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.



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,


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.