Thursday, November 27, 2008

Venture into Chelsea

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Ms. Petey, old people who have retired and are living off of social security, aka "pensioners," are poor. Nobody cares about them because they're old. This knitting campaign would give the impression that there is an epidemic of pensioners unable to pay their heating bills, or even to buy blankets for themselves. Check their website for more info: Age Concern. I can't knit anyone anything because I left my knitting stuff at home. Michele is going to send it all to me, though, so it's all good! Michele is my hero!

Jax, I'll show you what I plan to do with the caps.

Cold little rat ears.

Last night, I went to "Korean Night" at the School of Oriental and African Studies. The posters promised Korean music videos, but there was no music, and no videos. The food was DELICIOUS, though! Yummy yummy in my tummy! Two of my classmates have lived in Korea, and they introduced me to Soju, which is a Korean alcoholic beverage. It was sort of like vodka with a fruity aftertaste.

Today was a long but good day. I had Health Policy in the afternoon, the class that I very passionately hate. Lecture was ridiculous as usual, but seminar was surprisingly not too bad. Dare I say, I mildly enjoyed myself? After class, I rushed across town to Chelsea in order to buy all-important French's Fried Onions, the most important ingredient in green bean casserole. It was sort of silly to travel across town just for a can of fried onions, but I don't know where else in the city you can buy American foods. I texted my classmate, Carina, who lives in Chelsea, and she invited me over to watch a bit of "telly." I showed her the onions and described green bean casserole, and she went off on a rant about the bizarre traditional foods that we eat for Thanksgiving. She was particularly upset about the marshmallows that are applied to "sweet potatoes." (Apparently, in the UK, sweet potatoes are "yams," and yams are "sweet potatoes." I just checked wikipedia, and it turns out the Americans have it wrong. Surprise, surprise.)

Chelsea is a really, really wealthy part of London. The wealthiest part, actually. It follows that Carina is rich. :-) Her parents are "in the oil business," and her brother works in finance. She lives with him, so she doesn't have to pay rent. Sweet deal. It was nice chilling with her, but then Gray's Anatomy came on, so I had to leave because I hate that show. Also, Seth Greene was squirting blood all over this one doctor, and it was nasty. On the way home, because it was lateish and I hadn't eaten dinner, I answered the call of the Golden Arches and partook of my very first McDonald's meal since arriving here. Sadly, I cannot say it was particularly enjoyable. Whatevs.

Ooh, also, on the tube going home, a guy with a purse sat down next to me. I don't mean a guy with a manbag. It was a full-on, stylish, leather, woman's purse. I stealthily looked at him to confirm that he wasn't just a short-haired woman. He wasn't. It was odd because he didn't look otherwise effeminate at all.

Hm, I'm quite concerned about the situation in Mumbai. Very sad and tense. Terrorism sucks. It needs to go away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Older people

I went grocery shopping today, and bought something I wouldn't normally buy. There is a brand called Innocent that sells smoothies in a bottle. I wouldn't normally buy them because they're sort of a frivolous spend, and, you know, bottles are bad for the environment. But I bought two little bottles tonight because they came with the cutest little knitted hats (and they were on sale)!

Here's what the tag says:
Every year, we ask the nation to knit little hats to go on our smoothies. For each behatted bottle sold, we (innocent and Sainsbury's) donate 50p to Age Concern.
Age Concern is a charity that provides hot meals, blankets, and heating advice to "older people" who can't afford to heat their homes. Isn't that sweet? I'm getting all teary-eyed just thinking about it.

It has a button on top! So cute!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lack of snow and Snow

Becky, luckily, you don't live in a TB endemic area, so ignoring a persistent cough, while not a good idea, probably won't kill you. Probably. But yeah, I'm the same way. I don't go to the doctor for infectious diseases, only chronic stuff. That's probably because, for whatever reason, I never get really nasty stuff, just your average common cold.

So far, I haven't seen a flake of snow. I was out until midnight last night, and the sky was clear the whole time. It was really frickin freezing, though. There might have been snow in the early morning, but it was rain by the time I woke up. It's been raining off and on all day. Maybe we'll get snow tonight? I doubt it, though it is bitterly cold out there. Brrr!

Last night, I went out for Indian with Karen, Patricia, the Irish girls (Sharon and Aisling), and Neil (Canadian guy who read my palm and told me I was going to die an early, tragic death, but have a good love life). The food was delicious, and under GBP 8. It was near Carnaby Street, which is a good place to go for funky shops. Hovering over Carnaby Street and all the side streets where giant, blow-up snowmen.

Giant electrical plug on side of a building

Afterwards, we tried to go to the John Snow pub, but it was packed. John Snow was one of the first epidemiologists. He studied the waves of cholera outbreaks that swept through London in the, um...past. The 1880's maybe? Anyway, he speculated, correctly, that cholera was a water-borne infection caused by drinking sewage-contaminated water. He mapped cases in the Soho area, and figured out that they originated from the Broad St water pump, so he famously removed the pump handle, and people stopped getting cholera! (A good epidemiology student knows, though, that he wasn't really responsible for the decrease in cases. Cases were already on the decline when he removed the handle.)

Anyway, a pub in Soho was named after him, and is home to the famous pump handle. At my school, a lot of classes will go to the John Snow pub after the last lecture of the term to celebrate end of term. People at my school LOVE the John Snow pub. Someday, I will partake of a refreshing beverage there. Someday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The temperature dropped on Thursday night, so it was really cold yesterday, and we're supposed to get snow tonight. We'll see. I trust the weathermen here about as much as I trust them in Seattle.

Last night after class, we headed to the pub where the guy carded me, but I didn't get carded this time! Huzzah! I'm old enough to drink! Anyway, I couldn't stay long because Laura, Holly, and I were headed to see Wicked. We grabbed fish n' chips, which came wrapped up like giant cones, shoved them down our throats, and headed to Victoria for the show. I enjoyed it, but Holly and Laura were "underwhelmed." Laura said she thought it was a bit too "American." Well, it is American, after all. But I see what she means. The book was really dark, but the play is...well, a musical. It's a bit cheesy, and happy-fun-times. The girl who played Elphaba had an amazing singing voice, but too often eschewed it for a nasal, baby-doll voice that made my ears hurt. Also, she couldn't seem to decide on an accent. "Am I American? Am I British?" Which is odd because the actress is British. Perhaps my accent-radar is broken from overuse?

After the show, we decided to walk towards Westminster. Originally, the idea was to find a pub, but then we decided to just walk across London. You know what's awesome? Westminster Abbey at night. Laura, despite being from the UK (Scotland) and having lived in London as long as I have, had never yet been down to Westminster to see Big Ben. We paused for photos, and when I looked up at Big Ben, I noticed stars. Stars in London! Granted, they were really faint, but there they were.

Well, I really should be working on my essay about tuberculosis and the reasons why patients delay in seeking care for a persistent cough. Later!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My hard-knock life

hahaha! That was certainly the desired reaction. Misery loves company.

Migraine Maven, yeah, I see what you mean. But I'd only go to med school to become a tropical doctor, so I'd come across them eventually. I might come across them anyway, but I certainly hope not. Microbes for me!

John, various ways. Some through unclean water, some just by walking through the garden barefoot.

Yesterday, our school put on a careers fair that made our entire course freak out about our job prospects. Every organization that was there, and they were mostly all amazing NGOs, like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, they ALL were only looking for doctors, nurses, or lab techs. As few people on our course want to be any of those things, it was very discouraging. The other common theme was that the "jobs" we do qualify for are unpaid, volunteer positions. Eh, who needs to eat or pay off school loans anyway?

Today, we got the morning off, which was really nice, but then we had a Guinea worm lecture in the afternoon. I'll spare you the details of what that does to the body. It's really gross, but not nearly as bad as roundworm, I think. Tomorrow, we have a whole freaking day of more worms. Grr. At least when this week is over, I'll be done with worms (I think...unless we have a disgusting lab practical coming up).

So, I'm trying to plan a big Thanksgiving shindig for my class. It's hard! We have class all day Thursday, and we're gonna try to have a big dinner after class, but everyone will have to cook the food the night before. Then I have no idea how they'll reheat it. It all depends on where we have the party, I suppose. This is difficult, and I don't like doing things that are difficult! Poo!

Joderita: What? Colin Farrell? Explain!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ickiness i.e. worms

New pictures uploaded! Tower of London! Spitalfields Market! Amsterdam and Bruges!

Other pictures of my room and stuff:

Ikea glass and bottle

Polka-dotty bowl

Above my desk 1

Above my desk 2

Please don't hate me for buying these boots. I realize that they are sort of bootimals, but I like them. I've been wanting boots since I got here (everyone has boots), and I bought them on ebay for $21.

They're PINK!!! Actually, the ebay thing was pretty funny. I've never used it before. I ended up bidding on these ones, and another pair that had four days of the auction left. When I won these ones, I was still the highest bidder on the other pair, which were actually this same pair of boots, but in tan. haha! I checked when the tan pair was down to four hours, and I was still the highest bidder. I was getting very antsy, but then someone finally outbid me in the last hours of the auction. Phew!

This afternoon was, by far, my least favorite lecture yet. Some lectures are bad because of the lecturer, or the slides, but others are bad because of the topic. Today's was the latter.

Remember that picture I showed of the classification of poop? That was nothing. In the sexually transmitted infections lectures that we had a few weeks ago, the lecturer showed pictures of oozing penises and cervixes. A walk in the park compared to today.

WARNING: Graphic descriptions follow. If you have a weak stomach, seriously consider not reading any further. Seriously. That means you, Becky.

Today's lecture was about helminthes. "Helminthe" is Greek for "worm." Becky, remember when Mathilda coughed up a worm? We had a three-hour lecture all about that, but in humans, of course. It was going along fine until we got to the nematodes, and the lecturer showed us a picture of a child's anus with worms coming out of it. Apparently, at night, the worms crawl out of the anus to lay eggs, and can potentially crawl into the vagina. BUT THEN we got to the common roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides, and a picture of a child's butt and legs, with a large amount of what looked like very thick spaghetti coming out of its anus. There was also a picture a child with what looked like spaghetti coming out of its nostrils.

The lecturer also passed around a long tube full of nematodes. When it got to the girl next to me, I had to close my eyes, turn my head 180 degrees away, and move my body as far away from it as possible as she passed the tube to the girl on the other side of me.

I had the urge to swallow copious amounts of pure alcohol to sterilize my innards from any potential worms, but I sort of doubt that would work. It's funny, because I was actually thinking the other day that maybe I could go to medical school after all. WRONG. Or as Dwight Schrute would say, FALSE. I was right to stick with microbes.

Must think about other dinner. Oh no, bad idea. No food for me. Happy thoughts. Rainbows. Twinkly stars. The Daily Show. Yes, I could do with some Jon Stewart right about now. That reminds me of our lunch lecture, which was about antimicrobial resistance. The lecturer said his boss was Conan O'Brien's dad, but he said that he personally preferred Jon Stewart. I agree, though Conan is awesome.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amster-Dam Girl!

Sara, I have found the geek store in London (one, at least). It's called Fantasy Planet. I didn't go inside because I was in a hurry, but it looks promising.

So, Amsterdam. GORGEOUS! I love Dutch architecture! I think Amsterdam is my new favorite city. Unfortunately, I can't upload any of my photos, because I loaned my uploader cord to a friend who will not be named, and she lost it. Grr.

UPDATE: She who must not be named very promptly bought me a new and improved USB thingy! Yay! Pictures here.

I went to Amsterdam with two schoolmates, Patricia and Karen. We booked a tour with a tour group, which included transport, accommodation in a youth hostel, a canal cruise, entrance to a site with a bunch of windmills, and a few hours in Bruges. We left London by coach bus at 6am, got to Dover around 8:30. I really need to go back to Dover and explore the famous white cliffs. Parts of the cliffs were carved out as a military fortress, and you can go inside. We took the ferry from Dover to Calais, in France, then drove straight through France and Belgium to Amsterdam. It felt weird being back on French soil and not being able to stay.

We got to Amsterdam after dark, and I noted that all the homes I could see were way more inviting than any homes I pass in London. England is a dreary, dreary place. I don't know what possessed me to come here. To be fair, though, the weather in Amsterdam was dreary as well, but the houses looked so much more comfortable. We got off the coach and immediately hopped on a canal cruise, which gave us a good introduction to the city and it's architecture. Many of the row houses lining the canals used to be warehouses, but have been converted into amazing homes, where the owners kindly leave the curtains wide open so all the tourists can peer in. We then checked into our youth hostel, and rushed back out for a tour of the red light district. Having been through the red light district in Hamburg, I wasn't too shocked by anything I saw. All the women were covered up top and down below, but some of their "outfits" were scimpier than others. Some just had a thin piece of cloth stretched across their chests. The most disturbing thing about the red light district was the looks we got from the hoards of men there. It was like they couldn't turn off their horny leering when switching from looking at a prostitute to looking at a woman on the street. And we were all wearing heavy winter coats and scarves!

On Saturday, we all hopped on the bus and drove about 20 minutes into the countryside, to a site called Zaanse Schanse, "a living Dutch museum." Basically, the Dutch were worried about losing their heritage to modernization, so they dismantled some historic buildings, including several full-size windmills, and reassembled them in one site. We were treated to a demonstration of clog-making and another of cheese-making. The clogs were awesome! They had some really cute polka dot ones, and I really wanted a pair, but I couldn't justify it because there's never a time when I would need or want to wear them. I settled on a miniature pair to display. We didn't go up into the windmills cuz they costed money (only a few euros, but I've been on a windmill in Germany, so whatevs).

We got back to the city around noon, and Patricia, Karen, and I headed to the old Heineken factory. I'm still not sure if it was worth the 10 euro. The factory is no longer in use, so they didn't actually demonstrate beer-making, and it wasn't much of a museum. The whole place was just a giant advertisement. The self-guided tour goes through the stables, where there were no horses, then a "ride" called "Brew U" involving a movable platform in front of a big screen showing a video that made it seem like you were being brewed and bottled, then they gave us our first half-pint of beer, then a weird room with videos of people playing soccer all over the world, then a room where you have the option to pay money to get a personalized bottle of beer, a room where you can take absurdly dark photos of yourself and email them to friends, a room with futuristic chairs where you can watch Heineken tv commercials through the years, a room with a bunch of soccer gear, and finally, another half-pint of the product. So we payed 10 euro for two half-pints (and we each only drank one) and to be bombarded by advertisements.

After that, we headed to the Anne Frank house, which was only 7.50 euros, but significantly more relevant and interesting. Funny how that works. It was weird to stand in the very rooms where she and her family were in hiding for two years. It was hard to imagine them there, though, because there was no furniture at all. The Nazis cleared out the furniture after arresting her family, and it was her father's wish that the rooms remain unfurnished. Still, Anne had pasted many pictures and newspaper clippings to her wall, and these remained, as did a pencil-marked chart of Anne's and her sister's growth over the years.

Karen and Patricia, like me, were not interested in the cannabis-related activities available in Amsterdam, but we felt like we should do something scandalous while there, so we went to a "sex museum." I assumed it would be sort of classy, if pornographic. No. There was not an ounce of class to be found in the place. Just many disturbing drawings and photographs of people in various awkward positions, which large penises and breasts everywhere. Some involved bestiality. Disturbing!

Our youth hostel was actually in the red light district, which I discovered when I looked out of my room window to see a row of glass doors, backlit in red, where scantily-clad women were calling out to potential customers.

On Sunday, we left Amsterdam for home, with a stop in Bruges, Belgium. The city of Bruges is a UNESCO heritage site, and is was very cute. The architecture was similar to Amsterdam's, but more ornate. Karen, Patricia, and I climbed "the Belfry" (that was it's name, as if it's the only belfry in the world), which was 332 very narrow, spiraling stairs tall. I'm quite out of shape, it turns out! Afterwards, we focused on Belgian traditions: waffles, chocolate, and "French" fries. Mmm mmm!

A word about the people on the tour: all American, almost all women, all undergrads, and all surprisingly rude and unfriendly. We were doing our best to avoid them all weekend, and I had to listen to my iPod through the whole bus ride home to drown out their insipid chatter.

And that ends reading week. Stats was confusing today. I'm really starting to worry about the exam in June, because the questions they ask in practical sessions confuse me. I can't figure out what information they are asking for. Still, it's good to get back to a structured schedule. Time off always makes me feel disoriented.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Halloween pics

More Halloween pictures (from Holly)

Prize for participating in
games: gummy eyeballs

(L-R: Urla--witch, me, Cheryl--chicken pox)

Drinking game

I am so very attractive.
(Patricia--Viagra, Anita--Cat, me)

Ugh. So embarrassing. My bra
is showing, and I look awful.

Yep, I'm a total hottie.

Group pic

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reading week

Well, it's reading week now, which is a week off from classes in which we're supposed to catch up on our reading and studying, but everyone leaves town instead. I myself am going to Amsterday Friday-Sunday, and am either going to Sussex with Holly for a day, or to Oxford with Carina and others for a day.

Yesterday, we had a "module fair" to help us decide which classes to take for the rest of the year. I had an insanely hard time deciding between "AIDS" and "Gender and Health," but in the end, I think I'll go with AIDS as the safe bet. It's taught by the guy who does all the TB/HIV work at the school, and since I'm interested in TB/HIV coinfection, I should try to get to know this guy.

I studied a bit in the afternoon, then a few of us from CID went bowling. Well, we were planning to go bowling, but all the lanes were booked until 9:30, so we did karaoke instead. SO MUCH FUN!!!

Alek, Cheryl, and Holly singing their hearts out


It was in a private room, so the 10 of us crammed into this little room and sang our hearts out en masse for two hours. I particularly enjoyed "Stronger," by Britney Spears, "It's all coming back to me now," by Celine Dion, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," by Bonnie Tyler, and "Believe" by Cher.

Adorable Alex and her nachos

Aparna and her dog

Afterward, a few of us went for a pint, and I decided to get a half-pint of cider (such a better alternative to beer!) Holly, who is one year younger and five inches shorter than me, ordered her drink. Laura, who is the same age as me, ordered her drink. When I ordered my half-pint, the bartender said something that I couldn't understand. "Do you not have half-pints?" I said. "A pint then." That was not what he was saying. "I need to see some ID," he repeated, this time a little sheepish.

Now, I get carded all the time back home, and think it's weird when I don't get carded. The policy in England is that they don't serve alcohol under 18, but they card if they think you look 21 or under. I haven't been carded here except to get into clubs, so this really threw me off and embarrassed me. I totally blushed, and was making a big deal of it with my friends, and when the guy gave me my change, he seemed really embarrassed. It was so awkward! I was upset because I felt like a 14-year-old, and Laura was upset because she didn't get carded. The 21-year-old in our group didn't get carded, but that might have been because she came after me and the guy was too embarrassed to card anyone else. Or it might have been because she looks like an adult and I look like a child. Hard to say.

It's hard to recover from that. It's hard to sit down with your drink in a room full of men and have any confidence that you're attractive. It's hard to stop being paranoid that everyone in the room is wondering who let a 14-year-old in the pub.

So Christmas is on everyone's minds, and it seems that EVERYONE is going home, leaving me alone in London. People keep asking me what I'll do for Christmas, and it's starting to make me feel a bit sorry for myself not having an answer for them. I told a couple of my friends last week that I'm expecting to meet my future husband any day now, so I'll probably spend Christmas with him, whoever he is. But then two great things happened in two days to solve my problem. First, Jacque booked a flight on the 27th of December! Yaaaaaayyyyyy!!!!!! I'm so excited!! As for Christmas itself, Holly told me that she talked to her parents, and they said they would love to have me for Christmas! Woohoo! Her family was awesome, so I'm excited about this. Thanks, Holly!

I hope that Jacque booking a flight to visit me will motivate some of my family to make plans to come visit me. It's depressing to hear my North American friends talk about their family visiting every other week, while I have no idea if anyone will visit me. Well, now Jacque is visiting, and I know Sara definitely intends to. Maybe I'll just replace family with friends. Who needs family anyway, right? Let me put it this way, family: after this year is up, I'll probably move to someplace like India or Africa. Would you rather pay the less-than $1000 to visit me in London, or $3500 to visit me in India or Africa?

Well, I'm off to learn all about TB/HIV coinfection. Unfortunately, the library chose today, in the middle of reading week, to move their catalogue to a different server, so it's unavailable. Thanks, guys!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next President of the United States of America

I woke up at about 4am due to a nasty cough, and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to check and see if we had a new President yet.

McCain has conceded! Barack Obama is the next President of the United States! It brings tears to my eyes, and that's not just the pain in the throat. Today, I am proud of America. At least we've done one thing right!

Sadly, there is no one around to celebrate with. I'll have to wait until morning to celebrate with classmates. It's alright, though, because today is Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night, and I get to go see fireworks. I know the fireworks are really celebrating the death of a man who tried to blow up Parliament, but to me, those will be Obama fireworks. It's almost guaranteed that I'll drop a tear.

Did I mention I'm sick?

Sick, sick. Sicky McSickerson.

I slept in late today, with the intention of being late to my morning lecture, then I thought I'd skip lecture and just go to the practical group, then I decided to skip the practical, too, and just go to afternoon classes.

So I slept until noon. I don't feel bad about that, because my body needs it. I feel more sick now (well, more stuffed-up and snotty), but I feel I should really go to my class tomorrow morning. Also, I'm supposed to give a short presentation during lunch, so I should try to make it to that. But I'm totally skipping Policy in the afternoon if there's even a hint of illness about me. I hate Policy. It needs to die.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Warning: Obama-heavy

I GOT A BOX OF MY PERSONAL BELONGINGS!!!! YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Now I have a coat! And an alarm clock radio! And a scarf that I made myself! And a webcam! Woohoo!!!

On the downside, the eye-glasses I got from Sears are not even close to the right prescription, so I have to send those back to Pops and Michele, who have to take them back to Sears, wait two weeks for the morons at Sears to get me the right glasses, then send them back to me. Grrr. I was really excited about those glasses. When I tried them on, it was like I was looking at the world through a fish bowl. The slightest movement of my head, and the room started rotating around me. I had to grab the wall and steady myself. Morons.

Moving on. My good friend Sara finds the best that the internet has to offer, then shows it to me. I love her. You should all join Livejournal, befriend her, and look at her amazing and beautiful Obama picspams. I promise it's worth it, because there is a picture in there involving Hillary, Obama, Michelle, and Biden's faces pasted onto the bodies of Derek Zoolander and his model friends jiving around in their jeep. Also, Sara's comments on each photo are priceless. I will attempt to share a smattering of links and pictures with you:

Obama O's (there is a song, so click the link with your sound on; also check out the Cap'n McCain's)

Obama Llama song (based, of course, on the original llama song)

Speaking of llamas, I bought an alpaca-wool hat this weekend. Okay, I know alpacas aren't llamas, but they're related, right? The hat is cute, but insanely itchy. Shoot. I would show a picture, but I loaned my camera-computer connector thingy to a friend. So no photos yet. More Obama:

I love the concerned expression in the dog's eyes. Translation for the computer-illiterate in the audience: "Hey, I care about your future. Vote Obama, okay?"

This one is my favorite.

Jody, you are so right about my disillusionment with grocery stores. Every time I shop at Sainsbury's, my heart beats just a little bit faster.

Ciarnet, lobbing plague rats at enemy ships sounds like a blast! I think there is much piratey wisdom that I could learn from you.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I'm in a foul mood. I don't know if my period is coming early, or if I'm sick, or if I just screwed up my sleep cycle too much, but I'm tired and cranky.

I think I've mentioned before that I find shopping here a little bit hard to figure out. I just tried to do my grocery shopping. I headed to Waitrose (like QFC) at about 10 min before 6pm, worried that they might close at 6pm on Sunday. But the doors were open, and when I entered, the guard at the door didn't say anything like, "Sure, you can come in, but you'll be required to leave again in 7 minutes." So I went around gathering the various items on my list for about 7 minutes, when they turned off half of the lights. Okay, I thought to myself. They aren't letting any more people in. I'll just finish up shopping and go. I had only grabbed about half of the things on my list, so I continued to shop, because where I come from, grocery stores don't just kick you out before you've finished. So I grabbed some cereal and frozen corn, and wandered in the direction of the granola bars, when an older woman said, "You know we're closing?" I nodded. "You need to move to the tills now." No, I think I need to finish my shopping! It had seriously been 60 seconds since they turned off the lights. I curled my lip in a snarl that clearly indicated to her that I did not approve of the British culture in general. I'm sick of this. It's ridiculous here.

Since Waitrose kicked me out, I headed down to the Tesco Express, which should really be called "Tesco Useless." These things are all over the city in place of proper grocery stores. They're halfway between a Safeway and a 7-Eleven, and closer in size to a 7-Eleven. I couldn't find butter. FREAKING BUTTER!!! Okay, partly that was my fault, because there was, in fact, butter there. But there was only one choice for butter, which I didn't notice in the midst of seventeen choices of mysterious, butter-like "spread."

I hate grocery shopping here. Have I mentioned that I can't find distilled white vinegar here? Malt vinegar, distilled malt vinegar, wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, sure. But plain ol', "can be used for cleaning" vinegar doesn't exist. It's so frustrating when you're accustomed to a certain level of convenience, and then it's gone. Though I do realize that it's completely my fault that it's gone. I didn't have to leave. In fact, the thought of shopping in British grocery stores used to thrill me! I just didn't realize they'd be so darn different.

On the way back, as I was carrying my very heavy bag in my arms and thinking about all the injustices I had suffered this evening, the two people walking in front of me decided to stop and spread out, so they were blocking THE ENTIRE FREAKING SIDEWALK. And THEN, when I finally got home, I started coughing so hard that I was gagging. Can I just crawl back in bed and skip to tomorrow? Oh, no, because I haven't studied at all this weekend.

My plan to relax yesterday backfired, and I just ended up depressed. I should never stay in my room all day without human contact. Bad, bad idea. I tried to make up for it today by going to an outdoor market, but like I said above, I'm tired, and nothing can cheer me up when I'm tired. I saw some beautiful things, though. I went to Spitalfields Market, which was alright, then I followed the crowd to what turned out to be Brick Lane Market, then wandered down Brick Lane for a while, cuz it was really charming in the afternoon sun, then found myself at the Columbia Flower market. I had no idea all these markets were so close to each other. At the flower market, every vendor was shouting the word "fiver" with regularity, to the point that I must have heard it 100 times in a two-minute interval.

I ended up going to London Bridge, then walking all the way back home. Along the way, I passed St. Paul's Cathedral. Normally, it costs an arm and a leg to go inside, but on Sundays, they close most of the church so you can't "sightsee," and they ask you to just use the church for prayer. I decided to see what time they were having mass, and found that they were partway through Evensong. It was nice to rest my weary legs in a beautiful church, and listen to the choir sing. Then there was the shortest sermon I've ever heard (couldn't have been longer than 15 min). Lovely. But obviously not lovely enough to stop me being so cranky.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Last night was great. I went as Black Death, which meant I wore black and carried a sickle. But what really tied the outfit together were the three little, stuffed rats I got from Ikea. I attached one to my shoulder, one to my waistband, and one to my shoe. One of my classmates uploaded this picture to Facebook (I'll show more as people upload them):

My dress was ridiculously low cut, and my blue-green bra kept showing, so maybe I should have gone with something more conservative. Oh well!

I tried to make a hooded cape for myself out of a garbage bag. It's funny how the minor details of living in a foreign country can have a big impact. The garbage bag I used was smaller than our black bags in the States, and instead of having a straight seam across the bottom, all the corners are gathered in and seamed in the middle. This meant that I couldn't really wear it properly as a hood. If only I'd known.

We had a party for just our class. I think about 3/4 of our class (of 41) showed up. It was pretty fun. Our social representatives did a fantastic job. We played a "bobbing" for apples game that involved kneeling on a chair and dropping a fork into a bucket of apples and water. I was amazed at how many people were able to skewer apples (I failed miserably), and I thought it was fitting that the Control of Infectious Diseases group wouldn't do proper bobbing for apples. Think of all the germs!

Towards the end, one of my classmates got horribly sick (too much wine). The poor thing was miserable, but being in a room full of women who want to be public health specialists is not a bad place to be sick. She was well taken care of. The rest of us headed to the school's party in our tiny and swelteringly-hot bar. We were all entitled to a free cup of some green boozy drink, but it was all gone by the time we got there (at 8:30 in the evening). Who promises free booze, then runs out after two hours? When we got there, there were a fair amount of people, but everyone was just socializing. It wasn't until we left that they turned on the disco lights. Whatevs. A group of us headed from there to a house party near Holloway Road. I don't know what the temperature is in Seattle these days, but it's friggin' cold here! I shouldn't complain, though, because it's been really sunny.

Anyway, house party was alright. I was told that this group of people believe in slutty Halloween costumes, so I thought I'd fit right in with my low-cut dress. In fact, I was showing, by far, the most skin there. Shoot. I still didn't get hit on, though. :-( Played some lame drinking games, none of which lasted very long. You know things are in bad shape when people start playing Pictionary to pass the time--no booze involved. But it was fun. There was a guy there dressed as Ron Burgundy, complete with fake mustache. "You stay classy, San Diego." I met some peeps, hung out with my buddies, drank lots of vodka and cranberries. It's all good.

After walking a mile in the freezing cold to catch a bus home, my throat started to hurt. I don't know if it was the vodka, or the cranberry juice, or the cold air, but I have a full-on sore throat this morning. It feels trashed. Thank goodness for Michele's Ricola drops!

I am taking it easy today. Nothing planned, except to finally catch up on cleaning, studying, and reading everybody else's blogs! A girl in my class had her birthday yesterday, and she invited people out to a "roller disco" tonight. I thought about it, but since I'm not capable of doing fancy tricks on skates, I always just end up going in circles around the rink. That gets boring real fast. I think I will spend the evening at home and take stock of all the money I've been spending. Yikes! Budgeting lasted exactly a week and a half, and that was a couple weeks ago. I've mostly been spending on stuff I need, but Halloween certainly took a chunk out of my wallet, and I've been spending a bit too much on social events, I think. Now that I've settled in a bit and made some friends, I think I'll scale back the boozing. Having said that, I still have half of a 700-mL bottle of Smirnoff in my room. I really don't think I'll be tempted by it, though. That'll be for special occasions.

Okay, geez! No more talk of booze! How are people doing? How are lives going? Email me! Love you guys!