Week 7

This post is technically over a week late, and the only reason I’m actually writing it is to keep the continuity of weeks in order.

It was a very short week, I was only in Lancaster for 4 days, and spent most of Wednesday in Manchester. It was however, and absolutely crazy week. It felt like I never stopped moving. I do love to be busy, but I can’t say I like being as busy as I have been the last 2 weeks. IMG_3551IMG_3571

I don’t have any details to write, because other than lectures and meetings, I don’t remember doing much. I think I slept somewhere along the way. But the crazy week was very worth it for the amazing weekend it led to.

Alex

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Week 6

Technically this post is late, but considering I was out of town this weekend, I don’t think it counts.

Last week was a little bit busier than usual, as I my first essay was due on Thursday! I also had an essay due today, Monday, so there was a lot of research, writing, and late night editing. But they were both finished and turned in! PoliSci has been a interesting experience as of late, with our focus on the application of principles of liberal democracy. Basically we’ve been talking about the structure of the American Government. Shout out to Esler (and Girls State) for my extreme understanding of the US Government. In our seminar on Thursday, my teacher managed to split us into groups to answer questions, and we had a group of international students with a question about the British Government. We just googled it. I did however, explain how the US legislative system works, and the checks and balances from the executive and judiciary branches. It felt like being on Lege Staff all over again.

I don’t have an excessive number of food photos (I blame being busy, and that it gets dark so early!!) but here is a photo of my breakfast (I eat the same thing most days)IMG_3416

Club wise, the week was all over the place busy! I had an article about the “My Culture is not a Costume” movement on campus, as well as the use of Dia de Muertos as a party theme for the newspaper, but I didn’t pick up a copy of it today! We had a bake sale on Tuesday as part of a year long fundraiser for a women’s charity in Lancaster. Basically I stood outside for a few hours and couldn’t feel my toes! Yay for cold weather?

Now for the most exciting part, this weekend! This past weekend a attended a training/conference of a society I am in called Enactus. Thats the link to the website, but basically its an organization that focuses on creating social enterprises to address a variety of world wide issues! I know, Alex, in a business organization?? What is happening. However, I am working on a project looking to find a way to help human trafficking victims in Eastern Europe. There has been so much going into the development of that project I could write a whole post on it (and might some time fairly soon) but to keep it simple, we’re looking for a way to help provide education, job training, or a sort of business product to human trafficking victims. The conference was not project specific, but was around the structure of the society as a whole, and I attended sessions mostly on how to build international projects (Lancaster’s society currently has a few amazing local projects, but we’re working to branch out) and a few more on leadership and running meetings, as I am our project’s Project Leader (is that grammatically correct?). It was a great experience, and I met a ton of amazing people from all over the country! Z, one of our Project Directors, is a great photographer and took some really fun photos! We attended sessions, did some crazy team building activities, and had a formal dinner/dance.

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I have another busy week ahead, and I’m fighting a cold. I think I’m going to sleep before 10:00pm tonight, and hope to sleep like the dead! Another adventure is coming up this next weekend, so expect fun things.

Alex

Week 5

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for a while, words and my brain just aren’t getting along today. It’s probably because the majority of what I do everyday is read and write, and my brain is protesting. Which would also explain why editing my essay has been so unsuccessful today. Come on brain, we’re on the same team here.

Okay, SCHOOL: it’s good, it’s boring, it’s learning. Even though I only take classes about things I want to study, sometimes it’s still a struggle to drag myself to class. Well, morning classes, because my duvet is my favourite thing on this continent and I’m still not sleeping well. Other than that it’s just polisci classes, but our Political Philosophy unit is ending this week. Thank goodness. Fun story time from class! (instructions from mom to write about this) We’re studying Intersectionality in my GWS (Gender and Women’s Studies) class, and we were talking about privilege in my seminar on Friday morning. Our TA found a really fun way for us to visualize how privilege affects lives, and it went like this. We were all given little cards that had our ‘character’. For instance, mine said [Journalist, female, 38, Christian background, highly successful]. We then wandered out of our tiny seminar room into the big meeting room in the building we meet in, and lined up across the room in a straight line. We all agreed that this made us feel like ‘primary’ (elementary) school children again. Our TA read off a list of questions (ex: I speak the language of the country I live in, I know where my next meal will come from, I feel safe walking down a street alone at night) and we stepped forward if the situation applied to us, and backward if it didn’t. At the end, scattered across the room, we read the character descriptions aloud. While it’s easy to know that a refuge and a successful journalist have very different amounts of privilege, it was an even better illustration of how gender and race can affect people of the same socioeconomic class.

Some quick food highlights: This leek and potato soup I made (and ate on 3 different occasions because how does one make small portions of soup?)

 This goat cheese, roasted tomato, and onion tart from the market on Thursday. Scarfed down in the 1 hour break I have between my first lecture and the 3 hour block of class in the afternoon, it was a lovely lunch.

 I really hope bananas are actually healthy, because they are a significant part of my diet. Banana, honey, and almond butter for breakfast, Frozen banana “ice cream” for late night studying, all the banana options please.

Other fun things this week!

I finally had time to wander through the little farmer’s market that’s in Alexandra Square on Thursdays. It wasn’t even as rainy as this photo makes it look! I bought the previously mentioned tart, some fresh eggs, and, unpictured because I was far too excited to eat it by the time I settled into my room that evening, a pumpkin cheesecake brownie. I’m not much of a cheesecake girl, so I’m not sure if I was just preparing myself for Malvika Month, or the pumpkin distracted me. Either way, it was delicious.  I’m writing for the newspaper (SCAN) and the first copy I wrote for came out this week! While library openings are not hard-hitting journalism, writing has been so much fun. 

Fall is really pretty. Thats an UNEDITED photo of the ground. I just want to roll in the leaves. But I don’t because they are very wet. And also because I am a responsible adult. 

The fact that Halloween was this Saturday should have left me with more stories, but I spent Halloween like my other saturday nights, writing essays and articles, and most importantly, curled up under my duvet. Wild nights in the life of Alex!

Well there you go! Another incredibly calm week abroad.

Alex

Week 4

Look who is getting this posted before the weekend is over, oh yes, I’m getting things done on time. Anyway, here’s what happened this week. (I’m learning to take notes on my phone as the week goes so I don’t sit here and wonder what happened on Monday even though its only been 7 days).

Classes have been progressively getting more interesting (we’re almost through talking about Hobbes in PoliSci, thank goodness) which is good because essays deadlines are beginning to loom in the future. I have the prompts and due dates taped to my wall as a brainstorming/stress inducing tool to make me start writing them. I only have a few assignments (all essays) and one exam for the whole year, partly because the English university system is weird and partly because I’m only taking liberal arts classes (who needs science? not this girl). This does mean that every grade is incredibly important. I don’t know if I love or hate this system.

Because this is actually a food blog (*cough cough* thanks Kathryn) here are some excessive photos of what I ate this week.

  (Greek yogurt is half the reason I’m not vegan. Also they spell yogurt ‘yoghurt‘ here and I don’t like it.)

  (There are basically always avocado and tomatoes in the fridge. )

I am working my way through the coffee shops of Lancaster, chain and local, for the perfect combination of drinks and study areas. Here is a completely unnecessary series of photos of my coffee and the cafes, complete with ratings! Because this is my blog and I will write about the very silly things that make me happy during the week.

  (This is actually tea, and the chair I was sitting in was very uncomfortable. I rank this cafe a 4/10.)
  (I’m going to justify the fact that I returned to Starbucks with the fact that have an upstairs area with really comfy chairs and it’s nice for studying. 7/10)  (I was distracted by how cool this glass was. This is a bookstore/cafe that was so adorable. Not sure how great for studying, but may get a repeat visit for reading or lunch. 6/10)

 (Finding good filter coffee here is a struggle. This was a little weak, but better than instant! 7/10)

This weekend my favourite resident of Scotland/only person from America I know living in the UK came to visit! This is Harris, who I know from Nation. He goes to St. Andrews and thanks to the amazing thing that is public transportation, just hopped on a train to visit!

In an attempt to explore the town, I got us lost because I have absolutely no sense of direction. I maintain that I could have found the way back to the city centre just fine and GPS was not needed. But getting lost was completely worth it, because Lancaster is so pretty! I had no idea this little stream ran through town, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Also filled with ducks. Like the school. I think Lancaster has a duck infestation.


  
We ate a lot of food (because what else do I do?) and visited lots of old places in Lancaster. Probably because almost nothing was built after 1900. (I’m kidding, but seriously, everything is old)

 (as basically everyone who has ever met me knows, I am not photogenic. Also I’m pretty sure I was eating when this photo was taken? So not totally my fault. Also note: that’s a castle behind us.)

We tried the burrito place in town, which was not as bad as expected!! I kept my expectations incredibly low, and was pleasantly surprised. I am still craving Chuy’s, but I may survive until Christmas. (My amazing and wonderful mother having salsa and corn tortillas shipped to me may also contribute to my continued survival).

  (Look how fun their logo is! It feel like something you would find in Austin)
 (Not as good as Chipotle, but a valiant attempt.)

Overall it was a very fun week, but it also means I am less prepared that I usually would be for this next week. When you have no social life you get all your required reading and a lot of optional reading done on the weekends. See! Who needs a social life.

To end here is a photo of me wearing my favourite Texas themed t-shirt because its 6 weeks until I’m home (not that I’m counting) and I’m having a blast (it might be an arctic blast…) in Lancaster


Alex

Week 3

Who’s late to post on their blog? Me! Who’s not surprised at all? Also me! Somehow the weekend slipped away, and while I did plenty of writing, none was for this. But anyway, rewinding a little over a week, here’s how my third week in the UK went.

I went into town with a girl from my Gender & Women’s Studies seminar last Saturday because it’s still getting colder and I very much need(ed) sweaters. She’s from the States, but is only here for a semester (or term as they call it here). I have yet to find, or hear of, any other Americans here for all three years. We ate some incredibly British food while sitting on the grass in front of the castle in town. Yes, a picnic in front of a castle. Casual, I know. Lancaster is a fairly small city, so we just wandered around, found a few sweaters, and drank coffee.

 (Why is every food wrapped in dough?)
Sundays are a day of quiet, and doing as much school work as possible before the week begins. This is not just my rule, but seemingly the entire campus’. You can walk across the square and not see a single person. It helps to have a slow day to get reading done for the first few days of class, because if there is one thing we’re not missing, its reading. So much reading. But that’s what you get when you choose two liberal arts majors! My flatmates and I did however, leave the comfort of our flat in the evening to go to church. The fact that there is a service at 7pm, at the Chaplaincy Centre that’s about 2 minutes away, and snacks are served, is a bit of the reason we stumble into the cold. It’s also nice to have a break from the brain melting hours of reading academic texts.


By now, things are beginning to settle into a pattern. Classes feel normal, clubs are sorting themselves out, all the textbooks have been bought. It’s nice for things to be in a schedule again. It’s not too particularly exciting, but its nice. I’ve found a favourite place to study, and have learned what sections in the library house the books for my subjects.  On days that I sit inside too much, I like to walk the big loop around campus, and enjoy the fact that it’s actually fall here. The leaves change and everything!

  
The weekend was incredibly quiet, but in the best of ways. I decided to join newspaper, and found myself with two articles to write this past week. While I began them during the week, the longer of the two took up most of my Saturday. But sitting in town writing about the beautiful new library wasn’t a bad way to spend the day if you ask me. Sunday was a simple repeat of the week before, and my brain was very mushy by the end of my Religious Studies readings.

 (for all the coffee shops in Lancaster, Starbucks will always be the go to for autumn themed drinks)

The only particularly exiting addition to the past week was the arrival of Flat Stanley! One of my darling Girls Nation friends sent a message asking for places to send her friend’s little sister’s Flat Stanley, and who can say no to taking a 2nd graders project for fun British adventures!

 England is wonderful, if a little cold, and continues to get better week by week.

Alex

Week 2

This was the first week of classes, and oh my was that nice. Its not that I disliked school before, but its much easier to adjust to life when you have something as constant and structured as school. English uni is structured so that essentially you only have classes based on your major(s) and minor(s). Its nice in that you don’ t spend years and thousands of dollars on classes you don’t need or want to take, but its difficult in that you have very few classes. By few I mean three. I have three classes. Well, I have three courses, each of which has a few lectures and a seminar, but in comparison to how many classes I would be taking stateside, my schedule sure feels empty. I’m taking classes for my two majors, Politics 100 (which includes International Relations) and Religious Studies 100 (Religions in the Modern World) as well as a class for my minor, which is Gender and Women’s Studies (to no one’s surprise). Gender and Women’s Studies has been my favourite, but I’m sure Religious Studies will be very interesting (we start with Hinduism next week). Politics has been okay so far, but how exciting can political theory really be?

The weather has been wonderful this week, the only rainy day was Monday (just in time for my morning class, of course). Its been sunny, although the temperature is in the 50’s rather than the 80’s like it is at home. On that note, adjusting to the use of Celsius has been interesting, its confusing to hear someone say that “20s are such nice weather”.

 (it’s fun to actually have fall weather in October)

There was a plant sale in the square this week (our square is actually named Alexandra {Alex for short} Square, which is both entertaining and confusing) and I picked these little guys because 1) I am notorious plant killer, so succulents are my only safe option and 2) they remind me of Texas (also please don’t get rid of Harold, Mom! I’ll find him a home when I come back in December). They don’t have names yet, but I’m sure they will soon. They’re hanging out with my lovely Texas themed stained glass (thank you Ms. Becca!) in the corner of my window.

 (there are a bunch of hydrangeas in the courtyard of my hall, that little guy on the side had fallen off and was too pretty to leave on the ground)

The intense craving for Tex-Mex is beginning to set in, and salsa is on my grocery list. At the top of my grocery list. I found a burrito place in town, and oh my I’m so excited to try it. Get ready family, I expect tex-mex the evening I get home.

People (from classmates to teachers to people in a shop) always ask if I’m homesick. I wouldn’t say I am, but I also don’t know if I know what that is. I miss my family, of course, and my friends, but I am still (overall) so happy to be here. Its stressful, difficult, and much harder than anything else I’ve ever done, but I don’t really wish to be home. I’m happy I’ll be able to visit at Christmas, but I’m happy to have a new adventure.
I’m sitting in the Learning Zone (big study space with couches and desks) at 10:00pm writing this, because I really like the feeling of being alone in here. It also means I get to use the big, pretty Mac desktops, which are just fun to write on. It is however, a Friday night, and I can see people walking past me on the window headed to bars, clubs, and other kinds of evening events. I can acknowledge I am a fairly boring Uni student, but I’m pretty happy on this side of the glass watching them. Maybe one day I’ll get the whole social thing. For now I’ll keep being quiet, happy, and slowly making friends.

Alex