Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Done done done!

I am officially and completely done with the semester AND exams!  Huzzah!  Pretty sure I passed everything, although a couple of those essays were not pretty creatures, let me tell you.  For the History one I didn't know nearly enough, despite a solid 5 days of studying, and for the Conservation Biology one, I knew too much.  Can you believe that?  And I barely studied.  Seriously, I studied for one afternoon, and I knew everything I was reading over, so I just stopped.  And I got to that final and chose my question and realised it was more of a question for a 10 page paper.  How does one condense that much info into two hours?  I don't know.  It was a disorganised sort of train wreck, but it was full of, "OH MY GOSH LOOK HOW MUCH I KNOW" so maybe things won't be too bad.

Anyway, it was really hard studying for finals when everyone else was already done, which is probably why my essay yesterday was not very good either- I really, really couldn't actually be bothered to revise.  I mean, I did read my notes and clarify some stuff, and I can name the Epochs in order... and I can tell you when some mass extinctions occured.  But I can't tell you when anything specific evolved, so that was kind of a minor problem.  But I wasn't the only one, 'cause my friends Anna (from Germany!) and Helen were kind of totally in the same boat as me, or so they said.  But they're both so much better at essays than I am that I'm not suuuuure about that.  Anyway, we went and got tea after!  And it was splendid.  Also I am drinking tea Right This Second- I just nearly tumped the mug over on my computer picking it up.  Smooth move.

So you know I threatened this really philosophical and emotional journal entry about how I've changed and all the amazing things about studying abroad and my musings on the whole 9 months I've been here?  Well, prepare yourselves....

Cause this ain't it. 

Okay, I know that was mean.  I decided that I'm writing it when I get home and have time to digest this whole thing and grasp the implications and what-not else.  THIS journal entry is for happy frivolous details about and especially enjoyable party and also breakfast this morning.

So, first you get to hear all about this really kind of ridiculous and incredibly fun barbeque we had on Saturday.  It was brilliant, and I'll put my story teller hat on and try to make it as fun for you as it was for me.  To start, we'd been planning it for a few days.  It had been hot and humid, so I was hoping it'd cool off a wee bit, which it did.  It was hazy cloudy all day, and the perfect weather for a skirt.  I don't know why I haven't discovered these miracle things called skirts earlier.  They are fantastic for warm weather because they're even cooler than wearing shorts, which I won't wear anyway for the most part.  So I wore my pretty white skirt and a semi-matching shirt of some description which I think was bright orange but anyway is kind of irrelevant to this story.  I made three green chile hamburger patties and bought some others at the Spar so we'd have some non-GC ones.  I got to the barbeque early and put my stuff in Carmen's fridge, and then we were all kicking a football around in her kitchen and the hall, so we decided going outside would be a really good idea, and less likely to break things.  So I wandered with several people outside and we kicked the ball around in a circle til enough people showed up for a game, which was like... fail city.  We played "Italy v the world", which was basically France, Spain, and America.  Oue goalie, the French guy, had a beer in one hand and was goal-tending with the other, and kept abandoning the goal to join the game.  The other person on the team was a Spaniard, and for awhile one of the German girls joined us.  The only two who had any ideas about football were Marc and Pipo.  So I kept accidentally catching the ball whenever it was thrown in because I thought they were throwing to me but they weren't.  And we ran into and over each other, and we actually scored ONE WHOLE GOAL, which was very exciting.

Let me tell you what else is exciting.  Exciting is playing football in a skirt with moccasins on.  Whooboy, let me tell you.  I'm not used to skirts, so I kept being about to knee the ball and remembering that really wouldn't work well in a skirt.  But it was fun, and any disasters were averted.  Then I ran home to watch Doctor Who and get Dusty, who had stayed home to bake cookies.  We watched Doctor Who with my flatmate, Alex, because I /always/ watch it with her!  And then we went back to the barbeque.

The sight that greeted us was everyone gathered around two little metal pans with bags of charcoal in them and two of my friends trying to light them with varying levels of success.  Once we got them lit, the one I'd chosen to sit by and cook on decided it'd rather not stay lit, thanks very much, and we kept having to blow on it to keep it going.  Then, one of the other guys hit on stabbing holes in the bottom with a stick.  First, though, we had to solve a little problem.  Basically, the legs that held the thing off the grass to prevent toastyness of grass were kind of not good.  One broke.  The solution we hit on, since we couldn't actually fix it because the grill was very hot, was propping the thing up on an empty beer can.  So we stabbed some holes in the bottom and the fire stayed lit a little better, so we slapped some burgers on that baby.  While we were messing with our grill, the other group had already started grilling, and a third fire had been started in a metal bucket that was made to use as a grill.  Over the top they put an oven rack, and we used that one too.  So then I manned our grill til everyone had food, with periodic fire-repair by oxygen, by which I mean I just blew on the coals til they ignited again, scorching any burgers on the grill to near death.  But at least they were cooked, right?

I finally made Douwe a green chile cheeseburger, which he's been asking for for like... a whole semester, and Dusty and I each had one too.  I also had a sausage because someone set the plate near me and I was hungry.  We broke out Dusty's cookies too and ate those, and they were delicious!  Then Elio announced he was going to make drinks in the kitchen because I think he used to be a bartender, so we went back inside (where it was hot) just long enough for everyone to have one drink, and fled back outdoors where it was cool.  It was really nice outside, actually.  A cool breeze was blowing, and there were clouds, which you could still see cause it was about 10:30 so the sky was still a little light.

Well, the football just had to make a reappearance at this point.  For some reason the boys had started this reverse keep-away game, where one person gets the ball and keeps it away from everyone else.  They were running around in circles playing Ball Hog and I decided I needed in on that, and so did several of the other girls.  So we went over and got in on this huge chase.  At that point it started raining.  Now, in case you've never had the dubious pleasure, let me tell you about wet grass, high speeds, and sudden changes in direction.  Essentially, you try to change direction, skid, flail wildly trying to catch your balance, and fall over.  Not that I did that- no, I tend to careen wildly about and run into people instead of falling over, which is usually alright cause I usually don't knock them over either.  So we're all cackling like maniacs, tearing around in circles around the courtyard chasing the ball or the person with the ball, and smashing in to each other whenever the person with the ball is cornered.  I found it was much more fun to just get in the way of anyone with the ball, and kick it if I had the chance.  When such occured, I would race after the ball shouting merrily at the top of my lungs, "My ball!  My ball!" and then I'd kick it and of course since I have no control over the ball, I would immediately lose it, cackle some more, and tear off after whoever had stolen it.  I'm sure that everyone living in the building directly surrounding this mess just loved us to pieces.  It was a shame it was too dark to film.  You'll just have to envision it: rain falling, about 10 people running around in a wide circle after each other and a football, all of us cackling and giggling and falling down when we slipped, and laughing at anyone who fell because it /was/ funny, and anyway, they weren't injured.  And my hair was an absolute mess and kept getting in my face and blinding me, plus I was trying to not fall down in a white skirt and moccasins.  By the by, my moccasins have been rubbed smooth on the bottom, which isn't necessarily conducive to good traction.

When we all decided we'd had enough of that, we sat up under the trees to avoid the rain and managed to mostly all fit on the single large blanket someone had dragged out, and just laid around for a good long while.  Then the rain mostly stopped and Douwe announced he was going home, and promptly climbed a tree instead, which only got everyone else started climbing the trees before he did well and truly set off for home.  By then, Marc and several others were in the trees, so Dusty has pictures of that madness.

And that's pretty much that.  This morning, we had breakfast as a flat.  There was a preponderance of food.  I made scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage, and Faustine made pancakes.  Alex brought scones and Nuriya made apple crumble.  There was also bread, jam, butter, two kinds of juice, tea... it was breakfast madness!  Sooooo amazingly tasty though.  I haven't eaten since this morning, and I'm only just now getting hungry, that's how insane it was.  And I'm sure I've missed some of what was there, too!  I have pictures.  I feel like that's my mantra- "Don't worry, I have pictures".  Tonight we're saying bye to Anneleen and Dusty and I are going to a bye-for-now party over at Carmen's so we can all sign the England flags we've bought.  My room is looking sadly empty cause I've packed a good bit of it.  Saturday we're seeing Chris and Dave, and Sunday we're going to Manchester.  Monday or Tuesday we're going to York, and the day we don't do that we're doing the tourist thing in Sheffield.  Ummm, tomorrow we're going to Sherwood Forest and Bolsover Castle, and Friday I have a choir lunch.  We leave the 19th for London and the 22nd for home.  When I get home, I'll be doing a journal-by-pictures, probably only in a physical form in the journal I bought over here for the purpose, but I'll try to post pictures of my favorite pages if/when I get it done so you all can see what I've been up to.

In the homestretch now.  I hope I see some of you this summer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pre-finals update

Well, I figure before I really get down to revision, I'll give anyone still keeping track of things an update!

Since that last update I've had my last choir concert for who knows how long.  It was epic!  Also my mommy and daddy were there, which was beyond awesome.  I love that it worked out that they got to see me perform in the choir, and they got to meet my choir buddies.  
Mom was in Sheffield, too about a week before that for a few days before she went to York, to meet my dad, and then I decided to go to York to see both of them.  That was fun too, and we saw some Cistercian Abbeys (Fountains and Riveaux).  At Fountains we must have walked like... 100 miles (also known as 5).  It was kind of ridiculous, but we got to see some gardens.  Fancy pantsy old English water gardens, in fact.  Well, singular garden.  It was only one.  And I met some people from Sheffield.  I had the good grace not to respond, "Oh, you're from the rich part of town" when they told me where they were from.

Really, except for it being the last month now, and everything being frantic, there's not really a whole ton going on, except for getting to see my parents, which was definitely something going on at the time!  Dad is still in England, til the 15th, but I won't get to see him again til he leaves.  It's unfortunate, but then again... I will see both my parents in about a month.  And to be honest, I'm not all that gutted that I get to stay in Sheffield and be with my friends instead of going down to London, even if I love London musicals and seeing my dad.

Dusty gets here next week.  I go to London to get her (and navigate the Underground for her) on Wednesday, which will be great fun.  I dunno what we're gonna do quite yet, really.  See, I am sure I was supposed to be planning things, but I haven't really had time and I haven't any idea what's going on after finals.  My friend from Germany might be coming to Sheffield, and if he is and I'm in the country I refuse to miss him.  I don't want to leave my flat before my flatmates do, and then I found out none of my other friends are leaving til the 20th or 21st.  So I think it shall be day trips or weekends, and not a big... travel around kind of trip.  That's probably for the best in the long run, as it's a heck of a lot cheaper.  But I'm thinkin' we'll for sure go to York, and I'm meant to go down to Chesterfield one day to see my friend Anna and she wants me to see Sherwood Forest (and Major Oak, and I want to see it too!) and there's a castle.  So I think if that works out that'd be great too.  And I'm supposed to go to Wales to see Chris, which I'm trying to figure out.  That may be an overnight one.  I don't know if we'll get to go up to Edinburgh.  I really wanted to, cause that's a totally legit castle and I promised Dusty a totally legit castle, but the one in Chesterfield looks pretty neat too.  We'll see.  It really depends on everyone else and... me getting myself organized.

I hate having to be organized.

Oh, I have been to more Ceilidhs.  Those continue to be da bomb, as it were, and I'm very sad we don't have them in the States.  I guess I'll have to settle for swing dancing or maybe some kind of folk dance (like... you know, the two-step type country stuff, if that exists anywhere) but I reckon I'll run into problems with country dances, in that kids my age don't usually ever go to them.  Actually, people within about 20 /years/ of my age don't usually go to them, and that's awkward.  And I don't do awkward, I do running-away-and-hiding-in-the-bathroom when things get awkward.

I'm gonna miss choir, too.  Who knows when I'll get to sing in a choir again for an extended amount of time?  Definitely not at UNM.  I don't have room in my class schedule for a real choir, nor, I predict, would they let me in.  They don't tend to allow non-music majors in choir at home.  And I'm not going near the Tuesday community choir with a ten foot pole because everyone in that choir sits around tittering and chattering for two hours, and my poor hardcore choir nerd personality can't take people not taking choir seriously.

Anyway, I think I will continue keeping this blog when I get back.  I may do something with it... I don't know, talk about books or random strokes of genius.  And when I get home I'm going to learn to cook (because I have all those wonderful things like blenders and ingredients readily at hand) and it will be awesome.  Got any favorite recipes?  Send 'em my way!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Break

I'm going to try to accurately describe my Spring Break!  At this point, I'm really so busy that I have about a million other better things to be doing than my blog, but then it occured to me that there's no other record of my time here, because I've long since stopped writing anything in my paper journal.  And I've got to write down some things, so that when I'm old and grey, I can look back and remember these things.

So, I went to Scotland first.  I went to see Bill and Gwen, who are two of the loveliest people I've ever met.  They fed me and gave me a place to stay and took me all over their part of Scotland, and I saw so many things.  But more than that, they gave me a place to feel at home for 5 days (well, the better part of 5 days), where I didn't have to worry about anything at all.  Gwen cooked some of the best food I've ever had, and Bill taught me to play this addictive card game called Phase 10.   It was like being at home.  I got a little teary when I left, because I so enjoyed my time there, and I so enjoyed being around Bill and Gwen.  Bill took many pictures wherever we went, so I have those to remember my trip by, and I'm in a lot of them.  He even has a picture of me sticking my hand in the North Sea, at St. Andrews.  And I got to meet some friends of theirs and see a really lovely farm.  There's just some part of me that's at home on a farm.  We saw Stirling Castle, another littler castle, several towns (I'll have to get the names from the pictures or from Bill), and some lochs.  And I also saw Highland Cattle, and took lots of pictures of them for Caitlin.

I also went to Germany.  We went to Berlin first, and spent two days(ish) there.  One day we took a tour of the important landmarks, and saw just about all of the major ones you really hear about.  The next day, we went into the Holocaust Memorial Museum, which made your's truly cry, and then I headed to the zoo, which was... definitely an odd sort of zoo.  Very progressive in a lot of ways, very outdated in others.  But I did see Przewalski horses, which was a highlight.  Saw the panda, too, but really could have cared less.  It didn't look very happy.  And the hostel we stayed in was fantastic!  We met a guy from Uruguay who was the only stranger in our dorm.

From Berlin, we went to Dresden, which is where Daniel lives.  Saw all the important stuff there, too.  I took loads and loads of pictures!  I got to have a whole conversation in German (the only one I had) while buying three books at a bookstore.  Decided I could probably be persuaded to love Dresden, because it's not very big at all.  We went from Dresden to Cologne via Leipzig, and got to spend the whole afternoon doing tourist things in Leipzig, which meant going to a museum on the reunification.  Everything was in German, which was excellent practice for me, but rather boring for my non-German friends, I think.  It was actually really interesting.  Then we got to Cologne, where we met up with Nerea.  We stayed in a wicked awesome little hotel there.  The folks who owned it live on the premises, and it's more like a bed and breakfast.  They're not... totally German.  Daniel said he thinks they were Czech or something.  They spoke German with a very interesting accent.  Super nice people, though, and breakfast was really great every morning!  We did the tourist thing in Cologne, too, and saw loads of the town and the Dom.  That's the big cathedral.  We also witnessed one heck of a pillow fight.  We made dinner at Nerea's flat, and they went out to party and I went back and watched Castle in German.  Another day, we went to Bonn, which is a lovely city.  But it was Easter weekend so everything was kind of dead.  Still, we got to see Beethoven's house.  I can officially I've read music written in his hand.  I actually stood there and read the notes and dynamics and everything, just so I could say I had.  And I bought a fantastic scarf with a whole piece by Bach on it.  Wicked.

Efferen is the name of the place our friend Nerea is staying, btw.  It's just outside Cologne.  It's a really nice little village, I think.  I wouldn't mind Cologne, either, if I could live on the outskirts of it.  Our last day in Cologne, we climbed to the tippy top of the Dom, which nearly resulted in Caitdeath by asthma, but didn't quite.  The view was gorgeous from up there, but uh... I don't ever want to climb that many stairs set in a spiral ever again as long as I live.  No thank you.  Still, I'm glad I did.  And the weather that day was gorgeous.  We sat outside the train station with no jackets, our sleeves pushed up, and got hot.  It was fantastic.  I think if I'd sat there long enough, I would even have gotten sunburned!  Then we returned to the Land of Rain (aka England, aka The Motherland).  And here I am.  There were tears on leaving Cologne.  See, they're all planning to get together this summer, so their goodbyes aren't for very long.  At any rate, they're all in Europe, and a short flight on Ryanair away from each other.  For me, it feels like a more final goodbye.  It may be years before I can see them again, and as easy as Facebook makes keeping in touch, I am already having trouble keeping in touch with some people.  But I'm determined not to lose touch with these friends.  It's funny, cause sometimes I feel like we don't really know each other at all.  I don't know their favorite colors, their birthdays (okay, they've been celebrated, but I've forgotten), their favorite movies or books, or any of those silly things you learn about people.  But I also realize that we kind of know each other on a different level.  We know each others personalities and quirks, and what irritates some people, and that some people snore and others need more sleep than others.  It's the knowing that you get from living with people for an entire 9 months, and really being each others' family, in a way.

Anywho, eventually there will be a last post here.  It will feel both too soon and a long time coming, and I'm sure I'll wax poetic and all that good stuff.  But right now I'm just trying to have as much fun as possible in the time left over here, so that I can say I made the most of it.  I can't believe we've only got two months.  Where did the time go?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trains again

I'm on the train to Scotland again.  This time I'm going to visit a couple who live up past Edinburgh.  I met them because of Caitlin, who visited them last year, and we've been emailing back and forth since I got the first email from Bill!  I'm very excited, both to meet them and to see a part of Scotland I wouldn't otherwise see.

Lessee, so what's gone on since last entry?  I wrote that on the way to Scotland, too.  After we got back from Scotland, Adam and I met dad in London, which was fun!  We were there Friday to Sunday.  On Friday, we went and saw Wicked, which was, well, wicked!  I'm not sure dad and Adam had as much fun as I did, and it was different than I was expecting.  See, I have every song from Wicked memorized (but one) but rather thought there was more to the musical than just the music, but it turns out it's mostly music!  That's alright with me, but it does throw you off at first when people keep breaking into song every few minutes.  Once I got used to it though, it was super!  The lady who played Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) was a powerhouse alto, and she was great.  And we went to dinner after that at the Thai place we went to the first time in London, at my birthday.  It was just as good as last time, even if Adam and dad inhaled the pineapple fried rice before I could even taste it!  :P  I was busy inhaling my curry with jasmine rice, though, so that was alright.

The next day dad accidentally slept late and then went running, and then when he got back we went to the Natural History museum, which if you know me, you know that Natural History museums are like... crack for me.  This one is probably the biggest I've ever seen in my life!  They had all kinds of stuffed animals- all kinds, from fish to mammals, right through the tree of life in the right order.  It was especially cool given that I took Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems this semester, and basically that was what we learned.  So I practically bounded about, pointing at things and reading signs and getting way excited, and since we couldn't see all of it we just picked certain things.

There was this really cool exhibit showing a rabbit eating grass and then it died and turned into a skeleton and the flowers bloomed where it'd died.  I thought it was awesome, and there was a room that looked like the inside of a plant leaf with all the proper cells and they lit up and a guy on a recording said what all the parts did to turn sunlight into energy.  That was cool too!  And they had a whole ecosystems part too.  We didn't see the dinosaurs cause there was a line longer than Disneyland to see them.  There was a whole hall that was closed that had a ton of stuffed mammals, but you could see them through windows in the wall that was closing off the exhibit.  It looked pretty impressive, and I'd like to go back and see it when it's open, but I don't recall when they open it back up.

Then that evening we went to this old, old restaurant with super food- I had venison pie and mashed potatoes, and before that we ate smoked salmon.  I don't think I've eaten that much since when we did Thanksgiving at Adam's place in Hull.  Epic.  I think Adam and dad were a little startled at how much I ate, cause I never eat a whole lot, but I mostly demolished that pie.  Dad left on Sunday, which was sad, but then Adam and I had to go to the train station and I got some food there and then went home.

Right now, we're skimming along next to the ocean.  Right next to the ocean, which is blueblueblue and the sun is shining, and there's no wind.  It's gorgeous!  I think Bill said we would try and see the coast this weekend, and I do so hope we do.  I said this once, but before, on this same track.  Where we are now is Berwick-Upon-Tweed and it's maybe the prettiest little town I've ever seen.  Once again, I'm wondering if maybe we've gone right from a real world to some writer's world where things are this pretty, or maybe a movie.  I see why things are often filmed here.

Anywho, I think we're to Edinburgh sometime soon, and I want to take photos, so I'm gonna post this and get off!

Friday, February 5, 2010

There and Back Again/To Scotland I Go!

Well, I'm back again.  Not without a certain amount of last minute hysteria, but the good news is I got it out of my system at home with dogs to pet on and my mom to hug me and everyone else to be sympathetic.

The weather has been pretty bad, but it's England in the winter, and honestly I missed the worst!  Or maybe the best, from my POV, since I LOVE the snow and they had a whole mess of it right after I left.  We've had some since then.  In fact we had some night before last, so we all went out and played in it and had ourselves a great snowball fight!

Now, let me begin this next adventure by telling you what time I got up this morning.  4:00.  Yes, 4:00AM.  I'm not even sure why I slept, since really I just laid there pretending for about 3 hours with a bunch of hooligans shouting to high heaven down below my window, but at least I was resting, as my mother would say.  So I got up at 4 and got ready to be a thinking human being instead of a human-shaped amoeba blob, and went to catch the taxi with Daniel, Nerea, Edu, and Daniel to the train station where we met lots of other people and boarded the train for Edinburgh!  Mostly we've slept the whole way, but then I discovered that unlike the rest of England, Eastern seems to have installed wireless on their trains.  Most excellent!  So I got on my computer.

Right now we've just stopped at Dunbar, so I don't have too very long, and of course I have no pictures (which is becoming somewhat of a trend, I realize).  I looked up from my nap out the window and even though I had my glasses on I thought, "Goodness, that is a dark grey cloud."  Then my brain caught up with itself and went, "No, that's a great big OCEAN."  This got me all excited, which I think is tangentially related to being landlocked my entire life and only seeing the ocean rarely.  I get all excited every time and start going, "Look!  Water!" which makes people think I'm absolutely /insane/.  Anyway, I quickly woke everyone up to show them my discovery of BIG WATER, and they got all excited, so we all looked insane together.

To put it simply and in no way to do it justice, this is some BEAUTIFUL country I'm seeing out the window.  I'd been really emo last semester because I've been told by both of my friends in Scotland that they never want to leave.  I'm not sure I'd want to either if this was what I saw every day.  Oh my LORD, it's gorgeous.  Where we're at right now is wonderfully wide open and flat, which is so nice to see for a change of pace.  The weather is absolutely horrid- worse than anything I've seen in Sheffield- but somehow here's Scotland just being all pretty and mysterious, clothed in fog and clouds and the great grey ocean out there looking very cold and more than a bit choppy.  Even the best pictures I don't quite think would do this justice.  It reminds me a little of when we got to the Andes and I just about flipped out.  Except then it was more a matter of Giant Mountain instead of Giant Ocean and it was a different kind of pretty entirely.  But I still just wanted to stare at all of it everywhere, and I kept giving myself a headache cause all I did was stare intently out the bus window and try to memorize everything.  I don't remember much but a general splendor, though I probably remember more than if I hadn't been trying to memorize everything.

Anyway, me waxing on poetic about mountains and water and things aside, I really am very excited for Edinburgh.  Adam says it's a very interesting town, and I can't wait to really honestly use this new camera of mine for pictures that aren't just at get-togethers.  I was playing with the different white balances last night and found out it has about 8 different settings JUST for fluorescent lights, and for every one you pick the shade of the light and it balances that out and doesn't turn people like... oompa-loompa orange or whatever the color of the light is.  Very neat trick.  I think here I will be using the various degrees of "cloudy" it is probably equipped with.  I am SO glad I'm staying with Lindsey and not in the drafty church-turned-hostel everyone else is staying in.  Besides liking to be warm when I sleep, I get to see one of my friends from home!  Yay!  Now I just need to make it up to Aberdeen sometime.  Oh chore, having to ride on a nice warm train through pretty country.  However shall I survive?!

Also I've noticed, typing for about 45 to 50 minutes and playing on my computer for about an hour and a half, that I haven't gotten the slightest bit motion sick.  I wonder why that is.  I forgot to take my medicine, but it doesn't seem to bother me.  Just saw a dog running in a field outside the window.  Ooooh, I would love it if the dogs could just see this.  I think they'd love England, with the big open fields and all.  I see a lot of Border Collies here, and they remind me of my girls.  I met one that was just like Abby, little and black and had her fur, but not her fine long face, and I stopped and loved on her and she'd been playing in puddles so I smelled of wet dog the rest of the evening, and I didn't mind.  I don't mind the smell of wet dog, like I don't mind the smell of horses in general.

Right, so, we've learned one valuable thing from this entry, haven't we?  Besides getting ridiculously sentimental and badly poetic, I wander off in new and interesting directions when I'm tired!  Haha.  Ya'll take care, I gotta pack up so I can get off the train when we stop!

Friday, January 15, 2010

About Thanksgiving and the Christmas Party

So I'm telling you about Thanksgiving now!

The first one was at my place.  I cooked it along with my flatmate, Anneleen, and my other flatmates helped too!  But Anneleen did ALL the cutting up of various and sundry everythings.  It was A-mazing.  I made everything you'd want... sort of.  I made dressing and we had chicken instead of Turkey cause I couldn't find any turkey.  The chicken was really good.  We also had gravy, and sweet potatoes... and rolls.  The rolls were alright.  Actually they were kind of not, but that's okay because we dipped them in gravy.  And everyone who showed up had a good time!

We also had a more traditional Thanksgiving in Hull with my brother and Angie.  THAT one was fairly epic.  We had a turkey joint and ham (that Angie made) and also pumpkin pie and dressing and gravy and both kinds of potatoes.  Adam and I attempted to make the cranberry jello type stuff that has the pecans and orange juice in it, but that was BIG TIME fail.  It was SO nasty.  At least we tried.  And everything else was FANTASTIC.  We even decided we should have Yorkshire Puddings with dinner.  While not traditionally American, they are very tasty and I wish they had them here.  I ate so much I actually thought I was going to explode and that wasn't as good but everything was SO GOOD.  Oh Em Gee.  And I got to take some pie home!  It made good breakfast a couple days.  Oh and there was also this stuff Angie made that involved corn and Ritz crackers.  It was also yummy!  And his flatmate made the most incredible gravy.  OH man.  And it all tasted so much like home!

Adam and his friends and I also went to Leeds to go to the Christmas Market.  It was EPIC.  We had mulled wine and German food and they had beer and I bought Lebkuchen and we all had some of that.  And we went to a yummy place for dinner called Wagamama or something.  Adam came up with approximately 3 different names for it before the night was over.

We also had a Christmas party where we did Secret Santas in our little group in Sheffield.  And Douwe made Gluehwein (which is German mulled wine).  We handed out presents and then walked around like a lot of kids asking everyone what they got and trying to find our Santas if we didn't know.  There was much laughter and we all had so much fun seeing what we all had.  People who got amusing things found places to figure out how the worked (or in Attila's case, to play with his Rubik's Cube).  I got a little book of Dickens' Christmas stories, which has pretty gilt pages and a ribbon to keep place, and my friend Julie, who was my santa, even wrote a really nice note in the front.  I love it and I brought it home so nothing would happen to it!  It even has A Christmas Carol in it, which we watch eeeevery Christmas Eve, so it's like... double special.

I also did pub caroling, which was really fun!  I didn't get to go to the second one, because I caught a really nasty cold.  I brought the cold home with me but it went away in time for Christmas!

And I head back day after tomorrow.  I'm really not ready to go, but it's only 5 months and it will be better because I have friends waiting for me and I know where everything is and all.  It won't be so bad!  I just have to get packed, which is annoying because I'm gonna have to get my mom to ship some stuff!  :P  At least most of it is usable stuff that will NOT be coming home, or I'd be in big trouble!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I am dooooone til after Christmas!

Here in England, we have finals after Christmas, which is very annoying.  The good news, however, is that I only have 3 and I have 3 weeks when I get back to study.  Also, I have finished everything I need to do before leaving except writing out a source page for my Ecology essay, and of course printing the silly thing.  Hoorah.  I thought of something terribly amusing and relevant this morning when we were sitting down in the History auditorium to do some history learning, but I've now forgotten it, of course.  It was something they do differently here that blows my mind, but as I can think of several things off the top of my head (leggings... in freezing weather.  Leggings!) I can't remember what exactly it was.  Never fear!  I shall write it down next time I remember it, as I do remember I've had that thought before.

And now back to our regularly scheduled update programming.  When we last left our heroine, she had celebrated a fantastic birthday with her friends.  Our fearless heroine was then emailed by her even more super-powered mother, who said, "Didn't you do anything /else/ for your birthday?" by which she really meant, "Why didn't you mention London?!"  But fear not, o readers (and mom!), for this is a story told in parts!  Of course I didn't forget London, you silly.

So AFTER that fantastic party with my friends, I had school the rest of the week (boo to that) and then it was time to leave for London!  I was soooo excited!  I took the train down and met my brother at the station, and we walked to mom and dad's hotel (which was a government building, in a previous life).  That room was HUGE.  It had a real bathroom, with a real tub and a real shower.  And a really comfortable bed.  Adam and I walked in, said hi to our parents with hugs all around, and then noticed the bowl of fruit on the coffee table.  I think I said, "Oh, fruit!" while Adam made a beeline over.  Without barely even taking off our bags, we were on that fruit like bees on honey (to continue the analogy).  It was also very tasty.  Then we went to the little bar downstairs and my mom and I shared a drink and my dad and brother had a beer and um... a diet coke? respectively.  We went to dinner later at a REALLY GOOD Thai restaurant where my mother learned what we're speaking of when we say, "British customer service" ie, the waiter never came (although they often do in Sheffield, so it may be a city difference) but the food was fantastic.  Then we went back and hung out in the lounge, not the bar, and got on facebook on their computer and just had a good time, and then went to bed.  First there was an utterly hysterical interlude which I unfortunately failed to capture on camera where my mom and Adam tried valiantly to put together a bed for him out of all the couch cushions which were cut to fit the couch.  It was like watching two people try to put together an oversized tangram, and it was pretty silly.  But they did eventually succeed (although it took like... a half hour.) while I giggled myself to death.

The next day we went to the Tower of London, which was sweet!  It's all old and imposing and there's loads of ancient graffiti carved all over the place, and people LIVE there!  Yeah!  And they have the Tower ravens, of course.  They take good care of those birds, I tell you what.  They've got their own aerie type space and they're fed regularly.  You'd want them to stay too, since legend has it when they leave the Tower will fall down.  There was also a guy doing a Henry the... Ok, I don't even know that it was Henry, but whatever, he was all dressed up and there was another guy dressed as a someone-else.  Anyway, he was in this room they had done up like the King's bedroom.  It was really funny, because he was talking to the audience and being all poncy and then he said something to a guy who was entering and the man answered with a Scottish accent.  So of course then the "King" had to say something about the Scottish and it was really quite amusing if you were there.  I think I have video.  Someday I promise to make a post with just pictures and videos since I haven't put any in the past couple emails.

That night was Lion King!  EEEEE it was amazing and astounding and the opening scene made me cry it was so lovely and EEE!  I almost think that's all that can be said, because words just can't describe the wonderfulness that was Lion King.  And we had EXCELLENT seats.  And afterwards we went to the Texas Cantina, which is just down from the Texan Embassy, or what used to be the Texas Embassy when they were a country.  They had Tex Mex, which was good.  I had a chimichanga.  MMMMM.  I miss my Mexican food!

The next day we went to the London Museum.  It was epic!  I got to geek out about all my favorite history things, all of which seem to be contained in that one museum.  I saw what they have on display of the brand new and shiny Staffordshire Hoard (not new as in... new, but new as in just discovered.  Really it's quite old).  I'd like to take a moment here to say something to Megan, who I'm sure is reading this:  I saw it first!  Neener neener neener!  But we're gonna go see it again, I'm excited!  -End note.  We also saw the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial stuff, which is just incredible.  It amazes me that they made such intricate, beautiful works of functional art with no power tools.  Just amazing.  I'm sure my pictures don't do justice, but I sure did try.

Then we went and had pizza for dinner and the next morning we went to Westminster, where we saw lots of dead buried people (just kidding, most of them are really important dead buried people) and there was a stone for Jane Austen, and one for Shakespeare, and one for Darwin.  I wish we could have taken pictures, but of course it's a church so you can't.  Then it was time to go, and I think that was even harder than leaving Albuquerque, so of course I'm dreading the leaving Albuquerque part the second time around.  It was like I was back at square one with the homesickness.  My flatmate came to check on me because I'd been sniveling in my room for about 30 minutes solid when I got home.  Somehow there's something pitiful about a 22 year old sobbing that she misses her family to a 19 year old who is trying to reassure her it'll all be okay.  And I was miserable for about 2 days and then I got over it and moved on with life and since then have had loads of fun!  Loads and loads and loads!  We've had Thanksgiving (twice!) and I've been hanging out with lots of my friends as all of us realized that we'd not see each other for a whole month.  I'm even mostly okay with coming back, because I'll have friends and everyone has already promised to keep me busy enough that I don't get homesick, and if I do get homesick, my flatmates all care and they make sure I'm okay too.  We all take care of each other really well over here.

But I can't believe this year is technically half done!  Well, I mean, it's actually half done in February (really annoying) and then we've got that silly MONTH of Easter Break (I'd rather have a week and go home sooner) but mostly, it's technically half done.  I have been in England for over 3 months.  I've been homesick, physically sick (not anymore!), and I've probably had to deal with some of the most difficult emotional garbage I've ever had to deal with in my life.  But as they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I like to think I'm somewhat stronger for having dealt with it all even though I really just wanted to give up and go home for the first 3 weeks.  I think it may make the homesickness period during second semester shorter, though I know it'll still be there.  But hey, I have survived, and I've had fun!  And that's what's important.  New experiences don't have to be scary, threatening things.

And now I have to go because I have to start packing some things and I have Pub Caroling at 6:30, and it's already 4:14.  The next update will be about Thanksgiving, but it'll be over Christmas break (yes, time is out of joint.  Thank you, Hamlet.)

This time next week I'll be home!