University, Weekly Updates

It begins again

I’ve finished my first week of the second term of my first year of university. I meant to write a week ago about flying back and settling in, but jet lag thoroughly kicked my butt. I’ve decided to move away from weekly update posts, though I still plan to post (almost) weekly, but with a little less rigid structure. Just write a little more.

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It feels really good to be in a new year. 2015 was a big one. A life changing one. One I really need to write about, but thats another time. I want 2016 to still be big, but maybe with a little less dramatic change.

The flight from Austin to Manchester (plus the train to Lancaster, and the taxi to the university) is not fun. Will never be fun. But its definitely livable. And much less stressful now.

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I stood in proper snow for the first time I can remember. It was beautiful. I think even a few days of gently snow makes up for the cold and rain that is the weather here most of the time. Running errands is so much more fun when there are snowflakes getting caught in your hair.

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The first week back was difficult. Getting back into the swing of things always is. I feel more settled now, but the week ahead is so busy. Its only Monday and I already feel like I’m being pulled in a hundred directions. One of my housemates told me yesterday that I put too much pressure on myself and I’m trying to remember that. I don’t have to do everything.

More to come.

Alex

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University, Weekly Updates

Week 11

 

IMG_4495alternately titled: ‘what I learned in the blackout’

-Showers are terrible because the water is cold and the air is cold and your towel is never dry and warm

-The little things in life really are the best. Like having light when you’re trying to go to the bathroom

-Listen to your mom and don’t procrastinate on things like emails and washing your hair.

-I may be able to move to another country on my own, but sleeping in an empty building with no power is really hard.

-You meet some really amazing people.

-You make good friends very, very, very fast.

-You might as well stay up incredibly late with those friends because nothing else is going on and you have so little time together

-Wear your pajamas to breakfast even though its the tacky American thing to do. Then take really bad pictures.

-Don’t try to plan friendships. Being friends with study abroad students is worth it, even if they leave you after a few months.

-Dance. For hours. Even when the power is back on.

-Don’t sleep the night before everyone leaves, even if you have 17 hours of travel the next day. Enjoy those last hours.

-I am so incredibly grateful for the last few days. I didn’t know being stuck on campus with no power could be so wonderful.

Alex

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Uncategorized, University

The Blackout of 2015

On Saturday evening, the lights flickered. Then, they went off. We had no idea then what was coming.

For a country where it rains constantly,  a flood sure did a lot of damage to this city. Apparently rains north of us flooded quite a bit of Lancaster, including the power main. This resulted in a city wide blackout.

When we woke up on Sunday (after spending most to of Saturday night awake, gathered in a kitchen, my housemates and I found there was still no power and ventured out to find information. Things were beginning to feel apocalyptic, though I blame that on the fact that everyone watches Walking Dead. The Chaplaincy Centre had a backup generator on, so we went there for power, tea, and information. This is where we found out that school was cancelled. For the rest of term. This would be great information, if you know, I wasn’t in a different country.

So while all of my British friends called their parents and packed their bags to go home, the international student looked around, lost. We were told to ‘pack our essentials’ and head to the Great Hall. This turned into us spending the night in the Great Hall, which felt like a scene out of Harry Potter (thanks Sirius Black) and the worst sleepover I have ever been too. I know when I walk across stage at graduation in a few years, I will look over at the spot I slept in and think of this adventure.

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We had some hope on Monday when the power came back on for a few hours, but it did not last. The power has been out since, though we were originally told it would be back on by 7pm on Tuesday. Now we are hearing 4pm on Wednesday. Who knows?

They’re feeding us and we’re supposed to be sleeping in one of the lecture buildings tonight, so its another night of cold floors and close proximity with people I don’t know.

Its an adventure to say the least.

Alex 

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University, Weekly Updates

Week 9

Oops, late post.

Last week was busy, but wonderful. I had a few extra meetings, and a few social things, but they were all quite good.

I’ve found myself eating oatmeal (porridge as they call it here) which is a shock, because I hate oatmeal. I think my body is just trying to cope with the intense wind and rain that leaves me chilled to the bone if I spend more that 10 minutes outside. Luckily, oatmeal can be made slightly more bearable, with additions like fruit, copious amounts of cinnamon, and my favourite, raspberries and dark chocolate. I like to think that because its dark chocolate, and I don’t add sugar, its still healthy(ish).


I got to Skype with so much family last week, it makes it a lot easier when they’re all grouped together and not at work/school. It was really great to see them and hear voices, and I know they’re probably just as excited for my trip home as I am. I think my mom is more excited than I am.

Saturday we had a Friendsgiving, which consisted of 6 of us eating a ridiculous amount of food, and talking until much too late at night. I stuffed turkey with brie and apple (not the whole turkey, that would never fit in our tiny oven) made mashed potatoes, stuffing, and roasted veggies. I learned that and rutabaga is a sweed and also evil. I now have a least favourite vegetable.

I finally made pumpkin bread with the pumpkin I ordered online, and its heavenly. It made the entire kitchen smell like home, and I will probably eat entirely too much of it in the coming days. I have no regrets.


I have one last essay due on Thursday, and then its just lecture until term ends! I’ll see you in 11 days Austin!

Alex

 

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University

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a family holiday. Its a day you spend with the people who raised you, making and eating way too much food. Maybe watching some football (the American kind) and see Snoopy float through New York. But Thanksgiving isn’t so when you live far away.

While I do have times of homesickness, and I miss my family and friends dearly, Thanksgiving was a little harder than usual. My family was together, at least in parts. My sister was home with my parents. My friends we back in Austin. Everyone was taking a few days off from work and life and university to spend time together, be thankful, (shop), and relax. But thats in America, and thats not where I live now. I know if I had been home I would have probably been annoyed about the chaos of the holiday, and would have worked Black Friday. But its a lot easier to miss these things when you don’t have them.

I spent Thanksgiving in class, discussing political theory and Buddhism. I worked on an essay (that I should be writing right now) and had leftover soup for dinner. There wasn’t my mom’s amazing mashed potatoes, or my Mema’s pile of desserts. But there was sweet text messages from my family, full of love. There was silly and fun messages from my friends at home, reminding me how thankful I am of them, even from 5,000 miles away. My flatmates told me Happy Thanksgiving, and made sure I was okay. It was a good day. But not Thanksgiving.

But tomorrow, on Saturday, we’re having Friendsgiving. Its not the same as being at Kayla’s house with all my high school friends, but it will be great. My kitchen is full of food, and I’m so excited to share the day with friends, even if it doesn’t have the same meaning for them. Because my Thanksgiving is just being grateful. For my incredibly supportive family, my amazing best friends, my new friends and their willingness to celebrate with me, for the opportunities I have here.

Alex

**Also, happy birthday to the light of my life and best friend Malvika, because I couldn’t write something on your birthday without mentioning you. I’m so grateful for our friendship, I don’t know what I would do without you. See you soon!

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University, Weekly Updates

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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University, Weekly Updates

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

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University, Weekly Updates

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

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