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.