Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Adjustment

The past few weeks have been a flurry of different places, faces, and emotions. I think that going day by day would be silly at this point, so i'll try to describe how i've progressed in a different way. Which way that is had yet to be seen!

There was so much that happened this last week, getting to know people, setting up my room, meandering the city, carousing the pubs.

115 Queens Road has been an experience. Being on the ground floor is rather manky. My room has silverfish, we have to keep our windows closed all times when we're not in the room which creates quite a funk, it's dark and dank, our kitchen in the smallest in the building, my room is right across from the loo, and i'm right next to the senior resident. The first night or so she came around to tell me to play guitar in my room (which I was doing, I just didn't have my door shut). But besides all that, my flat is amazing!

The guys on my floor are a good bunch, all nice chaps. There is Dom, short for Dominic, who's kind of a baby faced guy but very friendly and very well rounded. Then there is Ben. Ben never ceases to amaze me. He's a skinnier fellow, does rock climbing and is a certified "Life Saver" (it's like lifeguard except certifies for open ocean rescue and he can train life guards), he's a really good chef and he wants to be a Veterinarian. Idrez, now he's an odd fellow. Very tall but with extremely long hair. He's a lot like Teddy except with a British accent. He loves garlic and when he cooks it our place smells for days! He also does like Tai-Kwon-Do and wants to be an aeronautical engineer I think. Last there's Mark. He's a good guy too, geology major. Play guitar quite nicely. I also live on the same floor as our Chief Resident and Senior Resident. Jenny is our Senior Resident, she's pretty much a Nazi. Ed is our Chief Resident and he's AWESOME.

The Rest of the flat are very good people. There are 5 floors, ground and 1 are the guys floors and 2-4 are the girls floors. I have to say that there are many good looking ladies in our flat, but surprisingly the majority of our house is shacked up! Whereas I'm used to students severing ties before they go to Uni, the Brits seem more inclined to try to make it work. Anyway, it's a little disappointing but there are still some prospectives...

The first week, like I said, was crazy. There was signing up for classes, getting registered with the health services, turning in all appropriate paperwork to join the university, orientations, getting my student card, paying fees, setting up my room, connecting to their internet, setting up accounts, and on top of that it was Freshers week. Something that I was not expecting.

Freshers week may be brilliant in it's inebriated design. Basically, every night there is some sort of event for the freshers to meet each other. Most of them revolve around drinking. There were numerous pub crawls, dancing, tours, a trivia game (that i won!), talking, drinking, exploring, etc! I say Freshers week may be brilliant based on this observation:

In the States, freshers are, for the first time, on their own. They make their own choices, stay up as long as they want, and generally it is very easy to get their hands on alcohol. Many of those students do their biggest experimentation with alcohol in their first few months, if not first few weeks of college. Often they push their bodies to the limit of alcohol consumption and put themselves in not-so-safe situations as a result. Basically, they go crazy. I did a little experimentation myself and I witnessed plenty of it as an RA.

Contrast that with the British system. They can drink at 18. They've been to pubs before, they've experienced drunkenness with some of their closest friends, or even families, back home. When they get to Uni, they are in no way mystified by it's effects nor do they have the strong desire to get so pissed they cant see straight (well, most of them) What they do know is that alcohol, in amounts specific to their limits, can be a very fun, socially prompting device. So, under the supervision of Orbital Reps*, they are shown the city in a way very much different from the American way; through pubs, clubs, and buzzed group outings. [Orbital is an social committee that plans events for freshers, the Reps are the people that showed us the town and watched over us, often participating in the tom-foolery but to a lesser extent]

I just think that accepting alcohol into the culture is a better way to control it then trying to ban it. To me, it's a lot like what the forbidden fruit was to Adam and Eve, they were told they couldn't have it so they wanted it that more. It's accepted and then monitored by older students, friends, and family. They generally never go anywhere where they don't know anyone. Opposed to the American system where girls may go to parties in twos! That's asking for trouble.

Which leads me to another observation. The British people are conservative if you don't know them well. But once you get to know them they are a most agreeable people. I LOVE going out with them. They always want to incorporate everyone, they have a very casual system of drinking in rounds where one person buys a round, then another buys a round, so on and so forth! I'm going to try and get that going with my friends back home. But not just in drinking, whenever they go anywhere it's usually at least with one other person. Coffee shops are rarely filled with one person tables, sidewalks are tromped on in troupes.

I've been cooking for myself here as well. That's been fun, I get pretty healthy food. I make salad, yogart and muesli (that's granola in this language), pasta, PB&J haha. Sometime just peanut butter straight. I've been running too but that's because I'm having troubles with the Gym. Hopefully those problems will be worked out by next monday.

So I've been trying to eat more healthy and exercise however I can. That means running. I've started running again much to my knees dismay. However, with proper stretching I think i'll manage. I was also able to get some of my flatmates to come jogging with me, they really slowed me down but it was nice to have the company. I'm going on another jog tonight. After I meet up with the swim society.

By the way I joined a Sailing society. Basically they're clubs. In retrospect, it was not the best choice seeing as I have no means to get to the water, no sailing experience, and no wet suit. I'm going to a social tonight at a pub called the White Harte. Hopefully I'll meet some nice chaps there who would lend me a wetsuit and give me a ride to the boats. It would be a useful skill to have, then I could join the Yacht Club back home... except that Commodore Andrew Cheng really bothers me.

The other, and far more practical, society I joined was the Coffee Society. That should be good seeing as I've been to almost all the coffee shops in the area. Though, i'm going to have to tone down the coffee intake, not that I drink a lot, but due to the cost. I've tried to get my flatmates to get a coffepot but... they're not into the idea much.

Philosophy. I'm really excited about it, but I feel like I'm much more eager to participate then my fresher classmates. Not to mention that the lecture today was drab and a repeat of almost everything I'd concluded on my own. Our professor even said that everything he said today could be found in a book so, "Don't worry about copying down every word I say." Tool.

I thought at least our study sessions would be better but I was really the only one who read the text and contributed most of the answers. I was hoping, keeping myself from immediately giving up answers, so as to give my classmates time to answer. That was a silly notion!

What else is there to say? I mean, I could ramble and rant but I've written a lot already. School, friends, living, the city, running... There is one thing.

I miss you all, Family and friends, and I love you dearly.

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