The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely mine and not connected in anyway to the United States Peace Corps.


the spoken word

I have come to notice that I speak slightly differently here than back at home. Not with an altered English accent, no, that would be to logical. Instead, I find myself adapting more of an American accent, if that is possible. It's quite funny when I catch myself doing it, especially since I seem to think in more of an English accent, using words and phrases that I pick up from my fun new acquaintances.
In my last neuro supervision we had a 15 min discussion about the different ways we pronounce scientific words in America. For example, methyl (meth-el) is pronounced me-theigh-yl, vesicle (ves-eh-cull) is pronounced
vi-see-cull, and apparently, somewhere along the line we Americans misspelled aluminum as here it is, aluminium (al-lu-min-e-um). It is a weird, weird place that I am living in my friends. But i love it. a lot.

On a different note, we had a bit of a hair dying spree over here on the 2nd floor of Queen's Wing:

Jacque and Amy and me. They are former blonds turned light brunettes, (though Jacque's hair now has a reddish hue) while I have gone with a pink underlayer beneath my hair. I think the dye I used actually bleached my hair because my roots are very light. it'll be interesting to see what happens when it starts to grow out.

This Friday is Halloween, which they do celebrate here! there are various Halloween Bops hosted around Cambridge, along with Ghost Tours, Midnight Punting, and of course, pub crawls. I'm thinking of going as a modern twist on Cleopatra. Whether or not that works out . . . i'll let you know.


scientific prostitution.

what?! am i reading the title correctly? surely she didn't just say prostitution . . .
well my friends, it has come to this. though the exchange rate is ridiculously good right now ($1.58/pound!), that does not change the fact that Europe is expensive. and so, i have decided to make my spending money by donating my body to science. Not a bad deal in my opinion: the scientific community is helped out by my contributions to their various experiments, and (depending on the study) I make 30 pounds for 1 and 1/2 hours of "work." It's almost making me wish that the exchange rate wasn't so good for the dollar. meh. almost.

I participated in my first scientific study today. It was a vascular research study, apparently they are trying to figure out a gene that causes the stiffening of vascular arteries. Basically I let them take some blood, and then let them take my blood pressure . . . 300 billion times. but really, I'm now 30 pounds richer! good deal, I say.

The next one? an MRI bran scan. that one's only worth ~20 pounds. bah. got to make a living somehow!


1st full week of uni.

Papers and worksheets and compositions, oh my! why yes. the honeymoon phase of my relationship with Cambridge University is over, and now it is time for the work to start. There actually is quite a bit, but I'm fairly good at not thinking about it, so I'm not stressed--yet.

I'm getting used to british food, and i must say, it's not all that bad. I especially like the fact that cadbury chocolate is everywhere. I also love the wide abundance and variety of salt and vinegar crisps, and the idea of putting malt vinegar on french fries. However, I would kill for a mountain dew. seriously--I have yet to see a pepsi product here.

Yesterday was my first experience out on the water with 8 other girls. yes, my first true rowing fiasco,and a fiasco it was. It all started with us having to get the "boat" out of the boathouse and into the river . . . by ourselves. If you have never been fortunate enough to see what a rowing boat looks like, here:

Yes, its hard to keep balanced, and frustrating because since there are 8 people total rowing so it's hard to keep everyone in time stroke wise (especially for us novices). But, the few times we did get a good rhythm going, (and weren't bumping into barges on the side of the river), it was almost like we were flying.

Getting the boat out of the boathouse was interesting because we had to slide it out of it's holder, carry it on our shoulders to the edge of the water, hoist it to our heads, then swing it down to our waists and place it in the water. Doesn't sound to bad, right? Ahhh--the problem, however, was that we had one girl who is 5'9 and another who was 5'1, with a whole bunch of different heights in between. We actually had to have some of the more experienced boaties (that's what rowers are called here) help us, because they were worried we would ruin the boat! The 2 hours total we spent in the water and transporting the boat was definitely an experience. and I was stroke! that means I was the one in front who had to set the pace for the team. I can't wait for the next time.

Biking. Now, I still haven't gotten my bike competely fixed--I need a bike chain tool for that. But since the boathouse is an hour's walk away from Homerton I borrowed a friend's bike for the afternoon. I'm sure you all have ridden bikes before, I used to back when I was a kid. Riding a bike in Cambridge is COMPLETELY different. First of all, there is a bike lane, which is really nice. Unfortunately, it's the bike/bus lane which is kind of scary. Also, riding up and down slopes and on an actual road, rather than in circles in your driveway,
is very different. I now see why those people that do biking marathons are so fit--you use your whole body. seriously! and, if you just sit on the bike and pedal you get tired soooo much faster than if you pedal while standing up--you get more power standing up too. I'm absolutely positive that my bike riding skills will never compare with these crazy Cambridge bikers, but I'm game to try.

midnight apple picking and exploration of homereton college? probably not a good idea without a flashlight. but midnight cartwheels in the Great Hall? a must.



The other day, we went punting on the Cam.

We switched off being the "punter" which is actually harder than it looks. we would struggle along, and then the punters who push the poles for a living would speed by us, deftly navigating in between the cambridge students who were trying their hand at punting. It was a lot of fun though.

We went under the mathematical bridge.

and we had quite a few laughs.

All in all, it was a top day. The most recent adventure we went on was to a squash. Now, this isn't squash as in the sporting match, but a gathering for people who are interested in a certain group's activities. We choose the Caving Squash as our activity to learn more about. I think I want to go caving at least once, but I'm not sure I'll become an enthusiast, it gets quite expensive. we'll see.

one of the most spur of the moment things I did today was to cut myself bangs. i should never be allowed into cosmetology school.
Fortunately, Carly, (another JYA) said she would help me fix them.

TaDa! bangs.

so. one hour til rowing practice
. i think i'll take a nap.



first day of class

Oh my goodness, I love my classes; well, the ones I've been to anyways. My day started bright and early at 9am as I sat in on an "intro to the cns" lecture for 2nd year medics (medical students) and then went on to a 2nd year neurobiology lecture at noon geared more towards actual scientists. Apparently I can't actually enroll in the medic class (ie: get it on my transcript) as it would cost a lot more since it is only for medical students. However, anyone can attend any of the University's lectures, so I did. The system here is quite a bit different than in America, but I'll try to explain it as I understand it, so bear with me. So, within Cambridge University there are the different colleges--your college is where you find supervisors for your specific classes and a tutor for your major. However, students from all colleges attend the same lectures which the University provides. So even though I'm from Homerton college, one of the people I sat next to in lecture today was from Trinity college. It kindof makes me wonder why they even distinguish between the colleges, but they do here. Well, the sports teams from individual colleges play each other, and then if you're REALLY good you get to be on the top university team and compete against Oxford's top university team.

Oh! tomorrow morning I try out for rowing
, I'm kind of excited but not really expecting much since I've never rowed. It's okay though, I don't mind being on the lower novice crew, psh, I am a novice! Apparently we have to try out a rowing machine
, and then actually get in a boat in pairs and try to row. I'm actually missing some lectures for it, but not for any classes that I'm enrolled in--just interesting sounding ones.

word to the wise: European foam parties are off the hook. and ridiculously fun. I love being abroad!

This, my friends, is a foam party. (it's really soap bubbles)


i have arrived.

So here I am. England. It's all a bit surreal--and really, except for the accents and everything being in pounds rather than dollars, i kind of feel like i'm still in America! The fact that there is a group of us from Jewell all living on the same hall might help with that feeling. Besides the JYAs (that's us), there are a couple of Australian medical students and some British grad students on our hall--we all get along quite well and have had a couple of "hall get-togethers" already. In fact, some of the students from the floor below us came up to check out what was going on. Apparently we are the stereotypical loud Americans, automatically making our hall the gathering place. I don't mind.

School hasn't started yet--that's not til Thursday. But don't think we all have just been lounging around bored out of our minds--surely you all know me better than that! Cambridge has had many events planned for both international students and then for students of Homerton (my college). During the day we've filled our time exploring Cambridge, ie: getting lost. Of course, since the majority of this town is built around the University, we're never really horribly lost, just rather turned around.

Getting settled has definitely taken the whole 6 days that we've been here. Finding a decently priced grocery store (it's called Tesco's) led us on a 5 hour adventure. (Well, almost everything we've done so far could be counted as an adventure). After finally finding the store and filling our bags with our newly purchase
d goods, we proceeded to walk back. Eventually we figured out which bus would take us home. However, I now have a bike! Well, it needs a little work, but I'm sure it'll make getting around much easier. . . once I get up the guts to actually ride my bike side-by-side with the crazy british drivers.

On our excursion to The Eagle (the pub Watson and Crick announced they had discovered the structure of DNA) I ordered fis
h and chips

A bigger portion than I expected, but delici
ous all the same.

We took a trip to visit King's College.

We saw people punting!

This is Trinity College, where Isaac Newton studied and eventually taught.

Basically, Cambridge is amazing. Beautiful, historic, awe-inspiring . . . really, the praises could go on forever.

Tomorrow I explore some more, attempt to fix-up my bike, and go see Henry the V. Cheers for now!