Pizza Express where there were many more people that we met up with there. The wait was apparently going to be long so we walked around trying to find places that would take us in until we finally found an Italian restaurant called Bella Italia. It's so odd to see how restaurants here advertise for valentine's day. I ended up ordering a pizza, since that's what I had been expecting to begin with… It was pretty good. I sat across from a girl from Germany (who’s name I could not spell for the life of me) and met a girl named Rebecca (from some other country…I forgot now and do not want to be wrong). They were all pretty awesome.

After that, we walked back to New Hall and I went to sleep for the next day's matriculation.

Day 1: (2/3/10) Arriving in Bonnie Scotland (the LONGEST day EVER!)

Saying goodbye was harder than I expected. It sounds so easy and fun to leave everything and everyone you know to start over completely fresh in a new country for 4 months. However, when you realize that you won't see someone you love again for 4 months…you won't be able to hug/kiss them or spend time with them, it is definitely hard and this is something that only hit me hard at parting. Once you start through that security gate, there's no turning back.
Packing took most of my day as well since I had gone to the Owl City concert the night before, I was quite tired and unwilling to get up early as I had planned, but it all worked out in the end. :)
My first flight left Charleston "International" Airport at 4:10pm on Tuesday, February 2nd. In a slightly larger, but still small plane that appeared as if it were straight out of the 70s, I was flown from Charleston to Newark, NJ (which I had never herd of before my mother booked this flight). It was a 2 hour flight on which I read my tour book and took a few pictures of the clouds. It was also the first time I saw the place I was landing (other than Charleston) before landing there.
Upon arriving to Newark, I had to take a bus from Gate A where the plane let us off to Gate C where I was taking my international flight.
Once I got to Gate C, I waited for about an hour 1/2. During this time, I made final phone calls to Sonja (my BFF) and my parents. As soon as I got on the plane and was told to turn off my phone I knew that was it…my phone would not be available to use for 4 months.
My seat was next to the window and sitting not right next to me but on the aisle was a guy coming over to Edinburgh for business for a few days. Between us was an empty seat! :) As the plane took off, I thought to myself, "Goodbye America!!! See ya (in 4 months)!" I first watched The Phantom of the Opera for the very first time while eating pasta with meatballs…plane food… I then tried to sleep while listening to music (to drown out the sound of the engine) but it was unsuccessful, I was too excited. There was nothing to see outside the window until we were over Ireland and Scotland. I did see some lights then. It was also quite odd to see the cars traveling on the left (instead of the right) side of the road.
When the plane landed (at 7:30ish am on Wednesday, February 3rd, British time) and I walked to the passport line (or queue, as they say here), I was awed by all these different advertisements…it's fascinating to see a foreign advertisement, but it's even more interesting when you can read and understand the language (or maybe it just seems that way because I am not used to it).
In the "queue" there were quite a few American students coming to study at St Andrews, like myself. I became excited when I overheard them discussing this, but since I was far back in the line, I did not get much of a chance to say anything.
The lady that stamped my visa was very nice. She was all like, "You know…you are very smart for getting a visa. Because you have a Tier 4 you can work and you're permitted to stay until September! So if you like it here, you can get a job and stay over the summer!" I smiled. I know she may be saying that for benefit of their economy or something like that, but it's also really nice to feel that welcomed.
It did not take me long to find my luggage. It was on it's way back into the unknown on the conveyer belt when I spotted it. I had to run to pick it up! It was difficult at first to roll both bags (I have 2 suitcases with me) but it's really a space-permitting sort of thing, and the luggage area was quite crowded still. After leaving the luggage area, I caught up with some of the other American St Andrews students, and we immediately found the St Andrews Direct lady (the service that takes students of St Andrews to and from Edinburgh Airport). She told me to wait near other students. I had only been waiting for like 5 minutes or so when she told us to follow her to the bus. We followed her. The bus was narrow-looking but tall. There was a small trailer attached where we put our luggage. The trip was supposed to take an hour but there was traffic. I got to see the mountains and countryside though. The former part of the trip, snow was apparent. It soon turned to just ice and then just grass. I saw many things and many confusing roads. I am not sure I would WANT to drive here even if I could. The other students weren't very talkative. They put on their mp3 players within a few minutes of riding. I was a little disappointed. I really wanted to get to know people and make friends.
The first stop was New Hall, where I live. It has automatic sliding doors and a reception desk, just like a hotel. Upon checking in, I got my key, my meal car and a whole packet of information on living here. My room number is 2068. I took the "lift" up, due to my large amount of luggage and found my room without much problem. New Hall is like a hotel only each hallway ends in a "fire door" to another hallway and has a shared kitchen. I haven't been in the kitchen yet and do not really need to since I am a catered student. However, we are not fed on Saturday and Sunday nights. I'm thinking I'd like to go out and eat then but we'll just have to see how that all works out. I am on a budget after all…at least until I (maybe) get a job.
My room was just around the corner and not too hard to find. I walked in to find it tinier than my expectations, but rather nice considering it still is a dorm. I have a bedside lamp, a desk lamp, a queen sized bed, my VERY OWN bathroom and a closet with hangers as well as tack boards, nightstands, a bookshelf above my desk and a TV. I do not have the bath I was hoping for but I do have a shower. It's very odd. The floor for the shower is nearly on the same level as the bathroom floor but about a centimeter shorter. There is no barrier. It is easy to flood. The drain for the shower drains, but very slowly. Either it's broken or on purpose to try to control water consumption (and also freeze me to death!) I'm thinking I might buy a cheep used towel (yes, you can buy used towels here apparently), to use for the floor by the shower to help it not overflow so bad. Maybe this is a good thing... I'm learning to take shorter showers.
I spent a while in my room. I was jet lagged badly. While it was 9:30 here, at home it was only 3:30am!!! I put my phone on standalone mode, set the alarm and took a nap. Although the alarm did not wake me up, I woke up around 3:10, which was pretty reasonable considering. I checked my computer and tried to make it to the 4:00 walking tour. Unfortunately, I went the wrong way initially and did not make it on time. I went around asking about tours and ended up going far out of my way before I went back to the Student's Union (where the tours were, and where I had started this journey initially) I did, however, get my bearings (and note that I loved the nice pub in the union because they were playing Owl City!). After clearing up that I had not missed much and I was capable of finding my way around with the map anyway, I set out to find this grocery store called "Tesco" the lady directed me too. I ended up going to a smaller grocery store called "Nisa Today's", which is ironically right across from Tesco. After purchasing paper towels, hand soup, tissues and a "5 Litre" (big jug) of water (that's so big it has it's own handle), I headed back to my room, cleaned and set up the bathroom (the cleaning was quite ghetto actually, I used the paper towels and hand soup), then went to dinner. I was starving on account of the fact that I had missed lunch and had not eaten since the light breakfast on the airplane (that consisted of a warm croissant and fruit). For dinner I choose a vegetarian (vegetable) taco salad, rice and salad. I tried to get pasta as well but apparently I can only get one "entrée" (this is soooooo much different from the all-you-can-eat buffet in Gee Dining Hall at Converse that I'm used to.) I also got a café mocha at this nice coffee machine that they have. I did find out that you can get water and toast at any time during meals by getting up. The salt, pepper and napkins are on a table with the silverware, (which is not what I'm used to either, so I keep forgetting them). I sat down at the first place I saw, next to these Scottish guys that are sophomores (or "second years"). One of them was quite talkative, he said he flies planes and does other things for the military, it was quite impressive. They had an American friend who sat down and the talkative Scot was making fun of Americans "to annoy him." Still, they were really friendly people, and didn't seem offended by me.
That was pretty much all I did that day, after dinner, I went back to my room, the talkative Scot wished me luck and happiness settling in and I relaxed and went to sleep.