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08 August 2008

Summer Update

So it's already 08/08/08, which is supposed to be a day of good luck. That's largely why the Olympics begin today in Beijing!

The summer back in the States has been surreal but amazing. This past week, I traveled to Las Vegas with a few friends. It was my first real time visiting Vegas as a fully legal U.S. adult (staying only one night in Vegas with family this past June shouldn't count). My friends and I stayed at Imperial Palace, which had a great location right on the strip, just across from Caesar's Palace and The Mirage. I don't really enjoy gambling though; the thought of giving your money away just doesn't appeal to me in general. As we'd say in micro-economics, I'm "risk-averse".

I can't believe that I'm already counting down the days until I return to Berkeley, which will be next weekend! I'm excited to go back to school, but I feel like I need more time to catch up with friends this summer. Think about it: This is essentially my last summer as a student. Scary to think about, innit?

I had several groups of relatives visit my family this summer, in June and July. It was pretty hectic hosting them and showing them around, but they really appreciated it. As I alluded to, my relatives and I traveled through Las Vegas, on our way to the Grand Canyon (which was also amazing) and Phoenix in a heat wave (which you definitely do NOT want to experience!). 119°F heat is indescribable - suffice it to say that I had a croissant toast in my hand as I walked outside. We also made a small trip to San Diego. Seems like the travel never stops for me! I feel so grateful, yet in the end, seeing new and exciting places makes me feel more attached to home.

06 June 2008

My Last Night in London

Tomorrow morning I leave to return home to LA for the summer. I'm nearly finished packing.

I don't think I can adequately summarize in one post my experiences since I've arrived last September. Suffice it to say that each one was worthwhile and memorable.

Farewell, London. 'Til we meet again.

05 June 2008


My final trip began with an excursion to Bratislava. The capital of Slovakia.

My Last and Greatest Trip

Just got back last night (late as usual) from Stansted. I had just had the most awesome time on my latest trip!

Vienna, Prague, Venice, and Rome.
4 cities, 10 days.

Everything was just amazing. It wall all just as great as I had expected, but at the same time nothing like I expected. It was an adventure, relaxing, stressful, breathtaking, surprising, with some inconveniences, some good (and not so good) food, but above all FUN!

Below is the basic outline of my trip.

Day 1 (May 26): Early (6am) flight to Bratislava, visited Bratislava for a few hours, train to Vienna, settled into my host's apartment, explored some of Wien's major sights, went out with my hosts for some drinks.
Day 2 (May 27): Went to Schönbrunn Palace (which is absolutely stunning, gardens are about the same level as Versailles), explored a bit of central Vienna, went up into the hills outside the city to get an amazing view, came back and got some rest.
Day 3 (May 28): Had some time for one last exploration of Vienna, then a 4-hour train ride to Prague, arrived in Prague (somewhat disoriented), eventually found my hostel, checked in, met with Elena, explored some of the Castle, had some hearty Czech goulash, walked over the gorgeous Charles Bridge at night, and went back to my room.
Day 4 (May 29): Met some people over breakfast at my hostel, "Czech"-ed out more of Prague, seeing Wenesclas square and stopping by the (small) Museum of Communism, saw the "pendulum" and the Jewish quarter, rested for a couple hours, then met with my new friends to enjoy Prague's drinks and nightlife.
Day 5 (May 30): One more day in Prague. More exploring of Prague's beautiful and well-preserved old town, then walked across the river and went to the top of the Petřínská rozhledna (a mini-Eiffel tower) with some of the best views in Prague, then headed back to the castle, walked around (in the heat!) and then ran into some people I met on the bus who are also from California (and we have a mutual friend!--what a small world), bought a souvenir, met up with some other roommates from my hostel to have some dinner (which was cheap and bountiful!), and explored a little bit more of Prague by night.
Day 6 (May 31): Had a flight from Prague to Treviso, arrived and took the 1-hour bus into Venice, instantly I was gawking at the beauty of Venice before realizing that it's very easy to get lost on its many small streets, but found my way to my hostel, then set off by foot, discovering Venice is not as small as you'd imagine, wandered for several hours, hitting several dead ends, before finally making it to the Piazza San Marco, then went back to my hostel for free dinner (yes!), made friends with everyone there, and we all went out for drinks.
Day 7 (June 1): In Venice all day. I was supposed to meet a friend from Berkeley to explore all day, but she was feeling sick :(. Anyway, had a lunch with some hostel-mates from Chicago and Melbourne, then set off on foot to continue exploring the city. Walked all the way to the opposite end of Venice and relaxed in a park for a bit before returning for another free dinner and drinks again with my lovely hostelmates.
Day 8 (June 2): Train from Venice to Rome. Met some (more) Canadians on the train, this time from the islands offshore from Vancouver, glimpsed at Florence as my train passed through, saw the Tuscan countryside go by, arrived in Rome in the rain, had a very hard time finding the tourist information desk, checked into my hostel feeling damp and sour, headed to the Colosseum area (looking first at St. Peter-in-chains church), saw the Colosseum and instantly and continuously had my jaw on the floor, went inside, continuously awestruck at its immensity and its age, ran into someone who was staying at my hostel in Venice (small world!), left and wandered through the streets of Rome trying to get to Piazza Venezia, instead stumbled across the Trevi Fountain, had a (cheap but not very delicious) panini, rested back at the hostel, returned to central Rome for a beautiful night walk.
Day 9 (June 3): Only full day in Rome. Went (in the rain) to the Vatican, saw St. Peter's Basilica (along with thousands of other tourists), walked (with the rain stopped) towards the Tiber and across it, visited the Pantheon, had a quick lunch and some of the best gelato in Rome, walked back to the Vatican to hike up to the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, walked all the way up and was brutally exhausted and sweating like 10 pigs, sat down for half an hour and met a fellow traveler who turns out to be also studying at Berkeley (seriously, what a small world!), took in the view, descended and got a ticket for the pope's general audience on Wednesay, went back to the Roman Forum before it closed, was amazed at its history, went back to the hostel and met some people (Canadians!) with whom I went out and explored more of Rome by night!
Day 10 (June 4): Last day. Rome! Woke up, had breakfast, headed directly for the Vatican to make the 10:30 general audience, arriving at 10:25 but finding a front-row space (I was like 6 feet away from the pope! It's simply amazing.), was surprised to find that I was right next to (what did I say about this being a small world?) the girl I met yesterday who also goes to Berkeley. Very cool, indeed. So afterwards, we went to lunch (recommended by Rick Steves!) and to the Vatican Museum (amazing, overwhelming really), saw the Sistine chapel then I headed back to the hostel to pick up my stuff and head straight for the airport for my 9:30 flight. Arrived back at Stansted at 10:45 London time, waited for a long time to get through passport control, until 11:30, headed out and was just in time for the 11:35 bus (yes!) back to Stratford and back home (well, home for the next 2 days).

25 May 2008

One Last Trip!

Yesterday I went on the Monopoly Pub Crawl. It is a relatively big "tradition", if you will, of London. It's in the book 101 Things to Do Before You Die. And I finished it! Basically, the point is to travel around London all day and visit all the spots on the London version of the Monopoly board; ideally, one would have a drink at a pub at every stop. I went with a group of about 10, and it was a blast. Our tour didn't take us to a pub at every single stop on the board (we only ended up going to 10 pubs), but we made it to the end. Definitely one of those days to remember.

Anyway, tomorrow morning (really early, yet again! 6:30 am!) I'm leaving on my flight to Vienna (Bratislava). I'm really excited to finally see some of Eastern Europe (Prague) and some cities that I've always wanted to visit (Venice and Rome). And for the first time since I've been in Europe, the weather looks like it'll be T-Shirt weather!

Ooh, less than 2 weeks and I'll be back home. I simply cannot believe it. All I can do is enjoy each moment.

I'll be back in 10 days!

The Monopoly Pub Crawl

Yesterday I embarked on the Monopoly Pub Crawl with several friends. What an experience. It's included in the book 101 Things to Do Before You Die.

An all-day drinkfest. We went with a tour, granting us drink specials at every stop!

20 May 2008

More London Exploring, More Exams

Another post, another impending exam. I guess I need the stress of last-minute studying to push me to actually write a post here.

So, yes, another exam tomorrow, my 4th. This one's on Development Economics, and it's a class I took in the Fall, so I'm hoping I can remember at least some of it well enough to do decently. And I'm also hoping that I do better than I did on my previous exam. AND! Thursday, I have my last exam. (I know, 2 exams in 2 days, but at least they're not on the same day!)

So a little update. I haven't been doing much, just studying, or I should say, attempting to study. It's really hard to focus sometimes, and there are so many things that can distract you.

I went exploring on Sunday. I used buses all day, so I maxed-out my Oyster card at 3 pounds, as opposed to 5 pounds for taking the tube. I went to Shoreditch, walked around the Columbia road flower market, which is really cool and very popular apparently--you can haggle to get, say, a potted plant for 2 pounds. Walked around a bit, and then I stumbled across the Hackney city farm, which is a small farm, mainly for children, in the middle of the city. I checked it out, and I got to see them shearing a sheep--cool! But it was smelly! Anyway, after that I hopped on a bus to Charing Cross where I went to the National Portrait gallery, just because I felt like escaping in a museum. It's really cool. I spent a lot of time in the 16th-18th century galleries, looking at all the official portraits of kings and queens and lords and dukes, etc.--it's amazing how much history is here in London. I wish I had more time to take it all in.

But, alas, this next weekend will be my last in London. I will then take off on one last trip through Europe, hitting some of the major cities I haven't seen yet--Vienna, Prague, Venice, and Rome. I really wish I had more time; then I would try to fit in Barcelona, Madrid, Stockholm, Budapest, and more of England (Liverpool, Stonehenge, Lake District). Oh, well, that means I'll have more to see when I come back next time!

OK, gotta get back to the books! Yet, somehow I don't feel as worried about this exam as I did about the last one. Hmmm.

08 May 2008

Beautiful Weather Always Comes During Exams

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Updated the blog layout... Sometimes you need change. Sometimes you're just bored. And sometimes you have two finals to study for but will do anything but study for them!

Yesterday was simply summery and sublime in London. It was warm (23C) and brilliantly sunny; absolutely cloudless--a rare day indeed!

So naturally I had to go out.

Oh, it's really nice outside today also! Is it some sort of perverted law that the pleasantness of the weather outside is inversely proportional to the obligations that require one to remain inside?

More details later, when I decide I've had enough Austrian Literature.


Thursday, 8 May 2008

I have TWO final exams tomorrow!

And I'm feeling the stress. Just a little.

Must study. And print out some things, and pick up the "accompanying notes" for my exam schedule.

Laters for now.

05 May 2008

Banana Pancakes

...Delicious! I think I will make them more often.

I followed the recipe on the pancake mix box, but I also added cinnamon - I'm such a risk-taker.

The weather's supposed to get up to 20C today and for the next few days! Spring has finally arrived in London, and it's... a lot like winter in LA.

Just over one month until I fly back home! Wow.

Well I should get some studying done, 2 finals on Friday :/

Cheers out.

26 April 2008


I just got back from the Philippines/Singapore 2 days ago. I had a wonderful time. It was really exciting, actually, and completely different than what I've been seeing here in Europe. I really want to tour Asia now! It seems that the more I travel, the more places I want to go. If only I could be so free...

Singapore was awesome. It's totally different than anywhere in Europe of America, but everyone speaks English. So it's the easiest city in Asia to get around. In one word, it was manageable. The heat was overwhelming, though. Mind you, I had just came from snow falling in London two days before my departure. I loved it though, met some really nice Australians at my hostel, and they're all going through Malaysia, Thailand, or someplace more "exotic", or they're on their way to Europe.

And my week and a half in the Philippines was also nice. Eye-opening, too, to see the huge rich-poor disparity in Manila. I was lucky enough to be staying with my Aunt in Manila and other relatives in the province, so I got clean water and air conditioning! The islands have the most natural beauty I have seen so far in my travels. It's all so green! I didn't have enough time, though. With a few more days there, I could join my relatives to travel to Cebu and Bohol (home of the famous chocolate hills). Next time, then...

But now to London. After arriving on Wednesday night (after a 13.5-hour flight and an hour waiting to get through passport control!), I unpacked and soon after fell asleep. 7 hour time difference. 10 hours asleep--sounds good! But the next day, Thursday, I actually was already busy. Not with schoolwork or anything, but I met a friend of mine who is studying in the Netherlands. Kristen was traveling with her friend Lana, and I showed them around London. In half a day we managed to see many of the major sights! Believe it or not, we hit the following sights: the British Museum, the West End, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, National Portrait Gallery, Whitehall, Parliament, London Eye (didn't go up, but they did the next day), Tate Modern, St. Paul's, the Monument, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, King's Cross, and Brick Lane for dinner! It was absolutely exhausting, but I love showing people around and exploring more of London.

They left yesterday, after seeing the Changing of the Guard, having an English Breakfast, and going on the Eye. I saw them off at Liverpool St. Station and then did a little shopping for myself at Primark and had lunch at Camden market.

And today, I woke up feeling tired and nauseous. So I stayed at home and took care of myself, accomplishing very little even for my standards. I took a nap at an awkward time--5 to 8 pm. I'll try to force myself to sleep soon.

07 April 2008

About to Embark... Again

Well, I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Singapore, than the Philippines for my cousin's wedding. I'm excited, though not as much as I would have been if I hadn't been traveling everywhere this year.

I really should keep packing/getting ready. I still have a lot left to do, for it being 9pm already. I really want to spend more time writing about all that's going on, but I really don't have time. So I just take lots and lots of pictures. I'm sure I have several thousand by now. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, that means I have several million words' worth of memories stored in my photos!

Yesterday: After exploring in the snow (yay!), I grabbed some lunch at the Brick Lane market (my Sunday favorite), then went to St. Paul's to see the olympic torch! I got a good space, at the front of the crowd on the sidewalk. And we waited, the royal band playing. Meanwhile, there were a lot of protesters who started a yelling contest: "Free Tibet!" they'd say, then all the Chinese there (and there were a lot) would respond, "One China!". Well, what eventually happened is that the torch passed by inside of a bus instead of being ran down. Disappointing. I hopped on a bus, though, and got off at Whitechapel, which is further down the relay route. There were fewer people there (it's not in central London), so I had plenty of space to (finally!) see the torch come down the street, surrounded by a mob of police officers. It was pretty cool, a huge crowd of people were running alongside the torch runner on the sidewalk, so I joined in for a few blocks. There were a few protestors, but they weren't as loud as at St. Paul's.

Ok, that's all for now. I don't think I'll be able to post for several weeks, as I'll be in Asia! Until then, Cheers out!

06 April 2008

Let It Snow!

A few days ago, it was beginning to feel like spring in London. Sunny, long days and temperatures climbing above 15C (near 60F) for the first time since... November(?).

Well, that didn't last long. Today I woke up late, because my bed felt extra cozy. And I opened my windows and was greeted with the coolest surprise: SNOW! Everything outside was covered in a layer of snow.

I never would have thought that the first snowfall of the winter in London would take place on April 6. But I'm not complaining. I'm going to go frolick outside now! Cheers out!

28 March 2008

A Couple Days in the Netherlands

Easter Sunday in Bruges


My trip began with yet another early morning RyanAir flight from Stansted. By know I knew the routine: Wake up at 3:30, get my stuff ready, walk to the bus stop at 4:15, hopefully get to Stratford by 4:45. Get on the National Express coach bus, buy a return ticket for £15, put on my ipod, and maybe start falling back asleep as the bus arrives at the airport. Then, depending on whether I'm running late for my flight, I dash through the terminal toward the RyanAir counters. This time, there was a long queue of people waiting to start their winter holiday (can I say "snowcation"?). Plenty of people had skis and snowboards to check in, especially on my flight. Then the same routine of security, buy a bottle of water and a snack for myself at the Boot's just as you exit the security screening, and trek to my departure gate. Yes, it's quite a routine.

Arriving at Eindhoven airport, they kept us on the flight for several minutes because the gate wasn't ready for us... Grumble.

22 March 2008

Off on Another Trip

I'm leaving in a few hours (3 hours exactly!) for my next trip, to Belgium and the Netherlands. And I'm going to be busy the next few weeks as my friend Matthew is staying with me here in London, PLUS I have a paper due, an exam, and a play to perform in! So don't expect many posts then, sorry.

21 March 2008

Youtube Videos

Hey everyone! Just wanted to put in a quick plug for my travel videos, which I am uploading to youtube (as quickly as my internet will let me...).

Check it out here:

18 March 2008

St. Patrick's Day! And Things Are Getting Busy

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, when everybody's Irish! I definitely wore plenty of green.

On Sunday, the 16th, London held its St. Patrick's Day parade. Despite the weather being stereotypically drizzly and windy, I enjoyed watching the characters parading by.

There also was a big festival in Trafalgar square, which I checked out for a little bit.

Meanwhile, my life at uni continues, with my exploring someplace or discovering something new everyday. Contrast that with my flatmates, who are drowning in essays and the life of a first year, especially the girls. The other boys in my flat are hardly ever around. In fact, I just saw one of them today for the first time in days.

Since St. Patrick's Day fell on a Monday, I couldn't spend the day celebrating: I had 2 classes, an economics problem set due, and a rehearsal for the German play I'm in (a very small part!). Last night I worked until past 2 AM on my problem set, largely because I chose to review all the background material, basically teaching myself the first half of the course. I'm not complaining too much, because this was the only piece of assigned work I have had in 3 weeks.

But (I keep saying this, but it should be true!), school will soon pick up. After Easter, I have an exam, 2 performances of my German play, a 2000-word paper due and another paper--all in 5 days! And at the same time, Matthew will be coming to visit me, so I will need to find time to take him around London too!

How about a little taste of what I'm studying in my Architecture in London class? Yesterday, the class had our final "on-site visit", which was a tour of the regenerated riverside area around the old docks and a look inside City Hall. London City Hall, as I learned today, is a difficult building to describe. It's new (opened in 2002), and clearly "modern." I think it looks like a glass egg that has been sliced up horizontally. Inside, the building becomes harder to describe. I made the observation that it's very disconcerting to enter the building, as the floors slope up in a spiraling helix around the building. The walls are all glass, with metal supports and beams swooping through at odd angles. There are no traditional "edges" or "corners", because nothing intersects perpendicularly. As one walks up inside, the pathway winds around the inner chambers, and it becomes very easy to see the city's employees in their offices, meeting-rooms, and boardrooms. There is a large chamber, surrounded by glass walls, with bright blue-purple-y carpet, which is used for special events and presentations. People have observed that being in the building feels like being in a fishbowl, with everyone watching you from outside. City Hall is right on the river, looking across toward the Tower of London and all of the modern (and ancient) City of London.

15 March 2008

No Running Water

The water was switched off in our building this morning; it just came back on a few minutes ago. It's really hard to get by without running water. I luckily had water bottles that I could drink from, but still not getting to even wash your face in the morning makes you feel disgusting.

The past few days have been--uneventful. Really, I've been staying in my room, trying to force myself to catch up with Econ readings and to do the problem set due Monday. But it's really not working.

I talked with home for a while last night, trying to organize things for my trip to the Philippines next month. We were just trying to coordinate flights, and the website we were using to book wouldn't work. Sigh.

I forgot to call in to work to see if they had any shifts for today. Oops. I really should use this time to study, but I also need to buy some things...

13 March 2008

Waning Interest

Today in German class, only 3 people showed up, including me. Most of class was just a dialogue between the teacher and one student. So no one could learn much. We talked for a while about how hard it is to teach an introductory-level business German class.

I went to Sainsbury's. Bought bread and milk and some other things. Came back to my room and spent the rest of the day basically wasting my time online, videos (ANTM 9) and other distractions.

I'm looking for flights to the Philippines now for my cousin's wedding in April. I'm trying to plan a 2 day stopover in a city on the way there--either Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, or Tokyo. But it's hard to book such a flight online--I've only been able to get it to work for Singapore and Bangkok, and Bangkok was very expensive. So I may be going to Singapore in a few weeks, believe it or not!

Speaking of travels, some study abroad-mates are traveling to Dublin this weekend for St. Patrick's Day. I'm totally jealous. But just one more week and I'll be heading for Belgium and the Netherlands. Ah, the life. Seriously, without travel I would be completely bored now. The activities on campus are pretty limited, and I'm not really into going out every night like the regular British students do.

Ok, I'm going to get some rest. Mmm, bed...

12 March 2008

Gale-Force Winds

It's been really stormy and windy lately in London, very un-English of the weather. More like one of the massive pacific storms we get in California :)

From the BBC:
UK pounded by second severe storm

It is the second band of stormy weather within a few days.

Northern Ireland, north Wales and north-west England are being pounded by gales and heavy rain in the second band of storms to hit the UK in three days.

Forecasters say gusts of up to 80mph have hit Northern Ireland as the Atlantic weather front moves eastwards.

Motorists faced chaos as several major bridges were affected by the gales and some areas were placed on flood alert.

The second day of the prestigious Cheltenham horse racing festival has been abandoned because of the weather.

The course is in good condition but fierce winds made the huge marquees in the tented hospitality area unsafe.

The 55,000 people expected to attend the day's racing will get a full refund and the course is considering increasing its capacity for the rest of the week.

Travel chaos

In Cheshire, the M6 Thelwall Viaduct closed after three lorries overturned but there were no casualties.

The vehicles have been cleared but the eight-lane stretch of the motorway spanning the Mersey and the Manchester ship canal is still closed at Thelwall because of the danger from high winds.

There are two-mile tailbacks in both directions. High-sided vehicles are being advised against using the A533 Runcorn-Widnes bridge.

The Humber Bridge is shut to high-sided vehicles and has a 30mph speed limit for all other vehicles.

Some 750 homes have been left without power in Northern Ireland, and gusts of 85mph have been recorded in north Wales

A tree fell on to a coach in high winds on the A26 near Uckfield in East Sussex at 0735 GMT. Sussex Police said the vehicle was empty apart from the driver, and no one was injured.

Severe gales

Ian Jackson, from Liverpool coastguard, said the storms were likely to continue in the North West for most of the day.

He said: "The forecast is for the wind to decrease to force five, then perhaps come up again to force seven later on today."

Steve Crosthwaite, of the Highways Agency, is tracking the progress of the storm.

He said: "The winds will start to abate as the morning goes on but it will be very slow.

"But as the winds go over the Pennines, round about late morning and early afternoon, the eastern side of the country will start getting hit as well."

The Met Office has warnings of severe gales for all of the UK except northern Scotland and southern England.

Snow risk

The Environment Agency has three flood warnings and 24 flood watches in place.

BBC weather forecasters say a low pressure front could even bring snow to higher ground in parts of northern England and southern Scotland.

Later on Wednesday, the storms will move across central northern England and East Anglia.

Areas further south, which are still clearing up after Monday's storms, escaped the worst of the weather this time.

The Energy Networks Association said of the 30,000 people who lost power in those storms just "a few hundred" in the east of England were still without supply.

11 March 2008

Worked Today

I had to wake up early today. 5:55 am, to get to work at 7:30 near Embankment. It was an event, several rounds of serving coffee and clearning, nothing too bad. I also spent a lot of time going up and down the lift with trolleys full of plates, cups, etc. We from High Society (catering agency) were mixed with the regular IET serving staff, so there was a mix of people who knew what they were doing and where everything was and people who were totally clueless. I ate a lot, because I was hungry (having not eaten since 6 AM) and the food they served for lunch looked so good (beef strips sauteed with ginger, the beef was dry; salmon and haddock pie covered with mashed potatoes; vegetable lasagna, mmm; sides of salad). There was a cantina for their employees too, which had even more food for us. Needless to say, the food coma I fell into afterwards was very powerful. I fell asleep on the Tube coming back. I almost missed my stop. Almost.

10 March 2008

It's Raining, Raining

Weather Update
So after several weeks of relatively dry weather, the rain has returned to London. It began Saturday, some showers during the evening, then it began to really pour down just after midnight. Luckily I was back inside by then. Sunday was just cloudy with a few showers. And today, there was a downpour when I woke up around 9, but it stopped just before I left for class and actually cleared up with sun during the class. But it started back up again just as I was walking back from class, and it's been raining steadily now for the past hour.

25 February 2008

Mom in London

My mom and Ninang Lisa are visiting me in London this week. They arrived Saturday, on a flight that was delayed over an hour >.<

Saturday, I met them at Heathrow, then week took the tube to their hotel. We then traveled to Picadilly Circus and walked through the West End, having dinner in Chinatown and walking through Trafalgar Square to Westminster and Parliament, then walked more to Westminster Cathedral and ultimately Victoria. I got back to my room past midnight, and I wasn't able to work on my history paper (which was due today, Monday).

Yesterday, Sunday, I had to wake up early and I met the two of them at Westminster Cathedral, which was very convenient in a way, because the history paper I was writing yesterday was an architectural description of Westminster Cathedral itself. Anyway, after mass at 9 am, we hopped into a local pub and had a traditional English breakfast (eggs sunny side up, sausages, "bacon" aka ham, baked beans and sauteed mushrooms)--yum-o! We then walked to Buckingham Palace, where I thought the changing of the guard would take place, because there were tons of tourists flocking there at 11 AM. But, alas, no guard changing today, it would be the next day. So we walked through St. James's Park to the London Eye, which we went on! It was very nice. It was sunny as we walked through the park, but it became overcast when we went on the Eye. So, it wasn't as perfect as I expected. But the views were nice anyway. I don't know if it's worth £15, though (£35 combined with Madame Tussaud's). I'd prefer the views I got in the Alps :). After the Eye, we walked a bit along the south bank embankment, looking at the statues that are really humans. We then crossed the river and caught a bus to the Tower of London. By this point we were already tired from all our walking. We made it to the Tower around 2, just in time to catch the last tour at 2:30 given by a "beefeater," which was really fun and infotaining! So many stories of queens, conquerors, traitors, and executions! We got out before they closed down the Tower, but it started to London rain on us (aka shower), so we headed to the tube station and made our way to Baker Street to get to Madame Tussaud's before it closed. We made it in time, and we got to see humans that were really statues! Ironic, that we came all the way from California to see recreations of celebrities. There was also a Disneyland-style "It's a Small World"-style ride "The Story of London" which was very cute. It was sort of confusing to get out of Tussaud's, though, but we did, and got a bus to Oxford Street, where I bought a Sim Card for my mom's cell--I mean, mobile phone. I think the guy at the store stole the old sim card. Stupid Carphone Warehouse. We then walked around, looking for a place for dinner, settling eventually on a nearby pub. We sat upstairs and had the whole dining room to ourselves, right before they closed (there were a bunch of Italian mothers at one table talking, and all their kids at another table keeping themselves occupied; I presumed the dads were downstairs in the pub itself). We then parted ways, and I got back to my dorm around 10, in time to write my essay. I hope it turned out okay--I never wrote an essay after having had 3 drinks before!

And today, I had class in the morning. I escaped having to give a presentation in Austrian Literature (note to self: call my partner and make sure she's prepared for next week). I then had to print out my essay; the library was full, but I'm pretty sure my print credit was still -£21 so I went to the computing office in the Queen's Building. I re-reported my print credit problem and printed out my paper. Then I rushed back to the Arts building to turn it in. I then ate an empanada before my Architecture class started. We learned about early modernism, the beginnings of British Art Deco, and suburban planning after WWI. I returned to my flat to find a strong burning smell in the air. Someone must have overcooked their food. I then went to the kitchen to get some water and the burning smell was really strong. I looked in the oven to find it still on, and inside was a round block of black charcoal that looked like it was once a pizza. I opened the window and turned on the fan, hoping the fire alarm wouldn't go off. I don't know whose pizza it was; probably Nicholas. He's always leaving a mess with his cooking. Anyway, I had gotten out of my class relatively early, so I called my mom, who told me they were at the National Gallery. I made it there in under 45 minutes, taking the Central and Northern lines to avoid "severe delays" on the District due to a signal failure. Oh, London Underground, how you frustrate millions of people every day. I met with my mom and Lisa, and we quickly got back on the tube to do Abbey Road. We got our necessary Beatles-crossing shots, and headed straight for the Tate Modern (if you know the layout of London, they're nowhere near each other). The museum closed at 6; we got there are 5:15, so we went rushedly through the exhibitions, taking in as much modern art as one could in 40 minutes. When they kicked us out, we walked across the Millenium Bridge to catch a bus (an old "routemaster" style bus!) to Embankment, where I looked for a quick place to eat before our show, Mamma Mia. We ended up eating at Quizno's (they don't have all the sauces I love!) :X and then walking to our theatre. It was quite a walk, actually, from Embankment to our theatre, which was between Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus. But we made it, and we got to see Mamma Mia. It was lovely! I have Abba songs stuck in my head now (I'm listening to "Dancing Queen" as I type this--oops, should I admit that?). But it was a very fun show. My contacts were really dry on the train as I came back home, and I started tearing up as I rubbed my eyes. I wonder if the other people in the train thought I was actually crying?

In other news, I found out today I got an A in my German seminar! Yay! It's harder to get A's here than in Berkeley, so I feel really good about that.

I gotta get some sleep. I have to wake up at 6 tomorrow (yikes!) because we're going to Bath! I'm excited. But I gotta sleep. Good night!

23 February 2008

A Stop in Lucerne

It was my fourth day in Switzerland and time to say auf Wiedersehen to Interlaken. My next destination was Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland.

To get to Zürich, there are two options: Going through Bern, or going through Lucerne (or, auf Deutsch, Luzern). Since I had already taken the route going through Bern, it was an easy choice that I would now stop in Lucerne.

So, for one last time, I trekked from my hostel across town to the east train station. And guess who I saw - Alex, the Taiwanese guy from my hostel. He was on his way to Zürich too, and we got on the same train. The only thing was that he had a first-class ticket, and I was merely a member of the second class. It is still difficult for me, as an American, to fully accept Europe's still-established class system. :(

The train left soon, taking us along the shores of Lake Brienz and through forested mountains.

Atop the Schilthorn: James Bond in the Alps

Gondola lifts, a revolving restaurant, Bond memorabilia, and a disappointing small town.

After my unexpectedly intense ski day, I needed a calmer day to recover. But I wasn't going to stay in bed at the hostel all day, and I still had the second day of my 2-day train/ski-lift pass to use. So naturally, I returned to the mountains!

This day, I had a mantra: "Take it easy." The Eagles song provided a soundtrack to my day, as I traveled up and down gondolas and vowed to not let the sight of all those skiers drive me crazy.

Back from Switzerland

I flew back from Friedrichshafen late Thursday night. I had an incredible time in Switzerland, more fun than I have had in a long time (and that's saying a lot considering all the places I've been traveling).

Some highlights:

  • Skiing in the Alps--the Jungfrau! What a thrill! It was more thrilling for me, a very inexperienced skier, because even the curves of the "beginner" course knocked me off my skis several times! I have the bruises to show for it, but long after they're healed, I'll remember that experience.
  • My hostel in Interlaken, very cozy; I felt at home there, and I made around 10 friends there!
  • Spending time with my hostel-mates, who were all really intense skiers/snowboarders, was really fun! I'm now inspired to tackle more activities: Snowboarding, paragliding, mountain climbing, surfing, river rafting, skydiving! We'll see what I can get done.
  • The Swiss people. They're very nice, helpful, fun-loving, and laid-back. It's a great combination of German, French, and (a tiny bit of) Italian cultures.
  • Swiss trains! They're so clean, efficient. Everywhere I traveled on the trains (I was averaging 4 train rides a day), the views were spectacular. I was (metaphorically) suffocating from all the breathtaking views.
  • The downside: the cost. It was expensive, everywhere. But I'm used to it now, coming from London. It was hard to monitor how much I spent in Swiss Francs instead of euros, pounds, or dollars.
  • All the cities: Bern, Zurich, Luzern, Interlaken, Vaduz (in Liechtenstein!), Friedrichshafen and Ravensburg. I liked them all. So clean, efficient, yet relaxed at the same time. And gorgeous scenery everywhere.
I don't have much time now. The next phase of my European adventure continues: My mom and cousin are arriving in London today (in a few hours). So I'll be busy, busy, busy showing them around London, then going to Bath on Tuesday, and going to Paris Wednesday to Saturday. Whew!

PS. I have a paper to write, but it's pretty straightforward. OK, better get to it!

Cheers out!

22 February 2008

Skiing Near Death in the Alps

My trip to Switzerland began with an amazing first day. I was high on travel adrenaline, and the momentum of my trip pushed me onto the slopes on my second day.

I awoke on the top bunk in my 8-bed hostel room. Beyond the warm red duvet, the air was chilly and crisp. I had the usual hostel breakfast - slightly stale bread with communal marmalade. I bundled up and went to the Interlaken West train station to buy my ticket to the slopes. There was a 2-day pass for unlimited train, cable car, and ski lift use that cost about CHF100 (about $95). Expensive, but seeing how many cable cars, ski lifts, and trains there were, an unlimited pass seemed to be worth it. I would be skiing everywhere all day!

Soon my excitement about hitting the slopes would come crashing head-on with reality. And I would be involved in some actual physical crashing myself.

Interlaken: Skydiving, Skiing, Snowboarding, and Bouldering into Town

It was still the first day of my trip to Switzerland, and I had already seen so much, flying at 6am from London to Friedrichshafen then taking a ferry across Lake Constance and riding a train across most of Switzerland for several hours to Bern, which I quickly visited for one hour, and finally catching my final train into Interlaken. I arrived just as the sun was setting, and as I stepped off the train, I saw the final rays of the day splashing onto the snow-covered mountains. As if that weren't enough, there were two skydivers parachuting gently down into Interlaken.

I can't think of any better way to encapsulate Interlaken than that moment.

It was a perfect moment and a perfect welcome to town. I could already tell that this was going to be a fun trip...

Planes and Trains and an Hour in Bern

My trip began with yet another early morning RyanAir flight from Stansted. By now I knew the routine: Wake up at 3:30 AM, make sure my backpack is packed and ready, walk to the bus stop by 4:15 AM, hopefully get to Stratford by 4:45. Get on the National Express coach bus, buy a return ticket for £15, put on my ipod, and maybe start falling back asleep as the bus arrives at the airport. Then, depending on whether I'm running late for my flight, I dash through the terminal toward the RyanAir counters.

This time, there was a long queue of people waiting to start their winter holiday (can I say "snowcation"?). Plenty of people had skis and snowboards to check in, especially on my flight. I quickly passed through security, bought my bottle of water and a snack for myself at the Boot's next to the exit from the security screening, and trekked to my departure gate. Yes, it has become a routine, but an exciting routine, because each time I'm headed to a new destination. And it's hard to remain calm when you're a few hours away from being in the Alps!

Soon I was in the air and headed to Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Planning My Next Getaway

My "reading week" fell in the middle of February. This means that for one week, there are no classes at the university. It's meant to give students a chance to "catch up" with their studying. Of course, I took it as an opportunity for a one-week trip.

My destination?

Switzerland! I had been wanting to travel to this land of cheese, clocks, chocolate, and banks for a while. Since it would be mid-February, I was expecting a snow-covered visit. The Alps were beckoning!

14 February 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

So how's England?
It's a country--I think it's doing just fine. Oh, did you mean, "how is [life in] England [treating you]?" In that case, it's treating me just fine. I'm healthy and happy, though often exhausted from all the traveling I've been doing. But that's not really England's fault, now is it?

How are the Brits?
I don't think they like being called "Brits." I know the Scottish hate being called British--and don't even think about calling them English! The English, however, seem okay with it. Of course I'm lumping 50+ million people into one, much how the world lumps Americans together as heavy-set loud SUV drivers with the Bible in one hand, a double cheeseburger in the other, and a gun in the lap. [No offense to the heavy-set SUV-driving, etc., people out there!] So, it's actually pretty complex.

Wait, you mean ... there's a difference between Britain and England?
I'm surprised how often I have to explain this to people back home. Yes! Look at a map, and let me break it down: England is a ("constituent")country that occupies most (but not all) of the island of Great Britain. Also part of Britain are Wales and Scotland. Now, take Great Britain and add Northern Ireland. Voila! You now have the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." And furthermore, if you add all of Ireland, you now the British Isles. Got it?

So what's British food like?
Ah, British (Er, I mean, English) food. At first I didn't know much about what was traditionally eaten here. All I knew was fish and chips, and that they ate haggis, which is a sheep's stomach--stop, it's already too disgusting to be eaten. Oh, and I also knew that they drank tea all the time. Well, the culinary spectrum of English foods offers more than that! I'll start with breakfast: English "bacon" is what we call "ham." And they eat beans with breakfast. It's fascinating! (You'll have to decide for yourself if it's tasty!) But it's definitely more filling than a "Continental" breakfast.
Walking through the grocery aisles one can realize what the English like to eat. There is a lot of curry. Apparently curry is now the national dish of the UK. (They love it on their wurst in Germany, by the way.) There isn't a lot of frozen food that you can just microwave. And the food spoils really quickly! They just don't have many preservatives here. Oh, there are many good pastries and pies--"Cornish pasties" are a good lunch on the go. And there's a lot of potato dishes. One big thing is Sunday Roast, which is roast beef with potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding (which is spongy bread--just imagine batter baked in muffin tins). They also have "brown sauce" which is their equivalent of barbecue sauce.
Needless to say, coming from L.A., I miss the convenience of having lots of good, cheap food from all over the world available. No Mexican food, and the avocados here are just weird. But there is a good amount of Bengali cuisine available, and if you can find it, just as much variety of food from around the world in London. I had some delicious Ethiopian food this Sunday. But still, no Mexican food! But lots of baked beans.
Oh, and the tea! There's a lot of tea here. And lots of biscuits to go with the tea. But "biscuits" refers to something between what we call "cookies" and crackers. They're good--especially the "digestive biscuits."

Ok, I've gone on enough about the English and their food. Any other questions?

When are you coming home Jason?!
Oh, I don't want to think about it yet! Not that I miss home (I do!!); I just don't want to think that my year abroad is almost over.

Well, if you must know, June 7 is the last day of my housing contract.

Not Getting Done

I'm leaving for Switzerland tomorrow! I'm excited. But my plans have just changed:

My friend Elena (from orientation in London) said that she would meet me in Interlaken. Well, turns out, she couldn't get a plane ticket! What that means is that yet again, I will be traveling on my own. I'm not exactly excited about it; I was looking forward to having a travel buddy. But I'll manage.

And I'll just remember, I'm going to Switzerland! How exciting!


And now for a little recap of the rest of my day.
German class today was very... let me say, intimate. And not in the way you'd think (especially with today being Valentine's day). There were only 5 people in the whole class! So, the teacher called on each of us a lot. Which was good, in a way, but most of us didn't know what we were exactly talking about (We're learning about the different types of corporations/partnerships, etc., and "corporate culture" in Germany. It's somewhat interesting, but full of unfamiliar vocabulary.

Anyway, after class, I went to the library to print out some of the documents I'll need during my trip to Switzerland. Well, (as happens usually when I try to do the laundry) there were some major obstacles in my way. First of all, the first computer I tried to log onto wouldn't let me, because it would turn on, but it would freeze before getting to the login screen. Okay, I thought, That's happened before. I'll just use another computer. So luckily there was another free computer available (usually the computer lab is totally full). I logged on (yay!) and went to print out my hostel reservation. Well, guess what?! It wouldn't work! Because I had no "print balance." Weird, I just added £2.00 to it a few days ago and haven't printed anything out since. So I check my print balance on the computer and, to my disbelief, not only is it out of credit, the balance was -£21.48!

Unbelievable! I double-checked to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Then I asked the library help desk about it. The guy was very polite and said that he had seen this problem before but couldn't do anything about it (what?!); instead, he referred me to the university-wide computing services office. So I had to pack up all my stuff and walk to the Queen's Building (and up 3 flights of stairs) to the Computing Office. I told them my problem and the receptionist was sympathetic but their "expert" wasn't. I gave him my name and login ID so they could check my account. I then told them, "I have to print pages out today." They then said to just add £1.00 of credit to my balance.
"But I have -20 on my balance!" I said.
"Then add a pound and you'll have 80 pence."
"No, I'm down 20 pounds, not 20 pence!"
Haha, turns out the man thought I only had a 20 pence deficit, not 20 pounds! No wonder he was so umsympathetic! Well, upon this clarification, he consulted his colleague who thought it would be something with one of their drives. They should be working on it soon. As for me, I was able to print out my pages on one of the Macs they had in their office and just pay for it in cash.

And I came back to my room. I'm leaving for a week, so I have to finish all the perishable food in my fridge. Therefore, I made an omelette--ham, cheese, and onion! It was delicious. I put pancake mix into the eggs to make it extra fluffy (thank you, Ihop!). And now I'm here, trying to get everything organized before I leave early tomorrow (4AM!).

Thursday Morning

I woke up (relatively) early today, so that it would be (slightly) easier for me to wake up really early tomorrow. (My flight to Friedrichshafen is at 7AM, so I have to leave my flat by 4AM :X!)

So, after moaning and groaning in bed and forcing the lights on, I got up around 8:30 and made myself some tea. Took a shower, and headed out to get some errands done. First, I had breakfast. I went to The Curve, which is the cafeteria on campus. I always walked by there in the mornings on my way to class, but I never had eaten breakfast there. Today I did. I just had some British bacon (basically ham), eggs and hash browns. The quality of the food was--okay; the bacon was a little too salty and the potatoes too dry. But it cost less than 2 pounds, so I didn't complain.

Then I walked down to Sainsbury's to get some shopping done. I just needed soap and laundry detergent. But I also got some snacks for my Switzerland trip tomorrow.

While at the grocery store, I looked at the "Reduced to clear" shelf, because there are usually some good deals there if you don't mind food that's about to expire. As I looked at the food, I noticed the expiration dates: 15 Feb, 16 Feb... "Hmmm," I thought, "weird that they're putting food on clearance when it's not due to expire for another week!" Then I looked at my watch and saw today's date: Feb 14. Oh, wow! It's already Valentine's Day! I hadn't even thought about it! I thought it was still like the 9th or 10th. Silly me!

Ok, I have to get ready for German class now, cheers out!

06 February 2008

I'm Sure It's a Super Tuesday Somewhere

I really mean to keep this more updated, I just end up doing so many other things during the day! I went to Sainsbury's today, having some "Perfect Fried Chicken" along the way. I didn't have class, but spent much of the rest of my day planning my mom's visit at the end of the month.

Anyway, I'm back from Munich! I had a wonderful time there. It seems that each of my trips out from London keep getting better. I saw some awesome scenery, the Bavarian alps and Schloss Neuschwanstein (covered in snow!!!), and I had some good times with people at my hostel.

Traveling really is addictive! I can't wait until I leave on my next trip, which will be to Switzerland at the end of next week. On the other hand, it is really stressful and exhausting to travel all the time. I'm glad that I finally have one weekend in London this week. I'll finally get a chance to do some schoolwork and actual work to earn some pounds.

Speaking of schoolwork, I have a lecture early tomorrow so I have to hit the sack!

31 January 2008

Another Weekend, Another Country

I'm off again (actually RIGHT NOW!) to Germany for the weekend! I'm going to be in Munich and Fussen, to see the famous Neuschwanstein castle.

I'll be back in London Sunday evening, and I'll have finally one weekend in London next week!

Cheers! I gotta go!

27 January 2008


Flights are so cheap in January. It only cost me £10 to buy an EasyJet flight from London to Nice, right in the heart of the Côte d'Azur, or French Riviera. I had just visited Florence the week before, and had already booked my trip to Munich the next weekend, so I thought I might be traveling too much, making three trips on three consecutive weekends. I felt that I might be neglecting London and my flatmates and my studies. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to escape the dreariness of London in January for the (hopefully) sunnier and warmer South of France.

And I'm so glad I went.

Back from My Nice Weekend in Nice

Just got back from another weekend in another country! I was in Nice, France, and visited Monaco and Cannes. It was spectacular. Some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. I definitely recommend visiting the Côte d'Azur!

I'm really tired now, as is expected for a travel day, so I'll try to update with details of where I've been soon!

21 January 2008

Pisa and Firenze

I'm back from my weekend in Italy. It was beautiful, interesting, full of art, paintings and sculptures galore, and I got a good sampling of Italy.

But I went through an ordeal getting back from the airport! It was just a series of setbacks, and I was tired, stressed, angry, totally exhausted, hungry, dehydrated, dirty, and sleepy, which doesn't make a good combination.

Flew over the alps. Arrived at Pisa's Aeroporto Galileo Galilei.

First impression? Interesting.

16 January 2008

15 January 2008

Recent Explorations of London

I really enjoying the university class schedule here in London. 3-4 day weekends every week and only 2 hours of lecture during each of the other days has provided me with so much free time, which in theory should be spent studying and for self-betterment; however, I choose to engage in a more exciting form of self-betterment: Exploring London with every chance I get!

And for the sake of thoroughness, I hereby present a summary of what I've been doing recently, organized day-by-day:

Last Tuesday, January 8
  • The second day of classes, but I don't have any classes on Tuesday.
  • I was still recovering from being sick (British - "ill") over the weekend. I stayed inside.
Wednesday, January 9
  • Economics class early, 9 to 11 am. Doesn't seem too hard. But it's econ, and the professor has a noticeable accent (Italian I think). What is it with economics professors coming from foreign countries? I guess filtering the lectures through a foreign accent is one way for the university to make economics somewhat challenging ;)
  • Finished class at 11 am. And that was it! What a good feeling to be done early. However, I again stayed inside for the rest of the day, occupying my time with games and online distractions.
Thursday, January 10
  • I had my German Business class from 12-2pm. Even though it was totally in German, and many students in the class are native German-speakers, I could understand most of what was going on (for now).
  • It was Thuy An's birthday! And it was about time to get all the EAP people together for a mini-reunion of sorts. We ended up having dinner at Brick Lane then heading to the Hayfield afterwards for drinks. A good evening was had.
Friday, January 11.
  • No class today! So I just sat around lazily.
  • But I then decided to get up and do some exploring before it got dark (i.e. before 4 pm--though the days are beginning to get longer now). I ended up walking to Roman Road, which is about half a mile from my university. There wasn't that much to see, just a street lined with small stores. It's East London, though, so the stores weren't exactly charming. But it was nice to see the area at least. There were some new housing developments nearby though, so it wasn't all old and rusty, either.
Saturday, January 12
  • I explored Hyde Park, Mayfair, and Marlyebone. It was a sunny and crisp January day, and there was a protest against the U.S. taking place at Marble Arch. Hyde Park had a good number of people enjoying what was left of the sun, and I walked around and took some pictures.
  • Mayfair, just next to Hyde Park, is a very posh neighborhood. There are exclusive boutiques, expensive car dealerships, clean but nondescript flats, and several embassies (including the U.S.'s). It did feel very stuck-up, though.
  • Then I walked north of Oxford Street to explore the neighborhood of Marylebone (I'm really not sure how to pronounce it but I think that's how it's spelled). It was just a neighborhood--some shops, some pubs, a church here and there. It was pretty nice, and it's definitely in a good location. I was getting tired, and it was nearing the 4:00 sunset, so I headed back and didn't do anything in the evening.
Sunday, January 13
  • Another adventure on foot! I left my flat around 2 in the afternoon and started walking down the Regents Canal, following the path that hugs the canal. I walked all the way down to Limehouse basin, where the canal meets the Thames. I then walked along the Thames all the way to the Tower of London. That's over a mile, I think. It was nice, though, seeing all the new buildings being put up along the waterfront, as well as the older, shipping-related buildings too. And I just kept going, to see what was beyond that next bend in the river. The thing is, there's no continuous path along the Thames at that point, so I had to keep zig-zagging from the street to the river to keep my track. It was rewarding, though, to reach Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, before it even got dark.
  • Getting back from the Tower of London involved dealing with the closure of the tube station at Tower Hill (yet again, "planned engineering works"). So I hopped on the DLR and took that back to Bow Church and walked back from there, picking up a chicken sandwich and fries from Fast Food Corner for dinner.
  • Back in my room, I continued planning out my travels for this semester. I ended buying my tickets to Munich and Nice, because there was a sale!
Monday, January 14
  • German seminar in the morning. We just learned about the history of Austria in a nutshell from 1800 to today. No Arnold Schwarzennegger mentioned, though, so I feel jipped.
  • Lunch, baked some frozen fried-chicken breast and ate it with store-bought coleslaw.
  • Then I was off to my first field trip for my architecture class. We visited the Houses of Parliament and analyzed the exterior elements of the building. It was pretty interesting, and another excuse to see more of London!
  • After my class finished, I met up with Uncle "Boy" Sam and his wife Lillian for some dinner at Pizza Hut (which, here, is more upscale: it's actually a restaurant!) in Westminster. It was good, and nice to go out to eat!
Today, Tuesday, January 15
  • Woke up around 12. Oh, boy, I like to sleep!
  • I went to Sainsbury's. Bought some squash (I like the high juice, what can I say), meat, milk, snacks, and ingredients for mexican food! Maybe tomorrow I'll make a mexican meal.
  • Did some more "planning" of trips (mainly looking at destinations and prices) -- I might end up spending every weekend away from London! Almost.
  • Played some Roller Coaster Tycoon. Yeah, it's sort of an old game, but I brought it back with me from home and I've sort of become addicted to it in the past few days.
  • Had some leftover pizza from yesterday for dinner.

Okay, I have to be up and about in less than 9 hours, so cheers out for now.

07 January 2008

January 7: A Hectic Start to the Semester

Busy day today. It was the first day of classes for the semester, which meant I had to frantically scramble from department to department to confirm/drop classes and to figure out where the classes meet.
That itself isn't too bad, but add on top of that the fact that I am recovering from a bout of illness (a strong cold, maybe even the flu?!), and that I had 2 (!!!) essays due today. These essays counted for the majority of my grade in the two classes they were for. In total, I wrote over 5500 words in these essays. I poured all my energy this weekend into them (though my illness took most of my energy before I could use it).

But things just didn't seem to be going smoothly today either. I woke up groggy, sick, and tired, having stayed up until 3 to finish my papers. I forced myself to eat and shower, triple-checked I had everything essential in my backpack and headed off to get the registration form from Harry Gibney. He wasn't in his office, but I luckily tracked him down upstairs. I got my form, then went to the Econ department (up 3 flights of stairs! remember, I'm sick and weak), but there were no advisers there. I then went to the Arts building, where I changed my German classes and attempted to find the timetable for History. Turns out there is no timetable; I had to ask a departmental adviser. I was wandering the halls of the Arts building for probably 15 minutes, looking completely lost.

I then went to my first scheduled class, German (Austrian) Literature. I went to the classroom, but no one was there. I waited for another minute or so, double-checked the assigned room, then noticed a bulletin board saying that this class would not be meeting the first week. Doh! So I left and attempted to print out my essays.

I say "attempted" primarily because of my linguistics essay, which has caused me almost as many heartaches over the past week as its word count of 4098. First, I had to make a recording of American English and burn it onto a CD. Then there were these forms that I had to sign because the recording involved outside participants, etc. Then, the paper itself was really long! 4000 words--it turned out to be around 14 pages! That qualifies it as the longest paper I have ever written. But the problems didn't stop when I completed the essay late last night. I had to find a way to accurately display linguistic symbols, which required changing the font of the symbols to Lucidia Sans or whatever. Anyway, the computers in the library (where I went to print out my paper) didn't have this font installed, so none of my symbols showed up! It wouldn't work to change them to Times New Roman. So, I went back to my room, with about 5 hours left before the submission deadline, and tried to see if my flatmate with a printer was in so I could use it. She wasn't there. So I began to re-edit my paper, changing the linguistic symbols. But then I got the idea of converting it to pdf. After finding a site that converts files to pdf for free, it worked! I was able to print out the pdf of my paper and submit it with the CD of my recordings.

So my two big papers are done. Huge burden off my back. And suddenly I don't feel so sick anymore! It's amazing how stress really can affect your health.

I had another class today that actually met: The history of Architecture in London, from the Victorian era to the present. It seems like an interesting class, and it definitely will help me immerse more into the culture of London. The teacher warned us, though, that some of the readings are really dull and dense. But every other week, the class takes a field trip to analyze buildings firsthand! I'm excited. Next week we'll be looking at the Houses of Parliament (from the outside only; I already got to go inside, though :P)

After my hectic day of class scheduling (I went to the Econ department a second time, and they referred me to a certain professor's room, but she wasn't in... strike 2!) and paper-submitting, I was perfectly fine just wasting the rest of my evening, mostly on the web. For some reason, I was craving tomatoes today: I had tomato soup for lunch and I made some spaghetti for dinner. I also ended up spicing things up with some Cholula sauce. I really love the sourness and pungentness of it all.

I don't think I have any classes tomorrow... yay! Well, actually, not so yay, because I don't have a 4-day weekend anymore.

But I'm tired (as I often have been over the past few days, since I've arrived back in London), so I can sleep in! Good nite!