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.