Thursday, May 6, 2010

For an American interpretation of UK election coverage, click here.

That is all.

Happy Election Day!

P.S. My first reaction upon watching this was "70p bus fare? Where the HELL can you ride a bus for 70p?"

P.P.S. In some places in the UK, pubs are being used as polling places. Somehow this just doesn't sound like a good idea...

P.P.P.S. Finals are scary

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hi kids,
Europe is awesome, but finals suck like a giant hoover hell-bent on inhaling all of the fun and keeping it all for itself. I'd come up with a better metaphor but right now the only words I can think involve the suffixes "phage" or "ase". Basically because finals suck the fun out of everything (and the brain from my head), I'll just have to condense my spring break into a game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

That is all.

P.S. FUCK VOLCANOES!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Semester Abroad Part II (Part II)

The USA has Mardi Gras. The UK has Pancake Day.

The UK also has Robbie Burns night, which my friends and I celebrated by cooking an entire backpack full of haggis (cooked without the backpack, obviously), and reading poetry by Robert Burns (such as the famous poem he wrote to a haggis. This guy is widely loved and adored throughout the country).

The next day was Australia Day. Since I live with people from all over the world we celebrated that with more food and a giant inflatable crocodile.

Tonight will be a mix of Lithuanian food (for Lithuanian independence day) and pancakes. This will probably culminate in watching the Olympics. Winter Olympic coverage in the UK follows the same basic formula for every sport. They profile the athlete(s) who are from the UK, and follow them until they are disqualified in one of the preliminary rounds, and then they continue to follow the competition into the final rounds just for the hell of it because theres fuck-all else to do.

At least its not like the last summer Olympics which I watched in Spain. Coverage was entirely focused on the sports Spain was good at (read: tennis, basketball, and sometimes fencint...ALL THE TIME).

However the Olympics has been in conflict with the Six Nations rugby competition. This is a tournament between Englad, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, and Italy. The Scottish team never does well, and is usually in competition with Italy for the team which comes in dead last. Though Scotland is so used to losing at this point that the Scottish fans are at least good-humored about the whole thing. The English, on the other hand, see losing as a national tragedy. Though when teams beat Scotland they celebrate by doing things like getting drunk and driving a golf cart down the highway.

Since we are on the topic of sports, lets discuss the Superbowl. Yes, they do broadcast it live here. But they broadcast it without the Superbowl ads. This is probably the reason that American football has never really taken off anywhere else. That and watching the Superbowl at 12:30 at night while asking someone to "please pass the crisps" just feels...strange.

Well thats the news in Sports. I'm off to eat pancakes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Semester Abroad Part II

Hiya

Yup. I'm still here in Edinburgh.

Actually I had several friends prophesying my neglect to return home. Usually with the words "you are going to Scotland and never coming back!"

Apparently "never" is May 31st.

So I'm really only extending my stay by 5 months and 10 days. But who's counting?

Of course, this meant having to get my visa extended, as well. This was an epic process which involved mailing my application (including my passport...which I have now been without since December) to the UK border agency so that they could decide whether or not I am actually here as a part of a diabolical plot to steal their socialized health care. Apparently they've decided that I'm good enough for their country, because last week I had to go to a local biometrics center to be photographed and fingerprinted. The closest of these centers was in Glasgow.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Glaswegian reputation, this sums it up quite nicely. As does this. Its basically like any other not-quite-large city; it appears to be populated solely by people who work in offices and people who are incredibly trashy. Though I do have to say that it is a nice city and I wouldn't mind going back there sometime. Which is good because I've traveled all over the UK due to my aforementioned lack of passport and the associated restrictions.

Yup. I've not been allowed to leave the UK since December.

Its actually not as bad as it sounds. One of my friends from home kept demanding to know why I wasn't coming back. She came to stay with me over the holiday break, and we traveled around the UK seeing everything from the Highlands to London. She met my friends and my housemates (the people I live with and I have become this strange little family made up of people from all over the world; USA, England, Scotland, Australia, Lithuania, Russia, Austria...).

She now knows why I wanted to stay longer. She loves it here so much that she is coming back to visit me during her spring break. Hopefully by then I'll have my passport back by then.

Otherwise things here have been hectic. I'll write more about the events of the semester when it isn't 1:15 AM the morning of a 9AM lecture.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hoo boy.

So, events of the previous month (in list form for the sake of brevity):

1) I've decided to extend my stay here for another semester. Its just so lovely here, and I'm not quite ready to go back to my old life just yet. Even though I miss everyone at home a lot, there is still so much more that I want to do here-so many places to explore and events to take part in...
On that note, I just scheduled my return flight home which is now scheduled for May 31st. It sounds like its so far away, but when its actually here I'll be wondering where all the time went.

2) Classes are now over, and I've turned in all of my assignments. Now all I need to worry about are the three exams (which are each worth 70% of my class grade....I do not like this system) which for me are on the 10th, the 14th, and the 16th.

3) Guy Fawkes Day in Edinburgh: People go up to Arthurs' Seat (a hill which was formerly an active volcano) and set off fireworks. Climbing a mountain feels so much more epic when fire is raining down on you from the sky. Remember, Remember the fifth of November...

4) My housemates and I spent last Sunday making Thanksgiving dinner. We here in Edinburgh are so good at procrastination we even put off Thanksgiving for three days. I was the only one willing to prepare the turkey. Ironic because I was the only vegetarian in the room. Appropriate because I was also the only biologist. The turkey became my science experiment, for I am my father's daughter. For those of you who haven't heard stories of my father's impromptu anatomy lessons at Red Lobster, just imagine teaching your children about muscle movement and circulation on a platter of seafood. You get the idea.

5) Friday was our house Christmas party, which involved a lot of food and dancing, and my one housemate who is from El Salvador giving everyone a Salsa lesson.

6) Basically its been a week of food and parties at my house. Except now finals are here and everybody is living in their rooms or at the library, studying.

Speaking of, thats probably what I should be doing...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not gonna lie, this place is making me a little afraid to think outside of the box.

For example, for my reproductive biology class we have to choose an essay topic and write a paper within that topic. My topic is "Odour and Pheromone Signaling in Reproduction." I want the focus of this paper to be an investigation of a body of research linking pheromone signaling and the onset of anorexia nervosa. While that would probably be fine at Hampshire, I'm not so sure about here, because technically that isn't reproduction.

Another big difference between schools in America and the UK is that in America you are evaluated on a lot more. Here, there are no small assignments. Everything you turn in is worth at least 15% of your grade, and in some cases your final exam can be worth 70-80% of your final grade. Its great for the first month of classes when nothing is due, but then all of a sudden late October hits and its just constant deadlines. In the past week, I turned in three major assignments, and have two more due by Wednesday.

Its also difficult because I'm taking third year courses in a system with which I'm not entirely familiar. When they say things like "brief summary" for lab writeups, I have no way of knowing what exactly that means, while my peers who have been working in this system for two years now do.

That being said, I do still love it here. Having to miss Hampshire Halloween was maybe the first time that I got slightly nostalgic for home, but otherwise I'm having a great time (I mean, aside from all the work).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I think there is some unwritten law that says that if you are running a Hostel, you are automatically obligated to paint the rooms disgusting colors and put cheesy murals in the common areas.

Anyway, as I've been traveling I reached the following conclusion:
There is a fine line between being a tourist and being a traveler. Being a tourist means going to places like London (where I went last weekend) and taking lots of pictures like these:

Yes, thats all well and good. The buildings have historical value, the feel of the streets is something you cannot get from a photograph or Google Map. Seeing things for yourself is good, but I have to say that the best part of any of my travels has got to be the people I've met. Mostly travelers themselves, they always have an interesting story to tell, or else they leave you with a good story to tell (apparently if I'm ever in Copenhagen I have a place to stay with some people who love Metallica and America's Next Top Model). But buildings are buildings. I saw where they buried Queen Elizabeth I, I crossed the London Bridge, walked down Fleet Street, visited Picadilly Circus, and rambled through St. James's Park. Hell, I even got to go into the engine room controlling the mechanism that raises and lowers the Tower Bridge.
(Dad, this one's for you)
Really, though, buildings are buildings. People are far more interesting (and far more difficult to photograph) .

As I am still reeling from the last couple of days, I think I should go to bed now.