Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Vacation is Calling Me...

I can't wait for Christmas vacation! Although I need to write a paper by the 10th and I'm dragging my feet. At one point this week or the next I'm going to have to stop researching for the paper, and eventually write it. Getting started is always the most difficult. But once I've started, interrupt me at your own risk.

For Thanksgiving I went out with some of my friends to a pub called The Last Post, had a nice meal and apple pie. A random British person even came up to the table and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, which was very nice of her. There was no turkey consumed, but it was fun nonetheless. As we were walking out the door though, I forgot that I hadn't left any tip. I explained to the others I wanted to go back and leave something, but they all protested, saying I wasn't supposed to at a chain restaurant. It looked like a cross between a family place and a pub, so I thought, given that it was a sit down place with silverware and real food that I was supposed to. But apparently it was viewed more like a McDonald's or a Subway. I still feel bad for not leaving something. But I figure they knew British etiquette better than I and left.

During this last week I also went to the German Christmas Market at the Old Market Square in town.

I got a little lost on the way, but I found this really cool looking tunnel-walkway place all lit up.

I had a "bell-ee-na" (no idea how to spell it properly in German) it was essentially a jelly-filled doughnut, fried potatoes, and sauteed mushrooms. I was so stuffed, but everyone still wanted to head over to the oldest pub in England.

Had a pint of Strongbow (cider) and tried to digest all the food.

Archery has been mixed results this week. On Wednesday the string continued to smack my arm and my score was so erratic I simply had to stop. I have a lovely bruise to prove it. It's my worst yet.

So I finally broke down and bought a long arm guard. Then on Friday two experienced archers helped me to figure out what my problem was. Apparently I was standing wrong, and locking my elbow which is a big no, no. How was I supposed to know? But I got around six or seven 10's which makes me happy. Everyone went to a local pub afterward and for some reason I was targeted by a very drunk British man. All I said to him was he was he was spilling his drink on himself and the floor. I have a difficult time understanding a thick accent, and a drunk accent does not help. Luckily he never realized I was American. He was eventually led away by the bartender and was cut off for the rest of the night.

Well, that's been the latest exciting events of my life. Two more weeks till vacation and I have to write four more papers by January 26th and study for three exams on January 12th, 13th and the 15th. Yeah.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Germany vs. England

First, at archery on Wednesday I got hit 5 times with the string. At least the bruises are moving downward. And my score went up, but not to 400 yet, but I'm working on it. Here's a picture of my war wound. ;)

Last night I went to a pub filled with Germans (because I was going with my German friend Sarah) to watch the Football (soccer) match between England and Germany. It was only a "friendly" which means the players are mostly second string players and the result of the game does not effect either team's standings. There were a few Englishmen who wandered in though, which made the whole evening quite funny. There was a particularly rude man sitting right in front of the TV and apparently didn't know or was ignoring all the German men behind him. The English won the game 2-1 in the end, but the Germans held their own. What was funny to me was when the German team scored, the whole place went wild with excitement and noise. When the English team scored the few unlucky English-souls that wandered in roared with excitement, but the noise level was pitiful. The rude guy in front started yelling, "Two! One! Two! One!" towards the end of the game. Either he was so dumb that he didn't realize he was the only one cheering his mantra, or a complete jerk. I'm betting on the former, but the latter is a distinct possibility too.

My Indian friend, Rahul, was there too, and like me couldn't really care less who won. He cheered for the Germans like me, but unlike the Germans, we were loud about it when the English did something brilliant. Rahul like to scream "England Sucks!" and I just did a lot of "Boooooo! Booooo!". We got a few dirty looks, but then they would realize that neither one of us were German or English, and they'd shake their head as if they were saying, "Crazy Foreigners!" But that's what I like about going to other countries. You can be forgiven any social taboos you may cross, because you can just shrug as if to say, "I'm American. It's in my nature and personality to act this way. If you don't like it, sue me." I don't use that attitude often here, but we were already going against the English when we walked into the pub to cheer for Germany, so it was forgiven by a good 90% of the pub, because Rahul and I could get away with expressing an attitude they agreed with but wouldn't act on because Germans are gracious losers (according to Sarah).

Here's a picture of Catherine (Australian) talking with Rahul:

And Sarah to the far right and the rude English guy is sitting right behind her but you can't see him in this picture:

When I went into the bathroom I got quite a shock. A sex toy and condom distributor. The condoms I understand, but sex toys?? There was two kinds of vibrators and a vibrating cock ring. I even took pictures of the machines as proof. I got a weird look from Sarah, and an English girl in the bathroom. But I had to have proof.

Well, that was my exciting Wednesday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Flu & Studying...

Lately my life seems quite boring to me. I'm sure it's like most people's who are earning their masters. Studying, planning papers, or thinking about what to write. Right now I have two papers on my mind. The first is due December 8, which has to be about an organisational problem that can be resolved through counselling at work. I was thinking along the lines of bullying, and so I've been doing research for this. On Monday, my tutor is going to give some pointers on how to structure the essay. The next essay I'm kind of excited to write (I know I'm weird). I have plenty of time to write it since it's due January 26th, but like I said, I'm excited about it. I'm focusing my topic on a business and HR report analysis of, specifically their books department. Choosing books was easy for me since I have experience with the competition and some of the lingo. Plus, if I'm lucky, I'd like to work for Amazon's book department when I get back to Seattle.

When It comes to Archery, I've been doing atrocious lately. My score went marginally down on Friday, and today, it went down 30 points. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but all I can do is keep at it till I get better. I was thinking of getting a bow with more weight in the string. Maybe that will straighten out my arrows. I'm just really frustrated with the whole thing.

Other than that, nothing really exciting has happened. I drink tea, eat biscuits, study, watch the news, read a bit of my romance book, study some more, go to classes, practice archery, and drink some more tea while studying. That's about all my life consists of right now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Archery Competition, Pub Games & The Flu

This last Saturday I was considerably more busy than I am usually. I was able to compete in the archery competition at the University of Warwick. Where would you think this university would be located? If you guess in Warwick, you would be wrong. They do have a campus there, but the competition was actually in Coventry. No idea why. The part of the city that I saw was not the least bit attractive, so I have zero pictures of the place. Sorry, people. And I don't have any pics of the actual competition because honestly, photos were the last thing on my mind. I was so nervous and excited I felt like my bones were jumping out of my skin. It was really difficult to concentrate, breathe, slow my heart rate, and shoot when it was my turn.

After the competition everyone goes to the pub on campus and awaits the judges to check and verify the scores. I had a Coke because I wasn't feeling too good. All day I had a fever, and a sore throat. While in the pub I was introduced to a competition that has been on-going between all the archery clubs at every participating university. The Boat Race! The rules are: teams of four people stand in a line, each with a pint of beer in hand. The first in line is to drink the pint as fast as they can once the start has been signaled. When they are done they must sit on the ground immediately and turn the empty glass upside down over their head. Once the person has turned the glass over his or her head, the person behind them can begin to drink their pint. The first team to have all members sitting and glasses tipped over their head, WINS! I took pictures to document this ritual:

Then the Awards are given out. Nottingham won the overall competition, Yeah!!! My personal goal for the day was to reach a score of 400. Unfortunately I only got 399. ONE BLOODY POINT!!! I was a little upset with myself. But, I did feel better when I found out that I still won 3rd place in the Ladies Novice category! Yeah!! Here's a picture of the medal:

Then afterwards all the universities went to dinner together. It was fun to meet new people and see the long standing friendships and rivalries amongst everyone. One guy from our school has a twin at the University of Birmingham, and he was sitting at my table. It was really weird!! When they noticed I was an American, I got the usual questions (where from? Why Nottingham? Studying what??) But they did ask me what other sport I have done. "I used to play soc.." I slapped my mouth in embarrassment. "Football!" I corrected while they all laughed. I'm still not used to calling it football. I tried to explain to my German friend, Sarah, that in America, the boys usually play American Football, and the girls will play Soccer. She looked at me weird, like I just sprouted two heads. (I get that expression a lot) But I figure guys will play anything that has the potential in the future for girls, money, and glory. Sports that provide guys with those goals, and they'll play it!

But I digress. Another American from Connecticut is on the Archery team and kind of a snob. Which is not surprising considering that he is from the Northeast. He got into this big argument with a fellow archer about whether Star Trek Voyager or The Next Generation is better. Keimo (my brother)would probably have a strong opinion, seeing as though the man still has the action figures and reads the books. Did I mention he's 37 years old?? My first thought was WHO CARES??. But the American guy wouldn't let it go. So she poured half a glass of water over his head. I cheered inside! Here is her throwing death-ray glares at him!

The next morning on Sunday I woke up and I had a fever, sore throat, bad cough, was achy all over (from archery or sickness?) and lethargic. I tried to eat breakfast, but threw it up within the hour. Gave up on the eating thing for the day. I basically survived on weak tea and apple juice. But today, I woke up feeling much better! I still have a bit of a fever, sore throat, but my deep chesty cough has diminished greatly. And my appetite is coming back. I can keep food down at least. So Yeah for me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

British Bakery, Archery, and GUY FAWKES DAY!!!!

So there are three events that stick out in my mind from the last few days. The first one is my visit to a British bakery that sells goods wholesale. I walked in and said, "I'm an American and I have no idea what most of this is, so tell me what you recommend." And it was scones! They were lovely "fruit scones" (scones with raisins). They were only 30 pence each and they were so delicious I ate them both in one sitting. That's probably not the best idea, but that was what I considered "lunch" for me and held off eating anything till a light dinner. The Bakery Lady was very nice. She said she guessed I was American from my accent, but I reminded her I could be Canadian. "That's true" she said. Then she went on to tell me about her cousin who lives in Virginia and that's she's been meaning to pop over and visit him. If you're wondering if this happens a lot, it does actually. I always hear about the family member who lives in the States and how they've been meaning to visit. I always ask where in the States the relative lives and comment on the weather there. The topic of weather seems universal.

Next is my Wednesday Archery Lesson. I scored a 366!! For those of you who have been following this, that's a 44 jump! If I can reach a score of 400 by Saturday, then at least I know I won't embarrass myself at the competition in Warwick. On one of my last shots of the day I accidentally held my bow incorrectly, and the string snapped my arm. Right behind my arm-guard! Here is the what happens when your elbow tends to invert into the path of the string:

Also, today, November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day!!! He's the guy who inspired the movie "V for Vendetta" He tried to blow up Westminster Abbey and kidnap Princess (future queen) Elizabeth I. There were three men actually, but Fawkes was the leader. So every November 5th, people blow up fireworks and start HUGE bonfires. I don't know why? Maybe to celebrate his pure audaciousness to do something against the nobility. Who knows? It was fun just the same.
So I had to go to the Old Market Square and this is the government-looking building at night:

Here is a picture of the fireworks:

And some of the pictures of the Bonfire:
This is before they lit the stack, this is what it looked like. At the top, if you look closely you can see the three dummies representing Guy Fawkes and his buddies.

Just before they lit the Fire, the firemen surrounded the tower with torches.

They lit it and up it went. It was HUGE!!!!

Picture from a distance:

I also got some Cadbury Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows. They were heart shaped and flavored!

The last event I saw before going back to my room was a group of guys, probably mid-twenties all dressed as FAIRIES! Yes, that's right, they were prancing and running around. It looked like a hazing ritual to me. But it was funny as hell. This is not a great picture, but they were moving around a lot. They only had tights, tutu's and t-shirts on, so I imagine the prancing was a way to keep warm. At least I hope it was.

So that was my exciting day. Other than boring classes and studying. Tomorrow I intend to sleep in, relax, read, and study.

Good Night Everyone!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Got On The Team!!!

This morning I scored a 322 (out of a possible 600) and made it on the Novice team!!! That means that on Saturday I get to go with the team to Warwick and compete. I'm not delusional enough to think I could actually place and win, but it will still be fun to go and be a part of the competition.

On my way out of the Sports Centre I saw the resident feline and took a picture of her. She is so sweet! She was kinda shy and had to look away from her fans. But that's alright. I know she loves the attention deep down, because she is a cat after all.

Now I'm going to study Fiske's social cog approach to attitudes and then read some of my book. The weather today is dismal. It's a cross between spitting and misting rain. At least now I have warm gloves. Thanks Mom!