A week has gone by without me writing a single word. A week! While my usual self would stumble about with an apology and promise to catch you up, I’m not going to do that time. Mostly because the tail end of last week (yes, Halloween included) was not all that exciting. There’s also a little part of me that just doesn’t have the energy. I don’t know what happened this week, but I lost the drive to do anything other than eat and crawl into bed after work. Am I turning middle aged? So I’ve decided to just run you through the highlights, which I’m sure some of you will enjoy anyways since I tend to ramble on about nothing situations anyways. And if I write later on in the weekend, guess what guys? We’ll only be 4 days behind rather than 11, which is better than I’ve been in weeks!
That Wednesday (yup I’m talking about October 27th) I went into work later than usual since I had to go to the Harrow campus and drop off my paper. Let me just say that this not a process I approve of. Not only is Harrow located in a zone not covered by my travel card which requires me to pay £2.60 per trip, but this time I really have no idea where I’m going. Now I don’t know if all college universities over here do things this way or if it’s just Westminster, but since the campus is all spread out within the city of London, everything I need for a particular class is located at the campus where the class is. Example, if I need to read a book for my Internship class, the book will be in the Marylebone library because I have the class at the Marylebone campus. So, if I’m taking a class at Harrow, it stands to reason that I have to go all the way out there on my own time (and my own money) on a day we DON’T EVEN HAVE CLASS just to drop off a stupid paper! Right. So not only is that messed up, but their whole grading/paper turn in system is messed up as well.
1.) You don’t physically turn your paper into a human being. You go to the Registrar’s Office and turn it in to this little drawer in the wall, kinda like at the Post Office. I hope it gets to the right place, because I have no idea what’s going on behind that drawer in the wall!
2.) Before you ‘turn it in’ you have to print out two copies, download this special form online and attach them to each paper. This is because the professor who teaches your class is NOT the one who grades the papers! Whhhhattt?!?! Your paper goes to a board of professors and it gets read and marked by 2 different professors. Your grade is then averaged between the two and FINAL. That’s right, since it gets two reads by two different people, the grade must obviously be able to stand on it’s own and you can’t dispute it. How Unamerican is that? Obviously, this is not America, but I find this ridiculously frustrating. I can’t even question my grade? And like the professor will even know why I got the score I did, since they DON’T EVEN GRADE THEM!
3.) I don’t think we get our papers back. I may be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure they don’t give them back. Also, I have no idea when or if I’m even going to figure out what I got. How does a class function when you can’t see every little step of your grade? This drives me crazy as back at TCU, I have my grade calculated for each class at any given time. I get an assignment back, I figure out the percentage that I got for that assignment in relation to the whole class and as the semester ends, it’s easier to figure out what you need on your final to get an ‘A’. Yes I understand this makes me sound like a control freak, but I need to know what I’m making in the class otherwise I freak out. And yes, I have emailed Professors who don’t use e-college to demand what my grade is. (this is also where my percentage work comes in handy)
So anyways, I went to go turn in this paper, although over here, it’s not a ‘paper’ but an ‘essay’. Whatever you do, don’t call it a paper because you’ll just get weird looks because it sounds like you want to turn in blank printer paper. This is what happened to me when I finally found the registrar’s office and asked her to talk me through turning in a paper. Blank look. I mean essay! I mean coursework! Oh an essay as part of your coursework? Why didn’t you say so! Righht. Let’s just hope my essay made it’s way safely through the drawer in the wall to the correct bin for my class and gets two high marks that average to a fabulous and final grade.
Thursday after class was a big milestone for me. Now, I’d say that I’m a fairly independent person. I can handle money, cook a meal, plan an event and for the most part figure things out by myself. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily like doing all that by myself. There are certain things I just refuse to do alone. The number one rule that I don’t see myself ever feeling differently about is going to a restaurant and eating alone. This is something you just DON’T DO. The idea alone just makes me feel sad and depressed. I can’t even find someone to come enjoy a meal with me? How sad am I? Yeah, the chances of that happening, even here in Europe are extremely slim. But that’s the wonderful thing about the ‘take away’ system over here, but I’ll come back to that later.
The other thing I’ve always refused to do was go to the movies by myself. Surprising right? I’m a film major, I watch at least half of a movie a day and 8 times out of 10 would rather pay for a movie than pay for a meal. But after seeing Easy A with Laura and Matt, it made me realize how much I miss going to the movies! Especially since I worked at a theatre this summer, most of my free time outside of work and sleep was spent going to see a movie. And guess what? There’s a strategically placed movie theater right across from the bank and right around the corner from my dorm. So without any sort of evening plans, and after hearing practically everyone talk about the Social Network, I plucked up the courage and went to see the movie by myself. And well sure, some of you may consider this a fairly insignificant feat, but those of you who know me should know how much of a big step this is for me! I went to the movie by myself! I’m growing! It was so thrilling, guess who went on Halloween afternoon to the matinee to see The Kids Are Alright? That’s right, this girl! I’ve been to two movies by myself! I’m out of control!
Last weekend was also marked as the day when registration dates came out. There’s just nothing quite like looking through the catalogue and picking out your perfect schedule and knowing just exactly when you can log on and make it official. It’s kind of like Christmas shopping for yourself. When you’re signing up for classes, it’s like a clean slate, a fresh start. You have an idea of what the class will be like, and yet you won’t know until you step in and experience the class what it will truly be like. I tend to have a knack for picking out a class that I’ll think I’ll love and turn out to hate. Sufficient to say, three hour later and I had my perfect schedule, permit numbers included and a glimpse into next semester. It’s going to be busy folks. When did I grow up and start taking classes that are designed to kick my butt? Hey guys remember when I was talking that Mexican American literature class where I had to read all those books and write those papers (but which I totally rocked and got an ‘A’ in)? Well that was just one class, and next semester I’ll be taking three of those. In addition to helping out with the reality show in Video III. Ugh I’m tired already. But hey hey, no Friday classes for the second year in a row and plenty of time to work my two jobs in there so I’ll be ok.
Another realization I had that weekend, was guess what? My time here is half way up. It’s November! When did that happen? We’re down two months people, I only have November and December left. And I still have a lot to see! And I’m not ready to leave. I mean sure there are some things I really miss about the states but there are also some things I really love here. For instance…
Some things I dislike about London
- Paying ridiculous amounts for Laundry. Yeah, it’s about £3 a load, so that’s about $10 a week to have clean clothes. Booo
- Paying ridiculous amounts for everything really...
- Having Tube Strikes. Sure, I bet the guys who operate the trains deserve more money, but isn’t there an easier way to do this than stop working? Clearly the point is getting across
- Coffee. Ok, now maybe coffee in Italy and Spain is wonderful, but I have yet to be impressed by a British coffee. I’ll stick to tea while I’m here and maybe a hot chocolate or two, but I miss my coffee.
- Fire Alarms. Ok Westminster, I get it, but why does the fire alarm keep going off at random times during the week. 12:30am last week wasn’t fun. I looked horrible but at least I hadn’t gone to bed yet.
- Not being able to use my debit card for everything. I’m not a huge fan of cash and these people really love their coins.
- A substantial lack of tex-Mex. Things I never thought I’d be lacking at a store like tortillas and salsa are harder to find than you think. Also a real lack of any corn products because they don’t grow it! What a strange realization that was.
- No wifi in my dorm. Boo, Westminster sucks!
- I can’t use my phone to text everyone I miss back home. But for the luck ones who’ve gotten the phone call, thank you for picking up to a weird number and for the not so lucky, know that I miss you!
- There is never a trash can when you need it due to the drama caused by the trash can bombs. Thanks terrorists, you suck.
- Everything closes early. I don’t think there’s anything that’s 24 hr run.
- Too much PDA. I think it's great that you love your boyfriend, but please don't make out right next to me when we're squished like sardines on the tube. Thanks!
- Time is on the military/hospital 24 hr clock. So not only do i have to calculate what time 20:43 is, but to find out what time it is back home with the time difference.... (By the way the answer is 8:43 and back home it'd be 2:43 for y'all)
- It's getting dark ridiculously fast. By 5 (oh excuse me, 17:00) it's pitch black out.
Some things I enjoy about London
- It’s a pedestrian city. For someone who hasn’t had a car except for when I go home and the occasional lend from people at school, being able to go anywhere I want in London without too much of a hassle is the best thing ever. Grocery store, bank, movie theatre, restaurant, pub, shopping, park, tourist attractions, tube station, yeah, all within 5 minutes of me. It’s fantastic
- Free Newspapers. Now not all newspapers are free, but there’s always someone handing out a paper about something. And there are usually ones on the tube that people leave for the next person to read. The city is very ‘paper friendly’
- Walking by a ridiculously old building right next to a new one. It’s so pretty, enough said.
- Not having tax! Okay, maybe there is tax incorporated into the item, but the price you see is the price you pay. If it says 99 pence, it truly is 99 pence at the cash register.
- Accents are still fun. And even at work where I’ve been with these people for almost two months we still run across a how do you pronounce that/ what phrase did you just use? I love it. I’m going to miss it.
- There’s always something happening in the city. It practically hums with life and I love it.
- It’s perfectly acceptable to eat toast at any time in the day. They really like toast here, something I have no problem getting on board with.
- The almost excessive amount of markets! I love it and yet you have to get up early to get the good stuff, so I kinda dislike that about them, but markets! Come on now
- There's literally a red phone booth about every block.And for those of you wondering about the English language. I've provided a basic dictionary for you. Enjoy!
The Obvious Ones You Should Know:
- chips = French fries
- crisps = chips
- biscuits = cookies
- way out = exit
- take away = to-go (They always ask ‘take away’ and I always say, ‘yes, to-go!’ I can’t get it out of my system. Also, if you dine in at a restaurant, they charge you more than if you buy the same thing to take away. I know!)
- mate = friend
- holiday = vacation
- flat = apartment
- lift = elevator
- loo/toilet = the bathroom
- trainers = sneakers
- rubbish = trash, or if you’re describing something as ‘rubbish’ it’s no good.
Some Ones You Might Know:
- all right? = their version of saying hey, what’s up?
- cheers = thank you
- queue = the line. Also to be used as a verb. You can ‘queue up’ or you can join the ‘queue’.
- smart = like dressed up, fashionably. Ex, ‘they were dressed smart for the club’
- fit = cute, attractive
- gutted = bummed out, sad about something. Ex ‘ugh, I’m gutted I missed the show’
- jumper = sweater
- trousers =pants
- pants = underwear (Don’t mess that up or you’ll get some weird looks)
- module = class
- course = refers to your major. Although coursework is class work for one particular module. Confused yet?
- disabled = handicapped. Usually refers to the fact that they have their own ‘toilet’. But when you see the classic blue handicapped picture of the guy in the wheelchair, they call him the disabled guy.
- rocket = arugula (and they love it over here)
- aubergine = eggplant
- courgette = zucchini
- sweet = candy, but only like hard candies with NO chocolate
- chocolate = chocolates or any other candy that has chocolate in it. Josh confronted me with this last week asking why we call everything candy when there’s a difference between sweets and chocolate.
- memory stick = flash drive/ USB drive. I use this one a lot at work
- house mate = roommates. Also appropriate to use ‘flat mate’ and I find it interesting that a lot more guys and girls live co-ed together than in the states and that about half the time they weren’t friends first. Weird.
- mobile = cell. And they literally say, ‘do you have so and so’s mobile’
Taking a wee = quite literally going to the bathroom. I thought no one REALLY says that, but they so do all the time
Some Things You Might Not Know:
- Concessions = not snacks that you get at the movie theatre. Instead this refers to if you get a discount ticket for something, like military or senior back home. So I pay a ‘concession’ price at the theatre because I’m a student.
- Tea Time = this can be used in place of dinner. Instead of saying, ‘it’s dinner time’ you can say ‘it’s tea time’. I know, I don’t get it either
- Pudding = any form of dessert. This also took me a bit to get right. Pudding just doesn’t mean pudding but can refer to cakes, ice cream or biscuits. Example, Georgie said, “Mmm, I could go for some pudding” and Sarah said “ah yes, cake sounds good.” And I said, “please explain yourself”
- Coach = bus. I don’t really get this, but I know to look for the coach station!
- Washing Up = can refer to washing the dishes, doing laundry or taking a shower. Have to pay attention to the context.
And I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting on all of those lists, but it’ll just have to do for now. All and all despite all the things I 'dislike' they're really very petty in comparison. While I miss home and the warm weather, I love this city and wouldn't trade my time here for anything!