Jumping Back In

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Wow, I haven’t posted here in absolute ages. It is hard to stay motivated in keeping a blog when you have Facebook and other social media to keep you in touch with people. That and I keep an actual written journal of my daily going ons and thoughts/feelings.

But there are a few reasons that I started this journal. To talk about the things I do here in England or anywhere else I might go so that my family can know what I’m up to. And it is also where I like to go to talk about differences in culture that crop up and I find interesting.

There isn’t much for me to say at the moment. I went to a conference for Uni which was fun. The British Society of Parasitology (BSP) held their conference in Glasgow this year. Although most of the seminars that I went to were very heavily parasite based, and of those mainly Trypanosoma spp, there wasn’t much that directly applied to my research. But there was some.

But that wasn’t what was really important about this conference. The conference really helped me remember why I like being a postgraduate student. I enjoy spending time with other academics/students. I like to sit in a pub/restaurant talking shop. It reminds me why I like science and that there are other people just as nerdy/geeky as me who enjoy it too.

I have been finding it hard living here in England. Homesickness is a bitch and it has cast my research and experience here in England in a dark light making it less enjoyable that it should be. But I think the conference has really kicked me back into gear and I wish less often now to be home. I’m even being a bit more proactive in trying to get work done (which is good as my 1st year report is due soon and I have a lot of work still left on it).

So hopefully I’m better in the future about keeping up on this and I promise my next entry will have a bit more substance to it than this one did.

Oh joyous holiday season

So this has been my first year of Christmas without my family. Luckily though on of my room mates invited me down to their parents’ for Christmas so I didn’t have to sit alone on Christmas twiddling my thumbs. That may have been a bit more depressing than I could have handled.

It was a really nice Christmas and I got to try foods that I’ve never had before. We had Christmas dinner on Christmas eve and then on Christmas day we just had leftovers. The first new thing I got to eat was tongue which tastes a lot like corn beef actually (or at least how it was cooked them time it tasted like corn beef). I like it a lot which isn’t a huge surprise as I like corn beef. I also go to try creamed brussel sprouts which was nummy. For desert we had apple crunch. The next day my room mates mommy made bubble and squeak. Another thing I’ve never had. It was so nummy. I could eat that ALL THE TIME. And we had apricot mousse and then lemon surprise pudding. Both very nummy desserts.

For Christmas we just did secret santa rather than a whole bunch of gifts. Even I joined in. I got my room mates dad from the hat so I had my grandma bring over a bottle of red wine from California as my gift for him. I got a book (The Eyre Affair) and the game Dead Space for my PC. Awesome.

It was a nice few days. I got to meet some new people (friends and family of my room mates) and all in all had a great time.

On Homesickness

Homesickness is a drag and just about everyone experiences it at some point. I completely expected to be homesick when I moved to England but I’m surprised at HOW homesick I was when I first moved here. The first month was the hardest for me, in which there were many times I just wanted to pack up and go home.

It’s a lot better now. I’m not nearly as homesick as I was. Although the sadness still comes in waves. Especially as I’m laying in bed at night trying to fall asleep. It’s at that time when it is the hardest to ignore my own mind. But a lot has helped in keeping the homesickness at bay so I thought I would make a list of those things to one) remind myself of what is awesome here, and two) help anyone else who stumbles across this entry.

  • I’ve made great friends. Especially my room mates who are super awesome and nice. They make where I live now feel like a real home. I have people that wish me a good day when I leave for school, ask me how my day went when I come home and tell me good night when I amble off to bed. THIS is probably THE main thing to keep homesickness away because this is what a home is. The best thing anyone can do to help settle into their new life away from home is to make  their new house a home, and better yet to have room mates that can become your surrogate family.
  • Make new friends. As many new friends as you can. I don’t make new friends easily or quickly. The first few months at school were hard as I didn’t know anyone. I felt awkward and alone most of the time. But I have a small group of people that I get along with at school (it has really helped that my supervisor and his postdoc are finally at the school) and make my day at school so much more fun. Going to school/work is a chore if you don’t have people around who you can chat with or eat lunch with. It’s also nice when you make these friends because eventually you’ll go to parties/have a night on the town which really lets you relax.
  • Routine. Routine may SEEM boring but is actually rather helpful. If you have a routine then things get a chance to become normal. This is good if you are living in a whole new place where the new and different can be overwhelming and tiring after a while. Now that I am more familiar with the town I live in and the school I’m attending, I feel much more comfortable and feel like I belong.
  • Hobbies and fun activities. Hobbies are great. I love to go to the library and pick up a new book (reading is totally a hobby!). I like going to the gym and trying a new class. Anything outside of school/work that is fun helps you relax and enjoy your time away from home. You do want your new town/school/country to become your home. It’s okay if things become routine and humdrum, just another day. But it is good to remember that you’re also there to experience things you never have before.
  • For those in school, work with people you like. Especially graduate students. I cannot stress enough the importance of liking your supervisor. You want to pick a lab not only on the research there that you find interesting but also that you can work with your supervisor happily. Someone you relate to and like is much easier to work with and it makes it much easier to ask for help if you’re more comfortable with them. I’m not saying I’m always good at going to talk to my supervisor like I should be but it’s good to have the option.
  • If you’re homesick in another country, celebrate the holidays of not only your new country but your old one as well. This last Saturday I had a massive Thanksgiving party where I invited all my new friends. This made me feel nice. I love Thanksgiving, it’s an important holiday to my family. I would have been really depressed if I hadn’t got to have a Thanksgiving. Enjoy your own traditions just as much as the traditions of your new country.

That’s all I have for now I think. And I promise to try to be better about updating this site. I’m horrible about remembering/thinking up a topic to talk about. I need to  write about what I’ve been up to here in England than I have been.

Bout of Books Read-a-thon – Goals and updates

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So, Amanda over at On a Book Bender put up a nice goals + updates list and I think I’ll shall copy her form as I like it and it is concise.

Time Devoted to Reading

I will be aiming to read all week during the Read-a-thon at times that I’m not at school. So mainly once I get back home from school and on the weekend.

My Goals

  • As I have to go to school and do work for my PhD my time is limited so my goal is to finish 2-3 books
  • I want to finish my library books first and then move on to my TBR pile
  • To read every day while I’m not at school

Books To Read

  • Finish Paper Towns by John Green (I’ve already started this and will only have a few chapters left by the time the Read-a-thon begins. So I’ll just mark this down as pages read rather than a book finished)
  • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
  • Coyote by Allen Steele
  • Super Powers by David J. Schwartz*
  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency*

* – Hopefully I get to these books in the time that I have.

Updates

Like Amanda, I am choosing to do all my updates in one post.

10/24
Number of books I’ve read today: .57 (179 pages)
Total number of books I’ve read: .57
Books: Paper Towns by John Green
Notes: I had started Paper Towns before the read-a-thon and finished it today. I LOVE this book. It actually had me laughing out loud at some parts (the road trip) and I really enjoyed the bittersweet ending.

10/25

Number of books I’ve read today: .25 (86 pages)
Total number of books I’ve read: .82 (265)
Books: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Notes: I didn’t get as much reading done today as I wanted. I had a long day at school and then a nice chat with my roommate before I dragged myself up to bed for a bit of reading and then nighty-night.

10/26
Number of books I’ve read today: .26 (88 pages)
Total number of books I’ve read: 1.08 (353 Pages)
Books: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Notes: Again not as much reading as I want to have got done but not horrible either. I’ve been reading on the bus to and from school and that seems to be a good strategy. I read some when I’m home but I’ve been getting home so late that I never have that much time. Especially as I had to take an hour to made dinner last night.

10/27
Number of books I’ve read today: .49 (166 Pages) + .05 (28 pages)
Total number of books I’ve read: 1.62 (547)
Books: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes + Coyote by Allen Steele
Notes: I finished Zoo City. It was awesome! There is REALLY good world building in this book and the author is very good at setting up a story. I started to read Coyote last night. I plan to go to the library today though and turn in the books I finished and pick up a reserved book. The reserved book is Graveminder. I might set aside Coyote for Graveminder though as Graveminder is the October book for my book club.

10/28
Number of books I’ve read today: .06 (34 pages)
Total number of books I’ve read: 1.68 (581)
Books: Coyote by Allen Steele
Notes: I just didn’t get into the reading groove today. I had a long day at school and when I got home I spent some of my time talking to people back home. Tomorrow I will go to the library and pick up two books on hold for me there, Graveminder by Melissa Marr and Looking for Alaska by John Green. Yay!

10/29
Number of books I’ve read today: .5 (162 pages)
Total number of books I’ve read: 2.18 (743)
Books: Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Notes: I set aside Coyote by Allen Steele and picked up Graveminder. I want to finish Graveminder as it is part of Calico’s book club and I want to be able to participate in the discussion on her review.

10/30
Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Books:
Notes:

I’m so excited! ^___^

Also, I have a LJ account that I forgot to put on the master list. So if you have an LJ and you post on that any comments from Teiira are me!

Read-a-thon

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Bout of Books is doing a read-a-thon.

So, I know that this blog is mainly for me to write about things that come to me while living here in England but…I like reading too! So why not also do a read-a-thon here and maybe in the future I’ll write something small for all the books I finish. I don’t think I’ll be able to finish TOO many books while I’m staying here in England as I’ll need to focus on research but I think even I can squeeze in a few minutes of reading before I go to bed.

I’ve never done a read-a-thon before (at least online blogger types) and I think it’ll be fun. I plan to read in the evenings when I come home from school. I’ll also be sure to throw a book into my school bag so that maybe at lunch I can get a few pages in. Later on I’ll put up a list of books I hope to finish during this time. It’s going to be a very SHORT list as my reading hours are limited. Let the games begin! ^__^

The Fun of Language

The thing about moving to England is that is SEEMS like things shouldn’t be all that different. We share a common language. I didn’t need to take language classes before I moved here, I have no anxiety with talking to people because I’m afraid I’m going to say things wrong. That has made my move here much easier than for a lot of other expats in the world since I don’t have that hurdle to jump over.

Of course, because of this common language sometimes you do get surprised when things pop up that are cultural differences. It is easy to get lulled into a false sense that things will be the same but what it is important for expats, especially those from the U.S.A, to remember is that England IS a different country and there are cultural differences. The most noticeable is that Americans are typically a lot more direct and likely to search out new people. Not myself in particular as I’m somewhat shyer than most. There are other difference but unfortunately I can’t think of them off the top of my head XD.

But there is more about language I want to talk about. Mainly, the different expressions that there are.

I like British expressions. I like that “love” is a common endearment that EVERYONE uses here. Even shop keepers, random people on the street. It’s sorta like dear, or sweetie back home. A term of endearment that you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable calling a stranger.

I like that people say “bless” when they think something is particularly sweet. It tickles me that “Ta” means thank you and not goodbye. There are so many expressions and words that I hear now that just make me warm inside when I hear them, not because of familiarity but because they ARE unfamiliar but in a nice, sweet way.

I like when my roommate thinks I’m being particularly silly, or cute, or in this instance because I’m sick, losing my voice and trying to talk that she says, “Ah, bless your cotton socks.” I think that is the cutest, sweetest expression and I smile every time she says it.

I like language and I like being in an English speaking country and hearing phrases in my own language that I haven’t ever heard before. It’s like learning a new language that I already know, if that makes any sense.

I’m not sure if I ever say phrases that my roommates think are cute. Although I sometimes say phrases that make them laugh and want to keep for themselves so I’m sure that is close at least. And I do say very American things apparently.

R and I were at the store (Argos) so that I could buy a clock/radio. While there I was thumbing through the catalog and I said, “Oh, I could do real damage here, yep, I sure could.” Which made R laugh and say, “You sound very American right now.” It was a funny moment.

On a side note, the store Argos is AWESOME! Basically there are catalogs that you look through, find what you want, write the number down, put it into a computer, pay for it and then they’ll call your number for you to go up to your pick up counter. The down side, you don’t get to actually hold the item in your hand. The upside, they have a LOT of stuff. They just keep it in a storage area (downstairs?) and since it isn’t IN the store they can have a lot more things stored away. Pretty cool.

In Remembrance of 9/11

Today is the tenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. It’s strange to be another country at this time.

Today’s post won’t be too long. I just wanted to put some of my thoughts down for remembrance of this day:

I remember the day of 9/11 very clearly. I was at choir. It was 0 period of school and very early. One of the girls came in late to choir and announced to the class, “They’ve attacked the pentagon.” Hardly anyone could believe it. Rather than have class that morning we pulled a t.v out of the corner of the room and found a local news station. What we saw was horrific and heart-wrenching. That day was a very sad and somber day at my high school. For weeks after we learned more about the attacks, on not just the pentagon but the world trade center and the twin towers. We saw people jump/fall to their deaths as the planes crashed into the buildings.

Our country hurt. Our country cried.

A lot has happened in the ten years since that event but to this day it holds such power over us. I’m in tears just writing this. Still we hurt but most of us banded together and stayed strong.

I don’t agree with some of our actions since then, the way we used it as an excuse to have the wars that we’ve had. But I’m proud of our troops for protecting our country. I’m proud of the first responders at the 9/11 site, all the firemen and policemen who endangered their lives to possibly save someone in the wreckage.

9/11 will be a day I remember for the rest of my life, and every time I sit and think about it I will cry. I remember the fallen of 9/11 today. My love goes to those we have lost then and since that horrible incident. My heart goes out to the people who have lost loved ones because of this. Today is a day for our country to say, “I remember. I grieve. I stand tall.”

Love, Taylor

Memorial Flag

Catch-up, English Life and Diversity

I have so much to write about! I really need to keep up on this like I originally planned.

So last I wrote the U.S politician mess was distressing. Some things came about after that which will make my life a bit harder, such as subsidized loans no longer being available to graduate students. This coupled with rising tuition and high interest rates made me seriously rethink my studying here in England. My professors came up with a plan though. Essentially I am going to get all my research done in 2 years or less. Then, during the writing up period of my PhD I will go back to the States. That way I don’t have to pay maintenance fees here in the UK but rather can stay with family for free. And writing up fees are substantially cheaper than a full year’s tuition. Basically from £14,580 (full-time tuition) to only £200 (writing up fee) a year. So I will still have a lot of student debt but not the astronomical, very much unmanageable amount that 3-4 years of full tuition would have cost me.

I’m slowly getting use to living here in England. It’s September now and the weather is getting noticeably rainier and colder than it was only a month ago. Not that the weather is overly warm here in the summer either. I don’t think I’ve had a day that was over 75F since I’ve been here. Maybe once or twice it went above that but I don’t remember it. I don’t really like the cold…or the rain. I reiterate, what made me choose England again? In all seriousness though, this is a really beautiful country and I’ve met some really awesome people. I just like to complain ^___^.

I have also got a surgery date for my gallbladder removal! It will be on October 4th. I am scared witless. I’ve never had an operation. I’ve never been under anesthesia. I’m sure as the date gets closer I’ll be incoherent with fear.

And now to what I really want to talk about, mainly diversity here in England. Now I feel I come from a rather diverse area. Southern California has people of all walks of life. It is one of the things that I really like about California, it’s diversity in people, cultures and especially in food (oh Mexican food, how I miss thee).

But there is a different diversity here in England, (particularly Lancaster as that is where I live and have experienced the most of living in England) that is just so COOL. Since England is part of Europe and so close to the mainland there is a high population of European people visiting or living here in England. I live in a college town. The majority of Lancaster’s population are university students. Lancaster university also attracts a lot of people from around the world. Europeans, North Americans (Like me!), Asians, South Americans, African, etc. It is really really cool. Even going to the grocery store is an exercise in diversity!

As I mentioned before it isn’t like my home State isn’t diverse. I have friends of all walks of life back home and love that I have the opportunity to have that. But there does seem to be a slight difference. The majority of people I know and who are my friends that are from another ethnicity are usually second, third, etc generation. So their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents came from another country (life my great-grandparents came from Norway). But they themselves were born and raised in California. We have the same accents, similar schooling, similar environment that shaped us to who we are today. So though I may have friends from backgrounds all around the world we all speak with the same accent.

I think that is what it really comes down to here in England. The amount of accents I run across. It’s really amazing! French, African, Asian, Indian, Saudi Arabian, Brazilian, all types of British accents (obviously) etc. I have so much fun just walking around hearing the different accents, seeing the different fashions. People watching in the UK is so cool.

So there is a bit of what it is like to live here in England. The coolest part being the chance to make not only knew British friends but friends from all over the world. I could do that at home I know but somehow it just seems MORE here. Possibly because I myself am a foreigner in a new land. And that’s exciting too.

Here have some pictures of the city I live in now:

Lancaster Priory

City view from Williamson Park

Ashton Memorial

US Politicians are Crazy, yo!

So, the US debt ceiling crisis/debate. It has been going on for a few months now and is completely nuts. Now, I’m not going to pretend I’m an authority in this field. I am not an economist and actually find economics hard to follow. I will make no secret of this fact.

Here is my problem though, the current debt ceiling debate seems more like a way for the GOP to blackmail the President into getting their way. I think the more mature and reasonable thing to do at this point is to raise the debt ceiling to keep our economy from possibly plunging into another recession and THEN discussing how we’re going to fix our current deficit. What is also amusing is how many representatives (mainly Republican) are crying out about how bad raising the debt ceiling is and how HORRIBLE the government is and yadda yadda yadda. Guess what GOP? The US has raised the debt ceiling numerous times, both DEMOCRATIC and REPUBLICAN houses have voted to do this in the past. NOW you have a problem? I think this has less to do with peoples’ feelings on the debt ceiling idea and more to do with “But I want it my way and I want it NOW” (Think Veruca Salt voice here).

I don’t know how this is going to be resolved. Or even if it will get resolved before the Aug. 2 deadline. My worry? If it doesn’t get resolved by Aug. 2 that the US will lose it’s AAA tier standing. Which then may cause all other interest rates in the US to skyrocket up by a few points. Which would include federal student loan interest rates. You know, those loans that I use to fund my cost of living and tuition here in the UK for my PhD? Yeah, that would be really really bad for me.

Or the other dilemma? That if they do come up with a deal that both parties agree with and can pass by Aug. 2, it will include the option of eliminating subsidized Stafford Direct Loans for students. I know Obama said he wasn’t going to let a bill pass that would “Screw students” but I read on some news site that he may be willing to eliminate subsidized loans for graduate students. In which case I WILL be royally screwed. There isn’t a large part of my loans that are subsidized but those that I do get are really really helpful to me.

So every day I go online, I catch up on the current news on this debate and I wring my hands. It’s possible that my educational career abroad may be cut drastically short.