I’ve realized there are several things I wanted to share that aren’t really full blog post material- so I’m going to compile them here, along with some random thoughts, and make a very disjointed post. Hopefully it’s still interesting!
A few weeks ago, the Goose Fair came to Nottingham! Basically, it was equivalent to a large state fair. There were tons of rides, games, and food booths… sadly, though, not a single goose. I went with a friend, Claire, in the evening, so the fairground was illuminated with colored lights and sparkling, spinning rides! It looked so fun and lively. There were tons of people, from cute little old couples strolling through with candy floss (cotton candy), to little kids trying to win toys at the booths. Our first stop was to buy some fudge (obviously), and then we saw a ride that looked super fun. There was a great ferris wheel which was pretty huge, but right next to it was one of those giant spinning swing sets that went even higher! I always think those rides are so fun and whimsical, so we decided to go on it.
It was actually the biggest one of these rides I think I’ve ever seen, and went much higher than any of the other rides. I’m not scared of heights at all, but when we got to the top, it was freezing cold, spinning very very fast, and SO high up that it was a little bit scary! It was actually so fun though and gave us a great view of the whole fair. I loved looking down at all the lights and people.
After the ride, which really was surprisingly exhilarating for being a pretty simple fair ride, we wandered around the fair more. It was pretty similar to fairs that I’m used to, but I think the biggest difference was the food. They had the basics like burgers, fries (chips), doughnuts, and cotton candy, but lacked any other fried foods that usually make you sick when you go to fairs. Instead, they had things like curry, kebabs, Chinese noodles, mushy peas and mint sauce (which sounds disgusting really), crepes, and coffee and tea. All I had was a burger though.
Also, this has no relation to anything except for being at the fair, but there was the cutest chunkiest dog ever that I loved so much but the owner got creeped out because I stared too long.
Another fun thing that happened recently was our first hall formal! I didn’t know these exist, so it was pretty lucky I packed a nice dress “just in case.” I had to borrow heels but it all worked out. Somehow, though, all the guys here just happened to bring along their suits or tuxes?! If I was a guy, packing for college, I really don’t think that would’ve been on my packing list. They all were prepared though and I was really impressed.
Basically, the hall formal consisted of everyone getting all dressed up, and having a fancy dinner. It was really fun, but also strange, seeing everyone in nice dresses and suits! The dining hall was decorated with nice place settings and balloons, and we had to sign up for our tables to make a seating plan a couple weeks ahead of time. They sat 18 people each, and what was so funny to me is you could buy wine for your table (limit 6 bottles per table of 18)! What I thought was even funnier, though, is that the drink of choice they had on the tables for those of us not drinking wine was orange juice. At a fancy dinner. Orange juice.
Anyway, the hall warden (equivalent to a resident director) gave a speech at the beginning, welcoming us all and introducing us to important people that were apparently there as well, sitting at the head table with him. Then, we had a lovely three course dinner with soup, bread, chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and profiteroles. I just called them cream puffs with chocolate on top but apparently here they’re called profiteroles.
After dinner, there was an after party which we took two double decker buses to. For the record, now that I’m used to double deckers, I really don’t know why they’re not in America. They’re so practical because they literally just fit double the people on the same size bus. There was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed bar we went to first, with cotton candy, a chocolate fountain, and popcorn which was great. After a little while there, we went to a club around the corner for a little bit, then taxied home. Overall a super fun night! It was weird to me thinking about if that had happened at Oregon State… there were never any events in my dorm last year that everybody went to, especially where the guys had to dress up (I bet half of them didn’t even own suits), and obviously no events where alcohol was not only allowed but provided!
On to the next random topic: I went to the gym at a time that happened to be really empty, so I took some photos of inside for anyone who was interested.
Now, I just have some random thoughts that don’t pertain to anything specific I did- more just some things I’ve observed.
This may sound really strange, but the birds are different here. The birds. I don’t even know what type of birds we have at home anymore, but there aren’t any bluejays or little grey pigeons flying about. Instead, they have magpies, which are actually pretty large birds, and to me look kind of exotic! I felt really silly when I first got here and exclaimed over the cool birds and wondered what kind they are, though. They’re literally everywhere and just the common bird here, apparently. They look alright flying about, but since they’re so huge, they’re pretty terrifying if they fly out of the bush next to you or something. Who knew!
Another thing that is different here that I think is really strange is the stop lights. Not only are they all really low on poles from the ground instead of suspended above the intersections, but the few they do have (because there are predominantly roundabouts here and not stop lights) also have another light option. They have green, yellow, and red like us obviously, but then when the light is red and about to turn green, it adds the yellow light for a second or two! So instead of going straight from red to green, it goes red, red and yellow, green. This makes no sense to me. It really doesn’t. I know a lot more people here use stick shift so maybe it’s a warning to put it into gear or something, but I just really don’t think that seems necessary. It to me just seems like an invitation to start going before the light actually turns green. I really just don’t get the purpose.
Also, the lemonade here is different! It’s not like this really affects my day to day life that much, but it’s come up more often than you’d think. Here, lemonade by default is a sparkling, clear, lemony beverage. So they call Sprite lemonade, but also just anything sparkling and lemony. Then, they have still lemonade, which is still sometimes clear but just not bubbly. Then, they have cloudy lemonade, which is what we have- not bubbly, not clear, but an actual yellow lemon drink. When I brought this up with someone, he had a lightbulb moment where he finally understood how children in America have lemonade stands in their neighborhoods! He didn’t know our lemonade was different and you could literally squeeze lemons into water and add sugar, or mix in a powder, to make lemonade. So strange.
A last small difference (that actually really bothers me) that I discovered: THEY DON’T HAVE TEA LATTES HERE. Tea lattes. They’re really not a difficult concept. I tried to order one at Starbucks the other day, and the lady got all confused and tried to give me coffee with a tea bag in it, then after my correction, tried to give me regular steeped tea with a pump of vanilla in it. At first, I thought maybe the barista was just confused, but when I mentioned it to my friends, they all got equally confused and thought it sounded disgusting when I tried to explain it! Come on, people! Tea lattes are delicious! If you’re in the US and haven’t had one, do yourself a favor and try it (but make sure you get it with vanilla it’s better). It’s the first thing I’m ordering in Starbucks when I get home (take notes Eli)!
I guess this post is getting pretty long now, but I also thought I’d talk about my classes a little bit. I promise I am doing school stuff in between all this. I’m actually only in class for nine hours a week, which seems like NOTHING compared to home, but I think that’s a mix of being in England and also being in a different major. Psychology definitely has a lot more independent study and reading time than engineering majors here do, which is weird to adjust to both for not being in class but also having to do reading instead of math and stuff. All the classes (called modules here) are also assessed much differently; three of my five modules I just have to write two papers which make up my whole grade, one I have to write one paper and take a test, and one I just have to take a single test. It’s a little more stressful thinking of all the grade riding on much less work, but it’s also nice not having online homework due every week, clicker points, or busy work to turn in proving I went to lectures. Unfortunately, the tests I will have to take are in January, proctored, so I’ll have to revise over winter break and while my other classes at Oregon State are starting.
I think my most interesting class is Christ and Culture, partially because it’s a class that wouldn’t be offered at a public, secular school in the US (or at least at Oregon State). They have a Theology course offered here, which would be really interesting since it is taught by professors that don’t claim their own faith or anything. The C&C class I’m in has about 30-35 people in it, either theology students, or students like me who are taking the class by choice. It may have been naive of me to assume, but it seems logical that theology students are interested in theology because they’re Christians or have some sort of faith, and that students taking this class by choice would be the same. However, the first people I talked to during a discussion question were two girls, in the class by choice, who described themselves as “not religious at all, but love learning about religion.” It was definitely thought provoking to hear their perspectives, highly contrasting with mine, on questions like “how would it affect us if it was unarguably proven that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?” Even more challenging, perhaps, was the next week, when I sat with two theology students who knew what they were talking about WAY more than I did. They also spotted me as a Christian from the start, when I brought up what Jesus’s life was like between the recorded time of his birth and his ministry.
I really love how this experience has already shown me so many new and interesting perspectives, both in class and out. That’s what I wrote that I was expecting to happen in my application essays to study abroad, but to actually be here, experiencing and learning so much, is extremely rewarding.
I’ve just now realized that this blog post has more words than the essay I’m writing is supposed to. Oops. I really enjoy writing these posts, though, to reflect on everything I’m doing here and be able to look back at how far I’ve come already! Thank you to anyone reading these (and actually making it to the bottom of this one), but even if no one did, I would still write them anyway because of how it’s helping me. My writing 121 teacher from last year would be proud at how often it’s gotten me to write, too, because apparently that’s the only way to get better…
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.