Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rock climbing in the Peaks

First a house-keeping type thing.  If you know anyone who'd like to be added to the email list, please let me know!  Also, let me know (if you have a preference) whether these long entries are alright with you, or if you'd rather have shorter, but more frequent ones.  I'm also reckoning that once school starts, I'll slow down a little and make them shorter, especially once I get a journal and can separate what I want to remember and need to records from what everyone will really want to know, haha.

Now on with the show!

Today we went rock climbing in the Peaks district.  I'm still not really clear on why it's called the "Peaks" district, except maybe it's more hilly than the Lake district, which probably has a lot of lakes, if we're being logical.  The weather was not very nice, it was cold and windy, but it also wasn't any worse than a fall day in Albuquerque.  I'm even used to that biting cold wind we were getting up there, as it's like the younger, less serious cousin of the wind that blows across Johnson field practically all winter.

And I got to experience outdoor climbing for the first time ever.  I'm thinking it's probably the last time ever, too.  1, I was utterly terrifying and almost froze halfway up, and 2, I don't have time to join the climbing club.  Maybe I'll do it at home if I get the chance, but I really like gyms much better.  See, in gyms, you have those nice, prefabricated holds that aren't going to scrape you into oblivion if you fall.  Oh, you won't fall to your death, because someone is on belay, but when you slip, you kind of go a little face first into the rock.  Ow!  I didn't do that, but I saw someone nearly do it.  My glasses would have been sad.  I did eventually make it past my, "OH MY LORD I'M GONNA DIE" moment, and just took a deep breath and shoved my fist in a crack and grabbed a rock no one else apparently had ever found (or so the guy on the ground said- he had no idea how I'd gotten up from where I'd trapped myself) and made it all the way to the top!  Semi crack climbing for the win!  And the person who taught me climbing basics will be proud to know that I kept my body close to the wall, and kept wedging myself between rocks so I could reach up with both hands.  Actually, the guy on the ground said, "Wow, you did really well.  How did you get up past that point?" and was surprised when I told him I'd just sort of shoved my fist into a crack in the rocks and both held on to a little spur of rock and braced myself with my knuckles.  Okay, yes, I was pleased with that.  But I'd still rather climb indoors.

Anyway, it was really pretty out where we were!  I even have photos.  I have some other photos too.

By the way, about my pictures- my camera is doing this really awesome thing where it adds so much noise anymore than it's making the pictures really, really bad.  I'm going to try to reset the thing, as I think it's some setting I chose, but I don't know.  If any of you know how to set it to not do that (if it's an ISO or quality thing setting somewhere) you should totally let me know!  Because it's driving me absolutely insane.

We first have something not rock climbing related.  We were down in City Centre the other night for a ghost tour (really good story telling!) and so I snapped a picture:

See?  It's actually quite pretty all lit up like that (notice that one side bank of lights is broken?  Yeah.)  But still, pretty neat.  Also a good meeting landmark.  Frequently, you'll hear one of us on the phone shouting at the person on the other end to "MEET ME AT THE BIG WHEEL.  YES, THAT ONE BY THE OLD CHURCH," sometimes followed by, "Well, it's the only big wheel in city center." and only occasionally, "How can you possibly miss it?  IT'S A GIANT WHITE FERRIS WHEEL!".  But it's all good, we usually find each other.

Speaking of the old church, I should post a picture.  It's apparently town hall now, but I didn't know this and had been calling it the cathedral (which I think it is, as the bus stop nearby is called the Cathedral stop).  I really like it, it's just a typical cathedral kind of place, all sheer and imposing.  I'll mention again about the horrible snowy noise going on in every picture.  It's really bad in low light!

I also made tacos the other night!  They were epically tasty.  Oh man, and I made flour tortillas that we ended up not using, but which are yummy anyway, and would be yummier if I covered one in butter and cinnamon, except I have no cinnamon right now, and I'm limiting myself to visiting the grocery store once a week, unless I totally run out of food (which I shouldn't).  So I'll just put cinnamon and whatever else on my list, and get them next week when I go.

Look!  Tortillas!  And that's honey, which wasn't very good, so now I eat them with butter and jam.  Interestingly, one of my favorite jams at home is the Bonne Maman kind, which I was overjoyed to see they also sell at the Tesco down the road.  Also Dusty said she's sending Algerita jelly and maybe prickly pear if she can find it.  Mmmmm.  Can't wait!

At some point, I was no longer cooking alone (it took like three seconds flat, haha) and Anneleen and Anna came in to help!  They kindly chopped up all the toppings and the onion for the meat, and kept me company while I handled the ground beef (or mince beef as it's called here).  Anna also provided some big tortillas so we wouldn't have to use all of mine, because I'm selfish and wanted mine all to myself after everyone tasted them.  I did later say they could have them any time they wanted, but they wouldn't have been good for tacos.

It was soon discovered that I was the only one who had really made tacos before.  So I showed them how to make one.  This is my version.  Typical taco, right?  Well, I mean, it's a little big, but other than that.

Anneleen preferred to mix all of her fixins together and make a wrap, which worked well til the really juicy meat started dripping juice out the bottom (all of them did it.)

Alex's is a little more like mine, but was also destined for life as one of the messiest wraps I've ever seen, which ended up being eaten with fork and knife.  It's good the meat wasn't cooked dry, but the juice was making it really hard!

And Anna's was a variation on the mix together wrap theme.  I don't have pictures of Faustine's, for whatever reason.  I think she made a wrap too.

Oh hey look!  The pictures which actually pertain to the title of the blog!  If you click on the photo to blow it up (if you're online, dunno if it'll do it in email) you'll see a person halfway up that sheer rock face about halfway.  That's where I climbed.

Typical Peak District view!  It's really really pretty in person, even on grey days like this.  There's rocks strewn about everywhere.  I don't know if a glacier put them there, or if they were already there, but I intend to find out.  I need to know the geology of this place, because I reckon it's pretty interesting.

I kind of want to go scramble all over this rock sometime.  There were loads of people out there, and some little kids, so it can't be that challenging and I'm unlikely to fall and break anything.

Also, one of my friends (Carmen) posted a really good picture of the group I've been hanging out with!  The only person missing is the mysterious and not oft-picture Jinho Han.  I don't know why that boy is not in a single photo of the whole group.

Why yes, I am wearing one of my Inca hats!  It has guanacos on it.  And awesome tassles.  I love the awesome tassles.  I can name everyone in this photo, by the way.  Want me to prove it?  I bet you don't believe me, cause I know I wouldn't!  So, in that uh, back row?  Starting with the guy in the khaki jacket crouching over- Attila (Hungary), Daniel (Germany), Marc (Spain), Fatou Mar (France), Paolo (Italy), Marie-sophie (France).  Next row, starting with the girl who is making that comical :D face: Nerea (Spain), Edu (Spain), Julie (France), Tiziana (Italy). I crouched in front because... well, I did.  So I need not name that row.  They're all a blast to be around!

I dunno, guess I'm out of news for now.  Oh.  We're getting a TV Wednesday (for 20 quid.  And it works.) and I finally have a working desk lamp so I can read before I go to bed.  And my coughing is so so so much better now, I'm sleeping at night (which is great) after the obligatory coughing fit when I first lay down.  Yay!  And I get to go to campus tomorrow and walk out a distance to see if it can be done in 10 minutes.  Oh!  My schedule!  I didn't ever tell anyone what all I'm taking!  I'm taking:
1st Semester
Community Ecology
History of the US, 1776-2004
Spanish 1A (like 101)
German 4A (Like 401)
2nd Semester
Issues in Conservation Biology
Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems
Pagans, Christians, and Heretics in Medieval Europe
Spanish 1B (Like 102)
German 4B (Like 402)

I also joined the Archery Club (and may end up not being able to go... but at least I got a cool pencil?) and the Equestrian Club (words can't accurately describe how excited I am.  I go a little crazy inside every time I think about all the awesome stuff they're doing this year.) and I'm going to join a choir, which is why I may not do archery.  Archery is great and all, and I want to learn to shoot an English longbow (yes, it is because I am obsessed with Robin Hood, so laugh now!) but choir is good for my soul.  Seriously.  It's totally cathartic.  And closer to where I am than archery, which you can't beat.

I'm way excited for the Biology classes too, even if I don't get to start it til the 7th week.  I ended up changing all my pre-picked choices except Vertebrates when I got here because the 300 level classes sounded like way more fun, and the advisor said the others wouldn't be challenging enough.  Since he was willing to let me in even though he hadn't checked my pre-reqs (other than verifying I'm a senior/ 4th year at my home school) I decided to go for it.  If UNM doesn't want to give me credit, I guess I'll have a discussion with them!  I'm also excited to be picking up Spanish.  I have been wanting to learn it for a couple years, so now if I keep up with it I'll technically be trilingual.  Rockin'.  Then maybe I'll start in on French, since I can get help with that!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My England address!

Hellooo, everyone! I have my address now. Please keep in mind that if they can't deliver it at our door, I'm going to have to trek to the Post Office to get it. While that's not too far, I do have to carry it home, so. But green chile is not heavy or strangely shaped, right?! RIGHT.  There are, in fact, many things which are neither heavy nor oddly shaped.

Cait Rottler
Apartment B4, Room 4
Yarncliffe Apartments
17 Endcliffe Crescent
S10 3AB

Yay! You can choose whether to let me know you're sending something or not. If I'm not here to sign for it, probably one of my roommates will be. Worst case, they'll take it to the post office and leave me a note saying to pick it up. No biggie!  The walk is even downhill on the way back, which is pretty sweet.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pictures! (Long post is long. Sorry guys.)

I finally bought a card reader since I left my camera-computer cord at home.  The problem is that I now have way too many photos to share in one journal entry, I think.  So maybe I'll just do some highlights.  Anyone who wants to see all of them can go to Facebook- I'm going to work on getting them into Albums by event, since by week would be too many pictures in one album.

EDITED TO ADD:  You can see all of my Facebook photos here (it should work even if you don't have a facebook account):

So!  Lets do this chronologically, shall we?  Begin!

The trip there:
Here we have Adam (my brother, for any non-family and non-people who know my brother) messing with his video camera.  Much like I HAD TO HAVE my riding boots, helmet, and chaps, he had to have his camera.

This is on the train from Manchester to Sheffield.  Fairly typical countryside around here- I feel like I'm in a movie every time I leave the city.  Seriously, this really /exists/.  It's not just sets built by movie people!  I know!  Wild!

We then move to Week 1 (well, really, getting there was that week too.  But SSSSSH, we won't tell anyone.)

Anyway, week one was, as mentioned in a previous entry, the week of Residential Orientation.  It was also the week of Go to Hull to visit Angie and see the clipper race.  I have pictures!  Ironically, none of them are of aforementioned Angie or the clipper ships.  No, they are of the Red Darts or Arrows or Red whatever-thingys.  They're like the Blue Angels.  And they're very entertaining.  It's been donkey's years since I've seen an air show, and I had a blast!

This is called the Apollo Lander.  You see the resemblance, right?  I thought that was just almost the coolest thing I'd ever seen airplanes do.  They flew formations named after things for a good long while, and then proceeded to prove that they did something cooler by doing wicked aerial maneuvers in which a millimeter off probably would have caused them to crash burning into the Humber, taking boats and people with them.  But no worries, these are experienced pilots, and sans one dude running out of colored smoke, nothing went wrong.  I have pictures of that too!  I want to include all of them, but that'd be overkill, so I'll pick like... the coolest two or three.  And I'll put a link to my facebook albums at the end- I've set them so everyone should be able to see the pictures, even without a facebook account (but we'll see if it works.)

Arguably one of the most awesome of the smoke effects, all 7 of them flew straight at us and broke off in all directions to make a fan.  With colored smoke.  A fan with colored smoke.  I mean, seriously!  The whole time we were watching the air show, we kept saying, "I understand why pilots are notorious for having egos!  These guys are awesome!  If I were a pilot, I think I'd be a total show off.  Even on the ground."  And of course the planes and everything they were doing was so awesome and fun I remembered some of the stories from Moky, and the various aerial feats he and his flying buddies got up to.  I think, Moky, you'd have liked the aerial show very much.  I wish I'd had enough camera battery to record it!

They kept doing this thing where two of them would fly straight at each other and then flip over and pass each other.  We all thought they were probably going to get themselves killed, which was probably exactly what they wanted us to think.  Red and blue smoke!

This was pretty fancy too.  That plane trailing red was flying spirals around the smoke trail of the two white-trailing, UPSIDE DOWN planes.  I don't know why they were upside down.  It was probably more amusing that way.

I don't know quite how to describe this one.  Basically, there are 5 planes flying in a delta formation.  The two closest to the center plane loop out to the side and the two farthest, out on the edge of the delta, slide into their places, while the first two end their loops on the tips of the delta.  And then they do it again.  It's really neat, but I don't have that many pictures- this and one more close up.  But this one is after the tip planes have slid in to the middle, and the two above are about to get back into place on the tips of the delta.

Whooboy.  So that's Hull, without seeing any of Hull.  Sorry about that- but hopefully Adam is doing something since that's his city.  But wait!  There's more.  From week one.  Can you imagine how many pictures I /really/ have?  Yeah.  Like a bazillion.  These next ones are from orientation in general.  Most of the pictures are of parties, which I know we don't all need to see (and I'm not in any of them, anyway, so of course they're not /that/ good.  Haha.)

Now, while this may come as a shock to some of you, I have learned to be outgoing!  And friendly!  I made friends, for the first time in my life since a long time ago.  I mean, real friends, as in we all know each others names and meet places to do stuff.  Yep!  It's really cool.  Anyway, from left to right I suppose: Paolo, Julie, Carmen, Marc, and Fatou-Ma.  Countries Italy, France, Spain, Spain, France.  These are the few who were with me at the time- I have another picture which I think has more people, but let me pause to tell you that we are like the UN.  I seem to recall another family member who was once accused of dating the entire UN, so I guess it's almost a family thing (except I'm not dating any of them.).  So there's usually all those guys, plus me, and Germany, South Korea, Austria, maybe Bulgaria, and Hungary.  People kind of come sometimes and not others, so it varies, but that's the usual core group.  And yes, I know everyone's name.  I can even pronounce them (sort of).

 Well, you're just never far from the golden arches.  Don't ask me if they have the same food, because I haven't been in.  I'm sure they do, because what I've seen people bringing out is the same.  Just as an aside, you don't get a burger and fries here.  If you could find a real burger, you could have that, but you get chips.  They're just french fries by another name.  Chips as we call them are crisps.  Ah, English.

Alright, I don't know what the purpose of this thing is.  I mean, presumably to see the city, right?  But there's not a whole lot to see.  Not like... you know, London.  I think Sheffield just wanted their own version of the London Eye.  It's not nearly as big or impressive, but it is pretty all lit up at night.  And I'm sure you can see the whole city, all 7 hills worth.

Picking pictures from Chatsworth house is like picking air show pictures.  Anyone who has seen the most recent Pride and Prejudice would instantly recognize the place as none other than Pemberley, AKA Darcy's country house.  I believe I remarked sadly that it was too bad he wasn't real and therefore wouldn't be there.  (Which turned out not entirely true, because there's a marble bust of what'shisface actor dude who played him.)

Me, with the house in the background, because I know you all wanted to see my bright, shining face!  Unfortunately it's not a very good picture of the house, but you get the general idea.  See facebook for more.

This is the fountain and... pavilion thingy that are behind the house.  You can go in the fountain, and our assistants did (and nearly fell down, which would have been most unpleasant).  It was very cold, so I didn't want to get my feet wet, alas.  So I just took pictures.

Okay, and now I have pictures of where I live.  Basically, of my room and some close by stuff.

I call this game before and after.  This is before.  Awwwww, how clean!  And sterile, and uninviting.  Well, we can't have that now, can we?  Heavens no!  That would make me homesick and insane!  And we don't want that.  So clearly something Must Be Done to remedy this issue.

But don't worry, it didn't last long.  This is from earlier this week, probably the afternoon of the day after that first picture was taken.  You can see it didn't take me long to make the place more homey.  And by homey, I really mean trash it out really well.  Also I got bedding and things when I went shopping with Angie and Mark when Angie came to visit.  That's why there's a ripped up Primark back there.  It has since gotten cleaner, because I just nearly murdered myself on those clothes.  Also I was tired of not being able to see what I had to wear.  This will come as a surprise to those of you who have lived with me, but even I cannot stand clutter forever (although it did take me til a couple days after this to actually move stuff.  I kept just stepping over.).

Turns out you're never far from Wal-Mart either.  Well, technically.  It wouldn't be far, if I could drive.  But I can't, so this is like The Place I Will Never Go.  Unless I hop a bus.  But I thought it was funny anyway!

This is the view out my flat window.  You can see one of the other residence buildings across from me, and the parky area that is very green.  Down to the left is a tiny duck pond.  I'm up on the 4th floor (or 3rd, if you're English and can't count floors properly, just like you can't drive on the correct side of the road...)  But we have a lift!  So it's no biggie.  I use stairs anyway.

The whole big happy family +1.  We have Anna, who is over there transferring the tuna pasta bake from bowl to casserole dish.  At the bar/table are (right to left this time) Faustine, who is from France, Anneleen, pronounced Anna-lane, who is from Belgium, Alex from the UK, and Anneleen's friend whose name I have since forgotten.  I was taking the picture, but that's my empty chair at the end.

And there you have it!  My life for the past two and some weeks in a nutshell.  Tonight I'm going on a ghost walk (not to see ghosts, but to hang out with my friends who are going) and tomorrow is the sports fair.  I'm officially registered for classes, and I also have an address, but I'll post my address in a seperate entry all its own in case people want to save the email.  Hope you all are doing well!  You'll be happy to hear I'm feeling much better.  I'm still coughing, but I feel fine in spite of it!

Wait, one last photo.  We had a formal party kind of thing with club dancing afterwards.  I wore my fetish necklace because it was the only "traditional" thing I could think of.  Nerea is another of my friends, and I don't remember who took the picture, but I think it's a good one.  We had a blast!

Much love to everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oh joy! Freshers flu!

Yes, I have it.  The Freshers Flu (or Dusty's Plague.  I think it's actually Dusty's Plague.)  Nothing to be alarmed about, just a general feeling of Oh-my-lord-with-the-coughing and a runny nose.  I have asthma medication and should be getting better slowly but surely.  I also have cough medicine, lozenges, and pain killers.  And water.  I have been SO hydrated recently.

I thought I'd take a moment to be blatantly honest about homesickness, as everything I read said to write down your feelings (and unfortunately for you, my loyal readers, this is my only travel journal!).  Basically, it sucks.  It's like... I'm trapped somewhere I don't want to be with no one near me and no way of getting around save walking.  When you feel like garbage, this is NOT a good place to be.  In fact it made me quite teary and sobbing earlier.  I'm better now, don't worry.  It was only momentary insanity.  I haven't yet found many good ways of dealing with it, but I've found a few, which I'll record for posterity (or... whatever.  I don't know!)

1.  Stay busy.  And stay busy with friends.  Then you won't ever be alone, and you won't have time to think about being miserable.  They're also going through the same things, whether they show it or not, and they're likely to be very nice to you because you're all so desperate for someone to know you.  It seems like such a small thing, being somewhere where everyone knows you- your silly quirks, how you like your hamburgers, your favorite music- but in actuality I've found this to be a major complaint of mine.  None of these people really know me.  I'm so desperate for them too, and they seem to be desperate for the same, that there's been a lot of sharing going on.  And this is why I'm glad I did the international week (plus I'm not lost anymore).  I know few of you will believe it, but when I said, "I'm actually a shy wallflower at home," not a single person believed me.  Yes, they laughed.  The Spaniards and French and Italians all LAUGHED.  And trust me, they know outgoing.

2.  Get out and about.  The other thing I miss is just knowing where everything is.  The quickest way to remedy this is to go walking (here.  Elsewhere, you could probably drive).  Then you see things, and you even meet people.  See above for why meeting people is a good thing.

3.  Take familiar things.  For me, this is the zoo picture of Sarah, Tidah, Alex, Nyssa, Dusty, and me.  Also my two favorite stuffed animals, both my pillows, and the tackboard that used to hang on my door (of all things.) and some other bits and bobs.

4.  Try to find something to appreciate about where you are.  I really like the magpies, pigeons, and unidentifiable birds around here, and all the plants.  I have so many names to learn.  Also, I appreciate (but do not like- the two need not be the same) the physical fitness I will have when I leave this place.

And actually, that last sentence is a good segway into something else- I wanted to jot something (or several somethings, depending on what I remember) about Life In Sheffield.  Namely, that it was built on 7 hills.  Like Rome.  The fact that it is like Rome seems to make the locals happy.  That's great and all, but 7 hills?  Clearly the people planning this city did not have to /walk/ anywhere.  They must have had horses.  I'm just sayin'.  I need to actually keep notes on things when I come across these observations that I wish someone had told me (like my bank card not working at most stores!  That's an absolute joy.)

Sorry, so that was just the introduction.  I guess I should probably write down something about my week, lest y'all think I was sitting here twiddling my thumbs (HAHAHA, oh what funny folks you are!  Twiddling my thumbs!)  I'll try to make it as concise as possible.  I was going to add pictures, like Megan and Lindsay, but they're on my camera and my patience = 0 right now.  SO.

Monday: Orientation.  Yay!  I met people.  Most specifically, I went in to lunch, arbitrarily chose a group to sit with, and discovered that I was sitting with Spaniards.  It's like I have a radar or something (I seriously love the Spanish.  They are a hoot.)

Tuesday:  Don't remember a thing.  No, I wasn't drunk or hung over, I just don't remember.  Probably listened to a lot of lectures.  And hung out with the Spanish (Or maybe Germans).  Oh, that was dance night.  We learned the Cha Cha and waltz.

Wednesday:  Chatsworth!  Okay, so, for those of you who don't know, Chatsworth was used in Pride and Prejudice as Pemberley, which is Darcy's house.  It's gorgeous, and also I got to be a total dork for part of it and do the touristy take pictures thing.  Took pictures of the busts of Darcy and Georgiana from the movie (yes, I did, and yes, the English stared.  I smiled politely.)  Played in the gardens and got- you guessed it- even more sick!

Thursday:  A lot of stuff I don't recall, and hanging out with the Spanish group (which is not just Spanish, only mostly so).  I think that was the day we had the first dance.  Also learned about other cultures.  Basically, I never knew that really strictly practicing Muslims aren't allowed to touch women outside their family.  The one in orientation really didn't even want them within a foot of him.  That was fine, because he is perfectly polite and well mannered in every other way.  Imagine, therefore, my confusion when at the dance that night, he tried to convince me to dance by getting all up in my space (somehow without touching me.  I don't even know how he managed it, he was practically standing ON MY FEET).  So apparently, when it's his choice, he can get as close as he wants without touching- but women can't approach him that close.  I'm not gonna pass judgment on it.  Rather, I'll say it's a cultural difference and it would be wrong of me to impose my culture's morals on his.  Also, the whole guy-I-don't-know-up-in-my-grill experience was almost panic inducing.  I moved to get him out of my face and pretended to dance until he went away, and by then I was having fun.  So I guess he wins.  But really, the party was a blast, sans that one awkward experience.  It may have been sometime this day that the words "Where's Paolo?!" were picked up by the group as a joke because Paolo kept disappearing.

Friday: Took a nap curled up sideways (dunno how I did it!) in a little chair, and went to a couple lectures.  We had the international dinner, which was great fun.  I can home and didn't sleep at all, because I kept coughing.  I went earlier in the day to the Student Health Service and got a new inhaler and a maintenance inhaler because I was having some serious issues. 

Today:  Went out with Angie and her friend Mark (who is a great, wonderful, nice guy who drove us around.  Yay cars.  And let me watch the end of NCIS on his TV before we left to take Angie to the train station.)  I got my bedding and HUGE towel, and also stuff to wash clothes and some food.  Muesli exists in the grocery stores here.  We went to Mark's house for dinner and met his mom, who gave me her card and said to call her if I needed anything.  She was very nice and reminded me a lot of my mom, which triggered some nasty homesickness (plus I'm sick and crazy anyway).  But I'm over that for the moment!  It was a great day, even if I was very tired!  And we had lasagna for dinner.

I think that about covers it.  I promise a post with pictures soon!  I just need to get some organization into my life (and my room) before I take care of that.  Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

From the flip side!

I hear someone (several someones?) wanted a blog update.  I'll try to make it organized, so that at least someone can try to follow my thoughts!

The travel: Well, it was fine.  The TV on the big plane was broken, so they gave me a free beer.  That was not good.  Not good at all.  But then again, I should have known it wouldn't be.  Also, it knocked me out.  But the flights were mostly smooth, and I slept for a couple hours on the plane, even though it wasn't real sleep.  Awoke to one of the most amazing red sunrises I've ever seen, and tried to take a picture (and failed.)  We landed and got the train ok and got to Sheffield and my dorm okay, and I was ever so glad to be done with /that/.  We then walked around forever, until my back hurt and my feet hurt and besides that I was jet lagged.  This made me sick to my stomach and incapable of logical thought or controlling my emotions.  We can all see where that's heading, so I'll leave it at this:  I got mildly hysterical twice yesterday, but both times my parents talked me down out of it.  This is a drastic improvement over Philmont, for anyone who knows that story, in that I could not be talked down at Philmont.

Today:  We slept til 1.  This was 12 hours for me, and would never have happened so I must have been really really tired.  I still feel like I was hit by a bus!  But we spent a lot of time outside today so hopefully my circadian rhythm clock will be a bit better now.  Today, we went to a different shopping place that is much closer, and went in the Tesco again, and found a place like a convenience store that had kinder eggs.  Kinder eggs!  I can find them almost anywhere.  Those of you who know of my kinder egg love will know why this is happy.  Aaaaand we also took a bus (which Adam nearly broke) and got snarked at by the bus driver (seems like all bus drivers are cranky, no matter the country) and got off and went back to city centre, and then found a pub and Adam watched the football game, and I texted on my phone with Skype and drank cider and then ate fish and chips.  Aaaaand then we walked all the way home (note: >F) and I came to the edge, which is the computer place, and got online!

This is the best part of the day:  When I got online, Dusty and I arranged that her sister would bring her laptop to her bridal shower, and they'd turn on Skype and set it where I could see some stuff, and now I get to be at Ashley's bridal shower which is thousands of miles away.  It's awesome.  But the sound keeps going in and out, or it just gets really quiet.  I can't tell.  But I'm ridiculously happy I get to be there anyway.

Also, for future going abroad generations: While your ATM card will work in ATMs, it probably won't work in a lot of stores.  In England, they have a different system than we do in the US, whereby there is a chip implanted in the card and they have to stick the card in a reader- not swipe like we do.  So you should always carry some cash.  The rumor according to my dad, who travels here a lot and has never had this problem, is that you need to tell them you have to have a voucher printed to sign, and to please run it as credit instead of debit.  He said this works most places, and since he's been to most of the common places, he's probably right.  I just haven't tested it yet.  I'm wondering if maybe it's more common that it works in and around large cities.  Then again, this city is bigger, population wise, than Albuquerque.  So... I don't know.  If I have to I'll transfer my money, or some of it, to a bank here in England.  It'll work out.

Also, some general info on the blog for folks who've asked:  I'm still testing it, but I believe any of you who are getting this by email can respond and no one else will see the response.  If that isn't the case, I'll just set it to not show any comments, and then that'll be fine.

I've also set it so that anyone can comment on my journal.  You'll still have to type the code word thingy, but just type what you see on the screen.  It's not a password, it's just to keep spam robots from spamming on my entry.  I'm not sure how it says who is posting the comment, but I'm guessing you supply a name of some kind when you enter the comment.

I think that's all the pertinent info!

They're totally right, though, the omnipotent they (in this case, Christine) when they say that for awhile you keep having moments when you go, "Why am I here?  What have I done?  I'm going home on the next flight, because I can't possibly survive this nonsense."  This is made worse by jet lag, as I've spoken about.  I'm sure I'll have my share of these moments in the near future, but for today I've had fewer of these moments than yesterday, and the ones I've had haven't lasted long enough to develop into a full blown panic.

Anywho, I better go!  Gotta get back to the party!  If you have Skype, send me a message!  My username is caitydid685.  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pre-departure update

So, it's official, Adam is indeed flying out with me tomorrow.  He got his visa yesterday, and is now one of those kids Lauren tells stories about to all the kids just heading out.  We had some drama today with not knowing exactly what we need to have besides our visas to enter the UK, but that's all been squared away.

And I'm enjoying some "peace and quiet" with the puppies outside... peace and quiet all being relative, as the two of them are rarely peaceful or quiet this time of night.  Plus they slept all day.  Yay border collies!  Also, just so I have this down for prosperity, I'd like to share that I am 100% totally freaked out and 100% totally wondering if this was the right thing to do at all.  Of course it is, and I know I won't regret it once I get there, but right now, well, I'm not so excited.  Just pre-trip jitters, I'm sure.  Tomorrow at the airport is gonna be somethin' else, as I'm the second worst at goodbyes in like... the entire world.  And my mom is first.  :P  I love you mommy!  But we'll get through it, since we have to, and my next update will be when I get the change in England!  That's actually a pretty exciting thought.

By the way, if anyone wants some excellent New Mexican food, Los Cuates is amazing, as is El Patio down by UNM.  I've been to both within the past week and they were excellent!

Alright, time for me to go.  Talk to y'all on the flipside! (*gulp*)  Haha, just kidding.  I'm fine, I'm just a little dramatic (and we all know who I got THAT from.  Hi mom!  I love you!  Again!  :P)  Adios for now!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Quick Update!

A quick update, just because.

1.  Adam's visa got picked up by UPS today and is being sent back to him by next day air.  We should have it Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest.  This hopefully means I don't have to fly all alone.

2.  Turns out I don't have a job.  Someone went back on their decision or something, I'm not sure what happened.  Not cool, but it's one less thing to deal with so I'm not totally shattered.  If I can, I'll get a job in England, but it's not going to be something I obsess over.  I have enough money, I think, to manage, even with the exchange rate.

Only 6 days!  (Commence uber panic now!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let the Madness Begin!

The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
    And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say.
-JRR Tolkien

Hola, all y'all out in blogger (and facebook, if that application is working right) land!  So, as all of you know, I'm leaving for England very soon (on the 10th!) and yes, I finally got my blog set up.  It was titled with the help of Ashley.  It's part of the lyrics to a song Tolkien wrote, which is ironic if any of you happen to know that I'm not terribly fond of LotR (but sssssh, don't tell the Hobbit Society!).  Well fine, The Hobbit was okay... but I digress.  Aaaaanyway.  I'll hopefully be updating this blog semi regularly, and it should hopefully be posting any updates once a day to Facebook, for those of you reading this from Facebook.

So, a summary so far, from the beginning:  I found out about studying abroad from some presentation they've done every year in my German classes, and I initially said, No way in heck am I going overseas.  I don't remember why I suddenly changed my mind, but judging that to be a good thing for once, I went and talked to one of the SA advisors, and applied and everything before I really fully understood what exactly I was doing.  Of course, by the time I got accepted it was fine.  After doing all that paperwork, just for the application to /our/ program, I sure better have known what I was getting in to!  The day before our applications to our program were due, my brother decided to follow my lead and somehow managed to get the paperwork it'd taken me weeks to pull together in a matter of hours, and also got accepted to go to Hull.  His application to Hull was accepted, and he's going to be going there.  It's about 40 minutes (or miles, or kilometers, I forget) from Sheffield.

So I got accepted into our program, and then got to apply to Sheffield.  That was... I don't remember how that was.  Not too too bad, because I'd already gotten transcripts and letters of recommendation to turn in with the SA application.  And I got accepted to Sheffield too (obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this!).  All of this crazed nonsense with filling things out to apply to both programs was compounded at the time by a trip to Argentina, which was my first experience going outside North America (which, by the way, is just part of America to the Argentineans, as is the entirety of South and Central America.  They are all one continent.) and I loved it.  It convinced me a little further that perhaps traveling to England for a school year was a really good idea.  I kind of enjoyed the traveling, to be honest.  And the 11 hour plane ride wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it'd be.

After I got in to Sheffield and got my housing and all, I got some time to wait for my visa letter to apply for my student visa.  Oh joy, oh rapture.  Let me tell you something about applying for student visas.  First, I filled out an application (the correct one) but sent documentation for another.  Luckily, the documentation for the first was included in the documentation for the second, but the confusion added some days to me getting my visa.  Second of all, if you apply for a visa, you will never be able to speak to a single living person who knows anything.  I am not kidding.  There is a number where you can ask questions, but you pay for it, and they don't really know anything you can't find online, and they can't really tell you anything specific.  All in all, probably the worst thing I've had to do so far is applying for that visa.  It was stressful, confusing, and annoying, and every bit as bad as everyone says it is.  But I survived, and so did my application, and I got my visa.

And that kind of brings us to today!  I actually started a packing list, yay hooray, and I get to keep my job, after a fashion (oh man, are the people at work who figured that out a patient lot) by doing something different than I'd be doing here.  It's exciting, because I'll still have a consistent source of income.  Adam hasn't gotten his visa yet and probably won't before we were supposed to leave, so I'll probably go to England all by myself and he'll come later.  (But cross your fingers and hope for us that his visa gets here in time, because I hate traveling alone).  I'm not sure exactly what classes I'll have in England- 4 or 5 I know for sure, but the other 1 or 2 I don't.

I also probably won't update again til I get there, unless something earthshattering happens, like Adam getting his visa, or if I decide to post the night before I leave, or sometime while I'm traveling.