Friday, 1 October 2010

How many Americans does it take to work a British heater?

Answer: 3 and it's the blond who figures it out, but we'll get to that a little bit later.

We had our last lectures of the introductory course today. I get to meet my tutors for my regular classes next week. Apparently I will be meeting them at their respective houses each week, or every other week in the case of my minor tutorial, to present and discuss my essay. (I'll have one due each meeting.) Our introductory essays are due next week, so in other words, that's almost one down and twelve more to go. I'm looking forward to it though. I expect my French and creative writing tutorials will be very interesting.

Fun fact: The woman who will be my French tutor speaks 27 languages. Apparently she wants to learn Mandarin next.

My introductory course essay is coming along well. It's just over 3,000 words and it needs to be between 4,000-5,000. Some kids haven't even started theirs yet. I was hoping to get enough of a head start to be able to go to Scotland this weekend, but I have my first meeting Monday morning, so I opted to wait until a weekend when I have more time. I'd probably have the whole essay done by now if I hadn't tweaked my topic at least twice. Both times I ended up deleting whole paragraphs. Hopefully by the time I'm done it will all have been for the better.

Travel Pros...

Going to the Theater: This week we went to see the play Birdsong at the London Comedy Theater. It is based on a novel by Sebastian Faulks, which I believe was published in 1994. It was quite good, but I think the book is probably better. Birdsong is part love story, part war drama, and I think the war parts were much better and more convincing than the love plot. The love story was a bit rushed at times, drawn out at others, and all together something that could have been referenced through dialogue at the beginning of the play. That would have cut it from 3 hours down to 2 and let me tell you, with the balcony seats we had, sitting there for 2 hours is plenty. Most people didn't like the height. To be truthful, the angle to the stage wasn't a very good one, but my main problem was the seats. They were really low and there was absolutely no leg room, which meant my knees were practically at chest level the whole time. Not comfortable! Overall, the play was worth seeing and I am certainly curious to read the book, especially because in the book, there is a subplot that takes place in the 1970s involving the main character's granddaughter and her search for information about the war. The play itself was set in the years of 1910 to about 1917, deleting the granddaughter entirely. One of the most powerful parts of the play didn't come from any actors at all, but rather during one of the brief intermissions. During the five minute long break between Act Two and Act Three, they showed a list of all the names of those who died during the Battle of the Somme. They only got halfway through the alphabet by the time the curtain rose again. You see statistics all the time of how many soldiers died in various battles, but it really hits home when you see all the names listed in alphabetical order.

Travel woes...

British appliances: On the home front, our oven is now fixed, which means all our appliances are in working order. Actually, apparently the oven was never really broken, we just didn't know that to work it you have to hold two buttons down at the same time to take it off automatic and switch it on to the manual setting. Once you've done that it works just fine. We also figured out how to work the heater. After a couple rather amusing episodes of trial and error, we have it to where it is a pretty comfortable temperature all the time. You wouldn't think learning how to operate British appliances would be that hard, but after a bunch of turning knobs and flipping switches, we now have heat. The showers at the gym are also a little strange. The one in our house works just like the ones do back home, but at the gym, you hit a button, the water turns on, it stays on for about 20 seconds and then it shuts off and you have to hit the button again. Let me tell you, when you're sweaty and all you want to do is shower, the inconsistent water gets old really fast. At first I just kept hitting the button harder as if force would somehow make it stay on longer. It didn't work, but hey, I might have burned a couple extra calories while doing it. I then discovered that the only way to keep the water on is to lean against the button, not very comfortable, but it is the best solution I have found thus far. Again, you'd think that after 20 years of dealing with American appliances, I'd know how to operate an oven, a heating system, and a shower, but apparently not. 

Other than that nothing new and exciting has really happened. I've fallen into a routine of studying, socializing with the other American students, and working out. I'm still the only female who lifts weights with the guys by the way. My housemate and I are thinking of attending a "buns, tums, and thighs" class sometime just to see what it's like. (Working out is more fun when everybody else in the room has a British accent.) Also, my track practices with the OUAC should be starting up next week. I've already met a few of my teammates, but I'm looking forward to really getting down to business and meeting everyone.

Check back in sometime next week for another update. I promise to be back to my usual witty blogging self by then. If you're not already a follower, please do sign up. I promise you won't be bombarded with emails or anything, but it would be nice to know who is reading.

Oh and my new favorite British phrase..."Well done." People use it in odd situations here. For example, I was buying groceries and after I signed the receipt, the cashier said "Well done." Apparently, the usuage is for the phrase is slightly different here, especially because I'm pretty sure the last time I was told "well done" for writing my name was when I was about four.

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