September 2012 Archives

Week 1: Arrival


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I have introduced myself so many times over the last week or so, that I think I will just copy and paste how a typical introduction goes over here:

"Hello. I am Emily. Yes I am an American. Yes I know that America was... (involved in/created/did some other absolutely horrible thing). Yes, well, I apologize on behalf of my country.

Oh me? I'm from Minnesota. Never heard of it? Don't worry, no one else here
has either. Its in the middle. By Canada. Yes, that's right.

Why am I here? Oh, well, I received a scholarship. Oh why am I HERE (Birmingham) specifically? Well honestly I have no idea, I just got off the plane when the money ran out. Yes I'm just kidding.

Studying? Why Political Science of course! Yes, I'm sorry about our politics/presidential candidate/extreme parties/other horrible things etc. Yes, so sorry, you're right they are absolutely stupid. Ok, tell me about yourself!"

NOTE: While this blog may be rife with sarcasm, please understand that I AM having an absolutely fabulous time over here and with the people!



Knackered: Somewhat more than tired
Plebs: Poor people
Oh trust me, there is much more! I just can't think of it.

Note: They use military time!


Day 1:

Was picked up at the airport and dropped at my new home. It was three pm, and I had no idea where I was in relation to the city, or my new campus. I had just met my roommates and had no idea what to do next, never mind where to get food. There is a different culture here, one that clearly is much more independent than our UMD. Luckily, a food truck was provided for my nutritional needs, and one that claimed to serve such American cuisine as hamburgers and fries (of course they are called chips here). Was forced by hunger to try one of these, and I must say the English do have a different pallet! I understand why they are in love with spices, for surely their own food has none!

My flat is beautiful! It is the cheapest option here, and yet hundreds of times larger, and better in every way than our meager abodes on campus at UMD. Not only do I HAVE MY OWN ROOM, but we have a beautiful kitchen, with cleaning services provided. More on this later, I'm sure.

So far we are still missing two flatmates. I suggested to the natives that they were probably dead. Natives were horrified. Where is that British dark humor I heard about? Oh well.


Day 2, 3, 4.... 5?

Due to jet lag, the days have run together! I feel often as if a veil was placed in front of me, and that no amount of swatting can shift it away from my eyes. What a culture! There is a bar, not a thirty second walk from my door and it is owned by the University! Public drinking is encouraged at various functions, and my fellow students partake in them every night during a ritual entitled, "Freshers Week". Note: despite the name, this lasts not just one week, but also one week AFTER the start of classes. Other entertainments provided are club nights and even more drinking venues. While the younger students traipsing about enjoying their new freedom can be annoying, once yours truly found people her own age it was discovered that she could "boogie down" with the best of them.


Day.. Some days after the last posting:

Enjoyed exploring campus and the surrounding areas. Have found the English accent most amusing, especially the one they call Brummy (the typical Birmingham accent). Still cannot understand most of what is being communicated, and rely upon my superb lip reading and body language skills. The campus is straight out of one of my best gothic fantasies. The magpies call at me and add a dreary atmosphere, (helped by the rain), every time I walk past the large clock tower in the middle of campus. The buildings look as if they hold several secrets prisoner, and indeed they do! Like my lecture hall, which was up three flights of stairs, down one hallway and down another flight of stairs. How lovely.

Have discovered where the basic necessities are kept. On a block they call a High Street. I walked to it the other day with one of my wonderful flatmates, who patiently answered what must have been a river of questions. For an American, it is shocking the size of their so called "super" markets. They are so tiny! And with such a small selection! While this makes everything easier and more efficient, I can't help wondering if I'm missing out on some product or other. What is lovely are these wonderful food safety laws, which are very different from America. Everything is dangerous dye and pesticide free, and the brands from home don't even taste the same! I wonder what they did to McDonald's?


Day... Still Unsure:

Today I began my classes! Am convinced that you could plop any student into any lecture in the world and they would all look very similar. We start the first day by finding our seats, and even if we do not like our company, we will stalwartly refuse to sit anywhere else all year, just out of habit. The notebooks and pencil cases are opened and we lean expectantly to listen to the professors introductions. Twenty minutes later the excitement is gone, and the classmate next to you is recovering from a particularly harsh hangover by falling asleep and drooling all over your shared desk. Meanwhile you stare, focused on the mouth in the middle of the room, while all you hear is the "Waaawaawaa" like from a Peanuts cartoon. Now, the professor is saying something about class next week and you and the collective unconscious of the room realize that it is time to move on to a new hour of picking at ones nails. And do it quick, because you always must be the first one out of the room!

Surprise! Classes here are only 50 minutes long! How nice! Oh, except you also have these study group type things called seminars. I will update you next when I partake in them.


So why is this blog entitled, "Like America, Only Better? Was it because I was told that by the bus driver on the way from the airport? Or was it because I couldn't think of anything better? The answer, of course, is both.

Tone of voice inspired from watching too many Henri the Cat videos:

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