Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Thoughts From A Train


Ok so the title is fluffy and pretentious. I’m going to go ahead and blame the book I just finished reading, it’s called “Jane Austen ruined my life” and it’s pretty awful; badly written, weird concept, historically and culturally inaccurate, the whole nine yards. But I still read it cover to cover and am a little disappointed it’s finished, because it’s really romantic and gushy without being excessively sexy, because it’s fulfilling my saccharine sweet tooth, because it’s mind numbingly easy to read, because it feels good to be reading something which isn’t for school and because there’s something about reading on trains which is oddly, but satisfyingly, romantic to my mind. (Actually there was one more thing I wanted to moan about; all the ‘British’ characters sounded like they had sprung from turn of the century London – what? Who even talks like that anymore? Although luckily there were only about three ‘British’ characters in the whole book, which was odd considering it was set in England...)

I actually tried to write some of my Children’s Literature paper, the only thing I didn’t manage to get finished due to my ridiculously badly timed illness of epic proportions. Luckily I managed to get a medical extension on it, although not without some adventure. Because clearly at this stage nothing can go simply, why would life be easy? My professor wasn’t responding to my email and I really needed to know whether I’d gotten the extension and therefore should panic, or not. So I went to the English office to see if they had a better way to contact her, they didn’t so the chair of the department just asked me how long I’d like to write the paper, I suggested the 10th of January and then he sent off a storm of emails. I still haven’t actually heard back from my professor, so I’m not actually sure whether she’s realised why my paper hasn’t come in yet. Although on saying that we’re supposed to email them in. Still, one would think that if we were supposed to email in our papers she would have to check her email in order to see whether mine was there or not. 

I’m not too sure how much sense I’m making. I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night. I stayed up last night trying to get as much done on my paper as I could while other people were still working. I sat with Violet and the other Ellen in the library, and whilst I wasn’t hugely productive, I now only need to write 7 pages rather than 10, and I got to spend some time with my friends. I was hoping to get a little more done however, since now realistically I’m going to end up writing the paper over J-term, which I was really trying to avoid. I was hoping to be able to bum around and not really do too much work over J-term. Although on saying that the readings for my philosophy class has been posted online already for me, along with strict instructions that I should read and consider the materials carefully and come up with intellectual things to say about it. (I might have paraphrased ever so slightly...)

Anyway, so I’m on a train. The trains seem to follow the old cliché that everything in America is bigger than things at home. I have so much legroom it’s pretty epic, and the seats seem to be made for phenomenally fat people.  I have a power socket and internet, albeit very unreliable internet, hence why I’m writing this; not much internet require. The best thing however about this train is that it’s just like trains you see in old movies; it’s all tall and we’re plunging through the darkness and there’s an enormous orange moon and I feel very content. I always forget how much I love trains. I think they might be my preferred method of transportation.  There are such fantastic people on trains. I’m sat behind a group of Australian travellers who are all on iphones and ipads which seem to be so much better at capturing the dodgy internet connection than my dinosaur of a Dell, which incidentally I’m starting to think is on its very last legs. And on the other side of me is a couple, the girl is playing violent computer games and the guy is knitting the world’s longest scarf. The Mount Holyoke Woman in me approves of this failure to conform to gender norms. 

So anyway this marvel of modern technology, the peak of travelling comfort is whisking me away to sunny Boston, where I have to do fandagoing with the Boston T in order to make it safely to chez Ink-pad where I’m spending the night before hopefully flying off to old Blighty for a couple days of Christmas and New Year’s malarkey and real life British people and mince pies and vegetables and fruit and my duvet and actual real life Y chromosomes! So much excitement. Lucky I’m only back for 10 days really or all the novelty will go to my head. (I’m going to interrupt myself to say that knitting man has the oddest knitting technique I have ever seen. It’s like a cross between knitting and crocheting, it’s fascinating. I’m trying to figure out what he’s doing without looking like I’m staring at him...) 

I just noticed that this blog post is actually 100 words longer than what I’ve written on my Children’s Literature paper so far. How depressing. I also realised that I haven’t eaten for a very long time. I mean it’s only nine and I had lunch at 12. But I’m used to seriously regular dining hall food. 10, 12 and 6 without fail. Those first two meals are actually much too close together. Perhaps that is not too healthy? Regardless. Three regular meals. So right now I’m REALLY REALLY HUNGRY! So I’m hoping we’re nearly there now.
Wow. That was amazing. Just as I typed that I was hoping we were almost there the lady announced we were five minutes away. Makes me wonder, if I’d typed that sentence an hour again, would it have had the same effect? 

(So I was going to put a bit here about how I American trains were inferior to ours, because they were patchy, infrequent and equally late, but it transpires that despite leaving Springfield almost an hour and a half behind schedule we swung into Boston merely two minutes late! INSANE! The train can do magical time bending type things. So really American trains win! Coincidentally American subway systems are also superior – on the T in Boston they have phone signal! Can you imagine! I wonder how they do it....)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Home is where the heart is.

** Disclaimer - this was written in several pieces and therefore might not flow well or make sense, not too much of a change from usual **

I only have a week and a half left at Mount Holyoke this semester, I'm flying back to Guildford in exactly 12 days, this has produced the fascinating sentence: 'I'm going home on the 21st and then coming back home on the 2nd of January.' How does that even make sense in my head?

 
I've been thinking about writing this post for a couple of days now, but was finally prodded into action by the most lovely package I have ever received from my gorgeous friends in York. Usually there isn't much than can make me cry, except you know, a good book, or a soppy film, or a really sad story, which might jerk the occasional tear. But this had me literally bawling. For a good 45 minutes. It was one of the most lovely things I have ever received, even though it was just an envelope with a random assortment of gifts, cards and letters, it contained more love than I could have ever hoped for. /end soppy stuff.

That and the fact that from now on sleeping doesn't really look like it's on the agenda until Friday, let alone writing blogs, and I haven't even written about thanksgiving yet. Also the sheer amount of work is worrying me a little and when I worry I procrastinate like a pro. Still I think it's doable. I mean really it'll have to be, I don't have a great deal of choice. And it's only 2 10 page papers and a portfolio. What's the big deal? Hmmm. 

So anyway, recently it struck me how many places I call home.The first time I really noticed how easily I start calling a place home was in South Africa, when I realised that I was calling a tent which moved every day home and it escalated somewhat from there.The obvious place to start is Guildford, where I have lived almost my entire life, but recently I can say that I have added York, Plymouth MA, and the craziness that is Mount Holyoke College to my list.

I'm going back to Guildford on the 22nd of December this year, in time for Christmas, I have to say I'm looking forward to being home, Christmas on this campus isn't very Christmassy, despite the lights on the Commons and the Gates, and the odd Christmas decoration which has found it's way into the dining halls. I haven't been to any carol services, I haven't seen any carollers, no mince pies have been consumed at all, no mulled wine, no excessive Christmas music. No nothing. Christmas is going to be very short this year I think.

(I'm not going back to York for a gosh darned while, but hopefully I should be headed back for Cricket Presidents, worry not gang!)

The most fantastic thing about being friends with the world's shortest person (read: Half-Pint / Emily) is that I get to lay claims to her FANTASTIC family. They made me feel so at home, it was lovely. (see what I did there? I linked it to the title... ooooh! I'm a smart cookie!) Although Thanksgiving seems like it was a while ago,  I have to say it was one of my favourite American things thus far. This is probably in part because it contained a excess of my favourite things ever to do: sleeping and eating. I have literally never seen so much turkey in one place in my life. We had one huge 40 pound turkey and then another smaller turkey which was smoked, and then sweet potatoes and yam, and mashed potatoes, and beans, and stuffing and bacon and cranberry sauce (which I made myself!!) and I think more things which I'm forgetting about. And then ,when I was sat trying to contemplate how I was ever going to eat again, about 8 pies came out!!I have to admit that I sadly failed at eating everything on my plate. But I ate the pie for breakfast the following morning...

And the last place I call home is this crazy place called Mount Holyoke College. It is like an inverse universe where phrases like heteronomativity are used as though feminism is going out of fashion and liberalism is a way of life. Not to mention the fact that mono (which is what Americans call Glandular Fever I believe) is going (pardon the pun) viral, every other person seems to have it. Possibly because with the advent of the COLD we have recently been experiencing, us singletons are becoming a dying breed, as a friend pointed out "it's getting to the point of comic ridiculousness". However, despite the cold, there is still NO SNOW. Which is also ridiculous considering the amount of snow that England and in fact the rest of Europe is experiencing at the moment. Mount Holyoke trying to be differnet again! (This makes it sound as though the snow comes up to the Mount Holyoke gates and then stops, this clearly isn't the case) Still I'm holding out for a white Christmas back home, if I manage to get there that is...

In other news I'm still dying slowly in a corner, but I have every intention of waking up tomorrow fully healed. (I've been saying this every day for a while now, it's not happened so far - but I have a good feeling about tomorrow...)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Exams?

I recently realised I hadn't sat an actual real life exam since A-levels.
Which was a long time ago.
I haven't done this revision thing in a while. 
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!
Not to mention the fact that I'm sick.
Like actually, being pumped full of anti-biotics type sick.
Yup. I win at life again!
In other news there is a super sized blog post of seriousness coming. This is just a filler while I freak out about finals.
See you on the other side old chaps!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Why I love my Old English Professor: Reason 682

His 4 week projected final paper work schedule:
Week 1: Find and isolate topic.
Week 2: Drink tea, eat biscuits and think.
Week 3: Bibliography and rough draft
Week 4: Shape material into brilliant paper.
Needless to say I'm looking forward to week 2.

In other news I have mastered the art of putting up my blinds without assistance. Not just a pretty face!

(Ok, I've accepted that my life is neither adventurous nor exciting, I think you should do the same...)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Thanksgiving is coming...

The turkey's getting fat, please put a penny in the poor student's hat.
(I was told no Christmas until after thanksgiving, so I'm modifying...)

So tomorrow I leave on exciting Thanksgiving adventures! I have no idea how I'm going to make it back from aforementioned adventures, but I've totally figured out how I'm getting there, and it's going to involve a car, an underground thingy bobby, a train, and then another car on the other end! Oh yes! I feel like a mighty intrepid type explorer! It's all pretty exciting, I actually arrive before Half-Pint does, but it's all good! There will be real Maine potatoes, and Turkey and a bunch of other American type things, but I'm sure this will all come in a later post.

Right now I'm all excited because I've figured out there's a 'Stats' tab on my blog and I can see who is reading it! Well not exactly who, I can't stalk you, but I can see how many people are looking at it, where they are from (by country) and what browser they are using to read my random ramblings! For example I now know that 4 people visited my blog yesterday, 187 people visited this month and in all time 489 people have read about my life. I also know that this week 51 people from the UK, and 37 people from America read my blog, which is fairly interesting, but I also know that 10 people from Canada and 2 people from South Korea stopped by. This is fascinating, because I don't know how these people came across my blog, and prompted me into further research. Transpires that in the history of my blog, I have had 14 Russian readers, 12 Swedish 3 French readers, and one lost reader in Germany. I understand the French ones, I know French people, but I don't know 12 Swedish people (plus many of my Swedish friends don't actually live in Sweden) and as far as I'm aware I don't know anyone in Russia or South Korea.  Or actually Canada for that matter...

Needless to say this is inflating my ego, even though I'm very aware that the majority of these people probably came across my blog entirely by accident, and didn't read anything before they left, and probably have no recollection of seeing it at all. Nevertheless, it is spurring me on to post more often and to generally be a funnier, more interesting person, which is what you've all been waiting for anyway I'm sure.

Anyway I should get back to my mountain of papers and other thanksgiving preparations, such as packing and doing laundry (as you can see my bid to be interesting and lead an entertaining life is going well!)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

There are two things I should never do...

and they are a) tell myself I'm going to have an early night, and b) take my laptop to the library. 

I have told myself I need an early night every night this week, thus far I have failed to make it to my room much before 2. I really don't understand how this happens. Well I do, essentially I get distracted by people and end up talking until way too late. This isn't exactly a new phenomenon, sleep is a fairly inconsistent part of the Mount Holyoke experience from what I've observed, however with the work load consistently ramping up and thanksgiving break nearing, it's getting a little hairy. 

I actually have a bone to pick with those 1621 pilgrims, I think they went out of their way to make my life more complicated than is strictly necessary. While I'm all for giving thanks and all that jazz, it basically means I and the rest of civilisation is trying to get to Eastern Massachusetts Tuesday/Wednesday and then back again on Sunday. This makes it very hard to figure out how to get there and back, and whilst I'm looking forward to spending my first All-American Thanksgiving in Plymouth, the home of thanksgiving, it is proving to be somewhat of a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the fact that really I don't have time for frivolities because every single deadline EVER seems to be around now. This is not fair; my professors are all American, they knew this was coming, I never saw it approaching and then it suddenly arrived and I have been thrown into depths of panic. ish. 

However this brings me onto point 2 of my two things I should never do. I am currently in the library. I was going to write my two page paper today. Clearly this is not happening. Instead I have written long emails to people in England, I have written a blog post, and I have written (arguably) witty comments on facebook pictures. Not a paper in sight. Which is an issue. A fairly sizable issue really since I have this 2 page paper, and a 5-7 page paper due this and next Tuesday respectively, and a translation and a quiz to prepare for. And a sodding four day break with no library right slap bang in the middle. It really is most inconvenient!

Not to mention the fact that all my Sinterklaas things are in the post from England, and I'm pretty sure that Thanksgiving is going to involve postal workers having a break, which means that most likely my things won't arrive and I shall have a sad, sad, strooigoed-free sinterklaas for the first time EVER and I shall cry and cry. Vespers is actually on Sinterklaas, which is probably a good thing, since in my experience no work ever gets done on Sinterklaas since I spend the day feeling homesick. So instead I shall spend the day running around like a headless chicken, and I'm sure it'll be much more productive. Hopefully I shall still have time to watch Alles is Leifde, which is a personal lonesome, only dutch person around, tradition of mine. Perhaps in the morning. 

The only other issue with the approach of Vespers is that I have yet to actually master the pieces, which is an issue, since I do need to be able to play them in the concert. I've got the Bach Chorale and Joy to the World down (if you could see my music you'd see why, even I can handle a couple of crotchets and the smattering of accidentals) and about two thirds of the crazy other piece. It's the last third that I'm worried about. Since the bit I haven't got is the tune bit, which would be helpful to you know. Play. Still it could be worse, we could be playing the Borodin, in which I have SOLOS. Seriously? What kind of crazy composer gives the second clarinet solos? I'm supposed to play helpful harmonies, the odd long note and spend the rest of my time, well counting rests, not playing solos. This was not in my job description!

Anyway. I'm going to move out of my desk with my laptop, as this is clearly of limited productivity, and go work somewhere else. Hopefully with more evident output. Toodles.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wait just one minute!

I forgot to blog about something of momentous and extreme importance! LISA CAME TO VISIT! Like actually from England. Well clearly from England, because that is where she lives, but it was so very very exciting! Unfortunately the Valley is a pretty dull place, and there is not much to do, particularly since I still had homework and quizzes to do and therefore was not at the peak of my fun! Still we had a good time hanging out in the library. I'M JOKING! Well, actually, we did hang out in the Library, but I'll have you know the library here is very beautiful and historical and has very comfy seats.

We also went on other exciting adventures though. We went shopping at the mall, and to Northampton, and went to pub night and a Blanch Party. Lisa also went on solo missions to Amherst and Boston, and we hung out and stole food from the cafeteria. And went on walks around campus to see the lakes, and we went to the village commons. You know, all the important things to see and do in South Hadley. Oh! And one night we ordered sushi and tried to watch Glee, but the TV wasn't playing ball, so it was showing the picture and playing the background music but you couldn't hear the actual dialogue. It was very bizarre. And we hung out in the library, and in my dorm room, and did homework. Because we're cool like that. 

Regular readers of this blog, will recognise my adventures with Lisa to include much shopping (let's be honest, Lisa probably one of the only regular readers of this blog - so I'm just telling you that whenever Lisa and I are in the same place shopping occurs). This time was no exception. I successfully bought a really nice polo Ralph Lauren sweater/jumper (depending on where you come from), a vest/body-warmer/Gillette (ditto) a couple of t-shirts (one of which from Holister, I feel so in with the kids) and most importantly my Advent calender! This year, since I bought it so early and therefore had limited choice, I went for a slightly less religious themed one, with Santa and toys and small children. However, in an unusual twist of fate it has chocolate in! Oh yes! I'm pretty excited!

Which allows me to segway nicely (or perhaps not so nicely) into a short moment of excitement about the fact that DECEMBER IS COMING! This means several things: 1. Thanksgiving break! 2. Sinterklaas. and 3. Getting ready for Christmas. I shall address these in order:
1. Thanksgiving break starts next Tuesday! Which is exciting! I'm going back to Plymouth for the break and hanging out with my fake American Family in Eastern Mass. We're doing exciting things like a turkey trot, and eating our body weight in food and hanging out with extended family. 
2. Sinterklaas is fast approaching, but because thanksgiving falls between now and Sinterklaas I'm not too sure when I get to start listening to the songs or becoming excited about it all. My mother went to Holland this weekend and bought me Sinterklaas things, so maybe I'll start when it all arrives. I'm prettttty excited!
3. Christmas! YAY CHRISTMAS! I have Christmas themed knit wear and everything! I love Christmas! My cousins and aunts and uncles and grandmother will be there, and it's all so exciting! I'm told mince for mince pies has been made as well as Christmas cakes!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I'm a mess.

I feel like I've blogged about this before, but I am continually astounded, befuddled and bemused by my innate ability to create mess. It's actually very impressive; I actually got to the stage where I can no longer fit my laptop on my desk, which is slightly beside the point since I can't actually sit at my desk because both of my chairs are covered in stuff, I'm currently unsure of the location of my bookshelf, I haven't seen my rug in weeks, I have to take a flying leap to get into bed, and I can't actually open my fridge. Today I decided that enough was enough and it was time to start clearing. Logic dictated that I start in the door way and work inwards. Thus far I have made to in line with my bedside table. Which is a meter in. In 45 minutes. It's pretty impressive.

My tidying adventures led me to ponder many soul searching questions, such as what is the nature of chaos, where does dust come from, and perhaps most importantly why can't I snap my fingers and have everything clear itself like Mary Poppins does? 

It is interesting though, I feel like in York my room was generally also a mess, but it bothered me less, perhaps because I lived in a house with 6 other people who hadn't seen their floors in weeks. People here tidy. Alot. I haven't seen a seriously mouldy mug in any one's room but my own for a long time, it's almost as if American students aren't looking for penicillin in their daily lives. Generally people's beds are made, their floors are clear and their washing up is done. The only people I know who claim to have untidy rooms, usually are referring to a pile of clothing on the floor and clutter on the desk, which really is a poor effort in my opinion. I even know someone who owns a mini-hoover for tidying emergencies... no joking...

My initial knee-jerk reaction to the question - 'what happened in here?!?!' is to claim that my things move themselves while I'm not looking. And whilst this seems like the most probable explanation for the state my room finds itself in, my hoarding habit probably doesn't really help, nor my impulse to dump everything on the floor when I get into my room and get into bed. I have this strange idea that when I take my clothes off before getting into bed at night, if I put them on a chair, I might wear them again at some point, when in reality what happens is that the pile gets bigger and bigger until I decide it is threatening to over run my room, or I've run out of clean t-shirts and then I go through put everything in the wash and start again, because it's been so long since I've worn things that I've forgotten whether I inadvertently spilt tomato soup on the purple or the green t-shirt.

I sometimes wonder where my inability to control my stuff comes from.My family, whilst not being the tidiest people on the planet, really don't seem to have my level of skill at tidying. My mother asked me when we skyped today whether the mess in my room was getting as bad as when she'd seen my room in York. The irony of the situation is that when she came to my room in York it wasn't even as bad as it had been. My washing up was even done, and I seem to remember I had clean sheets. The truth of the matter is that I seem to be able to create mess just as quickly as I can tidy it. It's like an endless vicious circle.

I'm hoping my untidiness a phase that I will eventually grow out of, because if I'm still like this when I have teenaged kids I'm going to struggle to hold my own in the 'you don't even tidy your room' argument, which seems to be a staple of the teenager experience. But for now I'm going to get back to task at hand and attempt to tidy the next meter or so of room.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Bonding

Americans are not very good at making popcorn in the microwave. They seem to burn it every other time. They also make popcorn at ridiculous times. Such as 1.30am. When they will burn the popcorn badly enough to set off the fire alarm. So the whole building has to go outside into the freezing cold. I'm not even exaggerating; there was frost on the ground. What is truly amazing is how people bond over the oddest things, in a previous post I mentioned midterms, last night, at 1.30am, in the freezing cold, we bonded over our mutual disgust at late night fire alarms. We were all in various stages of undress; some people very sensible very large pjs, some people in smaller pjs, one friend in a very teeny tiny nightgown, with jumpers, coats and duvets thrown on over the top, all moaning about the cold and how late it was. One poor girl was in a towl and flipflops and had clearly been dragged out of the shower. Maybe people just bond over mutual misery...

The worst thing about the whole thing was that it was at 1.30 so we still need to have our 2-6am fire drill. So we have to do the whole shibaz again at some point...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Family and Friends etc.

So I'm really not doing too well with keeping this updated. So since I last posted it was family and friend's weekend, which basically involved a weekend of running around pretending to be musical, wearing a pope dress and watching my friends actually be musical. And my friend Map from camp came to visit which was highly exciting! And meant that we did alot of talking and not much sleeping. But it's all good. 

Last weekend was Halloween weekend. Which was alot of fun, but sadly was a little deviod of trick or treating and other such American goodness. But we did go out on Saturday (mainly because it was a friend's birthday), and we did dress up (albeit rather un-enthusiastically and at the last minute) as playing cards. But there were four of us so we could each be a suit (one of us was hearts, one was diamons, clubs and spades etc.) so it was actually kind of cute. 

I'm noticing that I'm sounding more and more American recently. I know this because a) I can say pants without giggling like a four year old, b) I say that everything is cute, c) every now and then I say tooz-day rather than chews-day for Tuesday, and d) Beth tells me so when we skype. But panic not my British accent loving friends! All is going to be O.K. because Lisa is coming to visit tomorrow complete with British socks (from Primark - I'm classy like that), British chocolate (Cadbury's of course) and a fully functioning British accent! YAY!

I have much preparing to do in preparation for Lisa's arrival. I have already crossed off 'Locate Floor' off of my to do list. Still remaining are such joyous tasks as: plan french paper, edit french paper, translate old english, read children's books, sweep floor (once I discovered it, I also discovered it was still covered in bits of astroturf from when we had a frisbee class out there a couple of weeks ago - oops) and start creative writing assignment. Still I'm exceedingly excited about the invasion of British which is about to happen.

I find myself becoming more and more patriotic the longer I stay in this crazy country. Which is weird. Because I'm not even particularly British (exactly half to be precise). And yet I find myself giving an internal (and sometimes not so internal) cheer everytime anything remotely British related is mentioned. Even Scotland. Which is saying something I think you'll agree. But I could (and might) write a whole post on this phenomenon. So I'll save it for another time. 

In other news, I have a tentative schedule for next semester, I think I'm going to take, The French  Speaking World, Medieval Literature, Modern British Novels, and a Creative Writing class. Which is exciting. Unless York says I don't have to take the French class, which I'm least looking forward to, in which case I can do Faulkner and Modern Southern Writing, instead of the Modern British Novel (which kinda makes sense since I am infact in America not Britain) and possibly a Psychoanalytic Theory Class.

But possibly more exciting than next semester's class choices, are the choices available for the J-Term. I've already signed up for Creative Writing Workshop I, which is being taught/led/whatever, by one of the girls who lives on my floor, which I am massively excited about. But I'm also thinking about signing up for Intro to Crochet, Adobe Creative Suite: The Ins and Outs, Beginning Knitting with Annie, Ping-Pong ahoy! , Bead and Wire Earring Design and Yummy Chinese Food (A Cooking Class). Some of the other options include: The Science of Bread Baking, Spinning Yarn, To Boldy Go: Exploring the Star Trek Universe, Intro to T'ai Chi, Intro to Watercolor Painting, Comic and Graphic Novel Creation and Constucting Language. Some of which sound more appealing than others.

Anyway, my freshly made and laundered bed is calling my name with increasing strength, I think I might be beginning to ramble and I need to get up in the morning so it's off to Bedfordshire for me!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Viva Las Vegas.

Mount Holyoke is a very strange place. Put it this way: I've never lived anywhere where it's perfectly acceptable to wonder around in a sports bra and shorts. This was strange. What was stranger was that once Vegas Night rocked up it wandering round in underwear was somehow scandelously cool. I shall try to explain.

Last weekend was Vegas Night. Rumours about the party had been building and becoming slowly more and more insane as the weeks progressed. I heard it was the second biggest party on the Playboy College party list. I heard guys come from California. I heard they closed down two Emergency rooms to accomodate us. I heard last year someone let loose a lion... and so on and so forth. (Some of these rumours may or may not have been made up by me...)

So finally the night rocks round. And other than that the DJ was even worse than the ones we have, it was essentially like a glorified Club D type job. Except not in a school cafeteria, which I always think is part of the Derwent party charm. Same frenetic pre-drinking, same drunken revelry, same copious vomiting. (Not, I hasten to add on my part.) Same old same old. The main difference was that American men are very predatory. I'm sure we too have very predatory men, but I have never in England encountered men with such an inability to understand the word no. It's pretty crazy. 

The other thing I noticed was the inability of many of my colleages to hold their drink. I looked down my nose at them in a very British type way. I assume that it was because of America's ridiculously high drinking age. I say ridiculously high because realistically when all these kids leave their homes and go out into the big wide world there is no one to stop them drinking. No one is checking on them any longer, so whilst they can't legally go out and buy a drink, there really isn't anything stopping them drinking in general. They just haven't got the practice under their belts that we British have. And whilst I suppose their three-drink-and-then-they're-out is both cheaper and potentially better for their liver than my former house-mates' antics, I don't think it's hugely healthy either. And so the debate on legal drinking ages continues.

It was a lovely night though, but potentially one of those where the getting ready to go out, getting dressed up, taking pictures in our fancy dress outfits etc. was more fun than the night itself. Still we did have rather alot of fun. And I now have a fruitbowl filled with a feather boa, and really, who's life is complete without a bowlful of feathers?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I was just thinking.

And while I know thinking is very dangerous, and I normally avoid it like the plague, today I feel like I should like to put my thinkings down in blogging form. Bear with me.

I was asked to write about my experiences at MHC to encourage others to apply for the exchange. This is what I came up with:

"The most amazing thing about being at Mount Holyoke, apart from the incredible variety of course options open to you, is the people you meet. The women at MHC are inspiring; they are amazingly broad minded, and honestly believe they can change the world. These are women who are going to make a difference, who work hard and play hard and who go out of their way to make foreign exchange students like myself feel at home within their community."

The strange thing about this, is that just 6 weeks ago I would have never written this. I would have written about the fantastic classes and amazing opportunities, and how good exchanges look on your C.V. Which made me think, because maybe I'm changing through being here. I'm already starting to think that maybe this summer I should do something more adult with my life. Maybe camp isn't the best place for me. Maybe it's time to set my sights higher. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

And anyway, this blog post wasn't really going to be about me. It was going to be about all the amazing people I met here. Because it's true. The classes are fun. But realistically, probably academically, while here we're worked harder, York is better, in terms of the teaching and resources. But while I love my friends from York, everyone here is so focused and driven. They all have big plans and big ideas. They prove to me over and over again, that little people can make big differences. They decide they want something and they go get it. It really is inspiring.

I can't really explain it better than that. They go out and do things; internships in the summers, working at cool places, doing exciting things. They organise events and run classes and generally just have the most amazing attitude to life. And while I'm sure there were plenty of people in York who had similar outlooks, they just didn't seem so out there. I didn't really hear of many people working in parliament, or hospitals, or wherever back home. Maybe it was just because I was tucked away in a little cocoon of camp-dom, and I didn't really look around me.

I quite like being a Mount Holyoke Woman. I like the sense of posibility it gives me. Like I can do anything I want to do. I can kind of understand why Rachel didn't want to leave here.

(But don't worry Yorkies. I'm a coming back. I promise. Just a new me. With bigger plans. Now just to figure out what those plans could be. How exciting.)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Midterms

Midterms are strange things. They don't actually fall in the middle of the term, as I had expected, but rather are placed at random throughout the semester at the whim of the professor and sneak up on you in rather uncomfortable ways. 

An example of this is the mid-term paper I completed this very morning. I wrote 7 pages comapring two versions of "Cinderella". The strange thing about this paper is that my essay contained more than the two books I was writing about put together. But then the books had pictures and as we all know a picture contains a thousand words. But I digress. I knew this paper was coming up. I wrote it in my diary. I highlighted it. I thought about starting early. I went on a trip to the library. Yet somehow I was up at 2am with only 4 pages completed and no semblance of a conclusion. I just don't understand. 

To my mind the only good thing about these midterm thingums, is that it does bring the whole class together; everyone was panicing as one. Everytime I came across someone from my Children's Lit class on Campus we asked each other how the paper was going, and there was facebooking, and texting and library gatherings. In short we bonded over our mutual procrastination. 

The only other thing I have to add to this brief discussion of Midterms before I get back to the grindstone, is that my Old English professor has the best approach to them out of everyone. After lengthy debate over the best way to test ourselves mid-term, an agreement was come to that rather than one big paper, we should do 3 little papers each worth five percent. The best thing about this whole situation is that he's told us exactly which five lines he's asking what questions about. And he said we can substitute the grade with a better one if we write a response paper and get higher marks. He's lovely.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Notes from a very bad blogger.

I'm so sorry I haven't blogged more consistently. I am a very bad blogger. I have just been so busy and so much amazing stuff has been happening that I got behind, and then the pile of things to blog about started to look so insurmountable that I started putting it off. BUT NO MORE! Now Ellen shall be a super duper bloginator and blast through what she has been doing for the last 6 weeks.

1. Orientation
There really isn't too much to say about Orientation. I met some amazing people. I met some slightly crazy people. I got freaked out by the amount of time they wanted us to dedicate to talking to people we didn't know about how random things made us feel. I got frustrated about the fact that we spent THREE DAYS discussing racism, only to be told at the end that racism is a social construct and doesn't actually exist. (The racism debate is actually very prevalent here, it comes up in almost every class, it seems very strange to me. I am not sure if this is an American thing or just a here thing.)

2. Food, weather, and other housekeeping notes.
The food here is pretty amazing. I mean admittedly I'll eat anything, but there's lots of it so I'm happy. They also are big on local produce and recycling/composting and all that jazz, which is pretty snazzy really. My favourite part is that every 'school' night we get given M&Cs at 9.30. This usually consists of some kind of drink (milk) and some kind of baked good (cookies). Although sometimes they mix it up and give us crackers, or chips and dip, or carrots and humus or whatever. I think this is a genius idea. Another rather exciting development is that sometimes, and I have no idea about the frequency of this, but sometimes, Prospect serves a whole bunch of deserts on the same day. Which mean that I essentially had desert instead of two meals on one day. It. Was. Epic.

The weather is good. At risk of sounding British, I will elaborate, it manages to get all its raining done in a couple of days. Which means we have like 2-3 days of Old Testament style rain. And then no rain for a while. It's pretty fabby. However to deal with the ridiculously heavy rain when it does come I have purchased for myself the brightest, reddest, shiniest welly boots the world has ever seen. They are pretty intense. I am told I look adorable in them. I think I look like Paddington bear. In preparation for exciting weather to come I have also purchased fleece liners for said welly boots, so hopefully they will last me until I get my snow boots. I also today erm... loaned a tray from Torrey Grab-and-Go so that I can use it as a sled once the snow comes, because there is a great hill behind my dorm and I am excited!

My room is lovely. It's starting to feel like home; I have all my pictures up, and a whole bunch of 'lived-in' type mess. I have so many lovely people on my floor, which is super duper, and even more fantastic friends living on other floors in the same building. Also two of the other English foreign exchange girls live in the South side of the Dorm, which means they're in easy reaching distance when I feel in need of a good old English moaning session, or just a hug, or I just need to hear a real accent. They're such lovely girls too, I'm so glad they're here.

3. Classes
I'm taking some pretty marvy classes this semester. I'm really enjoying both my Children's Literature class and my Old English class, despite the fact that the professors are certifiably insane, and think we do nothing but their work. I'm also taking a French class, which makes me glad I'm not a French student, although it's going alright, and it's actually getting better. And a creative writing class. I'm really enjoying the creative writing class, but am spending more time than I probably should be doing work for it, mainly because it doesn't really feel much like work at all. The classes are less enjoyable, I think largely because 3 hours of anything starts to drag, although on saying that I don't find this a problem with either of my other 3 hour classes.

4. Other things that shouldn't count as classes but do
I'm also doing a variety of things that shouldn't count as classes but do. There are three of these. They are: Beginners Frisbee, Chorale and Orchestra. My beginners frisbee class is possibly my favourite thing ever! I get to spend two hours a week running after a disk, and stomping on the poor girl who I am supposed to be marking. Those of you who have seen me play frisbee before, or indeed know me to any degree at all, are probably aware that I lack the co-ordination to be near other people when flying objects are involved. Still she bears my crashing into her, standing on her toes, whacking her in the face etc. with very good grace. Chorale is great fun. We get to sing pretty songs, learn about music type stuff as well as less music type things, including the Charlie Brown dances, and give each other massages. It's pretty snazy. I'm also in Orchestra. Despite a truly abysmal audition where I refused to play scales or arpeggios, I am still second clarinet (albeit of two) and have an official type board position. I am the Librarian, which makes me sound more important that I am, thus far I have only had to turn up to board meetings.

5. Mountain Day.
It is an MHC tradition to take a day off in late September to go climb a mountain. This is a truly ridiculous idea, and therefore also the best thing that has ever happened. They do not tell you when this happy day is going to be, and they ring the bells super loud, send emails, and put posters up at some un-Godly hour in the morning to let you know it has arrived. Following this you go back to bed. Only to be woken up by an over enthusiastic friend who comes bounding into your room at 8 to as you to come climb a mountain. You then tell her politely but firmly where to stick it. Then you wake up at a more sensible time (read - post noon) get dressed, climb the smallest mountain known to man, take pictures, see all your friends, shake hands with the president, eat ice-cream, and go back down the mountian. The rest of the day is spent pretending to do work. Safe to say. Best. Day. EVER.

6. Elfing
Mountain day was pretty fantastic. But was not my favourite MHC tradition to date. This is because there is a magical mystical thing named Elfing. Essentially it is like Christmas. FOR A WHOLE WEEK! It is the best thing since sliced cheese. Now usually foreign exchange students do not get Elfed. Because we are big and old and sensible. But luckily I have rather fantabulous friends in the Senior Class who recognised that I am neither big, nor grown-up, nor sensible, and I got Elfed hard core. Which meant that I found that I had been barricaded into my room with newspaper one night, and that my entire HALL had been covered with posters declaring how amazing I am, also given candy. Then the following day I was given Disney Princess frisbee disks and a paint-by-numbers and a crown made of pipe cleaners. Then the next day I got bubbles and animal stickers. I was supposed to find out who Elfed me at M&Cs on the Friday, and I waited and waited but my elf didn't show. When I finally got to my room, en-saddened by not finding out who she was, I discovered a sun catcher, and a note saying I'd meet her at the Senior Pub night. So I ran off direction pub night, where I pestered my poor beleaguered frisbee friend in my excitement. I FINALLY found out who my Elf was and I was a very happy bunny all night. And I had fairy wings. Which made all the difference.

7. Other exciting adventures.
What follows are several adventures I went on with my rather lovely friend from frisbee, one adventure I went on with half of my rather lovely Elf-team, and a rooftop adventure.

So my fantastic frisbee friend is rather amazing for a whole bunch of reasons, but one of them is that she takes me on rather excitable American-type adventures. For example, a couple of weeks ago we went on a trip to the Belchertown Town Fair. For those of you unaccustomed with the term 'Town Fair' I shall endeavour to explain. If you are from Holland it is basically a 'kermis'. If you are from the Guildford area think a cross between the County Fair and the fairground on Stoke Park on bonfire night. If you are from neither of these places there were rides, and toffee apples, and various local organisations had little stall things, and there was food, and there were little games like at a May Fayre, and during the day I guess there were animals and things, and there was a hypnotist, and a band, and a whole lotta teenagers. Mainly my experience of the 153rd Belchertown Town Fair involved eating vast quantities of food and people watching. We also played various games. I like to think it was a very American adventure. Please don't correct me of this delusion.

Another pretty fabby thing about frisbee friend is that she has the cutest kitten in the world. He is very teeny tiny, and all white and he has one brown eye and one blue eye and he is ADORABLE. He has a little mousey thingy that he plays fetch with like a little puppy. But he's a cat. I think that's kinda cool. He has sharp little claws though. But he's so cute that I am inclined to blame my own incompetances for the scratches I ended up with after playing with him. He was also scared of one of his little stuffed mouse toys. I think I could become a cat person yet. Maybe one day I will become a mad old cat lady, and just sit indoors surrounded by thousands of cats, and no one would miss me until they tried to cut off the heat and found cats all over my decaying body. Or something like that.

Another adventure we went on, in(ish) Fall Break, was to Quabbin Reservoir, which was exciting. It's basically this HUGE lake with lots of pretty trees and wild life and such, and it holds water for Boston and the surrounding areas. It's pretty interesting because they had to flood a bunch of towns to make space for the reservoir. The really fun part about the whole thing was that I got to try American Cider, which is different to English Cider, because it's non-alcoholic, and it has Cinnamon or something in and it's pressed differently. No one can tell me exactly what the difference is between Apple Cider and Apple Juice, but it tastes different. It's a big fall drink here, and in the cafes around campus you can get hot apple cider which I've yet to try. Mainly because I really like the chai they do here. Yum. We also had cider donuts, which were pretty good. I'm not the hugest fan of donuts, but you know me, I'll eat prettttty much anything.

The other exciting thing I did during fall break was an adventure to Northampton. Because it was Columbus Day the direct bus wasn't running so we had to switch buses in Amherst, which was actually a blessing in disguise because it meant we got to have an impromptu picnic feast, which involved buying local cheeses and bread and apples and maple cream, and eating it on the grass in the sun. It was lovely. Then we merrily went on our way and onto the next bus which took us to Noho, as a real Moho (Mount Holyoke Student) calls it. There I bought fleece lined tights, which I find probably more exciting than I should, and snacks, and a pair of jeans and a really nice new shirt dress. So overall a pretty successful day. We ended up chasing the bus half way through Northampton to get home, but it was good we did because it meant that we got off the bus in Amherst and just got right on the next bus.

The only other thing I did during Fall Break that wasn't writing excessive amounts of essays/papers, was an excitable venture onto the roof of our building. I was actually sat in bed writing my french paper when I heard someone calling my name, perplexed I looked out of the window, to discover that there were two people on the roof. They came to collect me from my pit of death (as I called my essay writing horizontal filing method - read papers ALL OVER THE FLOOR) and took me to the roof where I partook in cookie dough and frivolities. Excitement all round.

And here endeth my blog post of three months of everything squished into three pages of my rambling. If you made it to the end without skipping bits you may eat a cookie.
Until next time my friends.

P.S. I plan to keep this up to date from now on so I don't have to write a novel again.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Camp Highlights

So camp happened a little excessively and I never really got time to update this so here's the highlights:


- The Scrape Off!
The scrape off is an anual camp event. At the end of meals we have to scrape all the plates clean. Over the course of the summer this skill is honed and eventually the best scrapers compete for the title of ultimate scraper. Generally an international competitor challenges Canvis who is reigning champion having won four years in a row. This year the competition was extended such that there were several rounds in which people got knocked out until we were wittled down to the final stand off between Canvis representing the USA and Gazelle representing the WORLD. Which was a big responsibility. But it was all ok because she won. So everyone was happy!

-Super Kipper and Bobbin Hood
Session 5 Bobbin and I had a camp challenge program. Which was huge amounts of fun! We decided to be super hero themed and spent much of the week wandering round camp pretending to be super heros, complete with costumes and capes. We did super hero training on the low ropes course and did super hero orienteering which involved saving teddies in distress. We also got to go 'hiking' in the blue hills (and by 'hiking' I mean glorified rambling) and ate copious amounts of very melty trail mix and pretended to be hardcore.

- Baseball game.
The last week of camp I got the program I had been hoping to get since this time last year. I.e. we got Anything Goes. I.e. I got older kids. I.e. I WENT TO A BASEBALL GAME! This was easily the most exciting thing that happened on camp. Well maybe not easily. And maybe it wans't THE most exciting thing. But the general gist is that it was highly exciting. I got to learn the rules. I have come to the conclusion that it's confusing and not as good as cricket. On the bright side it was marginally shorter than a cricket match and we got to eat popcorn. I wore my cricket jumper to be contraversial. I'm not sure anyone noticed. After the game we got to go run around on the pitch/field/whatever it is called. It was pretty cool. Also the people we saw might be famous one day.

- Pumps and Pearls.
The Pumps and Pearls was lovely as ever this year. I borrowed Half-Pint's dress, which I love, and actually now have hanging in my closet at MHC. Everyone looks so pretty at these things. It's so nice. I borrowed some shoes of Lucky and Bean did my make-up. I love getting ready for Pumps and Pearls with everyone in the tents. Its hilarious. We got sparkling grape juice in little wine glasses and it was generally a good time. My favourite part is singing ridiculous camp songs in beautiful dresses. 

- Star Gazing.
The last night there were kids on camp there was a meteor shower at 4.30 am. So we thought it would be a really great idea to get our kids up to watch it. It was absolutely freezing. But we actually saw some really cool meteors. One lit up the entire sky and the trail of its tail stayed in the air for ages, which I've never really seen before.  The only problem was that we'd decided it would be a really great idea to stay up till really late having a midnight picnic and had food in our tent, and I was absolutely certain a racoon would come in the night to terrorise us, but in the end there were only a whole bunch of mice scurrying around. Which was fairly gross, but not as scary. So all in all not much sleep was to be had.

Blogging!

I am in the process of blogging. Along with all the other hundreds of things I need to be doing. Not to mention the fact that I need to write an essay for York. Oh joy! But they are coming I promise!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Happy Christmas!

Yup you read that right! It's Christmas here at Camp Wind In The Pines. Christmas in July to be precise! I'm excited to see what I'm going to get from my secret buddy. I still need to wrap/finish my gift so I'm going to peace out now! Toodles!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Laugh out loud.

I am exhausted! Literally I am that tired that I had to lay down to pretend to be dead for a couple of seconds the other day and I fell asleep. It's ridiclous. I just sleep everywhere. All the time. I've just remembered why I never went to see films while I was at camp last year. It's because if I were to sit in a darkened space on a comfy chair, there would be no way I would stay awake.

We've just finished our two week session, which is always a killer. Two weeks with the same kids and limited time off is hard work. Luckily we had a really good unit, and it was all relatively drama free and the kids were pretty hilarious. So it was all good. We had some really fun things that we did with the kids. We went to an airport and got to go in a 1.5 million dollar private jet and the teeniest little plane I have ever seen in my entire life. We also went on a dragon hunt, had a fairy themed cook out, discovered a new planet, and went to the beach. It was all in all a rather marvelous program.

This weekend is a bit of a relaxed one since everyone is just about on the verge of collapse. Lucky is having a cookout type thing at hers, which should be really nice, and a lot of the staff are going, so it should be good bonding time. Next week I have the brownies for a dessert cooking program. Which should be good I think. I'm having fun coming up with some ideas of things we can do with the kids. Its going to be strange going from a two week session back down to a one week session though, because there isn't so much time to do crazy things with the kids.

We had our internationals vs. americans soccer match this week, and for the first time in living memory, the INTERNATIONALS WON! This was all due to the fact that we had Mint on our team, who plays for really good teams/ is on her uni team etc. But it was all super duper very exciting, even though I missed the second hald of the match because I went to the beach. Other excitement that has occured include a halloween meal, a harry potter meal and a tiny dining hall meal!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

July 4th Weekend

I'm at Half-Pint's for the July 4th Weekend, having successfully survived the first week of camp, despite lack of training and extreme exhaustion. Her house is like one of those proper New England houses that you see in films and such, all gree and white and wooden, it's really cute. They have the most enormous BBQ I've ever seen in real life (only they call it a grill.) Its a really old house so it's all nooks and crannies and minding my head when I go anywhere. They have a room with a HUMUNGUS window over looking the sea and it's all really pretty. Tonight there's going to be a wine and cheese evening and a golfing competition and her entire family is going to be there and it's pretty exciting! I even got a tie die t-shirt, which is part of the whole thing I think. Anyway it says something about the parade in Plymouth on the back, and it's one of only ten. It's pretty special.

Last night because it was about a zillion degrees I decided to go ice skating with Cube, Bean and HP and I fell over flat on my face. But I got to wear my cricket jumper out, and no one knew it was a cricket jumper and everyone just said how nice it was. So epic win on that front. I think I might go a couple more times, because I was just starting to get the hang of it again when the session was over. I've vaguely figured how to stop although it's based on the skiing snow plough model, as opposed to the T method that Cube showed us, but it works pretty well, and when HP and Bean tried the T thing they both ended up on their bottoms, so I feel like mine is safer.

This week there should be far fewer kids because the session starts on July 4th, so it should be much more relaxing and less stressful. We're having a big party on the ball field with a cookout and a drive through movie, which is exciting. I'm doing the Junior Sampler program, which means that I'll have two sets of kids throughout the week, which means I won't be as close to them, but I do get two ice-cream parties, which should be good. Also I'm working with Ink-Pad, who I've been wanting to work with for a long time, so I think it should be a really good week!

In my last post I told you about the killer fish that tried to eat one of my campers, well it attacked a bunch more kids, so it was decided that the fish should be relocated. It appears to have made a home in the corner of the docks, where we think it's laid eggs and become territorial, so it needed to be moved. This involved fishing for the fish, catching it and putting it in the other pond. Various methods of fish baiting were trialed, including meal worms and bits of pancake, but in the end it was discovered that the only thing that lured it out was children. So we sent in Half-Pint. It worked, but I'm told that the panic that ensued when she thought that it had swum down the front of her bathing suit was so hilarious it should have come with a health warning.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Camp damp is a way of life.

I've made it to America. The trip was very good actually. I had a slight panic because I thought my baggage had gotten lost, but it turned out that mine was just the very last bag off the plane. Typical. I think the highlights of the trip was going on the silver line in Boston, which is an underground BUS. A legit bus which goes through these liittle tunnels under ground. IT was the weirdest thing ever. And there were these crazy signposts even though you could only go one way down these little tunnels. And clearly only the bus drivers go down there.

Another highlight was the little old lady I sat next to on the train from Boston to Kingston. Every cranberry bog we went past she gave me a full update about whether she thought it was well maintained or not. Which was pretty funny. I also now know the full life story of herself, her husband, her 6 children, and multitudes of grand children. What they did every summer since 1983 every house she'd ever lived in, whether the roof leaked and so forth. She also gave me some very melty cough drops from CVS which the paper is all stuck to and are currently residing in my backpack under my bed.

Being back at camp is great. Its slightly odd being a returner, because the new staff think that you know everything, and particularly since I missed staff training I don't feel like I know very much. Still it does feel very comfortable, like everything makes sense. And it's good to be back with all my friends, and it's really nice to meet new people. We have a really solid group of staff this year, they all seem very professional and still really fun. I think it's going to be a good year. Traditionally someone drops out every year, but I really don't see any of the staff we have this year having to drop out.

It's really hot here at the moment. Around 30 degrees everyday. We have a really heavy rain storm every couple of days and then it goes right back to being ridiculously hot. I'm not even getting tanned because we have to stay in the shade so much. Although on Saturday I went to the beach and got very sun burnt across my shoulders, but that seems to be dying down a little now. This weekend the staff trip is to Martha's Vinyard, which is where the President takes his holidays, also where Jaws is set. I can't decide whether I want to go, or whether I want to stay around in Plymouth. Half Pint's family is throwing a big party for July 4th and I've been invited, so I want to go to that too.

Because it's July 4th next week, it's going to be a really small week on camp, so there should be loads of counselors and not so very many kids, so we should get all our time off and stuff next week. It should be a little less manic than this week. Also the newer staff will be settling in more and so there will be less stress and tension around. Camp politics are starting to kick off a little already, which is sort of funny.

Today one of my kids got bitten by one of the fish in the lake. She told me and I didn't think it was true. But She literally has a bite mark on her arm. It drew blood and everything. The funniest thing about the whole situation was that she thought the fish hadn't done it on perpose and hadn't meant to hurt her. She's so adorable! We had to try to catch the fish and relocate it into the other pond where the kids don't swim.

That's about it for now. I'm going to post this and catch you all up on all the other news at the weekend! Hope everything is good wherever you are!

p.s. Indie if you're reading this, we miss you!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Do you talk to yourself when you are alone?

I just sat my placement exam for my French course next year. I can honestly say it was the weirdest exam I've ever sat in my life. Two of the questions were about sky diving into a field of cacti, one was about whether you talked to yourself when you were alone or not, and I think the answer to a third was 'it would have been better had she died in the car accident', mainly because the alternative answer was 'it was necessary that she died in the car accident'. Still I passed the exam, which means I can join any French class I wish. Hurrah!

(In case you were wondering I don't talk to myself when I am alone, but I do talk to inanimate objects when alone, so it probably sounds like I'm talking to myself...) 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The time has come, the walrus said...

...to talk of many things. This is promising to turn into an epic post, but I'll try my best to keep it from reaching such proportions that it threatens to overwhelm people and swallow whole planets etc.

Busy busy busy (essays, paperwork etc.)
First thing's first: apologies for having not posted in such a long time. Everything got a little manic at this end. I've handed in an essay since I last wrote (on the representation of labour in seventeenth century patronage poems, if you're at all interested.) This ate up my life for a good week or so. I've also been doing a lot less cricket at larking around and a lot more of actual degree stuff since I realised that this term my work actually counts. I'm currently getting started on the next essay, which will hopefully be on something to do with the representation of gender and culpability in renaissance drama, but you know how these things work, they tend to change shape a great deal. Particularly in the planning stages. I've also been furiously trying to fill out all the paperwork and other bits and bobs I need to get sorted before I go to America. I'm starting to feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. But I'll soldier on. The pile is slowly getting smaller, and I've been ticking things off of my various lists, and even crossing entire lists off of my master list of lists. (It's all getting a little ridiculous - but I don't really know how I thought I'd just kinda hop on a plane and spend a whole year in America without wading through all this gumph!)

Exhibit A. - My desk after DAYS of paperwork.

Puffins
On Saturday I went to go see the puffins at Bempton Cliffs, where there is a bird reserve, so there are lots of places along the cliffs where you can stand and see the birds. We saw quite a few puffins. And tone of  the guys we went with had all the proper binoculars and had a great eye for spotting the puffins. I assumed puffins were quite big. I thought they'd be about the size of ducks or something, but in fact they're much smaller, I would say sea gull sized but sea gulls get quite big. Anyway they're really really cool with the painted looking beaks and the bright orange feet. I'll try to stick a couple of pictures in so you can see. It was a really lovely day, there was a van selling organic ethical food and ice-cream and everything. It was very sunny, and because of the sea breeze I didn't notice that I actually got very burnt. Unfortunately the resulting tan is peeling already. Sad times. I will have to get a proper tan at camp!
Puffin at Bempton Cliffs

Shakespeare
Last night I went to go see an outdoor performance of Macbeth which one of my friends from cricket was in. It was really lovely. I went with a friend from my course and she brought blankets and a serious picnic and gin and tonic. It was a really lovely sunny evening. And the production was actually very good. The witches were amazing, although because it was an outdoor performance on York campus there were guest appearances from quite a number of geese, and we were sat in amongst the goose poo. But it was a very lovely evening. It got a little chilly once the sun had gone in, but luckily we had jumpers and Emily had brought her duvet for just such emergencies. Considering it was out doors in such a large area we could hear very well, and the actors did very well. There were a couple of parts which I think were supposed to be symbolic or whatever which I felt were a little contrived. But for a student performance it was very good. It's actually the second outdoor performance of Macbeth I've seen this summer, the first being in the Globe when I was in London. All things considered it wasn't half bad.
That's G&T I promise. Looks classy though.

Cricket
At last it comes to the now seemingly obligatory cricket update. There hasn't been much actual cricketing, the weather was a bit naff for a couple of weeks, and everyone has been a bit busy. But there has been lots of social crickety action. We went out with cricket the other night to the student night in town wearing our rather attractive cricket t-shirts and tutus, we possibly looked a little unusual, but it was a very funny night out, and it was lovely to spend time with them all again. This weekend is going to be a big crickety weekend, as it's presidents, traditionally the old girls come back and there's a batch between old girls and current girls on the Saturday and then there's a big dance type deal on the Saturday evening with dinner and such, and we go out on the Friday night. I'm not sure how many old girls are coming, facebook would suggest just the one. But it's all been very exciting with the shopping for dresses and everything. It should be a lovely weekend. The weather's looking good for it to. But I'll let you all know how it goes!
Cricket social madness!

Summer fun
The weather has finally perked up a bit. Which is slightly sad as I seem to be spending more and more time stuck inside trying to organise things and sort out essaying and such. But I'm sure it'll all be worth it. Typically the weather is looking like it's going to be going downhill this weekend just in time for all the cricketing. Marvelous! Anyway. The nice weather has meant that all social time has been moved outside pretty much. Yesterday I played rugby in the sun which was rather nice. And in a minute once I've registered for classes for next year, I might go join my housemates in the paddling pool they've set up outside the house. They did originally have a foot bath so they didn't get grass in it and everything, but I think they may have given up on that a little. I'm watching them a little wistfully from the window.

My housemates in the paddling pool


Coming up...
I'm leaving for America pretty much this time next week. The plan is to leave York on the Thursday, and be home in time for dinner-ish I think. And then I need to be at the airport at around mid-day on the Friday. I'm getting really excited about getting there now! Before I leave I'm having some sort of gathering/party thing to say goodbye to everyone, but I seem to be spending a lot of time meeting people for lunch and such to say goodbye. Which is all very lovely. Although it is somewhat limiting my working time. Still, I met with my supervisor and she seemed pretty confident that I could do everything I need to. I'm going to hopefully have a loose kind of plan before I go. Think about exactly what I need to research while I'm in America, and then have a very detailed plan before I go to Mount Holyoke, so I can write it quite quickly in the time I have free while I'm out there.

That's all folks!
And that's about it! I shall spell check, and then get back to things that I actually need to be doing! I shall hopefully get to update this at least one more time before I go to America and then should be able to so some sporadic updates while I'm at Camp. Obviously after camp everything will get back to normal! 

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

London Adventures a.k.a. Lisa's Blog Post.

Having completed visa fun Lisa and I spent a day having non-visa-related and much more stress-free fun out and about in London. But only after I had had my second breakfast. I think having got up at 6.15 I deserved a second breakfast at 10. Also I only had one slice of toast at 6.15 since I really wasn’t hugely hungry. And by 10 I was pretty much starving. I think the stress must have used up precious calories.

It was actually somewhat of a food fuelled day. This statement may seem a little perfunctory, but what I mean by it is that rather a great quantity of food was consumed. As in we had the most enormous pizzas for lunch. They were yummy. We got them from this amazing pizza place near Lisa’s university called ICCos where you order your pizza, and then they give you this thingy. Which is like a key fob perhaps, but basically you go sit down and they make your pizza to order, and then when it’s done your machine thingy lights up and buzzes and you can go collect your pizza. It was pretty awesome. And then I had and ice-cream at the interval at the play (more on this later) and I bought tom thumb drops. And then for tea we got this enormous burgers from a fancy burger place at St Pancreas Station, which we’d got £2 off vouchers for. I had a bbq burger and it was the nicest burger in living memory. Although I don’t actually eat burgers often, which might be why...

We went shopping along Oxford street, which I usually find quite stressful since there’s always loads of people and you have to stand in queues all the time. But I actually quite enjoyed it today, probably partially because I was in a rather good mood because of the whole getting visas, and therefore am even more likely to be going to America, and partially because Lisa is a fantastic person to go shopping with, and we had muchos catching up to do. I bought some things for camp at Primark including a mac-in-a-pack and a pair of board shorts, and I also bought a really nice little summer dress. I was a good girl and didn’t buy anything in any of the other shops. Even though there was THE CUTEST summer dress in Gap, and we went into this really lovely shop called Pull & Bear or something like that.

I really enjoyed hanging out with Lisa and her housemates. She’s got this lovely house in London, it’s adorable and it’s just like a real house, it’s got a little sitting room and a little kitchen and even a teeny tiny little garden. Last night we sat around and I got to sit on the sofa and watch TV. Which is still exciting to me. This is what happens to you when you live in student accommodation. We also taught Lisa how to play 21s and Rummy. Because apparently she didn’t know how to play any card games. When I say we taught her, Harvey her housemate taught her, and I was generally helpful by playing along and watching the TV at the same time.

So all round a good time was to be had by all!