Archive for April, 2010

Another Lazy Friday

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I had two midterms on Wednesday. Yes I have school work some of the time! I would just like to say that my global econ professor is a CRAZY man. Class time is spent on off-topic rants about his chocolate lab and Aerolineas Argentinas. He is hands down the most unapologetically biased professor I have ever had. And I know how biased some of you think all my professors are! He confirms my suspicion of the Argentine belief that opinions should be accepted as facts. This idea has come up over and over again and always makes me laugh. I don’t have a good example now though but will try and remember them. I think most of my notes from now will be quotes of him saying ridiculous things so get ready for that! Anyway, my grade is a crapshot really. He’s kind of brilliant and told us not to write anything stupid. Vamos a ver.

A few weeks ago I bought a very expensive Eat, Pray, Love book in English. I read 100 pages that night, probably because it was so nice to have an easy English read. And because it’s really good. I’m actually not finished yet somehow but I recommend it. I will probably get back to that this evening or El Principito because I need the Spanish. Also have Los Secretos de Sus Ojos (Argentine film which just won the Best Foreign Film Oscar), which I haven’t seen yet; and Valentín (Argentine film we watched in class), which I recommend.

It’s cold here now but has been indecisive the past week. I just noticed some leaves that changed yesterday! I guess it’s fall although I’m trying to fight it. The Argentines think it’s a lot colder than it is. Maria doesn’t let me leave the house without a sweater.

London

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Last Thursday, Lindsay and I took a 4 day trip to London! It was great! We got on the train, and right when we got on I got a text message from Alistair (one of my flatmates). He said that all of the airports were closed in the UK because there was a volcano in Iceland and there was a huge ash cloud over the entire UK. It was not safe for planes to fly. Here is an article about that. Lindsay and I were seriously considering taking a plane to London…luckily we decided to take the train. After 4 hours and 45 minutes, we arrived in London. This was our first time in London so we planed to do everything.

We took the underground (tube) from King’s Cross to Victoria Station. It only took about 5 minutes to walk to our hotel. The hotel was an old row house and the location was perfect. After we checked in, we walked about 10 or 15 minutes to Wesminster Abbey. Unfortunately it closed about five minutes before we arrived. So we decided to take a cruise on the Thames River instead. This cost about 7 pounds compared to the bus tour which cost like 25 pounds! The cruise was perfect. We saw the Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, London Bridge, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge. The tour guides on the boat were not professional tour guides, but they were pretty funny. We passed by the Tate Modern (which is a Modern Art museum). The tour guide said that he went there a few year ago and left his wallet inside the Museum. When he came back a few hours later to get it, he found it on the floor and about 20 people standing around it taking pictures. This was because it was a modern art museum and they thought the wallet on the floor was part of the exhibit. (I thought that was funny).

Tower Bridge

After the cruise, we walked to 10 Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives. We went to the gate, as close as we could. We could definitely get closer than the White House. Then we saw that Trafalgar Square was about 10 minutes away, so we decided to go there. We planed to go there on another day, but we decided to do that then because it was so close. On the way, I saw a building that I recognized. I remember that I saw it on my flashcards when studying for my Art History text last year. It was the Banqueting Hall by Inigo Jones! (Those who have taken that class know which building I am talking about). We got to Trafalgar Square and there were so many people there. There was a huge fountain with statues of lions next to it. The National Gallery of Art was there, but we did not go inside. After that, we walked about ten minutes to Buckingham Palace. We saw a few guards, but they were not the guards with the fuzzy hats. Both of us were craving Italian food. So on the way back to our hotel we saw an Italian flag and it turned out to be a perfect Italian restaurant. We walked into a small restaurant with pictures of famous people on the wall that ate here before. I ate exactly what I wanted: Pasta with seafood…perfect. After a long day of traveling and walking we headed back to our hotel.

Banqueting Hall by Inigo Jones

Big Ben

The next day we woke up pretty early and headed to Wesminster Abbey. We were one of the first ones there and it was definitely good to beat the crowds. By the time we left, there were a lot of people. We took an audio tour of the Abbey. We saw where Mary Queen of Scots was burried and also where Queen Elizabeth (the first) was burried. After the tour, we took the tube to the British Museum. Here we saw the Elgin marbles and the Rosetta Stone. In the courtyard of the museum, they put this modern roof over it to enclose the space. I recognize this same roof from the National Portrait Gallery in DC! I remember when I went on a tour of the Portrait Gallery, they said that the roof was coppied from the British Museum. After the museum, we walked about  thirty minutes to our lunch place. This restaurant was recommended by Frommer’s and it said it was in the heart of the Financial District. When we walked in everyone was wearing suits or dressed up because they were coming from work. But it was a very good restauraunt. After that, we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral which was about a five minute walk. We walked into the Cathedral and I could not stop looking up at all of the details of gold mosaics and paintings. It was incredible. It was huge too! We walked 530 steps to the top to see an amazing veiw of London. Some of the stairways were very small and we even had to duck and some parts. Then towards the top we climbed these small, metal, spiral staircases. We finaly made it to the top section of the dome. I could see all of London from the top! If you are visiting London, I highly recommend climbing the 530 steps. It was totally worth it. After we managed to get ourselfs to ground level, we walked over the Millenium Bridge. This bridge is a modern bridge which was put there in 2000. In the sixth Harry Potter movie, this bridge is the one that twists and breaks. Then we walked about twenty minutes over to Covent Gardens. This is an area where there are great restaraunts, shopping, and there are always street preformers. We then arrived at the Lyceum Theater to see the Lion King!! It was amazing!! It was different than the other plays I have seen (Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia) because it was very visual and there were so many colorful costumes. For the Phantom of the Opera, I was listening to the orchestra the entire time. For the Lion King, it was interesting to see how the movie was interpreted to a play. After that, we took the tube back to our hotel.

St. Paul's Cathedral

View from St. Paul's

On the Millenium Bridge

We saw the Lion King!

The next day we went to Portobello Market in Notting Hill. This market was in the movie Notting Hill. I think this was one of my favorite things this whole trip. There were so many stands selling antiques, jewlery, and also food! It was the best. It is like the Eastern Market in Washington D.C. but ten times bigger! After the market, we walked to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. By that time our feet were killing us! We had walked so much the day before and that morning, that we decided to sit in the park for an hour and just take a break. The weather was beautiful so everyone was at the park too. There were a lot of people pattleboating in the river at the park. After our break, we had enough energy to walk to the famous department store: Harrods. It was pretty big. There was a whole section of teas, coffees, and chocolate. We had dumplings there for dinner. They were good! It was around 6:00 and we were pretty tired, so we just went back to the hotel and watched TV. It was nice to take a break.

Portobello Market

Kensington Gardens

2 Flowers

The next day was our last day. Our train back to Edinburgh was at 3:00 and we had to check out of the hotel at 11. Since we would have our luggage with us, we decided to have a relaxing day reading in St. James Park. As we were walking there, we walked by Buckingham Palace again. We saw crowds of people and realized that the changing of the guards ceremony was about to begin in five minutes! We did not even plan to see it! We heard a marching band coming down the street, and they were the Buckingham Palace guards! We are sure that we heard them play “All that Jazz.” After about thirty minutes, we walked over to St. James Park and just read for about an hour until we went to Kings Cross for our train. We were pretty early, so we went to Platform 9 3/4 to get onto the Hogwarts Express! After that, we headed back to Edinburgh. It was a great trip and I will definitely go back to London!

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace

On my way to the Hogwarts Express!

London, I Love You

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I realized something as I made my way from my dorm to the Comedy store. As much as I wouldn’t give my entire experience in London a gold star, I continue to really love the city itself. I actually came up with a list of all the things (and the numerous restaurants/cafes) I’m going to miss when I go home on June 1st. That’s what really hit me last night, all the things I’ve gotten used to that I’m going to miss. Sure, there are lots of things I won’t miss :cough:evil former flatmates, Euro-trash, rail closures:cough:, but I think there’s more that I will miss and those are things that I’ll remember 10 years down the line (as well as the evil former flatmates.)
Anyway, I just wanted to say that. My marketing teacher is an idiot (there are no classes on my birthday, just exams!!) but the paper for that class has be pushed back which is nice. Though that means I have three papers all due within three days of each other which kind of really sucks. Oh well, c’est la vie. I will give a review of my theatre experiences on Sunday. Until then (or whenever I actually update next) don’t panic.

More words used in the UK

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Here are a few more words and phrases that some people say here in the UK. Keep in mind that not everyone says these words, but these words are not usually used in the US. Since my flatmates are from different parts in the UK, they each say different sayings. But here they are…

Banter: Playful conversation

Cheeky:  it is a word used to describe someone who does something or says something sort of disrespectful and sometimes rude, but says it in a cunning way. Urban Dictionary

Munter: an ugly person. Urban Dictionary

Mingin: horrible/disgusting

Boost: Let’s go…”Let’s boost”

Steamin’/Blazin’/Wrecked/Fleein‘/Gassed/ Battered: drunk

Wee: little (used in Scotland)

Good shout: good idea

Brilliant: good

Mint: good

Crackin’: good

Dossing about/ dos: Bumming around/ to bum around

Pish: rubbish

Dodgy/iffy: sketchy

Lush (used in Northern England): used as “good” for things you eat and see

Cringe: bad…Urban Dictionary

Sound: an alright/good guy

On your tod: on your own…not with people

Chav/Ned: Someone who’s parents ignored them and now they drink too much, get pregnant, swear a lot, terrorize elderly people, scum, low life. Wears a track suit and starts fights

Pure: if you say it infront of a descriptive word like “pure brilliant” it means really brilliant

Whitey: to be sick after drunk

Cove: Man or guy (used in Lewis an island in Northern Scotland)

Are you wise?: Are you stupid (used in Lewis: an island in Northern Scotland)

Boke: about to get sick or making you feel sick

Stinkin’: ugly

Bumbag: Fanny pack

Scadge: I am going to go crazy or someone who is disgusting

Waffle/ Sprafin’/ Wittering : talking too much

Boot/bint: strict

Braw/that was braw: that was really good

A girl is braw: a girl is really pretty

Quid: pound (money)

Fiver: five pounds (money)

Dobber: idiot

Twat: stupid person

Howler: bad

Screamer: good…it is so good it was entertaining

Boot: Trunk of a car

Can’t be bothered/ Cannae be arsed: can’t be bothered…my flatmates say “I can’t be bothered” all the time!

Advice- Things To Know

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

So this post will be a compilation of things one must know before coming to Argentina and Buenos Aires aimed at Anna and my parents ;)

~ Businesses here are not customer oriented- they may refuse to serve you or ignore you

~ People here stare- all the time. And they don’t see it as rude, just normal

~ If you have blond hair/ blue eyes / fair skin or any combo- you will be exotic and not fit in here

~ Places here do not take credit cards, You must have cash on you at all times

~ Almost no one here speaks English, You are highly mistaken if you assume they will

~ All areas of the city are dangerous at night, never ever walk alone

~ The culture here is very “touchy” with lots or touching and kisses as greetings

~ If you speak no spanish it is a toss up whether the people will try to help you or give up on you

~ The police here are not trustworthy and I would not count on them- with $$ anything is possible

~ In the boliches you can be robbed and not even know it

~ Plugs here are either European or two v shaped prongs and 220v

~ There are places in the city that I will never go to because they are super sketchy

~ The accent “rioplatense” is hard to understand and speak for the first weekish

~ Also, the “lunfalda” (slang) is numerous and impossible to know at all times

~ The food is very different- emphasis on Italian, meat, no processed food

~ The taxis here can be extremely sketchy- never take one alone at night

~ Never walk alone at night in any part of the city

~ There will be dog poop all over the sidewalks

Things you should bring: Flat/comfy shoes, A cross body bag or clutch that is secure at all times, voltage converter, plug converter, small translator or dictionary, a city map (if you can), A purse with a zipper, ziploc bags, laminated copies of your passport, calling card, leggings, debit card, lock for hostels

Things you should not bring: High heels, travelers checks, drivers license, dollars in cash, Anything you cannot afford to lose

Random thoughts: Don’t book anything without asking me, register your debit card before you leave, check if you cellphone will work or be ridiculously expensive

Hope this is helpful :)

Steps To Go Abroad

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

I’m ready to definitively declare my NUMBER 1 RULE of advice for anyone studying abroad (or traveling abroad for that matter).

This is probably the most important thing I will ever say here!!!

Steps To Go Abroad
1. Switch to bank with Charles Schwab and apply for a Capital One credit card

(to be continued)

My Computer Is Back!

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Hola a todos! It’s been awhile, huh? I wrote an entry on my iPod the other day but was unfortunately not properly saved. Ah well it would have been outdated by now anyway.

So I’m finally back on my computer after almost 5 weeks! Sure is nice. The tecnico, Ernesto, and I are now best friends. He ended up coming to my apartment to fix my computer 3 times. Maria and I had a whole discussion about how we thought he would definitely speak English, but he didn’t. Anyway, I love (and greatly miss) excellent customer service so much I extended my warranty with Dell for two more years.

Back to Buenos Aires- I spent the weekend spending my food money shopping in the city (whoops). Friday I stayed closed to home, Saturday spent the afternoon in Palermo, Sunday in San Telmo (of course). It just starting hailing and it’s VERY loud. Speaking of the weather, it’s starting to get a little cold here, which means all of the porteños wear warm jackets, boots and scarves while I’m fine in jeans and a t-shirt.

Since I have been so delayed in updating my trips, I think I will write one separate entry for each Iguazu Falls, Punta del Este and Mendoza within the next couple of days. Maybe even tonight!! But don’t get your hopes up, I have to “study” for my two midterms Wednesday…

Unbelizeable family vacation!

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

My family came to visit over Spring break (1st week of April)! We spent 3 days in Cayo together and I had SO much fun showing them all around San Ignacio, and what I’ve called “home” for the past 4 months. It was great! They met everybody, ate at all my favorite restaurants (Hannah’s, Martha’s, Erva’s and the nameless fast food stand next to Hannah’s), walked across the rope bridge at Branch Mouth (where we go swimming all the time), went swimming at Bullet Tree (just another part of the same river), toured Galen and met Rhondine!

Alex, Tyer and me on the rope bridge at Branch Mouth. It was (amazingly) kind of cold to go swimming, but we normally jump off the bridge into the water less than 10 feet below.

Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in town, Ko-ok Han-nah (we all just call it Hannah’s).

I would almost like to leave this picture caption-less to let everyone use their imagination to decide what exactly is going on here, but the explanation is just as funny. There was a big open field surrounded by palm trees behind my family’s cabin (where they were staying at Wind Hill). One day, I walked out to find Tyler and Alex collecting coconuts in the field, then the three of us spent a good 45 minutes smashing dead coconuts on this rock…

I guess the theme of the week was “fun with coconuts.” Dad and a coconut boat at Bullet Tree.

Sunset drive on the Western Highway!

Then on Thursday, we all went to San Pedro (a town on Ambergris Caye, an island off the northern coast of Belize) together for Easter! San Pedro was much more touristy than I had expected, but it was really nice to have an actual family vacation in a beautiful place away from everything that I had gotten so used to. When we arrived on Thursday, we checked into “the Phoenix”, and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring and working on our tans by the “infinity pool” (so COOL!).

There were hardly any “real” cars on the island, only golf carts.

Sailboats right outside our hotel.

The roof of the Phoenix!

On Friday, Tyler, Alex, and I (along with Ninfa and Alison, 2 of my friends from Cayo) went snorkeling at “Hol Chan Marine Reserve” and “Shark Ray Alley.” I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t think to get an underwater camera, because this trip was AMAZING; it was equally as cool as my oceanography trip to Southwater. Our guide, Alfonse was GREAT; he was totally passionate about the ocean and about sharing all the marine life with us! Some of the highlights of the snorkeling trip: swimming 2 feet over sea turtles, and next to parrotfish, moray eels, colorful coral, a 30 foot drop off (that made me feel like I was in finding nemo…), holding a stingray “like a pizza,” and “carrying” a nurse shark (carrying in quotes, because it actually carried me! Alfonse helped me wrap my arm around the pectoral fins, then he said, “just let her swim where she wants to go!”). It was an amazing afternoon, to say the least.

Saturday, Dad and Tyler went deep-sea fishing, and TYLER caught a BARRACUDA! end. Then we had a wong-family cooking party and invited a bunch of my friends over to feast and watch the NCAA championships!

eeeeek barracuda.

It’s So Pretty When It’s Sunny

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

When I first started looking at Westminster, I looked at Harrow. The reason for this was that I was applying only to classes that were based at the Harrow campus and so I assumed (quite rightly) that I would be living on that campus. So I looked up Harrow on Wikipedia and found out there’s a fancy boy’s school located in the town. Then I actually came here and found out that the campus was actually closer to Kenton than the boy’s school. However I knew about Eton well before then, but after finding out about the Harrow School (aka the fancy boy’s school in Harrow-on-the-Hill), I discovered that the Harrow School is Eton’s main competition. As often happens with me, I’ve become very protective of this school I’ve only seen from the outside and could never afford to go to. Which is why I can say, with no bias whatsoever, that Eton is plug ugly compared to Harrow. Sure, the town it’s in is slightly prettier than Harrow (but only a little bit), but the actual school is ugly. Yeah, I don’t care that it’s old as the hills and that Harrow is young in comparison (Eton = 1440, Harrow = 1572), but Harrow is still prettier and when it comes to these things, I just care if they’re pretty. This is probably why I liked Windsor Castle and the town of Windsor so much. Both are extremely pretty. It’s hard to say anything else about Windsor Castle because it was just. So. Pretty. There was one room with wallpaper the perfect shade of green and another that had the perfect shade of red. Another room had the most ridiculous amount of gold gilding on everything. It was exactly what you’d expect a castle to look like. And of course I couldn’t take pictures of the State apartments, the prettiest part, but I did get pictures of the moat garden and the Royal Chapel. And to top things off, the weather was perfect. 60 degrees and sunny the entire day. Aaron Eackhart was our* tour guide again and the most gorgeous man alive (aka the German one) was in our group. It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning/afternoon.
In other news my new flat is working out much better than my last one. There’s a reasonable amount of noise before 11pm, but by the time I want to go to bed, everything has quieted down. However the train freaks me out every once in a while, but then I remind myself that it’s a train, not a loud party about to happen. Also it’s the last week of classes, which is odd to think about. Granted there’s two weeks of “independent study” and then another two weeks of exams, so the fact that I’m not going home until the beginning of June does make sense in its own way. The fact that I’ll be spending two of the last weeks of “exams” traveling is totally beside the point.
In one final note, I’m super busy this week which is the excuse I’ll use for not updating and I’ve decided that being a lawyer isn’t the end of the world. Which is why I’ve been looking at how to become a lawyer in the UK and law schools in the States (just in case.) It’s all a bit odd and has been happening rather quickly, but it’s better than being miserable in a job I thought I would love and don’t in actuality. So that’s it for another week or so. Not only am I going to the Comedy Store, seeing “Private Lives” and “Cinderella” (the ballet), but my grandparents are coming to visit starting Tuesday (as long as the ash doesn’t get in the way) so I’ll probably be spending some time with them as well. Until whenever, don’t panic.

*When I say “our” in these post I usually mean either the social programme or me and Amanda. In this case I mean both.

Mole Enchiladas with Ms. Rhondine!

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Ms. Rhondine taught us how to make mole enchiladas! This is the first semester that I’ve had to really cook for myself for every meal; it’s been a lot of stir fry (and cheesy toast…), so this meal was a nice change! I’ve found that there is almost always a pot of cooked beans in local households ready to be used in an infinite variety of quick Belizean dishes. This one uses mashed and refried beans with a ready-made mole sauce, a combination of red chilis and chocolate.

Ingredients

1 small bottle Donna Maria Mole Sauce

1 lg. 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 lb. 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 quart low sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1 medium sized onion finely chopped

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 small green bell pepper finely chopped

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. ground oregano

2 tsp. salt

2 tblsp. Olive oil

1 lb. Manchego cheese or other good melting cheese such as mild cheddar grated

1.5 lbs corn tortillas

1.5 lbs. shredded chicken for stuffing the enchiladas (enchiladas can be stuffed with beans and cheese or other meats)

8 oz.  sour cream

1 bunch cilantro chopped (optional garnish)

On medium high heat in heavy saucepan; sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add bell peppers and continue to sauté until soft. Add mole sauce, black pepper, salt and oregano and continue to fry. Stir mixture and add ¼ of the stock; let simmer until the mixture is almost dry before adding another ¼ of the stock. Continue frying sauce one more time before adding the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Also, add the left over stock to the sauce. Stir the sauce to ensure it is not sticking to the pot, turn down heat to low and let simmer for about 15 mins.

Use a 15 X 9 pyrex dish or two smaller pyrex dishes for the enchilades. Heat oven to 350 degree F before you assemble the enchiladas.  To soften hard corn tortillas, dip the tortillas in sauce, stuff with chicken, beans, cheese or your favorite meat and roll. Spread some sauce on the bottom of the pyrex dish before you start assembling the enchilades. Continue to stuff and roll corn tortillas laying them tightly next to each other until the pyrex dish is filled. Once dish is filled with enchiladas, cover with extra sauce and add cheese. Put the dish filled with enchiladas in the oven and let bake until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro and or salsa sauce.

Tip: left over sauce can be used to cover serving plate before dishing out enchiladas onto plate. Left overs can be refrigerated and reheated in a microwave before serving.

The finished product :)

My roommate, Amanda enjoying our masterpiece.