Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween

A costume can be an expensive thing for someone that has an imagination. This is a problem since I had lots of ideas and little capital to follow through with. Instead I searched around my flat to see what I could scrape up. As it turns out I bought an WWI pilots hat at one of the summer festivals. I had a brown leather jacket, white scarf, and khaki pants so it made it an easy decision. I didn't feel like the costume was compete without a mustache though, so it was off to one of the few "fancy dress" stores in London. I can't figure this out, when I arrived there was a line literally wrapped around the block to get in. You would think that with that much interest there would be more than 8 or so costume stores in London; especially with how popular fancy dress parties are. I went to a less popular costume store and only had to wait for 20 minutes to get in.
Running a party is much different than enjoying it. Last year I spent much more time socializing than I have been able to this year. I don't feel like I know anyone nearly as well as last year.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Offsite

I was not expecting to have an offsite type meeting doing a PhD but my supervisor wanted to have a team building exercise. There are a lot of English country side mansions that have been turned into hotels. We visited one of these in the sleepy town of Brockenhurst. We started with a scavenger hunt and I must admit was mostly a waste of time... to team building. It was nice however to wander around a quaint little town. The next morning we had to give a presentation of our research which was helpful since everyone is so huddled in their little cubicles most of the time. Each group was then given a Lego mindstorm robot kit and we had to come up with the a design based on a word we were given. (Ours was "guidance") This part was actually fun and did help with the team building. I do have to admit that it did a lot better of a job being offsite then trying to do it with just a meeting like it had when I started last year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

One Year!

I've lived here a year! Even so I still have some things that catch me off gaurd. Everything is almost the same here, almost. I have come to call these things Twilight Zone moments. There are little things that happen that catch me off guard and make it feel like the twilight zone even after I have adjusted to everything else. So obvious one is cars on the left side of the road become normal over time, but others just won't.
  • Light switches are pressed down to turn on.
  • Lots of other tall people (like three times as many)
  • Tea Break (Yes really, even when no one buys tea it's still called that)
  • People talking about which accent they chose to use while growing up
  • Swearing on TV or the occasional breasts in the free daily paper on the tube.
  • Having tax included in the price so I can add up the bill in my head
  • Every piece of paper being A4 instead of letter sized
  • Dates written with day/month/year
  • Different movie ratings and no green screen before each movie trailer.
  • Drinking in public.
  • Gambling not seen as a sin.
  • No jaywalking laws.
  • Store advertisements proud of being sustainable
  • Different accents on announcements and commercials

words: I have gotten used to using a lot of different words but for some reason my my brain will not allow me to say "zed" instead of "zee" for 'z'. So "zEE bra" is pronounced "zEH bra" here. I also still laugh every time I hear someone use the word "whilst".

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Move-in Weekend

300 odd students have a weekend to move in. About 85% arrive on Saturday. The night before all the PhD students that were still living there, went around to all the flats and gave them a mug, a box with some tea and candy, and a poster with all the events.
I remember when I arrived last year I was tired, jet-lagged, wet, and just wanted to be left alone so I tried to judge people as they arrived about how long of a spiel I would give them. I was the most chipper person in the group so for most of the day I was the first person people would talk to. That lasted until my voice gave out. Everyone gets a huge pack of info that the University hands out. The important stuff is written up in "Survival guide". The reality is that it is pushed hard because no one wants to answer the same question over and over.
For the first two weeks there are activities every day. This makes everyone get tired and grumpy with each other since we don't get a break. It also means that I don't feel like I've been able to socialize since I've been helping behind the scenes so much. I also remember that I was so disoriented the first week that I didn't go to a lot so it is weird experiencing them all now.
There was a BBQ, barn dance, scavenger hunt, bowling, second hand sale, dance, karaoke, guide to the University (How to use the tube), trip to Kew Gardens, movie night, pub crawl, doctor's registration, football, basketball, and board games. Yeah, it was busy.