Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekend Wandering - Take 1

With the coming of morning, the three of us were up and going again. We had about a 30 min drive to the school where our clinic was being held. Chris shared some breakfast bars on the way, which was nice. Once we were there we stood outside, and it was a little chilly. Chris and Axel started tossing a disc back and forth. A brand new disc might I add, as we were specifically instructed not to bring crap discs to this. At one point, Chris' toss went right next to me. Easily catchable by me if I'd stuck my hand out. But I didn't. The disc sailed past me... and into the parking lot. Wah wah. No more new disc. I laughed and said sorry to Axel. If I'd known it was going to end up on pavement, I definitely would've mustered the energy to actually catch the disc.

We got corralled after a bit into the gym where we were given the intro and the scoop on the day. The clinic would be run by two of the top Clapham Players. For those in the US who follow Disc, Clapham is the reigning UK champion team and this year at Worlds they took Revolver to double game point. So they are GOOD. Sion "Brummie" Scone and Dom Clark were our coaches for the day. Once we went outside, I was excited for the day. They had told us to plan for/pack for wind and rain, letting us know the only reason they'd stop the clinic would be for lightning. Well, it was gorgeous. Sunny as all get out. And no one had prepared for that. I definitely didn't have sunscreen. Ha. So we all went home a little burnt. I struggled at the beginning of the clinic especially when it came to my flick hucks. I kept shorting them, and blading them, and then I got in my head about it. I know how to throw these! I was frustrated. In the next drills, we learned how to play better defense, which was very helpful for me. There were throwers in these drills as well, and at first I made my partner (who kept switching as we tried to match up against different people we didn't know) throw anytime we were on the left side of the field. Eventually though I said to myself, avoiding this throw that you are having trouble with isn't going to help you. It's just going to make it worse. So I swallowed my worries and started throwing from that side. If anything I should be throwing MORE from that side, not less. I pulled myself out of the funk and fixed my throw (though I still don't have the distance I want). As the day continued, they split us into two groups one to learn a vertical stack defensive play, and the other to learn a horizontal. Chris and Axel went to the horizontal group, which left me to go learn vertical. The defense they were teaching us is called "Frankie" and when it's done right, it works REALLY well. The offense had a super hard time getting throws off. The other group took a super long time so we were done long before them. Long enough, that Dom taught us what they were learning as well. Then we all came together to play a huge scrimmage. We named our team "Stein" as a play on words from Frankie. The other team named themselves "Sion Scone" as if he didn't already have a big enough ego (shaking my head). The game went well. I knew that I was playing with top tier Uni players and yes, some people were extremely hard to guard. I had my share of mistakes, and see that, but I stayed out of my head and contributed 3 points for my team. Team Stein took the win on universe point 11-10, so I was very pleased to not only have won, but to have contributed significantly to the scoring. That was the most important thing for me to get out the clinic: make sure I feel valuable and am contributing not taking away from the team. All in all a successful clinic.

Afterwards, we went to find showers (which were locked and had to be opened for us), then of course they were ICE COLD and showed 0 indication they were going to get warm anytime in the future. So it was more a rinse than an actual shower. Because I just couldn't tolerate how freezing it was. After that Chris and Axel wanted to stick around for the afternoon discussions on Uni Ultimate being led by Benji Heywood, so I was game to hang out as well. The talks didn't all apply to me, as some of them were geared toward Women's Ultimate; but they were all interesting none-the-less, especially in light of comparing them to Ultimate in the states. Some significant differences here, some good, some bad.

After that Chris and Axel were set to head to Manchester where they would be staying the night. Since I was already 3/4 of the way to London, I was just going to continue on my way down there. I wasn't sure where I'd be sleeping, figuring I'd find a place in Leicestershire or down in London. As we were headed out, an Italian guy asked for a ride to the train station as well. I found out he was going to Notting Hill, very close to where my hotel would be sunday night, so I got to know him and we went together. We got dropped off, then he wanted to find some food, but we struck out so we ended up just waiting at the train platform getting to know each other. Gaby offered to let me stay the night at his place. This is one of the reasons I absolutely love Ultimate players. They are so kind and giving and this happens ALL the time. Anytime someone is traveling for a tournament it's almost always guaranteed they can find somewhere to stay with another, local, player. I was very grateful as this would save me at least £60. On the train we talked more and Gaby let me know about some hat tournaments that would be happening throughout the year in neighboring countries. May as well play disc in as many places as I can while I'm here, right?! We alternated between chatting and dozing for the hour ride. When we got there we switched to the tube, and it was almost midnight. Gaby missed his stop and we had to backtrack, ha. We were both exhausted. But finally we got to his place and we crashed out.

Next morning we woke up around 9 or 930 and went to scavenge some breakfast. I just said we could go to a grocer, where I got some pecan sticky buns, some pepperoni, some pineapple chunks, and an OJ for around £3. Then we needed to get a bus over to Regent's Park. When we got on though, the driver told us he didn't take cash, so I couldn't ride. We ended up getting back off and I felt bad because I'd messed up Gaby's morning. He was very nice about not being upset and we set off to find me an oyster card so I could ride the bus. We wandered the streets looking for a shop that sold them. The first was closed, the second sold out, but finally we found one. By this time though we were close to a subway so Gaby opted for that instead. The oyster card was fine because it let me ride the rest of the weekend without having to pay anything else. We eventually got to Regent's Park, and had to walk almost the length of the park to get to where Gaby was going. More Ultimate :) Nothing I'll complain about. So what if I played for 8 hours straight yesterday? MORE! So I cleated up and started meeting people. This was the Camden Ultimate team. Some of them were pretty good, others not as much. I lost myself in the game and just played. It was frustrating that their players had set things they did, like one of the cutters told me that my position ALWAYS cut deep first, then breakside under. Fine by me, but this shouldn't always be a rote, specific cut. It should be an option, but you shouldn't always have to immediately cut deep if the under is clear. I wasn't going to argue though as it wasn't my team and I didn't really care. I had some drops, but some good plays as well. I could tell after we were done that I was going to be sore and my hamstrings hurt. When we were de-cleating and cooling down I asked someone what time it was and she told me 1:48pm. O_O Yikes. I had a meeting at 3 on the other side of the city!

I quickly gathered my things and set off back across the park to the subway station I'd come from, which was the closest one. I had completely lost track of time (worth it). So I no longer had time to check in at my hotel, get showered, and head over without all my stuff. So back to the Tube lugging all my stuff (though it was cakewalk compared to last weekend) and then navigating to the other side of the city. When I got to the restaurant where we were meeting, I changed my clothes into some fresh stuff, and used my gross tshirt to try and get some of the sweat off. >.> Since I had everything I could re-deodorant and apply cologne so I would smell clean, even if I wasn't :P

Then I went inside to meet my new bosses. They had set out a SADS UK bag so they would be easy to find, and I had donned my SADS Tshirt so I would be easy to find. We sat down and introduced ourselves and got to know each other. They are a quaint couple and I quite enjoyed them. Anne had tea, John had coffee, and I sipped a coke. We talked about work and what they wanted me to do (which wouldn't be too hard at all) and I took copious notes. As the meeting continued we ordered lunch and I got an open-faced steak sandwich which was quite good.

After we were done eating and had gotten everything hashed out about the work I'd be doing for them, John wanted to have a jaunt through Covent Gardens. I wasn't going to say no. So I shouldered my bags and away we went again. Covent Garden was basically a huge outdoor mall, known for its street performers. There was a girl singing opera, a mime eating balloons, guitar players everywhere; it was quite the scene. We watched some of the performances a bit, then moved on. Anne and John said goodbye to me as they wanted to get some groceries, and I was free to go find my hotel. So back to the Tube. It took some extra time to pin down the extra location of the hotel as the streets had different names on either side, and my hotel address ended up not matching the street it was actually on. Oh well. Found it eventually. I was on the 4th floor. Joy. 83 steps up later and my legs were killing me. I was finally able to drop my stuff though. I considered a shower, but decided that was better saved for a night-time activity. As there was still sun, I wanted to see some stuffs. This was my only chance to not have to carry everything with me. I grabbed my camera and went back out (down 83 steps).

Now that I didn't have bags, and a camera, I went full-out tourist. Just down the street I started snapping pictures.

Not long after I was in Kensington Gardens. There was a pond and SO many people. I was quite pleased to see how many people were out and about.

I stopped by Kensington Palace because it was on the way across the park.

Kensington Gardens connect to Hyde Park, so I kept walking and ended up on the Princess Diana Memorial walk.

Not long after, I found this really bright, beautiful monument. And they were having a game of street hockey in front of it! Fun.

As I continued walking, I saw some really elegant buildings.

When I got to the edge of Hyde Park, Wellington Arch was right across the street, so I kept going.

After going through the arch, I was at Buckingham Palace.

So I said hey to this guy. He didn't answer.

After spending some time at the Palace and Victoria Memorial, there was more park, so I kept going. This was the view from a bridge that I found quite breath-taking. I stayed to enjoy it for a few minutes.

On the other side of the bridge, I saw signs for Parliament Square, so I decided to keep going and stumbled upon Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

It made me want to be Peter Pan so much. And play Kingdom Hearts.

After getting a number of shots of the famous clock, I said what's up to Winston Churchill. He's important too, you know.

After that, it was starting to get dark and I wasn't finding what I was looking for: London Bridge. I asked someone for directions, and she told me how to get there (take the Tube). So I popped underground and soon was looking at the river Thames and this riveting view.

I'm glad I went because my trip was educational as well. Would you believe that the bridge in the last picture isn't London Bridge? I'm pretty sure my whole life I thought that was London Bridge. But it's actually called Tower Bridge. London Bridge is just a bridge. Who knew?

I decided I needed to explore the Tower Bridge for myself, and they conveniently had a walkway right along the water connecting London and Tower bridges.

The sun was setting and I couldn't have imagined a better way to end my day. Strolling along the river Thames as the sun went down.

I decided to treat myself and stopped at a pub to have my first meal-out (paid for by me) (not counting the necessary breakfast the first morning I was here (and traumatized)). I ordered a pulled pork burger with chips (fries) and coleslaw on the side. It was quite good.

When I was done, the sun was pretty much gone and it was time to go home.

I tubed back to my hotel and after climbing 83 steps had the shower I needed. Afterwards, I tried to get online to post pictures and talk about my day, but couldn't find an internet connection. And the phone in my room didn't work. Down 83 steps. Internet only works in the lobby. Of course it does (ugh). Back up 83 steps. After all my walking and Ultimate and 83 steps 100 times, my legs hurt and I couldn't muster the energy to go down again. So I played video games and went to sleep.

What a weekend!

PS - if you want to see more London photos (there are tons more), pop over to my facebook page. I'm making all my significant trip albums public so that you don't even have to actually be friends with me to see them. That's easier for me than uploading them in 2 different places. :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

What Have I Been Doing?!? (Part 1)

Sorry (notsorry) this post is LONG. Like, really long. There's just so much to talk about... Sorry (notsorry). I've tried to break it up so it's easier, but I didn't have much luck with that.

So after writing about the first social and posting pictures of my dorm I sort of completely disappeared. Like, poof. Sorry about that. The reasons mainly are:

-I've had no time for blogging. I mean... I haven't even finished unpacking. I literally have clothes ALL over my floor, I'm that bad right now.
-The weather has been incredible (aka I've not been rained on once)
-I've made friends much, much quicker than I thought I would (though I'm really not surprised)
-And Frisbee. Because: Frisbee.

My days are a little mixed (shrug) sorry bout it. So next morning (we are now on Sept 9th, Tuesday) NaK and I went to the Uni for our first International Orientation Lecture (woohoo!) titled "Welcome to University." Iliy came and sat in front of us, which was nice to see her again. They gave us a bunch of info, some useful, some not. Once it was over, NaK and I met Ash and NicG (not to be confused with NicW, the girl from New Orleans we queued with yesterday). They are both from New Hampshire and here to do Veterinary Medicine which is a FIVE year program. Like woah. That's a long time to be living over here. But apparently it's cheaper than in the US, so that's cool. We hung around for a while and just chatted, then we went over to the Fraser building to see about passes for NaK who signed up for all of 0 postgrad activities. While he was getting his, I managed to finagle a pass to tonight's social event, since I pretty much missed the one last night (that's how we do). After that it gets fuzzy. I may have tried to go into the library to figure out printing (a mess) or gone home? I don't really remember that well. At some point I ended up back at my flat. I had most of what I needed, but I was still keen to find some shower shoes so I needed a superstore. Not so much an IKEA now that I was pretty set on dishes, but something that would have clothes like a Target or a Wal-mart. I literally googled "Scotland Walmart" on google maps. Turned up with some place called ASDA Superstore. Cool. It was in this place called Govan, which was south of the River Clyde. I've heard from a few folks that this is essentially the "Glasgow Ghetto" aka don't go there at night. It was the middle of the day, so I hoofed it to the subway, then rode 2 stations to Govan. Upon emerging, I could tell this was an older part of town from the architecture. I had written down directions for getting to the store, but then couldn't for the life of me find a single street sign, so I guessed, and guess wrong. Walked down a street with industrial buildings on one side and apartments on the other. The area didn't seem that terrible, but you never know. I eventually righted myself and got back on track. The one difficult part was I had to cross a 4-lane road and there are no pedestrian crosswalks. Frustrating. But I could tell the further I got out that this was definitely suburbia. This was not the city anymore. There was a Toys R' Us (with a Claire's inside?!) next to Asda. And lo and behold, google maps did not let me down. Asda was definitely the equivalent of Wallyworld. They had super cheap clothes on the top floor, where I found a pair of flip-flops for £2.50 Not bad. Then I went down to check out the groceries. I found meat for that exact same price I'd paid at Sainbury's, but these packages had 3x more meat! So I knew I was in the cheaps and ended up buying way more than I planned. I bought more meats, eggs, some pancakes (they are big on those here), found some Dr. Pepper!, and Pringles. Bought some rice as well. To get back to the subway I took the most direct roads this time, since I'd sorted myself and it was completely industrial. I can see why I wouldn't want to walk that at night, though I didn't see anyone shady when I was walking. I drank one of my Dr. Peppers as I walked, because I'd found something that reminded me of home. Again, though Dr. Pepper ended up tasting different. Sort of the same flavor, but a little flat-er probably because of the reduced sugar content.

Don't remember what I did the rest of the afternoon. Maybe unpacked a little. At 5p or 530, NaK and I headed up to the social. I wasn't going to be late this time! We got there early and hung out outside, waiting for Ash and NicG. While we waited, we met some other people like a kid Jar from Colorado who is here doing his undergrad in Product Design. He's 18, but I swear he looked like he was 14. Such a kid >.> And what the heck do you study in Product Design anyway? Patent rules and law? Strange. But to each his own. Finally NaK got tired of waiting for the ladies and decided we were going in. So we went inside. NaK got a glass of white wine and I got myself a coke. We started chatting up a guy from Kansas and a girl from Serbia. They are both doing Central and Eastern European Studies (according to NaK, I couldn't remember). After getting to know each other a bit, I suggested we find seats before they were all gone. People were settling in and I remembered how it had been the night before. We migrated and found a table in the back. There were already 3 Asians at the table, but they weren't sitting next to each other. NaK, AM and Serbian girl all sat together and I ended up by myself on the other side of one of the already seated people. I saw Ash and NicG so I abandoned the table and went to talk to them. We'd never seen them arrive because they said they'd been one of the first people inside, so they were already inside the whole time we were waiting for them. Not too long after saying hey to the Vet Med girls, I abandoned them as well to go find other CAH prospects. To see who I could see. I found a clearly American guy, looking kind of shy just hanging out on the edge of the crowd and chatted him up. He was also from Colorado (there are seriously so many people her from Colorado!) and studying something video-game related, which I thought was cool. Not long after the dancing started. T was content to just hang back and not get involved, I could tell. So when a girl was looking for a partner, I pretty much pushed him out onto the dance floor. It was the only way to get him going and not just sit on the sidelines for the entire night. He later blogged this was the kick-start to him being out of his shell enough to super enjoy his evening, so yay me. I went around the room a lot that night, not really setting up at one table or another. I found a table completely of Americans which was a win, and then met Cas and Shan, from Washington and Athens, Ohio. Did some dancing. The main goal of the night was CAH recruitment though and it was wildly successful as I went home with 12 new names. Not every single person I met was American though. Met a nice guy from Austria for example, who I've been keen to spend time with. NaK left early with some people and said they were going to the Irish Pub and I told him I'd catch up. I walked Cas and Shan home, and we made plans to go to City Centre the next day since they hadn't been and didn't know the subway or where to buy dishes. I'm officially a City Centre Chauffeur, but no complaints. After dropping them off, I headed to the Irish Pub to find NaK and the people he was with. No dice. I checked the 78 where we'd gone the previous night with Si, and again nothing. So I gave up, went home, and blogged.

On Wed (Sept 10th) we got up quite early to attend another lecture. Went with NaK and my flatmate from Greece, Aliki. NaK ditched us for a drop-in doctor appointment for something on his leg (don't ask). We sat in the back and waited for him, but he never showed up. The meeting was short and didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, so bust. After the meeting was over, I left Aliki to join my walking tour of campus, the 2nd of the 3 events I'd registered for. NaK finally showed up right before left, and just joined us even though he didn't have a ticket. The campus is quite small actually. I'd say it's like 1/4th the size of BYU campus. I can walk the whole thing in about 8 minutes. I spent almost the whole time talking to an American girl studying Propaganda Art, especially as it related to war and war-time campaigns. I don't remember her official course title, but it was definitely very intriguing. The tour didn't really show me anything I hadn't already seen (part of how I came to the conclusion that campus is tiny).

Afterwards, I met up with Cas and Shan to go into the City Centre, because, more shopping. We went back to Argos and they bought a bunch of stuffs. I did purchase a cutting board since I've been using so many fresh veggies and I should probably stop cutting directly on the counters <.< We didn't spend alot of time in the Centre because they wanted to head back in time to go to the Information Fair (which for some reason wasn't on my calendar). After we got back to the flats, I stayed behind to pack for Ultimate and re-read my emails from my program to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I still couldn't figure out registering for classes. I even watched the video tutorial and went step-by-step, but by the time we got to the 5th step his screen showed stuff mine didn't, so I didn't know what to do. I did have access to email and MyCampus back again though, so glad that fixed itself. I headed up to the fair, and didn't really see anything useful, though I did talk to a few booths. I found a table of Sports Reps and chatted them up, trying to recruit them for Ultimate and they were like, "Wait. Aren't we supposed to recruit you? This is backwards," which gave me a good laugh. I found some info in one of my emails about a lab where they had a rep for my program that could help me register. I went there before going to the fair, but they were still out to lunch or something, so I didn't wait around. I went back after going to the fair though and finally got help figuring out how to register. I signed up for two courses, but wasn't supposed to sign up for all of them yet, so I didn't. Those two classes are on Tuesday night though when I think First Team Training is being held, so that's a bummer. I'm sitting there saying to myself You could have picked any other day, any other time. These are the two hours I really want to be a part of... and you had to put a class there. Ugh. Oh well. I'll cope. After sorting my classes (sort of) I set off for pickup. It was a nice walk and I got to see even more of the West beyond West End that I had when I'd gone incorrectly to Garscube my first Sunday here. I did fine until the very last direction on my list, which I couldn't find. I ended up getting SUPER lost. Like a mile and a half off-course lost. HA. I had to ask for directions FOUR times to get back on track and actually find the park I was looking for. I'd overshot it by going way too far north. Even with all the extra walking I was early. I searched the park and didn't find anyone, so I sat down and rested. My feet actually hurt. I thought I was used to walking, but I guess driving M's car around so much the last few weeks in Utah made me soft. In the message I'd gotten about how to find the park, I was told that I'd have to take a tunnel under the road to get there, but I'd been so off-track that I never found said tunnel. So after waiting around and not seeing anyone, I went in search of this tunnel. I ended up walking around the perimeter of the park, almost the whole way. By the time I found the tunnel and was almost back at my starting point, I saw two cars parking and unloading frisbee people. Rory waved at me, and I hurried to catch up. There were some familiar faces from League as well as new ones. Met some of my other teammates too. A french guy walking through the park joined us and we played some 6 v 6, and had quite a nice game. I enjoyed playing and marked up against some of the tougher, faster guys on the squad, challenging me. When it was done, I was able to get a ride back into the city (my first time in a UK car! Driving on the wrong side of the road!). We chatted and made plans to go clubbing as the girls were keen to help me find people to date, one of the things I was still missing in this new city. They dropped my at the end of Byres Road as they were heading north and I lived south. Walked the rest of the way home, but was quite pleased with the day.

Next day, my flatmate from Germany Marlene and Aliki and I went to campus together for another orientation lecture. NaK showed up later. They had a panel of 3 current students doing their postgrads and opened it up for us to ask any questions we wanted. It was interesting, but the panel they'd picked were mostly research students, so they didn't super apply to what I was doing. Also, none of the 3 played sports while there were here, and mostly just studied and worked in their labs. I didn't feel they were representative of the postgrad experience, but were just a slice, and a centralized, similar slice at that. I wished there had been more diversity of experience on the panel. After that session ended, I adjourned outside to wait for my bus tour. Cas and Shan were there, Si showed up, the Austrian guy, NicW, Emma, even Kansas boy and his Serbian girl. So I had quite the friends group going. As we waited, I saw a number of other students from the social, and said hey to them. NicW was like: "Sheesh, do you know everyone in Glasgow already?" Ha. Getting there. Give me a minute. So our little group took over the back of a bus and had a great time. The tour took us around West End (seen it), Uni (seen it) and out into the East End (new!). East End is kind of the ghetto-er part of Glasgow according to the driver. We also went to some places south of the Clyde. There are quite a few really cool sites essentially in my backyard that I need to go and visit. And the museums are all free! (bonus!) Cas and Shan and I made plans to definitely come back to some of them. That was the one downside of the bus tour. It didn't really allow anyone to be touristy. We head alot via intercom, learned cool facts about places, but couldn't really get any pictures (glass causes problems) or stop and explore them in-depth. That didn't stop us from trying of course.

Some of the pictures I managed to get a decent enough shot that you might not know they were taking while on a moving bus. I got photos of the tour on the right side and conferenced with Emma afterwards to get her pictures from the left side of the bus, so we had a complete set. I'm not going to upload all the pictures here (too much work) so I've made the album public for whoever wants to see it. Si decided that he wanted to play CAH like now, so we threw together an ad-hoc event for that evening. Right after the bus tour I ran home to get on the computer. I was on deck for a presentation to some 8th graders at a school in Lithia Springs, GA taught by one of my former Performing Arts classmates. They were currently doing a project on research and how it's useful in everyday life, especially in the job world. So I was repping the SADS Foundation talking about how I use research whenever enacting our Sudden Death Response Plan and how that helps me correspond with Medical Examiners and Coroners to get the vital information to family members as quickly as possible. There were some technical issues, like audio going in and out, but for the most part the presentation went well. When they first started up the video, and they said they were ready, I wasn't sure because I couldn't see anything. I made the mistake of saying, "Are we go? I can't see the stream. There's just a picture of your pretty face..." This instantly derailed the entire thing as her class collectively went "Awwwwwwww" as kids are wont to do. Oops. Hadn't intended for that to happen. After the presentation I took a quick trip to the grocery store (don't even remember what I was specifically looking for) but ended up buying cheese and meat and bread and candy and other things. On the way back I was waiting for the subway and set down my groceries (and my subway card) to have some candy. When the train came I grabbed my bags and jumped on. When I got out at the next stop and went to swipe my card I couldn't find it anywhere! Cue panic. I talked to the guards at the station and they radioed the train to see if I'd left it on there. Nothing. I then remembered I must have set it down in the station! They radioed over there and (counting my blessings!) were able to find it. I may live in a city, but I really don't think it's THAT big of a city. In New York (London?) that card would have already disappeared for sure. I was so thankful to have my card back. I mean, I'd only used it like 5 days of the 28, so it still has a lot of time on it. I uploaded the pictures from the Bus Tour, then went down to the common area for some CAH. NaK and Si were there and we dragged my flatmate Marlene along as well. She only stayed a for about an hour and then Cas showed up to take her place, so we had 4 the whole night. I was sort of disappointed with the turn-out, but to be honest, it had been a last minute thing so I couldn't really expect much else.

Addendum: Somewhere in the course of the 11th, Cas and Shan took me to the library and helped me finally figure out how to print things. So glad that headache was finally resolved. I also went to a bank to make an appointment for next week to open an account. Don't remember when I did those things, but I definitely did them.

Friday (the 12th!) I kind of bummed around my flat. I cooked up some seriously delicious scrambled eggs with cheese and mixed in spicy chicken, cucumber, and peppers. So yummy. I played video games a little, and packed (slowly). I didn't have anywhere to be, and that was nice. I think I was in my PJs until noon. In the afternoon I finished packing for my trip and headed over to Chris' house. He and Axel showed up after a while and we loaded up to head out to Leicestershire. It was a 5 hour drive, so we'd be quite a while. We stopped to get petrol and I snapped a photo of the car. Still so weird that the steering wheel is on the right!

I sat in the backseat and mostly looked out the window as we drove and listened to the conversation. Chris is Team Captain and Axel is planning a tourney, so they did a lot of logistical talking. But it was still interesting. We stopped once on our way down and their rest stops are quite nice. They are like little mini cities. There were toilets, restaurants, showers, stores, atm, gambling, etc. This is a place to go if there's a zombie apocalypse. Just saying. The stops are built OVER the motorway so that you can access them from both sides (quite an interesting/nice concept) which keeps you from having to build two separate rest areas like we have in America. For dinner I shook my head and thought about how much razzing M would give me, because there was only one restaurant open - Burger King. And I am adamant that no one eats there. But I did tonight *hangs head in shame* Then we got back on the road. I asked questions about some of the road signs, and we talked about the team an the upcoming year. Overall a nice trip. We got in about 11p and had overnight accommodation in a Travelodge. It wasn't too bad, about the same equivalent as they have in America.

Overall a crazy, busy, fun week. SO much more to come.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Pics of where I live...

Maclay Residences!

The statue outside my building. I cut her head off because I'm a terrible photographer >.>

My front door.

Door to my flat.

My kitchen.

My hallway (kitchen to the left, flat door to the right)

My door!

Some of my room (I haven't finished moving in yet, so there's no full tour available yet. Sorry bout it. More later. :)

Friends To Call My Own (Part II)

City Centre. Because PEOPLE.

The City Centre is seriously bustling. And there are like 5 H&Ms. We counted. All within like 4 blocks of each other. Some places you can literally see 2 of the same store at the same time. Because shopping. We bummed around a bit and looked at a bunch of stores and then found a department store I hadn't seen on my last visit. He was looking for a laundry basket. I was looking for cooking stuff. I found a peeler but it was like £7, so I wasn't sure. And pots were like £22-25 each. I told him to just ask someone about the basket. She put us on to this crazy store next door, that's not even really a store at all.

But wow this would take off in the US. Basically you go down to this area that has like 10 kiosks with a computer for the tech-savvy and a regular old school Sears & Roebuck thick, thick catalog. You flip through, find what you want, then you write down on a scrap your code numbers. You go and pay, and then they have on the other side of the counter just a MASSIVE MASSIVE warehouse with all these thousands of things. It doesn't have to be pretty, it doesn't have to be displayed, it doesn't require any cleaning/upkeep, etc. And then while you wait, they go find all the stuff you just ordered and then they bring it up to you and off you go. Brilliant. Anyway, this place was massively cheaper than the other place we'd been. I got a whole set of spatulas and spoons and a peeler for £7. I also got a set of 3 pots for under £20. Loads cheaper. So NaK bought his basket for £6 and I got a whole armload of stuff for my kitchen. (Also got a 2015 planner for £1.5 and more hangars (sturdier) 10 for £2). I had planned poorly and came up short on £ at the checkout, so I did my first foray into foreign credit card transactions. He gave me some sort of tax-free receipt that I probably have to report on my taxes or something. Yipe. Not looking forward to April. At that point we had to go home because now my arms were full. So we took the Underground home.

Since he had a day pass and I have the month, I said, well. We're hungry and you wanted to go out. Instead of eating over here, let's go back to the Centre and eat there. So we rode back and he wanted to try UK McDonald's to see what that was about. I was game and went along. He got a Big Mac meal, I got some sort of BBQ Chicken. To drink I ordered something called Irn Cru that is huge here. It's in all the stores, and people drink it like Coke or Pepsi. My sandwich was actually really high quality. I was impressed. The drink though. Eghh. It seriously tasted like liquid bubble-gum. NaK and I had a long conversation about what we would compare McD's here to in the states. Because this place was like 3 stories. Like nice. Sit-down. The closest we could come was Sizzler or Olive Garden but without wait staff. It was really hard to find anything to compare. Even like Chik-fil-A or In 'N Out were lower on the fast food scale than this was. McD's here is not ghetto. So that was a nice surprise. But I don't think I'll be drinking liquid bubblegum anytime again soon. After we wait, we hit the streets again for more shopping/window shopping.

POLICE BOX!!! Doctor Who fans everywhere are drooling right now. I could literally reach out and TOUCH this box. So be jealous.

We stopped in at the American Candy store so I could restock on candy coke bottles >.> I'm not addicted. What?!

And then we got really touristy and took pictures of things like random arches and guys on horses who are like, famous.

Because architecture.

Because Monarchs and ruling and ... stuff.

Also, I'd like to make it public here that I got YELLED AT for trying to take pictures inside a store. Now look what you started, D2. Srsly. Lastly, on our way back to the Underground we stopped to behold (and subsequently photograph) this EXTREMELY strongly worded opinion by someone who very clearly has a thing AGAINST the BBC.

NOTE: I didn't actually read the entire thing, so sorry if there's anything offensive/swears. <.<

Basically we spent almost the entire afternoon kicking it in the city centre. Then when we got back I was ready to just kick back and enjoy my night. I took my shoes and socks, and sat down to skype and FB and blog.

And then like an hour later remembered... oh yeah, you signed up for the Social tonight! It started at 6! It was definitely 7:50. Wah wah. I wasn't even sure it was still going to be taking place. But I sloughed my grubbies and put on a nice shirt, accessorized with a scarf, vest and sweater, put on my grey shoes and off I went anyway. Time to play the game how fast can we get to Uni? Answer: 10 minutes, without actually running. Not shabby. Also, I had to go around to the back of the main building because all of the South gates were closed. The party was indeed still going on. I got a free soda and asked if there was any sort of assigned seating or anything and they said no just jump in. So I eyed a table with an empty seat and just went for it.

Asked if the seat was taken, it wasn't so I plopped down. And then pretty much took control of the night. I apologized for being terrible (aka late) and then made them re-do introductions (names, studying, fun facts) so that I wasn't at a total loss. 2 of the others at the table were American from Denver and DC. A girl from Germany, a girl from Canada, and a girl from Bulgaria. The other 3 were all Asian. Everyone was studying something different which was fun. The evening was actually a céilidh, so there was gaelic folk dancing and music. I managed to skip the first dance, and the kid from DC and I (hereafter Si) played the game - hottest person in the room. We had to choose both a guy and girl. Which was fun and interesting. Diversionary, anyway. Then they made me go for the last dance and I made the Colorado dance with me. This rather than being a line dance like the others, was more waltzy and she was impressed with my clear knowledge of already knowing some waltz steps (BAM).

After that they made us stand in a circle while they bid us adieu with Auld Lang Syne which was quite fun. A bunch of them exchanged information and then we started walking home. We split rather quickly because most of them lived North of Byres Road. I live south of the Uni and so did the girl from Bulgaria (hereafter Iliy). She was pretty shy, partly I think because she wasn't confident about her english (she spoke it fine), and I told her I'd walk her home. It came out after that that apparently most of the kids at that table were undergrads (wah wah) and were only here for a semester. So I felt a little hoodwinked at that as I'd been under the impression I was going to a strictly postgrad social, though I guess thinking back it was all international, not necessarily just postgrad international. Shoulda seen that coming.

Si wasn't ready to go home yet and wanted to know if anyone wanted to go out for drinks. I agreed to be social and go out with him, but said we had to walk her home first. So he went with. And we chatted about her program and why she chose here, and then she asked us the same. After we dropped her off, I told Si I wanted to go see if NaK was home and wanted to come out with us too. We went over to my place and NaK was on his way out for a walk about the block as we came in. So it worked perfectly. We snagged him and headed to the pub that NaK had been eyeing (and is super close to our house). So the three of us stayed out joking and bantering and carrying on for a few more hours. All in all, not a bad night. As M told me on skype today - "so far the jealousy is high. Because your vacation sounds awesome." That's what it is I guess since classes don't start for a while still.

Anyway, I'm rapidly building a friend circle (soon I will have enough for an evening of inappropriate, raucous fun with Cards Against Humanity. Soon), and having a grand ol' time. And I think I now have almost everything I need, so hopefully the shopping will abate (or at least decrease for a minute).

Here's to tomorrow! And not being a silly loner. :P

Friends To Call My Own (Part I)

So I went to frisbee. I decided since I had a bunch of time to kill that I would just walk. So I left early and just wandered. I thought I was lost (but later learned I hadn't actually been) so I doubled back and took another road. This took me by a huge recycling center, which was up against a park. I decided to cut through the park (not the smartest idea), because I remembered google maps trying to take me that way initially. I got to the other side eventually, and then ended up on a motorway with not really much of a sidewalk. Like if I had tripped I would have died. It was kind of sketch and I wouldn't do it again (sorry Mom). Anyway, I eventually got to the Sports Complex. They were playing CRICKET!!! GUYS. LEGIT, ACTUAL FOR REAL CRICKET. Like not even Casey Jones-style. I didn't see anyone playing Disc though. Hmm. So I went to the Reception and asked where they would be playing. She said she didn't have anyone scheduled, which should have set off alarm bells, but I just chocked it up to being early. I sat down and watched some football (soccer) and waited. As the time for kickoff got closer and no one was there still, I began to get a bit worried. Wouldn't people be here by now to warm up? I walked around some more to make sure I hadn't missed any pitches and they were playing where I couldn't see them. 2pm came and went and nothing. I was confused and probably in the wrong place. I was so frustrated because I thought I had been sure I had the right place. I walked an hour and a blinkin' half to get here!! AGH.

I went back to reception and asked if she could look up their page for me since I had no mobile and had only just arrived. Yup. Wrong venue. Curse words. I had her call me a cab and burned another £7 getting to the right field. Which interestingly enough, I PASSED on my trip out to Garscube. Ugh. I could have saved myself time and money. I ended up not being too late though because the first game was Team 1st place v. Team 4th place. I had been picked up by the team in 3rd place. I was excited to play. The captain said I was already famous in Glasgow Ultimate and that he'd heard all about me. I didn't know if I should be impressed or scared. I tried to get amped up but ended up coming out the gate in my head, and dropped a bunch of passes in the first game, where we were playing the 2nd place team for the spot in the finals. I let the team down which was frustrating and not at all how I wanted to start my run here. They had a wide range of players and it definitely reminded me of an SLC Fall or Winter league. Good, high level play. They run some of their stacks differently, just a little, which I had a hard time getting with at first. They also run their handlers different against a zone and I was asked to handle a few points. So there will definitely be some adjusting. Some of the players were very welcoming though and I'm excited to see what happens next with me trying to find a place in this community. The 2nd game I got my head on right and played much better, getting a D or 2, and catching some scoring passes. That wasn't the game that mattered as much, so I felt bad, but the 2nd place team went on to upset the 1st place team, so everyone (except the 1st place team) were very happy with the results.

After that we hung round a bit and just chatted and I tried to feel out what the next few months would be. Next league will apparently be indoors 5 v 5 so I can work on my throws and accuracy as well as a bit more handler cutting. After that I came home and made myself some dinner. I was tired, and hot, and sweaty, but I cooked anyway. If I didn't start a) my food would go bad and b) I'd get into the habit of not, and that would not go well on my wallet. So I whipped up a salad. Lettuce, with carrot; cucumber; orange, yellow and red peppers; chili and lime chicken and shredded edam cheese.

It turned out pretty good. Made almost the same thing for breakfast this morning, except instead of lettuce with scrambled eggs.

Later on in the evening, I was taking out some recycling and met a kid sitting on the bench talking to the housing security guard. Turns out he's from America too, on a 1-year History masters. He's from Pennsylvania. We'll call him NaK. So we sat and chatted a good while until it got too cold to be outside. Then we decided we'd go to Uni together in the morning to get our essentials sorted.

So after breakfast we set out to the University to do our international visa check-in. They require you to present with your visa (so they can make a copy and confirm you're here) in order for them to take the hold off your account so you can register for classes, get your ID, etc. At the behest of several people, I tried to be more "touristy" and take more pictures.

Statue of Kelvin in the foreground and the Kelvigrove museum in the background. On the walk from my house to the Uni.

The main Uni building. I'm sure I'll be back here later to take a bunch more pictures. Today, we had places to go though, so we did that.

Closer zoom of the main gothic-inspired spire.

Inside the atrium of the main building, there are wings or sections devoted to different disciplines. This was our favorite, as it led down some shoddy stairs into a scary-dungeon-esque place.

Also this. Because doors that are unreachable are architecturally genius.

So NaK and I queued up for the visa check-in and met a girl from New Orleans who was all too happy to gripe about our various accommodations with us. Oh, us spoiled Americans. After we got checked in we were clear to go pick up our student ids. So we set off and I promptly misguided them into the wrong room where I thought we were getting IDs but were actually getting our orientation packets with tickets to the various things we'd signed up for. Neither of them had done that, so they both just left me. I got my packet and sorted myself to find the proper queue (and room) for the actual IDs. They were in front of my quite a ways, but there was a person stopping everyone at the door to make sure they had done the visa check-in and 90% of them hadn't. So I ended up right back with NaK and the girl. She was here to study something politics related, I forgot. She ditched us right after getting her ID anyway. So lame. When I got to the ID table they said they hadn't printed mine yet, and I thought for a minute he asked me to retake my photo, which I was kind of aghast about. I mean, I don't have to look super, but I looked a MESS this morning (on purpose). I just threw on some clothes and a winter hat and went. NaK said I looked super-hipster, but whatev. I had a hoodie too because it was trying to decide if it was going to be cold or not. Thankfully the just printed the ID there off the photo I'd submitted previously (like a month ago!) and we were good. We then went to find the bookstore (which NaK wasn't convinced was a thing here, but I was like yo they have to have it. I'm not going all over Glasgow trying to find an obscure book for my Litt class... they will have them) and also to try and figure out about our Financial Aid (aka when would I not be poor and be able to start living off wads of borrowed money). That took some time (the queue was so long... and to be fair we went in the wrong one, but I wasn't sure), then we decided to head home for a bit. Part of getting our aid is opening a bank account here (my taxes are so screwed for 2014) and we needed some letter of support from the Uni to do that. So we went home to check that out. At which point I discovered I have been errored out of all my links and therefore still cannot register for classes even though the visa check-in today was the final barrier to that. Eh. Who needs school?! >.>

I was set on going to IKEA out in the boonie boonies to get pots and a cutting board and what not that I still need to actually be able to cook properly. NaK was sorta on-board for going with, but also wanted to go to the City Centre. So I agreed to go there first. I mean I already have the subway pass, so why not? And I knew the subway already and he didn't, and I knew how to get there, and he didn't... so yeah let's go.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Market, To Market

So when I got hungry enough to want to eat lunch at 10pm, I ventured out to find the closest grocer and get some nommins. I already knew where from all my walking earlier in the day. I set out and got there pretty quickly. And everything I thought was going to be true, was. The food is different! ACK! What is this stuff!?! I had seen black pudding available at the breakfast place but hadn't been brave enough to try out. I started in the meat section and found chorizo and prosciutto and was super happy. Because those meats are so good! I got something called Edam cheese and then some salad dressing (we'll see) and mustard, because mustard. Salt and pepper as essentials, and then found potato chips. Some of the flavors are seriously what. the. heck. Chargrilled Chicken, Flame Grilled Steak, Bacon are these potato chips?! I got lettuce, cucumbers, chick peas, peppers, potatoes, carrots, and bread. Enough to tide me over. And what I had thought earlier was in fact true. Food is DIRT cheap here. Like crazy cheap. I got a bunch of chicken too.

Went back home and made a chorizo and edam sandwich. Decided it should have mustard because that's a yummy sandwich. I didn't have any of my dishes in the kitchen yet and didn't want to go back to my room so I just spread it on the sandwich and then licked my finger off. YIPES!!! HUGE MISTAKE!!! WOW!!! MOUTH ON FIRE!!! WHAT THE HECK IS IN THIS MUSTARD?!? WOOOOOO. Tasted like horseradish and wasabi together. That was some kick! Holy wow. Needless to say that piece of bread didn't get eaten, because wow it was too much. Lesson learned. Food here is different even if it looks the same. Eep. Ate some of the chips I've bought too. Salt and Malt Vinegar (they were okay) and Bacon Sizzler (tasted just like I was eating bacon!).

Then I played some and went to bed around midnight. Got woke up at 830am by the complex swarming with garbage trucks! Rude. And noisy. I was annoyed. After a bit, I managed to get back to sleep and got another 4 hours. I thought about unpacking but voted against it. I made another sandwich, with prosciutto this time, and decided what I would do with my day. Ate a giant carrot too.

Met my first flatmate. She's a girl from Germany, so that answered my question about would I be in co-ed or male only housing lol. She seems nice but the walls here are pretty much paper-thin, so we are already having trouble with noise. :/ And only 2 of us are here. That's frustrating.

I needed to find an actual grocery store to get things like shampoo and TP and paper towels. I googled walmart near scotland and came up with something called Asda superstore. Wrote down directions. It'd require the subway. Maybe the pass wasn't a bad idea. I seem to go back and forth on that, huh?

I took this shot for my mom so she could be jealous. It's the view right from the hill as you set out from my complex. The one I struggled to get my luggage up the end of the first day here. Right at the top, I came upon a walking path I hadn't noticed the previous day that seemed to go around the infirmary just north of my place.

Here's a nice shot from the hillside where the walking path took me. That's the landscape here. Gorgeous. I followed the path and yup, it spit me out just near the west end. Cool.

This is a shot of the river I have to cross that's right by my house. There are through streets everywhere, so you have to pick wisely to get a bridge. This is on the way to Byres Road. I went north, but got lost because I couldn't find the subway entrance. I knew I'd missed it, but kept going west to see if I could find another. If all else failed, I go up Byres Road when I got that far. I stumbled across the grocery store that my flatmate had mentioned was this way and went in. Found shampoo and conditioner, not a bad price. Got TP and paper towels. Cleaning wipes for the bathroom, a couple more bars of soap, and started home. On the way, I found the subway station I'd missed, so that was helpful. Dropped the stuff I'd gotten and set out again. I wanted shower shoes, and that supermarket hadn't had anything but food, though much more than the small shop I'd gone to the previous night.

This time I knew where the subway was and it was easy to get on. Rode three stations the other way from where I'd gone the previous day and went under the river Clyde. When I got off I went the wrong way and came upon a down only escalator. Oops. Righted myself and got out. This was a much older part of the city, I could tell by the architecture. Well. After I took a better look around I realized this wasn't even really the city at all. I could see the UofG spires in this distance, and I was not close anymore. Way southwest of my house. I set off to find the street I needed to get to this superstore. Quickly came against the predicament that these streets didn't see to come with names. None that I could readily see anyway. Took a guess and ended up on the wrong one, but righted myself soon enough. This was definite suburbia mixed with industrial. Some serious warehouses and compounds out here. Not to self: Don't go here at night. Probably not safe.

Eventually after a longer walk than I'd guessed I found said superstore! Yay!!! I went in and started off upstairs at the clothes. I found flip-flops for only £2.50! Steal. All the clothes were cheap. If I'd know how cheap clothes were I wold have chucked the 3rd bag, not lugged it across half the continent and just bought clothes here. Sigh. Stupid perfect hindsight. Oh well. I bought the flippys for shower shoes and went downstairs. I didn't intend to buy anything. But wow! This was the equivalent of wallyworld. Prices were ROCK BOTTOM HERE! I found more meat for sandwich with 3x as much meat inside as the price I'd paid last night! So I bought some. Then I found Dr. Pepper! Score!!! I went to find a basket and got 8. I bought some rice because I want to make a stir-fry without remembering that I don't have a pot to cook in :/ I got some pancakes because they are everywhere and that's apparently a thing here. So I needed butter. And then there were eggs, and why not? They were cheap. I also found pringles! So M can stop worrying now. I bought some Salt n Vinegar. Then I was done. Less than £20 for the whole shabang. Winning the day. I popped a DP as soon as I exited the store. Ah. Not quite the same flavor, but it would do. The trip home was uneventful.

Post-shopping I ate more carrot and took a real shower, now that I had shoes and shampoo and conditioner. I had some pringles too but they are again NOT the same. These hardly had any flavor at all (lame!). There were so many foods at the superstore that I've never heard of. Half their confectionery (candy) and sweets are nothing we have in America. Same with the biscuits (potato chips). I'm excited to delve into some new culture while I'm here. Same is not the same, and that's okay. Living and learning, that's what I'm doing. I have a list now though of things I need to buy still. Maybe I'll go to IKEA and see if they have them. That's even further in the burbs though.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Quest for Hangars

I found out that my ipod has a clock on it! And it updated automatically without me having to do anything, so go technology! I was able to use that to help me through the night. At 2am the light was still on in the room. Without that eyemask I would've been a very unhappy camper. Somehow with multiple roll-overs (and unstickings) I made it through the night. I woke up about 8am and couldn't go back to sleep. I didn't have to check out until 11, so I covered up my backpack with my bedding, grabbed some £ and went to find eats. I found a number of small shops serving breakfast. I marveled at how cheap food is here. I was able to get 2 rolls stuffed with bacon for only £4. I sat in the shop and ate breakfast. It was drizzling outside.

When I got back to the Lodge I still had some time to kill, so I dozed some more and then did some reading, just waiting for it to be 11. I unlocked my stuff, lugged it up stairs and then waited for the cab. When it arrived I set my backpack as the doorstop. It got knocked out by one of the bags and fell over. I didn't think anything of it.

We loaded up the cab (my 4th) and went back to my soon-to-be-new place of residence. Once there, the check-in process went fairly quickly. I was assigned to a flat across from the reception area and I couldn't see that I had any flat-mates yet (at least 2 moved in later on today). One last flight of stairs. I could do this. How did I lug these around so much yesterday? It hurt to even drag them across the street. I got to my room and dumped my bags and just wanted to take a shower so of course my bathroom was missing a shower curtain. Sigh. I checked the inventory list and it was definitely supposed to come with one. No dice. So back to reception again. They would get one installed. Well, thanks.

Next item on the priority list: adapters. My battery was all but dead, and I had no way to plug it in, so that needed to be immediate. I got instructions on where to buy them (was told during the convo to go there and then across the street, because they had them cheaper). I went back and unpacked the essentials (suit, ties, coats, vests - basically things that shouldn't be in bags any longer than they already had. Because wrinklage. Every one of the dress shirts I brought are wrecked and will need to spend significant quality time with iron in the near future.

Once all that was out though I realized I couldn't hang any of it up. I would try and find hangars while I was out for adapters. It was drizzling slightly so I found my water-proof orange jacket (that I've had since before 2001!) and set off. The streets here collect rain like white on rice so there are puddles everywhere. I realized very quickly that my mesh tennies were not a solid choice for this weather. My socks were soaked in just a few blocks. I went past the local fire station and on into town. I found the shop without difficulty, and then started across the street. I tried 5 shops on that side of the street, all of which didn't carry adapters, except one. His wasn't even in a box and it looked super cheap. Well, it was. Only £4. I went back across the street to the store I'd been told to buy them at. They had plenty, but none seemed to fit the requirements I needed. According to signs posted everywhere in the FAQ, e-introduction, in my kitchen, and on the outside of the building as well: all adapters must be labeled British Standard (BS) or Central European (CE) certified. I went next door to staples. Yup, they have staples in the UK. They only had one adapter, but it was a usb converter not a power converter. And they didn't have any hangars. Dang.

I went back to the other store and just grabbed one off the shelf. £15. Sigh. My money is evaporating. But this is an essential. I went back to reception with it and asked them if the one I had would fly and not get confiscated (the last thing I need). They advised me to keep the packaging in case it does get taken (not very reassuring).

I then inquired about hangers and was directed to Byres Road (when I was talking to him, I thought he said buyers - that's what I had in my head, which I thought was a weird, but interesting (clever?) name for a road. After dropping the adapter, plugging in my computer, and changing my shoes and socks for something that was better in the rain, I was off again. Along the way, I figured out half how I'm going to get to Uni everyday (it's a start). When I found Byres Road I start going into shops and asking if they had hangars. The first two didn't, and couldn't tell me where I could get them either. The third at least managed that. She said I had to take the subway into the city centre because that's where all the real shops were. Apparently I live right by what they call the "West End" which is its own district, but not the main part of Glasgow. Not downtown.

So I went to the subway. Glasgow's subway is so simple I could laugh. There are two tracks and they both go in a circle. So really if you get on any train, you'll get wherever you want to go if you ride long enough. I figured the subway would be a regular thing so I signed up for a month pass. £53 more down the drain. I rode the subway 4 stations into the city centre and found myself basically at a mall. H&M, Forever 21... you know, all the important American stores. Ugh. I did find a store called "American Candy and Soda" that let me know for sure I wasn't in Kansas anymore. I eventually found a store called "Poundland" which I guess is the UK equivalent of the Dollar Store. I got a pack of 10 hangars, and that was the last one they had. I asked if they had more, but no dice. The other options were little kid hangars or metal with velvet, but they were only 3 packs for £1. So I left with the 10, and that was that. I decided to pop back into the American candy store and see the selection. They had things like Lucky Charms and Fanta, and other imports. But they also had Chupa Chips (which made me miss playing Zool2!!!) and they had other candy as well. I spotted cherry cola bottles (the best! I blame CF for getting me hooked on them and Turtle for perpetuating that love) and bought 3 bags. Because there must be some indulgence. ALL my money can't go to stupid taxis and trains.

I contined walking around window shopping, even popped into a dept. store to check out their cleats (nothing I wanted) and just tried to enjoy being outdoors exploring. At one point I almost ran into... A POLICE BOX!!! Like a legit blue, old-school, straight-out-of-Doctor-Who Police Box!!! I didn't have my camera, so I will have to go back (sorry!). I kept walking, wanting to explore, even though it was still raining. I came across another store called "Poundworld." Hmmm. I don't know what the difference between Poundland and Poundworld are... but they looked like the exact same store to me. No dice on the plastic hangars again so I settled on the velvet ones this time. I got 6. Also found cheap ziploc bags and tin foil, so bought those. 1 less thing for later. £4. This was the 3rd time today where I calculated the total cost with tax... which apparently isn't a thing here. The adapter was straight up £15, this purchase exactly £4. So that's nice.

I kept walking and found Central Station where I got off the train yesterday and realized that the subway system must be much smaller than I thought. Maybe I shouldn't have bought a month pass in hindsight :/ The rain was letting up (but still going) and I was in the mood to explore so I decided to walk home (just to see). I consulted a city map twice, but found my way pretty easily by just following Argyle Street (which I remembered as the street I took this morning to find the adapter). Turns out that street is one and the same, but it splits at the expressway and moves north 3 blocks (go figure). When I got to the split, I abandoned following Argyle and just went west. Now that I've oriented myself to my complex, I've pretty much got my directions figured out, so not too shabby. I never really got lost, just left one "found" place and wandered until I found another "found" place. Actually something that really helped me was identifying the Sikh temple that has been under construction for 3 years. It's taller than alot of buildings and I remembered it from my taxi ride this morning. The driver pointed it out and commented he didn't get why it was taking so long to build (probably foundation problems) but that he hoped it would be beautiful.

After that I was set and got back with no further incident. I opened the hangars and started hanging my important items. And immediately regretted buying the plastic ones. They were definitely dollar store material. I broke 2 in the first 30 seconds of trying to hang coats. So I ended up using the velvets for the heavier stuff (and will need more :/) and only using the plastic to hang shirts and thin jackets. Mission (mostly) Accomplished.

After that it was time for the much-needed shower (with soap this time), then I turned to tackling how to connect to the wifi in my room. Which proved wildly successful as you can tell. :) My computer screen though did not survive the trip unscathed. It has two small nicks in it that I don't know how they got there. Just chips out of the screen really. This laptop isn't even a week old. :( Maybe when my backpack fell earlier in the morning? Who knows at this point. All my stuff has been through hell and back. My CAH is wrecked on one side and one of my plates shattered in my suitcase. All my pictures survived without any broken glass, and Ittle Bitty and my A&W mug are fine also, so that was good to know.

I skyped my parents (thanks J!) then settled in to check email, the FB, and did various other tasks requiring me to be online. A nap later and I set to blogging. Later I'd be off to the grocer's to see what that held, then planned to spend the rest of the night relaxing (and maybe unpacking).

The Harrowing

After indulging in restaurant-quality dinner, I decided that to try and avoid jetlag I would attempt to sleep, even though it was only like 8pm at my house. The seat indeed turned into a bed, and I fit in it (I was worried I would be too long). I dozed, turned, dozed, etc. Did this for a few hours. At about 2am Utah time I gave up on sleeping. I was going to take a picture of my bed but the plane was dark and my camera was put up with my carry-on. They served us breakfast too and I had a bowl of fruit and an egg frittata with sausage. At 11am in London. That's 4am in Utah. Yipes.

The airport was teeny. Because I had been upgraded I was given a “Fast Track” for immigration. Cool. I gathered my bags and then swiped two extra travel bags Delta provided. Because who knows? They come with tissues, toothbrush, floss, socks, eye shadow, pen, shoe polish, shoe horn, ear plugs, hand lotion, lip balm, hand wipe, comb, and an eyemask. When we got out to immigration, I was extremely grateful for the pass because we got through before the regular line, which would have been like a 45minute wait. The guy that checked me into the country asked me questions about myself, and I had trouble understanding him. He was nice enough, but didn't like that I didn't have a copy of my Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies. Oops. I had my student ID on my loan forms, which I showed him. He took umbrage at the fact that the document, which was on UK issued letterhead said "program" instead "programme" and had a "z" in "subsidized." I told him he could send the form back, as long as I didn't have to go with it. As he moved on to personal questions he asked if I was already an Orpher. A what? I had to ask him to repeat himself 3 freaking time before I realized he was saying Author. It seriously sounded like he was asking me if I was already an orphan. His pronunciation was just surprising. After he was done stamping my passport and checking me in, he wished me luck figuring out the accents. :/ Sorry bout it.

When I got downstairs to baggage claim, I discovered that unlike America, their baggage carts are FREE NINETY-NINE. Score! Maybe all this stuff wasn't as bad an idea as I thought. Once I had my things, I wheeled my cart over to customs. I checked their board and didn't have dangerous weapons, drugs, or food so I didn't think I had anything to declare. So I went through the middle door with "nothing to declare." I got a look or two from some of the guards, but no one stopped me or said anything. I got downstairs and found a lift to take me to the Underground which I determined was what I needed to take in order to get a train up to Scotland. When I got down there I saw that there were gates all the way across, and the luggage cart had to stay here. Time to consolidate and tie things together. I got 2 of the bags situated and then wanted to tie down my pillow. I looked around. MY PILLOW?!?! I didn't have my bloody pillow. Cue swear words and freak out. My pillow is pretty much everything. I have trouble sleeping without it. And, oh yeah, inside my pillow is my baby blanket (what's left of it anyway after 31 years). The one thing I have had since the day I was born until now. There's probably no possession more important to me than that. Got all the way down and realized let my pillow. I threw my bags back on the cart and started running back upstairs. When I got back to the main level, there was a place called "Left Baggage." I explained what happened and could he call up there and see. He directed m down the hall, to the left, to a place called Terminal Control. I rushed off. Couldn't find the place. Ugh! I stopped an airport employee and asked her. She took me over to a phone for baggage inquiries. I dialed the number for Delta. The lady that answered told me I had to go upstairs to the Delta counter. Are we serious right now? This is like a wild goose chase. So I went and found another lift, went upstairs and found the Delta counter. They told me I had to go to check-in, this was booking. So I went to yet another place. The guy there didn't seem at all interested in what I had to say or the the desperate tone in my voice. He walked into the office to radio the plane and see if they had anything. He came back and told me that they had searched the whole plane and had found no left items. I... that's my pillow. And my baby blanket. I didn't know what else to do. I wanted to bust through security and go look for it, who cares if it gets me arrested and kicked out of the country... I went to sit down and try and breathe. And not cry. This was the beginning of an awesome new adventure and it doesn't matter that you feel like you just got kicked in the stomach. No crying. That's all I wanted to do. Cry. I couldn't believe I had forgotten my pillow on the plane!

I got ahold of myself and went and asked a different agent to check. Because it had to be there. She radioed back and they said they were busy and to cal back in 5 minutes. I waited, standing there awkwardly trying to hold myself together. Of all the things to derail me. I should've never taken my pillow out of the bag in salt lake. That's why I always put it in a bag, instead of carrying it with me! After 5 minutes were up, the agent remembered and radioed back. They said they were still busy. She responded that I'd already been waiting 20 minutes and could they just check. Answer came back that they had nothing. The plane was departing back to Atlanta. I didn't know what to do. I felt absolutely crushed. That blanket survived my childhood. Went on my mission. Went to college with me. Has been on every camping trip. Every Ultimate tournament. And now it was gone. I didn't even get to say goodbye. The agent told me I could go on and report that lost property. But what good was that? My pillow (and blankie) were gone. That rag was my security system in a new scary place and now it had been taken from me because I forgot it was there for 3 seconds. I numbly walked away and took the lift back down to the Underground.

I hoisted my bags over the guard rails and asked the ticket agent how to get to Glasgow. He told me to go to King's Cross station. The map reminded me of New York. And shortly after buying my ticket, I realized that's what this was. A major metropolitan rail system used by everyone. No big deal to navigate, except I have over 150 lbs of stuff with me (not to mention the 70+ in my backpack). This may be the most ill-conceived idea ever, ever, EVER. Just as I expected, it was AWFUL. There were stairs and escalators and not alot of lifts. Yes, the word elevators is out. I spent too much time in lifts to call them anything else now. Elevators are dead. Lifts. When I could find them, I used them. I used two sweatshirts and the shoulder straps from my suitcases to lash the 3 suitcases and duffel into 2 giant bags. That sort of worked, but the straps weren't tight enough to keep the duffel falling off. I had to stop frequently to fix and reposition. And everywhere I was in people's way. Everywhere. Plus there was a gap from the subway to platform. So I'm blocking the door, I'm struggling, I'm sweating, I'm lugging things up and down stairs, I'm having a miserable time. The escalators are big enough to fit two people across so there can be standing on one side and walking on the other. I'm grateful for the extra room because it means I can fit both bags without a fight, but I completely block the escalator. And when I got off at King's Cross the escalator was backed up already. I just wanted to give up and sit down and cry. I was exhausted, frustrated, and still had no blankie. Finally I just went for it, and blocked everyone. At the top I was so desperate to get out of the way that I almost bowled over an 80-year man I didn't see who had stumbled near the top and was in the way also. Add one more great thing to the worst idea in the history of mankind. At that point once I had half-dragged, half-kicked my stuff out of the way, I just sat down. This wasn't working. This was stupid. Why had I even come? I should have got the extra flight, no matter the charges for bags. I should've taxied from London-Heathrow to the train station. This wasn't worth £5. This wasn't worth £150! Once I got going again, I finally got to the station exit. I asked an attendant which way to a train to Glasgow. He told me I was at the wrong station. I needed to go to Euston. I almost cried again. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I asked him in exasperation, "So, I have t go buy another ticket?" Luckily, because I hadn't exited yet that wasn't the case. He told me to turn around and go back down and just hop a train over to Euston. Easier said than done, mate. That meant I had to go back down there with all this stupid junk. I should have just abandoned the bags and said screw it. So I got back down eventually, and this time two people even helped carry one of my bags down a staircase and up into the train. But getting off at Euston proved easier said than done also. This was a major hub of transfers, so 10x more people. I was only in the way. And people looked at me like I was certifiably crazy. At this point, I was. Who travels on the subway with 200lbs of junk?! Inconceivable. Terrible, no-good, worst idea EVER. UGH. Finally I manage to get upstairs at the Euston station. I've just 2.5 hours naving the stupid subway with all these bags. I go to a desk and ask for a ticket to Glasgow. £129. Talk about expensive. Geez. I pay and then wait until my platform is announced. I have no pictures of any of this because I was lugging all this stuff and just wanted it to be over. The train station was probably cool but I could only think about why I had to walk so far with all these bags just to board the train. When I got on-board there was NO room for luggage. This was a commuter train, akin to the subway. At least there I could stow my stuff by the door. Here there was just seats and the aisle. Which I was blocking. Again. I had to detach all the ties and knots to get it out of the way. So while annoyed people stood there I had to work them apart (but of course I tied them as tight as I could so the bags would sort of stay together while I was traveling the god-forsaken subway system...), and it took forever. Eventually I just tossed the bags in a seat and sat down. I was taking up 4 seats, and had paid for 1. I was scared the whole time people were going to complain, demand I move, or sic the train staff/police on me. The only thing I could think was the conversation Ned Stark has with Arya in the capital city: "I do not mean to frighten you, but neither will I lie to you. We have come to a dark dangerous place, child. This is not Winterfell. We have enemies who mean us ill. We cannot fight a war among ourselves." - excerpt from Game of Thrones

I just sat there, completely defeated, trying not to make eye contact with any of the other passengers. I dozed a little bit as the journey was long (and fraught with danger :P) London was pretty flat. Farmland. So much green, and sheep, and cows. It was picturesque. The sun came out as we were traveling and made it better. I had no energy to take pictures. There were a number of nuclear or power plants. It would be completely quaint and old, and then this massive, and they were MASSIVE, factory just smack in the middle with giant, GIANT silos spilling out steam. Kind of shocking. Wish I'd gotten a picture of one. Alot of the landscape oddly reminded me of Toledo.

As the train went more people got on and off, and I became more worried that they were going to run out of seats. And I had 4. I eventually found a space between some seats and a lady told me she was getting off and taking a bag with her, so I could have the spot, and got my space-taking down to 2 seats. Didn't make me feel better. Scotland got very pretty. There were rolling hills, some mountains, forests, rivers. It was gorgeous in the setting sun. After the second-to-last stop, I put my suitcases back together into two, not even caring that I was now taking up 5 seats. No one else was getting on. I just sat there, staring out the window for the last hour leg. When we got to the Glasgow Central Station, 5 hours after leaving London, I was the very last one off the train. Because it took me 3 trips. I stumble-dragged my bags out onto the platform and geared up for another haul. I lugged them off the platform into the main station and found somewhere to sit.

I tried to log on and get wifi, but the station either had a bad connection or something was wrong with my laptop and I couldn't connect in Europe. Charming. I was going to ask an Ultimate player to put me up for the night, because that was the most cost-effective thing. Not able to connect and get ahold of anyone, I didn't know what other options were available. I took a gamble and got a cab out to my accommodation to see if they were still there and would let me sleep somewhere. Anywhere. I just needed a place for the night. And to leave all this stupid stuff. Cab cost me £5, but I needed somewhere to sleep. They were closed and there was a security guard there. He radioed the senior resident who was useless and said they had no space. I asked him where I could go. He tried to give me a map but after 10 minutes of being unable to tell me where we were currently I gave up and took the map and left. I started back up the giant hill outside the complex and had no arm strength left. I'd been lugging these bags around for HOURS. I couldn't do this anymore. I dropped my backpack and started pulling them one at a time. I was just too tired. Another cab pulled up and I left my bags and ran down the street to get him. What other recourse was there? I asked him to take me to a hotel/hostel. He told me there was a street chock full o'em not too far. So another £5 down the drain and I find myself in front of Argyll Hotel. A gent who's just returned from running helps me get my bags up the step and inside, asking if I've got my key already. I say no, and he says I have to go across the street, but that my bags will be fine inside. I thank him and head over with just my backpack. The receptionist tells me sorry they are full... Are you joking? This is absurd. I've spent the last who-knows-how-long traveling, lugging all these swear-word bags around and I can't find a place to sleep? I go next door. Booked. Across the street. Booked. I continue down the entire flaming street and without fail every single one of these places tells me they have no space and no openings. I sit on the steps outside and am utterly defeated. What the hell am I supposed to do? I couldn't have previously reserved accommodation because I wasn't guaranteed to get on those flights and even then I hadn't been able to make heads nor tails of the train schedules. I'd tried online and it hadn't made any sense. I had to be winging it. I went back to Argyll and asked the girl if I would get arrested if I slept in the park? Because that was the only option I could see. She was taken aback and I lost it. I had been strong all day, but I just had nothing left to give. I cried. I sank into a chair and just cried. I couldn't be strong anymore, it had all been beaten out of me. I had 200 lbs of stuff and nowhere to sleep because there was no room in the inn. The reception took pity on me and agreed to call some places to see what she could find. When she asked my price range, I responded curtly what did price matter if it kept me from getting arrested? I just needed somewhere to stay for the night.

On the 5th call or so, after I'd mostly dried my eyes, she found me a bed in a dormitory, but I'd have to share with 3 other people. Hostels at their best. I asked if they had a place to lock up my stuff. I had everything on me and didn't want to have to sleep with one eye open. They had lockers she said, and I said okay I would take it. She called me a cab and I went to get my stuff. As I lugged it down the steps into the street, the same guy showed up and was aghast that they didn't have anything around. I almost asked him to let me sleep on his floor. Then the cab showed and he wished me luck. Third cab ride of the evening. Sigh. Another £5 just gone. This place is far away and even at full-strength I couldn't have walked back in the morning with everything. It'd be another cab ride in the a.m. And when we got there, of course it was up 20 steps. I used what little strength I had left to lift the bags up to the top. I checked in and went to see the room. I opted to lock up my things anyway. The lockers were down a flight of stairs. The room was already cramped with suitcases. I needed 2 lockers to fit my 4 bags. At this point I didn't care and just locked them up. Didn't bother getting anything out, just threw them in and locked them up.

I wanted a shower and to sleep. All that lugging things around all day had really beat me up. I asked if she had a towel. They wanted a £5 deposit, £2 for use, and £2 for laundering after. I was so over everything. I declined and said I'd use one of my own, knowing full well they were all locked up. I went back to the room, introduced myself to the 2 other occupants currently there and went to take a shower. I had bruises on my fingers from pulling and lifting. I checked in the mirror and my shoulders were bruised too from the backpack. It reminded me of how I looked after riding roller coasters at Cedar Point for 3 days straight. I rubbed them, but the bruises and my fingers were still tender. I got in the shower and rinsed off since there was no soap or shampoo and then just used my tshirt as a towel. I hung it up to dry and crawled into my bed. The light was on and right by my face so I was even more grateful for the Delta eyemask. The pillow was as thick as 2 of my fingers. I would never be able to sleep on this. And the bottom sheet was a piece of plastic. I bunched up the comforter and used that as a pillow, and pulled the sheet over me, not caring that I was going to get stuck to the plastic underneath (I did). I was completely over this city and this day and having all that stuff. I just wanted to forget that any of this had happened. And I wanted my pillow back.