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.