Friday, 30 December 2005


Having just returned from my xmas trip to Ireland, am feeling refreshed. It rained today for the first time—I’ll be arrogant and say Ireland was in tears at my leaving;) Saw quite a few places I hadn’t been to before, including Tralee, Doolin, Dingle, Killarney, Blarney, Cork and Cashel. The Blarney stone itself seemed like a load of touristy hype to me…I would imagine those who actually kissed it might have gone away with a few extra germs, yuck. Despite our tour guide leaving us behind at the last stop yesterday, the tour itself was quite nice. Before you gasp, he did return, after taking a vote from those on the bus, half of whom raised hands to leave us behind! In all fairness, we had walked a bit too far out at Glendalough, getting back at least 20 minutes late, but still. Later on that day, the bus was broken into, and the bus driver and one who protested loudly to leave us behind had some personal possessions (hence the title of the post…although I’m never glad to see someone get their things stolen). Met some excellent people and saw some amazing sites. We had a fantastic Christmas dinner cooked by one of the tour guides, while staying in a hostel/pub in a small town on the Dingle peninsula. Guess the villagers protested the pub being built, as it is right across the street from the church, and called the Randy Leprechaun;) Despite this, they tolerated the tour group going out to the beach with them Christmas morning and having a swim. Crazy feckers—I stayed behind with the newspaper and had a nice chill out. On the day after Christmas, which they refer to as St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland (Boxing Day in the UK), they have these Wren Day parades, in which the villagers dress up (similar to Halloween type costumes) and go in and out of the local businesses and pubs dancing and playing instruments, collecting for charity. This year, in Dingle, they were collecting for a new sports center for the town. Beats taking it out of the taxpayers pocket, hey? More later…

modified to add: description of pics—the wren in dingle, myself and a fellow traveller from my tour, cliffs of moher, glendalough, and…well, read my comment.

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice to all. Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. As of the 22nd, the days will begin to get longer and we can all begin to look forward to sunlight and spring. Have copied a poem below in celebration.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

P.S. Loosely related…I lost my favourite, ‘born again pagan’ t-shirt somewhere…I’m guessing on the way to or from the laundry room. So sad:(

Sunday, 18 December 2005

Next semester's schedule

Or as the posh ones here say…, something like that. Anyway, I’m going to whine about something I know I’ll get no sympathy on. I have to start classes at 9am three days a week, boo-hoo, which means I have to get up at 7am. The classes switch from mostly tourism related to mostly management related. I’ll be taking Strategic Management, Human Resource Management, Research Methods, and for my elective, most likely, Eco-tourism. I shouldn’t even be thinking about all this now, as I still have projects to do for this semester. Spent all day yesterday writing an essay on politics and policy making and need a break, so I’m going to go out, somewhere, today, even if it’s just to the grocery store to get the fixing for fajitas and a magazine or two to read tonight, and maybe buy a cheap dvd (I miss TV this week). I could say the only disadvantage to living in a new place is not having enough people to do things with, but that’s not exactly true. I’ve probably been more socially active then I was at home; I simply notice the down time more;)

Friday, 16 December 2005

A possible dissertation topic

It’s about time to start thinking about a dissertation topic. Didn’t realize we had to choose very early on in the next semester, as one of the modules is Research Topics. I’m thinking about doing an assessment of the socio-cultural impacts of tourism (development) on the residents of Belfast. That would mean taking some time in the summer (?) or maybe spring to go interview people (will learn more about exact survey methods next semester). One of the aspects of the report I just finished for International Tourism & Globalization was to look at impacts of tourism—economic, environmental or socio-cultural. I chose the latter, and found it difficult to find information. Emailed the Belfast City Council, and they responded saying they had no data, as they didn’t have the resources to do a survey. Someone has to do it, right;)

And on the subject of writing, a special congratulations to my friend Matt for a recent publication:

Monday, 12 December 2005

Happy Christmas to All

Well, I am leaving for Ireland a week from Wednesday, so thought I would get a short xmas note off before then. The build up to Christmas has so far included a trip to the German Christmas Market with the expats, and tomorrow I’ll be having a small gathering at my place for my classmates before we head off to have tapas at a restaurant one of the girls works at. (Hopefully have some pics to post later). I’ve bought some Christmas crackers and drinkies for tomorrow, and put up a few decorations. Many of the classmates don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t think, so it should be fun to share experiences. I’ve completed two of my assessments, so only four left:)
modified to add: If you’d like to see some pics of the city centre in Leeds:

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

You're the only one who can talk sh*t about your own family

I’m starting to find myself getting irritated by ‘outsiders’ making anti-US comments. The big ones seem to be that all Americans are fat and promiscuous, which I’m getting tired of hearing. On top of that, I’m weary of the fact that I have to keep apologizing for a man I didn’t vote for, as well as the stereotypical attitudes perceived of Americans by the rest of the world. The last straw for me was finding this article in The Guardian on-line last night, written by Lionel Shriver, who is all the rage here for her book, We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I refuse to read. (It is the first book the university book club is reading, which I had signed up for.) My limited encounters with the writing of this woman have left a bad taste in my mouth, and this last thing doesn’t help.

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Dark days and cookbooks

Well, it is starting to get dark here by 3pm and is completely dark by 4pm. Thank god the winter solstice is only 15 days away. And on that note, I will be leaving for my Christmas trip to Southern Ireland that day, going on a backpacker tour. Will have a day or so in Dublin on either end and can’t wait to get going. I haven’t been to the island of Ireland since I left last September, so this is the longest I’ve been away in over 3 years.

On another note, I’ve decide to submit a story and recipe to a cookbook an author I admire is planning on putting together.

Are you tempted to become self-employed…and is the USA an innovator?

According to a report from Eurobarometer in 2004, 46% of Americans are tempted to become self-employed, as opposed to 33% of the EU 15 and 32% of the EU 25. Why the big difference? Well, supposedly it has to do with the attitude of different countries/people in those countries towards the possible failure of the business. In my Tourism Politics & Policy class today, we discussed this and the tutor said it is the common perception that Americans feel they can pick themselves up, dust off and move on if they venture into small business ownership and fail, whereas in Europe, it is humiliating to fail and therefore, people may not want to take the risk. I’m not sure I agree with this generalization about Americans, but then again, I don’t know that I have the backgroud knowledge to make a completely informed decision. Any thoughts?

Also, during this discussion, I heard America referred to, once again as on many other occasions since I’ve moved here, as an innovator. All things start in America was a comment made by my GP the other week. I’m surprised by this. I guess it is true that we do initiate a lot of things, but we also are behind in some ways, I think, and we are such a young country in relation to the rest of the world. Can
we really have that many fresh ideas? If we do, why do we? It’s an interesting concept to me.

Monday, 5 December 2005

My new home

From my dorm room, I can see Kirkstall Abbey in the distance. Not a great pic, but you should be able to make it out.

I am also right next to the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and often look out to see people fishing in the morning, sometimes under huge umbrellas when it’s raining.

Have also included a pic of my tiny “home” for the rest of the year.


Sunday, 4 December 2005

One down, five to go

Well, I finished my first assessment yesterday afternoon, which was my essay on sustainable tourism in Northern Ireland. It’s not my best piece of work by any means, but it will pass, fingers crossed. Still getting used to the difference between an English essay and a US essay, and how much more research is involved here. It was such an interesting topic, but time and word limits only allow so much detail. So, by January 9th (unless I get some extensions, which I’m actually working on), I have five more pieces of work due:

-A 3,000 word formal report on Belfast, including info on market segmentation/demand, resources, and sustainability measures, either in regards to the economy, environment, or culture.-A 15 minute formal presentation including a 1,000 word summary picking a company in the above destination that operates internationally and methods by which they do so.

-A 2,500 word essay on a theory of political/tourism policy in a specific context (doing something called pluralism and relating it to tourism policy in urban areas of the usa, using chicago as a case study by analysis of the current and past govt/majors since the 60s and showing pluralism, which basically means that everyone has a say, somewhat, in policy, is what works for Chicago, as evidenced by successful tourist attractions such as navy pier and millenium park).

-Another 2,500 word essay for the same politics & policy class on the successful methods of partneships, again related to a particular context (no research done on this one yet)-And, finally…a 5,000 word formal report for my International Marketing Strategy module on a specific company (using the Northern Ireland Tourist Board), analysing their marketing plan and evaluating models of marketing (this one is a real head-banger for me…my right brained way of thinking is very challenged).

Ok, I have quite literally just given myself a headache. Of course, that could also be due to the fact that I got in about 3am last night after going out for drinks with a group of peeps, who are actually acquaintences of the old landlady. One of them is an American who just finished up a PhD here and is going back to DC next week. She’s been wanting me to meet him and this other fella since September, so I thought, what the hell. I was wanting a night out anyway after finishing that essay and cooking myself a nice dinner of sloppy joe, boiled potatoes, salad and a kickin coleslaw. It was actually a quite nice group of people, some of whom I found out later (I stayed after Paulette went home) don’t fancy the landlady herself very much;) So, I obtained the details on one of the fellas who P wanted me to meet…as she would say, that means I “pulled”. Still sounds dodgy to me (the phrase, that is), but you know how it is when someone wants to set you up…you think, how fugly and odd is this person going to be. Was pleasantly surprised…the lad was quite easy on the eyes. Anyhoo, I hope to be able to keep in touch with a few of them, as it was a nice group of people who I could escape from the uni thing with once in a while.

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

It's about time!

Another something worth a mention…on December 5th, the Civil Partnership Bill will become law in the UK, which means gay and lesbian couples will be “entitled to a range of property rights, the same exemption as married couples on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner’s children.", according to a BBC article.

“At-a-glance: Gay partnerships

Here are the key points of the Civil Partnerships Bill, which allows same-sex couples to get legal recognition for their relationships.

Tying the knot
  • Couples would enter civil partnerships in local registration services
  • Each partner would have to sign the register in the presence of the registration officer and two witnesses
  • There would also be a formal, court-based process for dissolving the partnership

Main partnership rights

  • Social security and pension benefits, including right to benefit from a dead partner’s pension
  • Full recognition for life assurance schemes
  • Ability to succeed to tenancy rights
  • Next-of-kin visiting rights in hospitals


  • Providing reasonable maintenance for civil partners and children of the family
  • Ability to gain parental responsibility for a partner’s children”

Friday, 25 November 2005

Bits and bobs

A Happy Thanksgiving to all, firstly. Trying to think of what I am thankful for this year…perhaps the fact that I’m living overseas and meeting all kinds of new, wonderful and interesting people from so many different places with various perspectives on life. I could say I’m thankful for being at university, but after spending about 10 hours, on and off, sitting at the computer yesterday working on my sustainable tourism essay, I’ll hold off on that. Maybe I’ll be able to say I’m thankful when the degree is complete and I can just kick back for a while.

My Thanksgiving meal consisted of McDonald’s for lunch and Subway for dinner. I’m always amazed when I go into fast food restaurants here, McDonald’s in particular, that people do not clean up after themselves. Trays, wrappers, and coffee cups are littered all over the tables, and the staff have to go around and clean up, despite the fact that they have the same rubbish bins around that we do in the States. I would never think to leave my garbage around for someone else to pick up after there, but it seems commonplace. Ate my Subway in the kitchen here at the residence hall. Joy, one of my fellow ‘housemates’, was cooking dinner, so we had a conversation about Nigeria, where she is from—the people being disadvantaged due to the corruption of the country’s leadership, running water and electricity not being taken for granted as it is not always available, and the difference between how both white and black people are treated in Africa vs. the USA. Another housemate, Hati, who is from Turkey, came in to have me spell/grammar check her assignment for tomorrow which is a paragraph on a past leader in Turkey, named Ataturk (never heard of him). She is a language student and is slowly learning better English. Was hoping to get someone to go over to the bar at the residence hall with me for a pint tonight, as I haven’t checked it out yet, but no takers as of yet.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Can the Brits handle a real winter?

So, the one winter I think I’m going to get away from the Chicago weather…

I can’t picture 20 cm of snow…how many feet is that anyway? All I know is (English friends will have to excuse my comments), these people can’t handle it, mwah-hah-hah…

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Sustainable tourism on the Causeway Coast

Ok, in an effort to kick start my work on this paper I’m doing, going to ramble on here a bit. (Have I mentioned I seem to have writer’s block…grrrrr.) Using a case study, I have to write a paper exploring sustainable tourism in a particular destination. I’ve chosen the Causeway coast in Northern Ireland. Pretty much all of my research to date has been on destinations/tourism in Northern Ireland, mainly because of a) my interest and b) the fact that the destination is growing in popularity, therefore there is so much opportunity for development. So, sustainable tourism can be related to many things—preserving landscape and culture, maintaining and/or creating more efficient ways of operating in regards to money saving measures, as well as environmentally friendly practices. My main interest is the first bit. While in Portrush last year and traveling around to different places in Northern Ireland during the height of the tourist season, I noticed a huge difference in number of tourists and hectic nature of tourist attractions down South vs. up North. The craziness of the South has not yet reached the North, but it will soon enough. The issue then is how will the North maintain it’s landscape and heritage/culture when this does happen. What measures can be taken in preparation? This is part of what I’ll be exploring.

Friday, 18 November 2005

Slight vent

Ok, so it’s almost 2am and as usual, I can’t get to bed, because one of the wankers (well, really he’s the only wanker) i share this section of housing with is in the kitchen with one of the many friends he has over laughing it up. My room is right next to the kitchen, if you didn’t figure that out. I have lightly, jokingly made comments about being woken up at 3 or 4am by this, but it is quite obvious my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m female! Um, I hate to sound racist, but I’m finding out that men from certain countries have absolutely no regard for women, and unfortunately I live with one of them. I’ve tried earplugs and think I may have to resort to sleeping pills so that I can get a decent night’s sleep once in a while…grrrrrrr

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Proper vented tumble dryers at last!

well, i washed two loads of clothes today, then put them in the dryer together for 60 mins on perm press and when i took them out, they were bone dry;) what a time saver! it cost 1.60 (pounds) to wash per load and 1 pound for 60 mins on the dryer (20p per 12 min cycle and you can do as short or long as you like), so it’s pricey, but well worth not having to wait 2-3 days for things to dry while breathing in the dampness…and this means i can wear my nicest jeans out tonight, then wash and dry them tomorrow and wear them again on my date tomorrow night;)

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Yippee...moved and on-line

Happy dance three times over! I’m all moved in, I’m online (so anyone with yahoo messenger…you know the drill), and I’ve got a date on Sunday night. Now, just have to work on all those papers;)

Wednesday, 2 November 2005


So, I’ve finally been able to tie my first degree to my second;) Not that I was ever hugely interested in Wordsworth, but it seems he had quite a huge impact on tourism. With his writings on the English Lake District, he created an interest in tourism. His writings could be considered as the first tourist brochures for the area. As a result, the Lake District became a very popular tourist destination for the English, with people going for long holidays of up to a fortnight stay. When this occurred, he took a bit of a double take, and became part of the first conservation movement, writing to newspapers as well as Parliament, appealing for sustainability in the region by requesting that the railways be kept from entering the Lake District. It worked:) Seems I’ll have to visit this area at some point in order to get a proper reference;)


Happy belated Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead. Halloween is seen as an American holiday here that is slowly creaping in, despite the fact that it was originally a pagan holiday which began in the UK. The landlady doesn’t do halloween—one of the people here who has a dislike for it, so I was home alone last night with no candy. The doorbell only rang twice and the first time, I had forgotten the holiday and went to the door not sure who it would be. As I only have keys for the back door, I had to quickly run and get them, along with my last packet of oreo cookies, which I handed to the father of three little ones, saying “how about some american cookies to share between you”, letting them know the lady of the house wasn’t in, hence the delay. The response from the dad when he saw what they were was a big “Brilliant!!! Tell the nice lady thank you.” Good stuff.

Monday, 31 October 2005

I'm outtie!!!

Well, I’ve just signed a contract for…student accomodation. And I start moving in tomorrow:) Now, I just have to tell Paulette, which won’t be fun, and I’m guessing she’ll keep my deposit as I’m not giving two weeks notice, but it’s worth it. I’ll be in a small room with a twin bed, sharing a kitchen with four other people, three of whom I’ve yet to meet, but at least I’ll have my own bathroom and there’s a bar and shop on site…and best of all, I’ll have wirelsss internet in my room. Happy days! The place is an old brewery and is only a 5-10 minute walk from where I am now, so I won’t have to switch GP or learn my way around a new area. Can’t wait! Who would have thought I’d be moving into a dorm room, so to speak, at 29;) I’ll forward my new address later on. Wish me luck in telling P.

Oh, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Will post more later on how I celebrated.

Monday, 24 October 2005

Globalization is Good

Have you ever boycotted a product or company? Have you stopped buying products made in Vietnam or Taiwan? Maybe you shouldn’t. By doing so, you might be contributing to the continuance of poverty in these countries. This was the message in a program we watched today as part of my International Tourism and Globalization module. The message was that the anti-globalization movement is the enemy of the poor. Now, this is a highly biased message, but there were many points worth a ponder, I think. We often picture under-paid workers in sweatshops when we think of Nike shoes made in Vietnam, but did you know that the monthly rate of pay for a worker in the Nike factory in Vietnam is $54/month, as opposed to the local average of $18/month for most other jobs, which affords the worker a much better quality of life and contributes to the overall economy of Vietnam being on the rise. American multi-nationals, on average, pay eight times more than local companies. Nike workers also receive free or subsidized meals as well as company sponsored activities. Another way Nike is helping Vietnam is by giving micro loans to local people wanting to start these own businesses. This is paving the way for the industrialization of the country. Anti-globalization protestors would have you think otherwise, and perhaps sway you to boycott these products. On one hand, the protestors are most likely holding these companies responsible by raising awareness and in doing so, holding them accountable for their practices, but they will not tell you that in the past 15 years, the amount of people living in poverty in Vietnam has been halved. According to this program, one way countries remain poor is as a result of resisting globalization.

What do you think of the government subsidizing farmers? The European Union (EU) spends half of their budget on farmers! This ends up having a detrimental effect on farmers in Kenya, as there is so much foreign product imported that they can not sell what they themselves grow, and are kept in poverty. It takes away their change to compete, especially since the EU import tariffs are so high that Kenyan farmers can not afford to sell their products to European countries.

Your views?

Sunday, 23 October 2005

A crap weekend

I was homesick for the first time since arriving today. It was simply a crap day. I was the object of Paulette’s verbal abuse. Nancy and I haven’t been too helpful recently in the kitchen as far as washing up dishes after dinner (She initially only asked us to clean up after ourselves in the morning, so my assumption was that evening dishes were optional, hence the slacking…that in addition to not really feeling like helping someone out who yells at her tenants. Both of us pretty much quit a couple of weeks ago when she started going off on Nancy over things I’ve previously mentioned.). Anyway, Paulette hasn’t said much about it to date, but she had a big blowout at me this evening around 9pm over it, telling me I was the main culprit (this after I cleaned up the kitchen after her baking when she went out this afternoon) and placing a warmed up tv dinner on the table for me while preparing a roast for herself, making sure to say that she purposely shopped for the nastiest looking convenience food to teach us a lesson. I really lost it, as I had a tiring week at uni. It’s 3:30am and I’m still up. Really needed a wind down this weekend and am just finishing up some work on a project I had planned to do tomorrow because I know I’ll be sleeping in. I do think I’m going to opt out of the meal portion of the lease and get my own, higher cost or not, simply so I don’t have to sit down to dinner with this woman, etc. I miss my cat and the warmth of home today. I’m sick of people who have no regard for the feelings of others. Hopefully I can find another place to live soon.

Friday, 21 October 2005


If only I could sleep the way kids do:( I’ve been up very very late tossing and turning about 3 nights this week, I think. My eyes sting today. Need to do something about how I respond to stress, as I’m stressing out over the possibility of stressing out and keeping myself awake worrying about not getting enough sleep. It’s silly, as the work is challenging, but not impossible. I need some positive vibes or something…

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Are we better off, and if so, what are we sacrificing?

So many of the Americans I know who have moved to the UK (either for work, relationships, uni, or a combination) have sited quality of life as the reason for a permanent move. Yes, things do move at a slower pace here, and depending on where you live (certainly not London) and what you do, it is easier to have a work-life balance which makes one happier and healthier. On the other hand, I spent about two hours in total today getting from home into the city center, shopping for a 5-subject notebook (eventually buying a notebook with 200 pages and some post-it notes to make divisions), going to the health food shop to get some echinacea tea, and finding a place that would unlock my new (well, new to me) mobile phone then waiting 30 minutes for them to do so, then back on foot to the university to do homework, as that is where the internet is. If I settled here permanently, I could have the internet at home and buy a car, which would speed things up a bit, but of course there is still the laundry to do which is going to take 2 days to dry unless I purchase an ‘American dryer’ at a possible cost of £800 (I still can’t believe they cost that much, then again I don’t know the cost at home, never having had to buy household appliances). So, is the trade off worth it? Granted, there are more differences than I’ve just mentioned, or maybe just more detail as to the differences in attitude which bring about the differences in lifestyle. But, what is the trade off? Again, is it worthwhile? I know quite a few of you have had the opportunity to live in or are from other countries. What do you miss about them now that you’re back in the States? What do you appreciate more about the US (or your home country)?

Monday, 17 October 2005

Taiwan and course reps

Just got out of a session in which one of the Chinese students gave an oral presentation on a part of China. At the end, she showed a map of China which included all of the provinces. She finished by saying very firmly, but with a smile, about three times in a row, that Taiwan is not a country, but a province of China. Interesting.

I’ve volunteered to be the course representative to the student union for my program. Basically, it simply involves bringing any concerns from the group to a couple of yearly meetings between the student union and the staff of the course. Thought it would be good to (finally) get involved in something voluntary. Might help my CV as well;)

Sunday, 16 October 2005

The last night in a typical weekend

Sunday night and am in at about 9pm, after spending the day out with Steve & Paula, shopping then having tea at their place. We went to Costco, where they have Skippy peanut butter and Oreo cookies, or Oreo biscuits, as they call them here. Mmmmm, Oreos. I’m absolutely stuffed! Starting week 4 of big school tomorrow; much enjoyed my 3 day weekend (Friday class was moved to Thursday last week). The White Rose Shopping centre was much like an American mall; we even had Subway in the food court for lunch. It was so lovely to have a soda with ice in it, as most places don’t serve ice in soft drinks. My big purchase of the day was white knee socks for my catholic schoolgirl Halloween costume, for £2.99. A few classmates are planning a dress up night out on the town the weekend before All Hallow’s Eve, which should be fun. Halloween isn’t as much celebrated here as it is in the States, although it is becoming more Americanized, which is a bit odd as it began as a pagan holiday here.

Random useless facts:
  • Pepperidge Farm Godlfish are called Finz here and come in salt & vinegar flavor.
  • The letter Z is only referred to as “zee” in the US; everywhere else it is called “zed”.

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Saturday Night

Spending Saturday night watching tele and reading through the Guardian. I can’t say enough about this newspaper. If you get a chance, I think Borders has foreign newspapers, so have a peek. Not sure about Barnes & Noble. They tend to sell out pretty fast at the local shop, so last Saturday I didn’t get one as I didn’t get out early enough. Been looking forward to it all week, and I never read the paper at home.

Going to a nearby mall called the White Rose Center tomorrow with Steve & Paula. Indoor malls are not very common here, so it’s a bit of a treat. As a refresher, Steve is a born & bred Yorkshire man and Paula is from Michigan. They met on-line, were married and she moved here about 6 years ago, they live about 10 minutes away from me and also, were the ones who picked me up from the airport in Manchester when I got here. Great people and have been very helpful in getting me settled, etc. They’re in their 50’s and according to Paula, the only thing keeping them from making a final decision on whether to retire here or in the States is health care. It’s completely free here—the only issue is wait listing for some procedures. On the other hand, with each of them having some health issues, they might not be able to get any health care beyond Medicare in the States without huge cost involved, most likely, so she said unless things change in the States (wishful thinking), they might just be staying put.

Went into the city center today to go to uni and get some homework done, get on-line etc. I think I got out just in time, as it was about 5pm and people were just starting to arrive for dinner and nights out. Leeds gets incredibly packed on Saturday nights as people come in from nearby towns for all the restaurants and pubs. I’d rather be going in the other direction myself. Fingers crossed, I’ll have a few days and weekends out with my classmates soon. We’re talking about going to York Wednesday and Newcastle on a weekend in November. I’m really keen to see where Sting is from;)

Friday Night

Can’t believe I’m doing homework at midnight on a Friday:( Well, I can’t really complain, as I did just get back from the cinema and am actually enjoying the homework. Went to see an excellent movie called Kinky Boots, about a shoe factory in Northhampton on the decline until the owner finds his new customer niche, drag queens. It’s actually a true story, too. Probably won’t be out in the states anytime soon, but I highly recommend it if it does come around.
I’m pretty sure Nancy is going to be moving out next week. She and Paulette have been arguing the past few days over some translation work Nancy was to have done. Seems there was a miscommunication between them and it wasn’t done properly, so there will be no payment. I can see both sides, but it’s a sticky situation and has put both of them in a bad spot. Paulette has her own business, and the work was for a client of hers. Nancy had some friends helping her with the work, and now they won’t be paid and are mad at Nancy. I don’t think it’s a smart idea to work for people you live with;)

Am thinking of going to the Republic of Ireland for a week at Christmas. I’d like to do something for the holidays, and I won’t have the time to come home, what with my schoolwork, plus…um, yeah, I need to do research for my dissertation. Just kidding…my dissertation will definitely be on Northern Ireland, although seeing more of the South would be good for comparison as to what the North is like know and what it could become if tourism continues to grow there. I might like to work on some aspect of sustainable tourism on the North Antrim coast for the dissertation…maybe social impact assessment, although the tutor who teaches in this area says there’s no money in that and we’re all better off doing something related to marketing, hr or…I don’t remember, something else that sounded boring. Then again, tourism is all about making money, so that makes more sense; I just can’t see spending all of three months working on something that doesn’t appeal to me.

I think I’m finally getting the hang of the laundry. Did two loads this week, two days apart, hung the clothes on the radiator in the bedroom, hallway, over the footboard of the bed, and on the clothes basket, and as things dried, moved what wasn’t on the radiators onto them. Things dried overnight, so that’s at least better.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Country facts

Some facts I learned in Marketing yesterday:

•In Sweden, it is illegal to market to children. (This means there are no toy commercials on TV!)
•In Slovenia, if you want to open and/or work in a tourist agency, you must have a university degree in Tourism.
•It is a law in Israel that all apartments (long-term and holiday rentals) and automobiles must have air conditioning.

Monday, 10 October 2005

Might be time to move

My landlady’s behavior is getting a bit more rash and Jeckyl vs. Hyde-like. (Did I spell those right?) I’m doing a little research on other options and will probably make a decision next week. The last straw was yesterday at 11p.m., when Paulette had gotten home and noticed that the tap in the bathroom/tub was left running. She proceeded to bang (hard) on my door while yelling “Um, excuse me!!! Did you take a bath tonight?” I never take baths at night, Nancy does, which she knows. I didn’t even go to the door—just said no. Then she went and pounded on Nancy’s door, got her out of bed, and proceeded to yell at her, things such as: “This is bull___!!! Do you know how much water costs?! I’m so angry!! This is something a 5-year old would do. It’s completely unacceptable!!!” and on and on. I finally went out just so Nancy wouldn’t have to bear the burden of the yelling alone, and I was really angry that anyone should be spoken to like that. Paulette ranted on a bit more, at both of us, saying how generous she tries to be, etc. Nancy just had her head down with tears in her eyes (keep in mind she’s 38 and being spoken to like a child). I’ve just really had it. The rent is a fabulous deal which I won’t get anywhere else, but I don’t do crazy. On top of that, dinner has gotten later and later (sometimes not til 9pm or later) and of poorer quality and Paulette just doesn’t make us feel welcome in her home (not to mention she’s the loudest British person I know!), so I’m outtie in as short a time as possible, hopefully no more than 3 weeks. Feeling a bit frustrated today….

Sunday, 9 October 2005

As the days go by...

To help you all understand my change of moods these days: (was written by a fellow expat, perhaps the same one who wrote the British Consulate guide to American women below)

Day 1
Dear Diary, Scotland just takes my breath away. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. The buildings are older than anything we have in America. I am surrounded in culture and history and I’m loving it. I can’t understand the accent here very well, but I know I’ll catch on. This is going to be great.

Day 5
My things don’t fit into my new place, but I can downsize. I got to wear my new rain coat because it’s raining again and I must say I looked great waiting for my train. It was a bit wet and cold, but I feel like I’ve stepped into some romantic Lifetime movie. It took me 30 minutes to get my hamburger at Burger King, but I don’t mind. The pace of life is much slower here, unlike the rat race in America. I’m hanging my laundry outside to dry so I can help conserve energy and save the environment. I feel so proud to be doing my part.

Day 14
My bathroom is charming. It is very small and I have to close the door so there is room for my knees when I sit down on the toilet, but it’s so adorable. I don’t have a stand up shower, but it’s relaxing to sit down in a warm tub after a long day. It only adds 20 minutes to my daily routine to take a bath. It’s so cute how none of my rooms have closets. I feel so European. I can’t wait to tell my friends back home. I had to bag my own groceries at the supermarket tonight and I couldn’t find any Oreos or pickles, but that’s ok. I think I’ll find another grocery store that carries these things and also bags my stuff for me.

Day 17
I’ve had 12 cups of tea today. Maybe I should switch to decaf. I would sure love some Oreos. Maybe I’ll check some other stores to see if they are in stock. I’ve lost 5 pounds from all this walking, and I’m nursing a cold from standing in the rain at the station every day. I can’t find anything familiar to watch on TV, but I did find a soap opera to watch where everyone is extremely dramatic — you know, depressed and crying a lot in every episode.

Day 19
I’m having PMS. Where the hell are the goddamn Oreos? Screw the tea, I want a Mountain Dew and some Doritos. It took so long to take a bath this morning, I missed the train. I’m feeling as depressed as those actors on TV. My panties blew off the clothesline into the yard of the old man next door. I am too embarrassed to go pick them up.

Day 27
Who designed these godforsaken homes? If the walls weren’t made of brick, I’d have knocked out a wall to make room for a frickin’ closet. If it doesn’t stop raining soon, I’m going to build an ark. I broke down and ordered Oreos online. It’s only going to cost me $43 dollars to have them delivered to the house. Sounds reasonable.

Day 32
My spouse got the bill for the Oreos and punched a hole in the kitchen wall. I asked him to punch a few more holes because it makes the place feel a little bit bigger to have the extra inch of space. He told me that if I don’t straighten up my whiny American attitude, he’s calling immigration to have me deported back to the US. He also wants to know why the old man next door dropped by to return my panties.

Day 35
The Oreos arrived today. Ahhhh. Scotland just takes my breath away. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, isn’t it?

Saturday, 8 October 2005

Change of mind

Fuck the smaller dryer. It’s raining today and is going to take either a) 3 hours to dry 4 pairs of jeans in the dryer (which will really wear them) or b) 2 days to dry them on the radiator in the bedroom, then 20 minutes of ironing. Today…this country sucks and the people seem like hillbillies. Remind me why I’m here. I can make more money in the States and have full size appliances…and closets. My landlady is driving me nutes talking about how she should be cooking dinner for a husband and children, not students, and I haven’t heard from the man in about a week. Did I mention there are no closets here??

Friday, 7 October 2005

Bricks and light bulbs

Now that you’ve all laughed hysterically at the ridiculous size of the fridge and washer, I’ll have to share with you the fact that the British are much more concerned with energy efficiency than we are, hence the smaller appliances. Just got out of my Sustainable Tourism module, in which I learned, among other things, that:

•Putting a plastic-wrapped brick in the toilet tank will save water as the tank won’t fill up quite as full.
•Many toilets in Europe now come equipped with two separate flushes, so dependent on what you need to flush, you use less water.
•An energy efficient light bulb will last for 8,000 hours, whereas an ordinary cheap light bulb only lasts 1,000. A large hotel in Leeds recently saved £30,000 per year by changing all of the light bulbs/fittings in the hotel for energy efficient bulbs.
•You can wash better by always using a lower temperature and organic detergent. (Which, may I add, I have known for years…you can no longer laugh at me for washing everything on delicate and using Ecover.)

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Racism, Gaydar and Class-ism

Nothing offends me more than when people assume that just because I’m white, I tolerate racism and racist comments. The other night, when Paulette was out and Nancy and I were having our chat, she out of the blue asked me if it bothered me to live with a black person. I was gobsmacked and responded with “no, why, what about you?” She then said she was surprised when she arrived and if I had been black as well, she would have found another place to live. Glad to know she likes me based on my best qualities, hey? I was then asked if black people were different than white people in the States, which I was again taken a bit aback by. How does one respond? Yes, in some ways, we do have different culture and we tend to unnecessarily segregate ourselves from each other, but are we different…no, not really. Of course, I didn’t mention any of this to Paulette, because she doesn’t need to know. It wouldn’t do any good. She could kick Nancy out, and be left feeling hurt by the experience, since (despite some heated fights over “the rules” and the food) Nancy has befriended Paulette and vice versa. In some situations, ignorance is better.

My gaydar seems to be completely off over here. The men who I think are gay turn out to be straight as an arrow and the ones who wouldn’t raise an eyebrow…are. Overall, Leeds does seem to be a very tolerant city, which is good, but I’ve been told that small town England is as closed-minded as redneck America. Speaking of rednecks, the phrase came up last night when we were sitting around at B’s apartment (one of my fellow students, who is from Slovenia). One of her male friends, who is of Pakistani origin (but born in England) was talking about his experiences with white British people in his hometown. What was interesting was that the English student, S, immediately assumed redneck was a reference to working class people. She and I had been talking earlier comparing class-ism in England and America. There’s much to learn.

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

A year on

As I was copying some cds to my laptop this weekend, I noticed them being listed as ‘Unknown album 10/1’ and thought it very strange until later in the day when it hit me that it was actually October, in fact. Hard to believe it’s been a year since I returned from Northern Ireland. What a year.

Things are getting just a tad more difficult here, although still good. The work is a bit overwhelming at times…especially my Marketing class. That class is a real challenge for me, as it’s content I don’t enjoy, which means making more of an effort, and I’ve always been one to put very little effort into things which don’t do it for me. I’ll have to say that my years at the Association were very beneficial in that all of the concepts I’m being introduced to in my classes I’ve at least done some practical work on or been exposed to. I was able to take part in some many different tasks and projects relating to marketing/branding, product development, public policy, conferencing, etc. And no, I am not waxing nostalgic;) It’s simply good to know when the tutor for Tourism Politics & Policy is speaking on about different methods of tourism policy that it is, to an extent, a bunch of ‘mental masturbation’ (as a very intelligent, professional co-worker once referred to our endless meetings about meetings at work). I do really enjoy most of my classes, though, including the politics & policy module. I’ve turned into one of those annoying mature students that used to drive me nuts on my undergrad degree. Realized this today as I was replying to an email from the professor and gave him a link to an article on Mayor Daley bulldozing Meigs Field in response to his position that pluralism (all organizations having an equal stake in tourism decision making, such as big business, interest groups, government, residents, etc) is the most widely used and positive method of tourism policy making. Thought he might find it interesting…that doesn’t make me too much of a nerd, does it? (P.S. Don’t forget, tutor = professor.)

A classmate got hacked off with a comment I made the other day in our Action Learning module. Our course leader had us review newspaper articles in small groups and summarize for the rest of the group, discussing effectiveness, validity, etc. Well, Shuchao (pronounced shoe-chow) and I chose a bit on New Orleans. The bit we worked on was under the heading ‘America’ in a section on recent events. When I began to discuss the bit, I was asked by the tutor if I thought the title ‘America’ was accurate. I knew where he was going, but said yes, as that is what it is commonly referred to. When I further responded that yes, I would identify myself as American if asked my nationality, he then asked how I would describe Mariella, a fellow classmate from Peru, and I said South America. She wasn’t too happy about that, and thus began a bit of a heated tirade about the arrogance of people from the U.S.A. claiming the title American for themselves. It’s something I’ve never really thought twice on, and made a point of saying that I only identify myself as American if asked my nationality when traveling abroad, as that is the response people expect to hear, not Italian, or Irish, or Welsh.

Ok, on a lighter note, I have a fieldtrip to a place called Saltaire next week, which is in the nearby town of Bradford.

Gotta love a degree that takes you on day trips to places like Scarborough ( and the North York Moors National Park (

Going out on the town tonight with some classmates (much needed)…for drinkies at a local bar, then on to a nightclub that plays…hmmm, go figure, R&B/soul. I’m surprised at the fascination with this over more contemporary mainstream. No complaint, as I like it, but it’s surprising that 60s and 70s music seems to supercede contemporary pop here at the clubs. Went to a very fun bar Saturday night called Mojo’s and while they did play some current stuff, they also went all over the place from the Undertones, Buzzcocks and Blondie (all good) to the Beach Boys, Elvis and Simon & Garfunkel (all yuck), with a little Michael Jackson thrown in for good measure. One just can not get away from the Michael Jackson! On another related note, I swear, the girls here dress like prostitutes! They walk down the street in skirts that look like extra wide belts or trousers that show belly and hipbones, with skimpy tops and heels that they obviously are having trouble walking in, arms tightly wrapped around themselves, shivering. Saw one girl dancing with a street cleaning machine, completely drunk by 11pm. As many clubs here are only open until 1 or 2am, there is an increasing problem in the UK with binge drinking, as people rush to consume as much as possible as quickly as possible, with some clubs offering drink specials in the earlier hours. Fortunately for me, I’ve learned over the past year and a half that living with other people, at least in my case, is great motivation for not coming home drunk. Not that there’s such a thing as a pleasant hangover, but hangovers must be dealt with in solitude. I miss living alone;)

Interesting factoid…the classmate who understands me the least and is always asking me to repeat myself is the only English student.



Hacked off = Pissed off

Pissed = Drunk

Knackered = Tired

Cheers = Thanks

For more:

And at Uni:

Tutor = Professor

Module = Class/Course

Course = Program/Degree

Term = Semester

University = College/University (College here is something you go to before University…along the lines of high school)

Bits and Bobs:

Just finished doing laundry. Fingers crossed it won’t rain today. Thought you might enjoy seeing pics of the fridge and washer. As you can see, the fridge is much smaller than what we’re used to (as the brits say, we have fridge/freezers large enough to store a dead relative.) and the washer/dryer (all in one machine, yes) is hidden behind a cabinet in the kitchen.

Thursday, 29 September 2005

A free day

Well, for the second time since I’ve started hanging my clothes out, they are being drenched by rain. By the time I noticed it was raining, it was too late to bother going out to collect everything, especially since the clothes were still wet to begin with. Oh well, I guess they’ll only be partly clean.

Finally made it to the GP today to finish registering; this consisted of a 15-minute session with the nurse. She seemed very impressed and pleased that I’d brought my lab results from my last yearly with me—said it normally takes 30 days to get them from a patient’s previous GP in the UK!!!

Paulette is baking a traditional English cake and it smells amazing. She’s made one about once a week since I arrived. Keeping my door closed seems to now be working, as she knows I’m studying;)

Have spent the last hour or so trying to muck through a 12-page article on tourism policy making in urban areas, with special reference to small businesses. Had to start the article over completely after I was about four pages into it, as I realized I hadn’t understood the first couple of pages at all. I think I now have a vague idea of some of the notions, which is important, as the instructor wrote it and will most likely expect discussion next week. The reading lists given out in my courses are ridiculously unrealistic, as one course contained about 10 recommended texts, 15 suggested, 12 journals and about 10 websites. If I were to read everything, or even half, it would be all I’d be doing, so I’m trying to choose wisely…and minimally;) I do think my slightly half-assed attitude/way of doing things will be beneficial to my stress levels on this degree. I’m going to be very curious to see how others on the course study.

Modified to add: The cake was for her friend:( And we didn’t have dinner until 10p.m., as Paulette was out running errands. Nancy (the Chinese student’s English name) and I spent the time commiserating about the house rules, etc;) This, of course, after Nancy woke me up from a blissful nap. Ah, roomates…

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Stairwells and fitness centres

Just got out of a 40 minute fitness centre “induction”, which consisted of watching a video. Have a headache…

After a month here, I find I’m still furtively glancing both ways before crossing the street. I’ve almost got it down. Along the same lines, people are constantly dancing in the stairwells of the library, as so many of us are international students and aren’t really sure which side to walk on. I was always taught to walk on the right in grammar school…guess I should ask someone what the rule is here;)


Tuesday, 27 September 2005

First day of "big school"

Well, I had my first actual class today. It’s broken up into 1 hour of lecture, an hour break, then two hours of what they call workshop, which basically means more lecture with class participation. This is something very new for some of the students, as they are used to listening to lecture, copying down exactly what the professor says, then repeating that verbatim on end of term exams. There is much encouragment on critical thinking and class participation/giving one’s opinion here.

For the first few weeks, we have what is called Action Learning, a 2 hour session Monday afternoons with our course leader. For next week, our assignment is to list our strengths and weaknesses in the areas of our academic, personal and professional life, and come up with some ways to improve the weaknesses. The action part, which is to improve the weaknesses, will take part over the rest of the term, partially in our group of nine and then individually with the course leader. If I can come away from this degree with my serious fear of public speaking down, or at least minimized, I’ll be happy. Wish they had had this at the undergraduate level. I am quick becoming of the mind that British education is far superior to that in the states.

My landlady is quickly “getting on my tits”, as they would say here. Very nice, helpful lady…good cook…BUT absolutely talks me to death, and she’s having man troubles (which means the man she had for an entire week sacked her…means dumped her…and she’s obsessing over it). Called me twice during the day today, while I was at uni. The first time I called her back, thinking it might be something important; the second time, I didn’t even check the message. A closed door means “me time”, which I need plenty of, and when I’m at uni, don’t call;) I shall get the message across or be looking for new accomodations if it all becomes too much:) I don’t have much tolerance for a 40 year old woman looking for a man as her vehicle to babies and happiness.

Anyhoo, back to the fun stuff. My class this morning was International Tourism & Globalization, and the instuctor actually managed to hold my attention for the entire 3 hours. Very interesting stuff. Things I thought I knew a lot about I really don’t. I have to do a project on tourism trends in an international destination and I’ve chosen Belfast, Northern Ireland as it’s 1) a place i’ve been to and have a passion for, 2) it’s a changing and growing destination and 3) a place most people don’t consider going, but should! I’ve been starting to research tourism statistics—who goes there, why, how long do they stay, what is tourism’s impact on the destination, both negative and positive….environmentally, socio-culturally, and economic. I do think it will be a busy semester, but hopefully all new and interesting things to learn. (Remind me of this when I am stressed out and crying on everyone’s shoulders.)

Now that you are entirely bored of hearing about my studies, I’ll be off. Hopefully some more interesting non-school news to follow.


Saturday, 24 September 2005

Flags and...

Well, hello all. I’ve been very busy with my second week of induction, this one specifically for my course/program. There are nine of us on the MA course in Tourism so far, which is great, since we’ll all get to know each other very well. So far, it seems to be a good mix of personalities and cultures. We have 4 students from China, one from Peru, one from Italy, one from Slovenia, a lone Brit who’ll be arriving next week, and myself. We’ve had presentations from all of our tutors (professors to you back home) on the individual modules (classes) that comprise the course. Some are mandatory (things like Tourism Politics & Policy, as well as International Tourism & Globalization), others we must pick 2 of 3 (I’m taking International Marketing Strategy this semester and a Human Resource Management class next semester), and we also have 2 electives (Sustainable Tourism is my choice for semester one and I’ll hopefully take E-tourism next term). I’m a bit overwhelmed with how much work this is going to entail. It doesn’t help to have tutors making comments like: “You’ll spend more time in the library than you will in bed.” and “A moment spent stressed is a moment wasted.” (That last comment was made by a woman we have all decided we disliked straight away.) Overall, the tutors are very helpful and considerate of what we wish to get out of the course. I’m really impressed by how much has been put into the last two weeks as far as orienting us and showing special concern for the needs of the international students. Some have very limited English, so it will be especially difficult for them. I’m lucky in that I have no language barrier, I’m not homesick, and I’ve been exposed to British culture, etc. before. Having a degree in English won’t hurt either, although I do feel the students from the EU have it above me on the research skills. Here, one has to complete a dissertation for an undergraduate degree as well!

We have a new student in our house who arrived last weekend from China. She is 38, married with one child, and is here for one term to improve her English, as she teaches English back home. Very nice lady…and am learning some interesting things about China, especially the one child policy. Because she works for the government, she is required to have an IUD and every three months go for a scan (ultrasound) to make sure that it is still in and that she is not pregnant. If she were to become pregnant, she would either have to have an abortion or lose her job and pay a hefty one-time fine for having another child. I asked if she would like to have more children if she could, and she gave a big wide-eyed no. I think she has enough to contend with having her husband, daughter and mother-in-law around;)

Had a field trip to a wee six flags wannabe theme park (i can’t help the snobby american coming out at times) and must do a short presentation on it in about a half an hour (is is a successful tourism attraction, what could be improved, how might it be more sustainable, etc). Booooring!


Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Something fun

Not sure if this will make sense to all of you, but it is a fun little piece of writing by a fellow expat.

Bad bad humour, but…along the lines of different names for things, ahem…i was walking to the post office/nearby shop last night to get some milk and noticed i was on…Cockshott Lane. I seriously do not know who decides place names around here, but some are quite crude. At the bbq the other day, i was informed about some others that i won’t mention;)

Sunday, 18 September 2005

Dinner parties and sultanas

Paulette had a 39 forever dinner party last night with a few friends, as she is turning 40 Monday. I love seeing how other people do presentation and she is certainly fabulous at it. Have attached a few pics to show. The theme was black and white, and the decorations, food, and clothing…and guests haha, followed suit;) Great meal!

Odd note: many words for foods are different here. I’m not sure why, or how that came to be, but they seem to have more flowery and/or pretty words for things, such as sultanas (raisins), aubergine (eggplant) and courgettes (zucchini).

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Laundry and petrol

Well, the libraries here are certainly not noted for silence. The librarians are chatting away and there is also some kind of city hall/services thing here. Loads of parents with little kiddies with very strong lungs today! Ah…a big crash…one of them just took a rather harsh tumble. Hmmm, and I was under the impression the kids over here were better behaved.

My university induction began yesterday. It was just the new students for the Tourism & Hospitality School, which numbered about 80. Great group of people, from all over the world…Trinidad, Jordan, Singapore, France, Germany, South Africa, Lebanon, India, China, and on…. I skipped a day trip to York today in order to finally take care of some on-line business and get the laundry done. Laundry here is a bit of a process. First of all, the dryers simply don’t work. I haven’t quite figured out the point of having one. Everything must be hung out, which means it can’t be raining, or about to rain, although most people here seem to be of the opinion that if the clothes get rained on, you simply leave them out to dry again.

Ran out of time, so here I am a day later…and some of my clothes still aren’t dry. Have to bring them in at night if they aren’t dry so the night air doesn’t get them musty smelling. I’ve finally consented to hang my knickers on the line (how embarressing…i haven’t yet met some of the neighbors but there are my bloomers for all of them to see!). Needs must though, as things seem to take 2-3 days to dry indoors.

Ok, enough of the laundry. Finally made it up and out early enough to get to the local branch of the surgery, as they call it, to register with a GP. Filled out a form, but will not yet officially be registered until I have an initial appointment with the nurse. They were full up today and it’s not possible to make appointments ahead of time, so I will have to call at 8am on the day I want to go and hope they have something available. Still waiting on my bank documents to come in the mail as well. Can’t apply with the university job shop until I have that info. Ah, the joys of a slower paced society.

Paulette had a lovely dinner party friday night and invited the new neighbors next door. Very nice couple…proper Yorkshire folks. I opened the door for the fella and he came in saying: “Ah, are ya alright luv?” and I thought why is this man asking if I’m alright, but I guess that’s their way of saying “Hi, how are you?” I’m properly enjoying the accent around here. A lot of ‘me’ and ‘were’…..”Me bruver” (the th in words like brother seems to end up a v sound and an f sound in other words) and “It were real nice.” Fun stuff.

Paulette and I went out to ASDA (originally formed my some dairy farmers…Associated Dairy….now owned by Wal-mart) last night to get petrol as it seems to be running out. I haven’t read up on the news, so not entirely sure why; there was some talk of local farmers blocking the way of the tankers due to the rising cost of gas as well as talk of the New Orleans disaster having an effect. We had to queue up in a line of half a dozen cars waiting our turn and many of the pumps were out of service. Interesting…

Friday, 9 September 2005

On to week two

I’ve actually managed to skip a day on-line (yesterday) and spend the time doing & hanging wash and reading in the garden. Knock on wood, the weather has been exceptional—sunny and in the 70s pretty much since I got here, with only one rainy day, and that was only a couple of hours at most. Have a bbq to go to this Saturday at a fellow expats home in a nearby town. One couple is bringing a covered tent/gazebo with a space heater…just in case;)

It’s been a good week. Have gotten most of my tasks done. Still haven’t made it to the GP, as the local branch office is only open from 8:30-10:30am. Maybe next week when I have to get up early to get to the uni anyway…

Paulette, my housemate, is having a dinner party tomorrow night, so I’ll be attemping to do some baking in an English oven with American recipes. Hopefully I can get all the proper ingredients here as well. They don’t have corn syrup (for my oatmeal pie) and I’ve been told I need to buy a special type of sugar that is more fine. I’ll get to meet the neighbors and Paulett’s new fella…Hepburn. And yes, that’s his first name. I’m very curious to know what the other 9 children in his family are named!

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

More adventures

Well, I think I obtained a bank account today. I went in with all of my documentation, handed it over along with my filled out application, they made copies, handed back my originals, and told me I would receive my bank account information in the mail soon. Go figure. Only in England.

I will hopefully be registering with a GP later on today. I was a bit skeptical last week as when I reached the address I had for the doctor’s office, it was simply a house with a sign out front. I’ve been assured that is the way over here—that one waits in the living room and goes back to a bedroom for the exam. Sounds odd to me. We’ll see.

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Adventures in England

i’m on day 4 of trying to get a bank account. you see, i picked a particular bank who has locations in the states as i thought that might make things easier upon a move back. on day 1, i was told i had to go on-line to download the paperwork for an international student account, fill it out and bring it back. on day 2, i returned to ask if i could do it all there, as i didn’t have internet access yet. they said no, with a big grin, and i decided…screw them…poor customer service = no new customer;) upon returning home and telling my housemate what happened (she’s the one who told me to go back and demand to do it all in person), she promptly rang up the bank’s call center and asked what their policy was, and was told i should be able to go into any branch to open an account right then and there. day 3—paulette (my housemate/landlord) took me to the local branch of the bank, who was all set to open an my account, until i showed them my lease, which they determined wasn’t sufficient for proof of address and sent me away to get my university acceptance letter re-issued with my UK address and phone number. so, here we are on day 4 and i am soon off to the uni to pick up new new letter. wish me luck on monday back at the bank;)

paulette has poked fun at me as, after only 72 hours in the country, i’ve gotten/exchanged two phone numbers—one from an 80ish year old woman from malta who’s lived in leeds for 60 years (met her british soldier husband during ww2) who has since called to see how i’m doing and another from a 31 year old fellow i met at a 60s soul music dance club who has not called (grateful for that, actually).

last night, we headed out to the local ramblers monthly pub meet and met a few interesting characters. paulette, who advised me that all the members would be retired and have beards (and that would be just the women) was pleasantly surprised to find it was a young person’s group and has since hooked up for a lift to an 8 mile walk on saturday. hmmm, i think i’ll start off with a nice 2-4 mile ramble after being a couch potato for most of the past year.

on saturday night, i’ll be meeting up with a group of about 15-20 american expats (mostly moved here for marriage) for dinner and drinks. i’ve known most of these people on-line for a year and a half and one couple actually were kind enough to pick me up from the airport when i arrived on monday.

well, will hopefully have pics to share soon. take care all.


p.s. bad british humour…a joke i heard yesterday with new definitions for old words:

arsenic = to have one’s buttocks stolen

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Arrived safe

i’m here safe and settling in. feeling a bit homesick, but trying to muddle through. got my library card, student metro pass (bus/rail), and am working on some other tasks like opening a bank account, etc. leeds ain’t all that as a city, but i’m hoping to get out to the countryside at least by early next week for a few days trips. more later.