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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!