Archive for February, 2010

General Updates

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

So the past week has been extraordinarily stressful, but just as I decided to not complain about the days before leaving for London, I’ve decided to not complain here about my horrible flatmates. They don’t deserve the amount of attention I give them, even if they do cause me an undue amount of stress and anxiety. However tomorrow is the first day of March which heralds a period of both work and cultural enrichment. First though, the final show for my music radio class.
The pilot wasn’t exactly brilliant by any means. Listening to myself, a task I find very taxing, was even worse because I kept going “uh” and “um.” So I wrote out a complete script with every single word I was to say during the show. That combined with the RCS Selector working made the final much, much better than the pilot. I was exceedingly pleased with the show and will miss this class despite the 14 hours it required. I’ve been invited to the next class which is about podcasting, but I won’t be taking them up on it because a) I don’t think Dave was serious and b) I’ve got a lot of papers to write in the next four weeks. First there’s the paper for music radio which is 3,000 to 4,000 words and then there’s the paper for music marketing and a paper for Art and Society, neither of which are as long (1,000 and 1,500 respectively.) That’s what Thursdays and Fridays are for – paper writing.
However, Thursday and Friday nights are for cultural enrichment. This week Amanda and I are going to the Comedy Store on Thursday and then on Friday I’m seeing the Royal Academy of Music’s band (or symphonic wind if you want to be fancy.) The week after is Billy Elliot the musical (with the social programme) and on Friday, the Royal Academy of Music is hosting an accordion showcase which I will be attending. Then on the 18th I’ll be seeing The 39 Steps. Of course school comes first, but I’m really quite excited about this month, should be lots of fun.
This past weekend was also a cultural experience for me. The social programme took us to Stonehenge and Bath, both of which were very interesting. Stonehenge was…smaller than I thought it would be, but very remarkable none the less. I got a couple really amazing pictures, but since the weather wasn’t really cooperating, it was hard to take really great pictures. I got a postcard and a plushie sheep who has been named Shaun after Shaun the Sheep (original, I know.)
My one regret with Bath is that I didn’t have more time in it. We only had a few hours during which I spent a quarter of it at lunch and fifty percent in the Roman Baths where I drank some healing waters. However I did get to spend some time at the Jane Austen Centre and at the Bath Abbey. I’m planning on spending another day during my last week here at Bath though, if only so I can take the Jane Austen audio tour of the city. The Roman Baths were really something though, despite the rain. A bit boring, but in terms of the history and all that, very interesting. The best bit though was the acquisition of a teddy bear at the Jane Austen Centre who I have named Mr. Knightly. We watched Sense and Sensibility tonight.
So that’s it for now. I’ve worked out all the train stuff for my spring break trips as well as trip to Dublin in May (which also involves being on a ferry for three hours.) I also encountered my first group of football fans who were both very loud and very amusing. I’m not really a sports persons so seeing and hearing a bunch of people who are so enthusiastic about a sports match was greatly amusing to me. Until next time, whenever that might be, don’t panic.

I Made It!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I had a smooth arrival in Buenos Aires. I have lots of initial observations to report. On the 30 minute taxi ride into the city I noticed the juxtaposition of old versus new mainly in architecture.  It seems that on the outer edges of the city the buildings are mostly older but every now and then there is a modern looking tall apartment building interspersed between other shorter buildings. The architecture in the barrio (neighborhood/area) where my apartment is is very old, classic, European. My apartment building looks to me like it should be found in France with the wooden shutters, wrought iron balcony, and the marble accents. My apartment is located in Palermo which is a very nice area with lots of restaurants and night life close by. The only downside is it is quite far from the university which is in Belgrano, a neighboring barrio. It is at least an hour walk or a 10 minute taxi ride, we have yet to figure out the subte (subway) or the buses yet. There is a supermarket with an ATM ride around the corner from our apartment which is super convenient so no complaints as of yet. The people here seem very nice so far. The taxi drivers don’t speak English but so far we have been able to just tell them the address and it all works out. The cab drivers really liked us before we were told you don’t tip them. The social customs are also different, the personal interactions are more touchy-feely with a single cheek kiss as a greeting aor goodbye and we have seen lots of displays of PDA by the locals, nothing crazy just major kissing in public. Overall, the city is very green with lots of parks and trees lining the streets and the buildings aren’t super tall so it doesn’t make me feel claustrophobic. The lifestyle here is very different from at home. The time schedule is totally different. For example: Breakfast would be about 9-10 which is when the stores begin to open up, then lunch/pastry around 2-3, then a nap from 5-8 so  that at 10-12 you are ready to go out and get dinner followed by enjoying the nightlife until at least 4am. It seems outrageous at first but that was our time frame last night and it was pretty fun. When everyone is up and the area is vibrant it doesn’t seem as late at night as it really is.  At night everyone seems to come out and have a good time and it is a fun atmosphere to enjoy as I have never experienced it anywhere else.  The only bad news so far is our internet at our apartment isn’t working so I’m stealing wifi from an unsuspecting neighbor.  Hasta luego, Adios.

Possibly the best building in Edinburgh

Friday, February 26th, 2010

For my Architectural History class I have to write an essay about a building in Edinburgh. I decided to write about the Public Library because I love the library and I love the building. So today I went to take pictures inside the library. While I was taking my last picture a librarian came up to me and said that there is no photography allowed in the building. Luckily I already got the pictures I needed for my essay, but I am still a little confused why no photos are allowed. Usually people are not allowed to take photos because the flash could ruin a historic object…but I do not think that is their concern. It is probably some legal reason…maybe I will ask them. Anyways, my next stop was the Royal Commission on the Anciet and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). My tutor told us to go there in order to find plans and other photos of our building. Since I could not find any floor plans or elevations I decided to go there. It was like a 10 – 15 minute walk down Nicholson St./ Clerk St. I got there and told the receptionist that I am looking for the floor plans of the library. She told me to sign in and gave me a badge. Then she said that I have to put my coat and backpack in the coat and locker room. There was a sign in there that said NO PENS ARE ALLOWED IN THE LIBRARY. After I took my jacket and backpack off I walked upstairs to the library. I immediately walked to the person sitting at the desk because the whole library was intimidating. I just asked him how to find what I am looking for. He showed me on the computer all of the plans and pictures for the library. I printed them off and I did not even need to look at the original document because they were all digitized. I ran into another student from my tutorial working on the same project. I did also see many people who had large floor plans on big tables and were analyzing them. Then I saw rows and rows of boxes which I assumed had photographs.  I think it would be the best job ever to work there. They have all the photographs and plans of almost every building in Scotland! Ok, I might be exaggerating, but I would love to work there. I love looking at old photographs (as many people know) and digitizing them too. So after I printed off what I needed I had to go. But if I could, I would just spend days looking at all the historic photos. I guess you have to have a purpose to look at them. Here are some pictures of the Public Library in Edinburgh (Central Library)…

Kelly Goes To Buenos Aires! 2010-02-26 18:03:46

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I sacrified my precious naptime to write this! I started receiving complaints from the 6 people that read this : )

I wrote about my street flooding in the last post, but last Friday the whole city flooded! And unfortunately this time I wasn’t already at home. I went to a leather factory with my program and it started raining while we were walking. Didn’t think much of it until we looked outside 20 minutes later! Then the water started coming into the store. Eventually we were ankle deep. So we  huddled in the back until the rain let up, and walked up the street to catch a bus. Taxis are usually impossible to get in the rain, but we hailed one! Except when we got in he told us that he couldn’t take us to the neighborhoods we live in. We asked him where we could go…and he said nowhere, that his car couldn’t make it anywhere! Haha, thanks for getting our hopes up taxi driver. I did, obviously, make it home eventually. It took forever though. Then I sat and watched the news with Maria y Tolo, realizing how lucky I was that I didn’t have to swim home.

Last weekend was my first trip outside the city! I went to Gualeguaychu for Carnival. It took 3 hours by bus. We got there early, around 3pm and had lunch and went to the “beach.” Carnival started at 10pm, and before it was even over we realized how exhausted we were. We went back to the bus station and were thankfully able to change our bus tickets to an earlier time. Exhausting but it was still a lot of fun.

As of today, I’m officially done with my first class here. I had my final exam yesterday. But I think the real test will be Sunday night when I have dinner with my mom, aunt, and host parents…that will be interesting…

Hollywood in Edinburgh

Friday, February 26th, 2010

So yesterday I was walking out of the Public Library (which is next to The Elephant House) and I saw a few people across the street with lights and other equipment. I was curious, so I went closer. There was a sign that said “Filming in Progress.” I was so excited. In my head I was thinking, “OMG!!” So I calmly asked the guy setting up the equipment what movie they are filming. He said Burke and Hare. I have heard of the story of the murderers Burke and Hare when I was on many tours and ghost tours. Those tour guides mentioned that they were currently filming a film about them. So at that time, there was not a lot going on, but as I walked further I saw a few people standing outside a church dressed in old fashioned clothing with top hats. That was pretty cool. So I went back to my flat and told my flatmates. Some were interested in seeing it and possibly trying to become extras, so Calum, Harry, and I decided to go back. At that time they were preparing to film in a courtyard below the bridge. Right in front of The Elephant House there was a horse in a truck and there was someone in a top hat in the truck. As we aproached the filming location we saw a woman with a professional camera shooting pictures. We were asking some questions about who we were looking at. She seemed like she knew everything…maybe she was paparazzi. Anyways, she said that one man was Simon Pegg (who was Burke) and the other was Andy Serkis (who was Hare). Most people in the UK know who Simon Pegg is, but I have not seen any movies with him in it. But I do know who Andy Serkis is!! Does this ring a bell, “My Precious..”? Yes, he was Gollum (Smeagol) in Lord of the Rings! (He is also the boss in the movie 13 Going on 3o…good movie) It was kind of hard to see them because it was dark and raining, but I tried to get some photos. At that time they were not filming, but they were preparing to film. I am so excited for the movie to come out so I can see it! So afterwards I was curious of other movies filmed in Edinburgh…so I found this website about all the movies filmed here. They are filming Burke and Hare throughout this week, so maybe I will have othe movie star encounters. I will keep you posted.

Almost time to go…

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Less than 24 hours until takeoff… Bags are packed and Boarding passes are printed… Adios los Estados Unidos, Hola Argentina!

Weekday tappings

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Wednesday

For the next six weeks, I am taking history and culture classes.  My classes are in the afternoon and I am the only student.  The first day was great in the first two hours, but the last two were difficult. Grammar lessons are now a thing of the past.  With their passing, my reading skills in Spanish also passed away.  The lectures I now read are academic Spanish, which means the longest words I have ever seen.  Each one taking forty five seconds to a minute to read.  I can feel my teacher’s frustration and I can definitely feel mine.  Patience with my reading he told me, but he reads every other paragraph now.  That does help – hearing the large words, but I feel like I have regressed with my Spanish.  Last week I was very proud of myself.  In most situations I can explain everything I want to say, also mostly understand what someone says to me.  I was explaining stories with some speed, the words just coming to me, the conjugations being natural (no longer writing them on a chalkboard in my head).  Now I afraid that has left, but my teacher keeps explaining that this will really help my Spanish.  I know he is right, but I had more fun when it was easier!  Today we are going the Inca Museum in Cusco and I am excited about that.

Today I booked the trip to the Amazon for my brother and I.  After the jungle, we will go the desert!  To be very honest I did not expect myself to be so excited to see my brother, but I cannot wait to see him and to share this experience with him!

Thursday

Four hours is a longgg class.  It is very difficult to get through the whole time.  Another difficult aspect is the questions about the USA.  Every teacher I have had, except one, asks questions that, if answered, would force me generalize to the WHOLE country.  I always explain that it is not possible to answer with one answer and they usually respond with something like, “What do you know? Anything?”  Examples:  What do Americans eat for lunch?  What car company embodies America? That one was my favorite from yesterday.  I just gave my teacher what he wanted and I told him Chevrolet.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!! Oye, Oye, Oye!!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

So apparently I have to also go to school while Im here..whooppss I kinda forgot about that:) Orientation was Monday- Wednesday. It was a typical orientation except we had a break for ”Morning Tea” about mid morning and we did the Australian chant of “Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oye Oye Oye!” numerous times. At morning tea they offered coffee and juice (I know, no tea..??) and heaps and heaps of fresh fruit, muffins, mini pizza looking things, and quiche. And this wasnt just a few people. There are over 1000 students studying abroad at UQ from all over the world! We did an activity where they called different countries out and when they called yours you stood up. Im telling you, they called countries that I didnt even know exsisted! China won the most students award coming in with over 700 students, and thats not even counting all the smaller countries around China! Anyways, after all of this the taught us the Aussie chant and had us all yell it loud in the auditorium. Apparently they yell this at Rugby games a lot.. guess Ill just have to find out!:)

Yesterday, Wednesday, was Market Day. Market Day is when all the clubs, local businesses, and local bars come out and try to persuade you to become a part of them. I joined the Waterskiing/Wakeboarding club which I am sooooo excited about, club volleyball, club beach volleyball, and a few campus Christian groups. Overall I felt like it was a very successful day:).  Its so bizarre because clubs and businesses promote all these parties and endless bar tabs on campus, like its no big deal! Needless to say Aussies lovvvee to party, every single day of the week.

My camera is currently broken for those of you who care lol. Im thinking it is the sand that got in it during our trip to Fraser Island…my goal today is to get it to the repair shop and figure out what needs to be done.

O, I got invited to my first Barbie!!!! Not sure if it will be Friday or Saturday, but I will definitely fill you in on how that goes:)

I miss you all so much, but especially my little nephews, Grayson and Chandler:(. I have been watching alll the facebook videos on each of them and feel like I have already missed so much! I did get to hear Chandler say “I love you TT” which made my life. Hope all is well in the States!

I have wheels!!!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

My friend Marieke just bought a car today so now we can road trip places and not have to spend forever on the bus! Yay!!

One of the things I have missed most since I’ve been here is my car. Townsville is pretty big, “the biggest tropical city in Australia,” and because the public transporatation here is not that great, its hard to go out and do fun things without having your own wheels.

But, now we can actually go out and do things! So excited! :D

Angels of Thessaloniki

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Monday, February 22
11:45pm

When my dad was an early adolescent,  Yiayia and Papou essentially took in a Greek student while she was studying at Baldwin Wallace for four years. They were the people she called on when she needed help and they were ready and willing to be there as her family as she went through school. After she graduated, she moved back to her hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece and still lives here today with her husband Kostas. Her name is Olga.

Olga had seen Yiayia and Papou a couple of times since her time in the states, so they had kept in touch. Once Yiayia found out that I was planning to study in Thessaloniki, she immediately thought of her friend Olga and let her know that I would be coming. Olga expressed much interest in seeing me, so when I called a few days ago, we made plans to meet up on Sunday (yesterday).

When I walked outside to meet Olga yesterday, I found myself hopping into a Mercedes-Benz and being whisked off to Thessaloniki’s famous archaeological museum. The museum was beautiful and the displays were very well-done and informative. I found out that Dice were around in the 4th century BCE and that royalty were buried with beautiful gold objects. It was a beautiful museum and I’m glad that Olga and Kostas were so willing to show me around.

After the museum, they took me to a restaurant right off of Aristotle square. Olga said that 1. the restaurant is mostly called Aristotelus because it is just off of Aristotle square and 2. a lot of the people who like to go in and eat at this particular restaurant are writers, musicians, poets, celebrities, etc. She said this so nonchalantly that I decided not to make a big deal out of it at the time. But seriously, WHAT? I never would have known about this place if it weren’t for Kostas and Olga. They ordered a massive amount of food – mostly meat – and kept shoving food onto my plate without another word from me. After the desert compliments of the restaurant, they asked me if I wanted to go out for ice cream. Ice cream. After all of that food. I politely declined. As Olga and I walked through Aristotle square, we bumped into some of her friends who all seemed to be very nice. We then walked to her apartment which is less than two blocks from Aristotle square and is on the top floor which makes it the penthouse apartment. From their wrap-around balcony, you can see the Aegean Sea, the mountains of the old city, and Aristotle square. AND her home is beautifully decorated and sparkling clean. It was like a dream.

The Athanasiadis’s are such nice and generous people. I cannot wait to get together with them again sometime soon!