Posts Tagged ‘campus’

In which I stumble upon a Magical Fairy Glen

31 March 2009

The scene:

There is a Certain Way you always walk to get from one Certain Place to another Certain Place. Your path converges with other paths that you sometimes use to go from that same Certain Place to Other Certain Places besides the previously mentioned Certain Places. But there is one path that you never take. It is not a malicious snub by any means–it’s just not a path you need to take to get to anywhere you need to go. So it stays unexplored…always lurking on the edge of your consciousness, but not a necessary part of your existence.

And then one day, you are on that Certain Path from Certain Place to Certain Place, and you stop at the crossroads of that Other Path. You think to yourself, “I always walk this way, and never that way. I wonder what could be over there.” Now, you’ve thought this previously, but it’s an impulse on which you’ve never before acted. Sure, you could’ve gone down the Other Path ages ago. For numerous reasons, you just…haven’t. You shake your head, about to walk on to the Certain Place, as usual, and then…

Maybe it’s the angle of the sun, or the wind blowing the daffodils, or the birds chirping their little hearts out, or some other amalgamation of factors.

…And then, you forget about the Certain Path to the Certain Place, and you step boldly down the Other Path, venturing into a land of untold glories.

And you stumble upon this:

Or, at least, that’s what you feel like you stumble upon. You actually stumble upon this:

Which is just as lovely, only lacking in deforestation monsters, which ultimately works out in your favor.

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There’s a bridge, a bench

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and a babbling brook.

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And hyacinths! You love hyacinths!

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And…um…these things! They are also quite lovely.

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This whole time, the Other Path was hiding a Magical Fairy Glen! Maybe it was there all along, waiting for you to ditch the Certain Path and the complacency for which it stands.

Or maybe the Rose Bush Gateway to the Magical Fairy Glen only opens for those who can let go of their obligations to Certainty.

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You don’t know the answer. And it doesn’t matter.

You’ll go back to the Certain Path because it makes the most sense to use it to get from Certain Place to Certain Place. But from now on, whenever you pass the Other Path, you’ll look wistfully down it, smiling, squinting, and remembering all the magic that is there, if only you take the time to need it.

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The end.

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Royal Holliday

25 March 2009

You may have forgotten, as I am prone to from time to time, that I came to England with the intention of, ahem, “studying” abroad.

So this fact re-occured to me, and then I looked at the calendar and realized that today was my last day of classes.

Well darn.

Just kidding. Obviously I KNEW that term was ending. This sounds very strange, because you may recall that I am here until June. 

Let me take a moment to explain this crazy British system of edumacation to you:

Term 2 (which just ended) is when the classes take place. Once a week for 10 weeks plus a silly “reading” week in the middle (11 weeks total), after which, many essays were due. Then we have this magical 1 month Easter vacation/”study” time. From April 27 until June, on four mystery dates that were TOP FREAKING SECRET UNTIL YESTERDAY, exams occur. That’s Term 3. Four days that matter out of a month and a half. Yay England!

In other charming campus news, I got hailed on in the sunshine last week, and also saw a dog eat a mole. Separate instances.

SPRING PICTURES.

Snow Day!

6 February 2009

It’s snowing AGAIN (I think…the precipitation is a bit dodgy looking- it might actually be a snow/rain combo) , so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to recount the experiences of my first ever SNOW DAY.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a Snow Day is quite similar to a Hurricane Day in that school is cancelled, and it’s hard to get places, and the news media goes INSANE talking about it. Except instead of worrying about trees crashing through the roof or rising floodwaters, you frolic in magical fields of snow. With puppies. 

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You think I’m kidding. But I’m not. I frolicked in that field (among others), and no joke, there were people with a dog also frolicking. The dog, not the people. The people were just sort of walking like normal.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this with you yet, but everything in England is either exactly like a) Harry Potter or b) The Chronicles of Narnia.

So, in this particular instance, Snow Day=Narnia. We were in that snow field when suddenly, as if by magic, a mystical opening appeared in the bushes/fence that was THE ENTRANCE TO NARNIA.

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Several epic snow battles commenced, including one that I would call “an attack by Savage British 1st years.” A whole gang of them came out of nowhere and rushed us (us being a small group of RoHo Int’ls peacefully frolicking) screaming like Anglo-Saxon warriors.

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At one point, I believe the preamble to the Declaration of Independence was recited/shouted and there was even patriotic song show down between The Star Spangeled Banner and God Save the Queen.

BUT there was still opportunities galore for me to take artsy shots of snow. Many snowballs hits were endured to bring you these photos.

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And you love these photos so much that you are just DYING to see the rest. Well, they’re right here.

Besides that excitement on Monday, the rest of the week has been really low key. Classes, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, hanging with my homies…All of the joy about the snow has turned into annoyance as a general sentiment about campus.

Tomorrow I’ll probably head into London, and hopefully the weather will be more favorable than it is right now. NEXT WEEKEND is going to be CRAZY brilliant though. Saturday, I’m going on a day tour of Canterbury and Leeds Castle, and THEN, a group of us is heading to OSLO, NORWAY early Sunday morning.

!!!

SNOWWWWWWW.

2 February 2009

I had just settled my brain for a long evening’s read,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But lots and lots of snow!!!

Snow from my window!

Snow from my window!

 

Still snowing...

Still snowing...

Note the decreasing definition between sidewalk and grass.

Note the decreasing definition between sidewalk and grass.

It's really coming down!!

It's really coming down!!

????

19 January 2009

Does anyone have any idea what this might be?day-11

As  far as I can tell, it seems like eggs and tea bags? (Oh JK…just googled boiled eggs and tea bags and they must be Chinese Tea Eggs) But it has been on the stove for closing in on 48 hours, and I’m a little bit afraid of it. Also curious enough to clandestinely take a picture of it with my iPhone while no one else was in the kitchen.

Today was beautiful and sunny! It did not rain or fog or cloud up AT ALL. So I took a walk around campus in order to hang out with my new bffl, Queen Victoria.day-11-006

She’s getting a little clingy though. Every time I turn around, it seems like there’s another statue/monument/shrine to her. QVic, come on, I need some space.

I also stumbled upon someone (I like to think it was the Phantom of the Opera, getting ready for his Broadway sequel) playing the organ in the otherwise empty Royal Holloway chapel. I’m having some technical difficulties with posting the video, but I’ll try to figure it out, because it’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Tonight some of the Int’ls and I had a little take-out dinner party with Indian and Chinese in one of the girl’s flat’s. I was underwhelmed, but the prices were pretty good considering.

Tomorrow begins week 2 of lectures! Back to reading Mary Barton now. It’s a bit of a downer…so far at least 5 people have died of various sicknesses and ailments and other things that trouble the lower working class in 1830s Manchester.

Cheers: Days 4 and 5

13 January 2009

I swear I have heard people say cheers at least three times the normal amount I usually hear it (which is at New Years and special occasions). Based on my observations, it seems like you can use it to replace “thanks” when someone holds the door for you or when you’re saying something like bye/have a good day/see ya later. I will have to investigate the matter further before I come to a solid conclusion. I’ll get back to you.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day where I got organized and got the rest of the stuff I need in Egham, but alas, no. I didn’t set my alarm, so obvi I slept really late (ahem1pmahem). And then, lo and behold, practically all of Egham is closed on Sundays, except Tesco (the grocery) which closes at the nightowl hour of 4pm. It’s going to be a major adjustment a) not having the grocery less than a block away and b) EVERYTHING CLOSED when I want to be at the store.

Not all was lost, however, because I successfully remembered the short cut along the RR tracks/through the neighborhood. It’s a lot more pleasant than the hazardous Egham Hill Road route with the cars rushing by and the noise and the bushes poking over the sidewalk.

And, I got to take in the scenery along the way. Tell me, what do you think this means:day-4-001

 Is the paint just so slippery that you cannot climb it? Does it cause your limbs to decay and fall from your body, thus rendering  you physically unable to scale the fence? Or is it like those people who just have security signs in their yard but no actual security system?

Also they have what I call “power-tents”:day-4-002

See how it’s sort of draping over the houses like a giant circus tent? Work with me, people!

Woke up this morning to some jolly good English rain! It was that kind of rain where it’s definitely happening, but just not quite enough to call for the opening of ones umbrella. That was a bit troubling, to say the least.

It was also the first day of the new term (not semester). I triple checked my time table (not schedule) and made it to the right classes at the right time in the right places. Victory! The course (not class) tutor (not professor) is really nice for the ones I went to today (Gaskell, Eliot & Dickens–the lecture and the seminar). Unfortunately, we visiting int’ls did not get the memo that you’re supposed to have already done reading (in this case a whole novel) for the 1st meeting of the class. Oooops! But it was all ok and fine no worries. I just have a ton of reading to do this weekend!!

I finally finished organizing and decorating my room! Yay! Here’re some highlights: day-5-001

That’s my desk and bboard, and here’s my bed (yes, it’s a full, and that’s a AAA map of England)day-5-0022

Like I said, nicest. dorm. ever.

More pictures of town and campus and my room coming soon (via link to fb album).

And how ’bout that Prince Harry? What a charming fellow. Geez.

Day 3

11 January 2009

As my third day in England comes to a close, I thought I’d share some of the observations I’ve made over the last 72 hours.

First, I am not the only one who names my vacuum:

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Found those lovely little darlings for sale in one of the shops in Egham while we were looking for Voltage converters and plug adaptors.

Second, orange juice is served at every meal, and this is apparently completely normal. Yesterday, we had orange juice with breakfast, orange juice with lunch of little sandwhiches, and orange juice with pizza for dinner (weird). Orange juice was also one of the three options at lunch in Windsor today. It’s not bad orange juice either.

Third, you apparently have to do something other than stand at a bus stop in order to get it to stop and let you on. That was very upsetting to discover when I had to carry 2 heavy bags of groceries 15 mins back up the hill in the cold to RH.

In other news, I stood on the grave/tomb of Henry VIII in Windsor. KING HENRY THE EIGHT! His bones were decaying under the floor I stood on today. IT WAS SO COOL!

In case anyone’s interested, here’s the view out my window on the one sunny day (note the castley part in the distance- that’s Founders Building)windsor-001

My room isn’t quite decorated and organized yet, but pictures of that coming soon.

For the full photographic chronicle of the previously alluded to trip to Windsor, please see the rather extensively captioned FB album: Democracy Now

Getting there/here

10 January 2009

It was an arduous journey of arduousness that took 15 hours (according to the clock…it wasn’t actually that long, thank god. I guess it was really about 10 hours: 7.5 to fly and 2.5 for immigration/customs/driving to RH).

On BA, I was in this pimped out exclusive section called “World Traveller PLUS.” Ok, it’s only like 1 up from economy, but I got to board right after the people in the sleepy beds. We even had those curtains for our little mini-cabin to keep the plebs out.

Here’s the seat in front of me:

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I don’t know if you can see in the picture, but the headphones they gave out were all fancy and padded and covering my whole ears. And they were better than the ones in the regular cabin, too.

Here’s me trying to discretely take a picture of the cabin, but it’s all blurry because the lady next to me started to turn back toward me, so I panicked:

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Other amenities include: socks, a pen, a sleep mask, a toothbrush + toothpaste, blanket, pillow, free wine, 3 course dinner, breakfast, legroom, a footrest, and lots of movies. Apparently, there was also a place to plug in ones laptop, but I did not take advantage of that luxury.

This represents the part of the journey that was still novel/bearable (ps. I just dled GoogleEarth…AMAZING):earth

I unfortunately had to walk through the steerage a few times to get to the lavatory (I wasn’t quite exclusive enough to use the close ones in the fancy pants section, also separated by curtain).

Oh and I forgot to mention that we also got free copies of the Daily Mail, and apparently there’s a run on normal lightbulbs because the EU is outlawing them in order to be more green/eco friendly.

This represents the rather unfortunate part of the journey where I wanted to die a teeny bit:europe2

I slept a little bit, and then they turned the lights on and were like “BREAKFAST! Tea or coffee?” and I was like “gahhhshdnfmsdlgkh.”

It was pitch black outside for most of the flight (obviously), but I could see a bunch of stars. Not much down below though. As we started making out initial descent, I took this picture of the beginning of sunrise out the window:flight-0031

You can’t really see the clouds, but they were fluffy, and I wanted to frolic in them.

Approach approach approach:england

I was a little bit giddy with excitement when we finally broke through the clouds, but then, surprise surprise, it was dark. And foggy. And I couldn’t see anything exciting.

When I got off the plane, the 1st thing I noticed was several (SEVERAL) authentically British people wearing white sneakers. I hope they get pickpocketed.

Thankfully, Immigration and Customs were a breeeeeze. I got sniffed by possibly the least intimidating drug/bomb dog ever. It was a cute little yellow lab. Then I just wheeled my overflowing luggage cart right through customs. One of the officers asked a man walking near me where he flew in from (Cuba dun dun dun), but I just ran away and didn’t make eye contact.

Richard (family friend of family friends the Smiths) picked me up. I felt very official because he had a sign with my name on it. Like the important people do.

I was supremely weirded out by riding in the left side of the front seat and on the left side of the road as we drove from Gatwick.london

I saw bits of quintessential England countryside and a horse!

Now, contrary to popular belief, Royal Holloway- University of London is not actually in London. It is in Egham, Surrey. Confusing I know. But it is still within the M25, which roughly outlines greater London (in the looooosest sense of the word).

Today some of my Visiting Student comrades and I ventured into Egham, our little town for some supplies. It’s about a 10-15 minute walk down the hill. The sidewalk is very narrow, however, and it felt a little treacherous at a few points (only a little! do not be alarmed).egham-21

 It was rather cold, but I did get a hair dryer (yess!) some hand soap (none in my bathroom) and toilet paper (only 1 roll provided. Generous, I know). And another plug converter. But I must remember that only my computer and camera charger don’t need the voltage converter. In my jetlagged state this morning, I forgot that, and my hair straightener had uncomfortable amounts of smoke coming out of it after a few seconds (again, do not be alarmed, the situation turned out fine).

My room is SO NICE. 10 times nicer than any room I’ve had at Barnard. I have a full size bed, and my own full bathroom (though it’s this dodgy wet room arrangement where the shower, which is a bit too misty and not pressurey for my taste)  isn’t really separate and the whole floor gets wet.

Campus feels huuuuuge though. Way bigger than the ‘nard.campus

And my classes apparently happen one after the other, except each begins and ends on the hour, with no time between, and in different buildings. Hmm.

I’ve haven’t really taken any proper pictures of anything yet. Blame it on the culture shock.

Tomorrow, to Windsor. For tea with the Queen (just kidding). But I really am going to Windsor (my first castle!).

HOLY COW I’M IN ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!