Treat Yo Self 2012

Thought I’d write a post since I’ve been so busy partying and studying that I haven’t written one in quite a long while, so here goes.

The thing about living in Durham is the college bars. That’s where all the action happens: Fisher House. I rent my Doctor Who DVDs from the GCR office there, I play darts there, I drink and dance there, I study there, I get lunch there, I met my friends there… And best of all, I live as close to Fisher as anyone can. But sometimes I have to stay away from Fisher because it can be like quicksand. Fun, sociable quicksand, but quicksand nevertheless. I am here to get a degree so I need to drag myself away and do some work. With all the logistics of moving to a new country getting sorted, I can focus more on day-to-day life and school. One less thing to stress out about.

On my night in, I’ve got Spotify going, I treated myself to some Ben & Jerry’s (the first ice cream I’ve had since I moved here), and I have plenty of material to start focusing my dissertation topic. I meet with my supervisor in the morning to talk about sources. One month in and we’re already buckling down. Durham is a great place to go to school. Everything I need is here: amazing archives, ample library books, a nightscene, and cafés for when I need that life-sustaining caffeine.

I walked into a café the other day to get in from the rain but it was full. I stayed because I thought it was awkward to walk in and then leave immediately and the cashier suggested I make friends and get an empty seat at an occupied table. I didn’t quite “make friends” with the two girls but I did perch on their bench and enjoy my amazing white mocha while ruling out dissertation ideas in my cat notebook. I would never have thought to do that on my own but they didn’t mind my quiet intrusion and it’s good for me to break out of my shell every now and then.

Tomorrow is Bladerunner night with some livers-out on Claypath. Takeaway, Nerf guns, and wine shall combine to make Thursday the great night before my 9am Friday lecture. Luckily my professor is extraordinarily excited about everything medieval– he called us a “merry band of medievalists– so that will make Friday morning more manageable.

This whole weekend is going to be one great ball of fun as Halloween celebrations will really get underway. There was a Hellenic Society Halloween party last Saturday, which I limped down to in my flu-fighting condition. As I haven’t celebrated Halloween in years, I think this weekend is going to be splendid. Tons of makeup, tons of people, tons of fun.

-Win-

Ustinov rules

I’ve been in Durham for a few days now and it’s been completely magical. The city is way more amazing than I could have expected. The people in Durham, both in town and in uni, are so extremely friendly that I haven’t felt homesick once since I left the states. It’s almost overwhelming at times, trying to keep up with Fresher’s Week, Induction, friends, sleeping, and internet, but somehow I’ve managed it so far. Moving in was pretty smooth. I’m just waiting on some hangars and I should be able to put away my bright blue suitcase.

The best thing I’ve done so far was get a phone! It makes it way easier to meet up with all the people I’ve met so far. Even though a lot of the people I’ve met are all in my college, the site is kind of sprawling. Keeping track of everyone is a challenge. When we want to go into town, phones make it easier to make plans and meet up. I got a pay as you go smartphone from Orange. It’s a step down from my beautiful white iPhone 4 back in the states but it functions and has a sparkly pink wallpaper, so I can’t complain. Still learning how to use it as it’s an Android. I have my top-up card in my clutch because I can’t remember my number yet but it’s getting there.

Another thing I’ve found really useful to keep my head straight is my journal. It was given to me as a going-away/graduation gift. It’s golden-colored and has a lovely little picture of Big Ben on the cover, perfect for a UK journal. I started writing in it on my first plane over here. I write about a page every time I set out to make an entry. It’s so nice to get back in the habit of writing a journal because it’s private. I don’t have to worry about whether I can talk about certain things because only I will see it, and not the whole internet.

Else-wise, I’ve been doing loads of walking. Everything in Durham is a walk, especially in the Hill Colleges. My legs are really sore from trekking down to town and back up the hill, and I’ve got blisters on my feet. I found a shortcut yesterday, and it’s the most gorgeous shortcut in the entire universe. It leads me right to my department by way of the River Wear, the Bailey, and the Cathedral. I’m going to enjoy that walk so much. On a more local level, my room is getting decorated thanks to the reuse resale from yesterday. Found some lovely pieces to put around my room and some dishes to use. My pillow is garbage so my neck is quite sore and I have a sniffle that’s been going around but I’m being tough. Fighting it with Airborne and tons of water. I need to buy more sweaters, or rather jumpers (?) because I didn’t bring nearly enough and winter is coming winter is here. Not to get me wrong, I love the cold, I just have a very bad sensitivity to temperatures, so I need the proper attire. I love jackets and layers and scarves, so I’m going to have a blast up North.

I’m off to the clubs and societies fair,

-Win-

One hell of a week

I have been here for a week and a half now and I cannot believe how quickly it all passed. But I have a feeling that’s what it’s going to be like for this entire school year. I came to the UK with my mom, she was only here for the first week, but was here helping me move in. While all my other flat mates were moving in and staying in their new rooms, I was back in the nice hotel with my mommy. I’m sure it made me look like the spoiled American, but the truth of the matter is that I knew saying goodbye to my mom was going to be painfully hard and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. Over all I think my mom and I did pretty damn good. This was her first time in the UK so I wanted her to check out the sites, and see what it is that I love so much about this place.

While I know the majority of people who are going to be reading this will be my family and friends, I figured if some random person about to go study in the UK stumbled onto this blog, I hope this part helps. Here is the break down of registering into a University, at least my University.

I arrived on the 15th, a Saturday. The 15th and the 16th was the whole move in weekend for pretty much everyone. We had all already signed our lease agreement online and had printed that out, so we brought that printed copy to the building, along with my passport, and the officials gave us my key. In theory, I would have been moving in right at that moment. Many people I saw dragging their luggage around, sometimes even backtracking while having to carry everything. That’s where my mom’s hotel room came in handy. We delivered my luggage one day at a time, which was an event just within itself. A 50 pound bag, and with a bus and a ride on the tube made me into an almost-not-really Londoner.

So for me, this part is the weird part. Back at Arizona State University, and I believe this will be the typical normal for the majority of the states, I would register for classes at least two months before actually starting school. I would already know what I’m taking, when I’m taking it, and it most part I would even have my syllabus a month ahead of time. Here I basically went into it having a general idea, and having already placed my request in for what I wanted to take. I’m majoring in Comparative Literature. I knew that everyone who was majoring in it had to take a core class and that would be taken for the entire year. I also understood that I had my choice of another class. One for the first semester, one for the second. And for those of you who are good at math, yes, that means I’m only taking two classes. And that’s me going full time. Many of friends were ‘jealous’ or said I was ‘lucky’. Bullshit! I know what two classes means. It’s like when a teacher lets your use your notes on a test, it only means the is going to be so hard that you would fail without it. That how I see it. Two classes? That means those two classes are going to make me their little prison bitch.

But I digress.

I had fill out an online question and answer, which was my pre-enrollment. I was then given a very specific and small time slot to go in and fully enroll. Still not the place where I would find out where what my classes were, when my classes were, and where my classes were going to be. While I am all for being lazy, I’m not the kind to sit around if I have a question. So my mom and I hunted for the office for my department. This is when I found out that they grouped the English (and all the it entails) with all the other arts in one building. Now that’s a whole other kind of rant, and it’s not anything against art, but I’m sure if there are any artists out there, they would understand and not want to be grouped with us English peeps. But that’s alright, I’ve now made it my mission to make the English department so awesome, we get our own building called the English building. Not “Arts”.

The very nice woman at the English office told me that I would find out more info once the head guy sent out an email. I did get my emails and it turned out I had to go to an induction meeting. It sounds intimidating and it was intimidating. It was at the head guy’s office. Proff O. He seemed really nice and he laughed at my jokes, so I like anyone who laughs at my jokes. Once I showed up though, I realized that there are only 3 of us in the program, and there are about 10 professors who are there to give us lesson and help us.

Well then. If that’s not a reason to freak the f*ck out, then I don’t know what is. Oh wait, I do. My syllabus. There were moments when we were reading over everything that we had to do, and I thought ‘yea, I’ve got this. Just wait till the feminist week and Marxist week, I’ll blow your minds!’ Then there were other times when I wanted to slip under the table and cry thinking that I’m out of my league here. But then I realized that’s good though. If I was going into something that I full know, that would be easy, and not push me, then what would be the whole point of this. To quote Glee, “If you’re not scared, that means you’re not sticking your head out far enough”. I must look like a giraffe then.

At this point my mommy has gone home and I’m still wondering how the hell am I going to make friends? I wasn’t worried about making friends when I first came here, I’m pretty social. And I’m not really worried now, I was just planning on meeting people in my classes. And Then I found out that there are only three of us dude A, and lady E. I didn’t even meet lady E. There’s only three of us and she didn’t even make it to the induction meeting. There is a brilliant humor about that.

I’ll make friends, just as I will kick these classes and dissertation’s ass. It’ll happen in time, that’s how life works out.

Much love,

-Jac-

The Happening

I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport, just past security, waiting for the new Mumford & Sons album to download. I just got past security and it went smoother than I could have hoped for. My backpack, which I thought weighed 70 lbs, actually only weighs a little over 30. My shoulders are already tired and my first flight hasn’t even taken off yet. Today is going to be beautiful.

Drove to the airport listening to Michael Bublé’s It’s Time album. That was a good choice. He always puts me in a good mood. Saying goodbye to my family is hard and the reality of everything hasn’t set in yet. I know it will, and that’s why I packed my teddy bear Tom Tom. Speaking of packing, I have crammed my necessities into one 50lb suitcase, a big red backpack, and my Coach handbag. Everything is stuuuuffed. But at the same time, that’s only three bags, so I’m rather mobile. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

So why am I moving to England? I took a semester off from university when I was a sophomore because my health went downhill. While I was at home getting well, I decided to transfer from Northern Arizona University to Arizona State. I was bored and ASU had a much better English program. I clicked around the website and stumbled across the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. I’ve been enthralled by the Middle Ages since I was ten and read The Lord of the Rings. I signed up for the Cambridge study abroad program through ACMRS and that’s where I met the lovely Jac. While in Cambridge, I fell hopelessly in love with England. When I left I felt as though I’d forgotten my heart in Cambridge. You always forget things when you travel. (I have yet to discover what I’ve forgotten this time but I know the realization is coming).

When Jac told me how she was going to grad school in England, I of course made the last minute decision to copy her. I went to the website for Across the Pond and got the ball rolling. There was a lot of painful waiting but I got used to it. I did my application, got my references, wrote my personal statement, and got accepted to every top of the line university I applied to. It was amazing, that feeling of worth and accomplishment. I had something amazing to look forward to during my final semester at ASU. And when the temperatures are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time, you need something to look forward to.

I’ve never been to Durham, I hadn’t heard of the school before I applied, the only person in England I know is Jac, and I have no idea how to write a history paper. This is truly going to be an adventure, but I wouldn’t really want it any other way.

-Win-

Preface

It’s the night before I leave to London. Everything is packed, clothes for tomorrow are set, and tickets are printed and waiting. Truth be told, I also just pigged out on the cheesiest Mexican food and largest margarita I could get my hands on. Saying goodbye to my best friend Amy tonight was harder then I thought, but no tears. Instead it’s excitement and anxiety that’s supplying this last bit of energy to do another check around my room. I’m 22 and have never moved away from home, so I guess when you do something do it big. Right? My mom is coming to help me set up, so at least that’s an extra week of having my mommy with me.

Too many thoughts and emotions inside of me that I consider going outside my character and become a sudden stoner. That would help dull out these nerves. But it’s too late and unrealistic to pick up that habit so I guess just good old fashion deep breathing will have to do.

I’m not scared about moving to another country. I love other cultures. I love different, strange, and of course I would be lying if I said I didn’t love the accent. What scares me most is leaving my momma. It’s been just the two us since my dad died when I was 12. We’re not just close. We’re more of the kicking-everyone’s-ass-at-charades-we-should-go-pro kind of a close. But thank you 21 century and skype with all its glory. Now I just need Apple to get off their ass and have the hologram phone call feature for the Iphone 6.

I’m so tired from feeling too much. I could put my head down on the pillow, but that would mean a fast restless nights sleep and waking up to a flight. There are many times I can look back and say ‘right there. Right at that moment is when it changed.’ But very few times in out lives do we take footsteps knowing that every step is change that you will remember forever. I’m always going to remember the day I moved to England. I’m going to remember that I boarded that plane knowing my life was going to change forever. Knowing that in the following days, months, years I’m going to grow up, laugh my ass off, fall on my ass, pick myself back up, cry, and as always, laugh. It’s going to be a change and a challenge that in theory I brought onto myself. But I never had a choice. In the summer of 2010 when I stepped off that bus to be right in front of the Thames seeing London and its life, I realized I never had a choice. London is part of my life, and it’s going to help develop the person I’m going to be.

So with that I will go to bed in my large American bed, in my large American room, and know that London is waiting for me, just like I have been waiting for it. Just like I have been waiting for this moment to go off and be on my own in my life. This a moment I will remember forever, this is my Preface.

-Jac-