Friday, January 30, 2009

Classes / Food

I've been to 3 of my 4 classes so far this week, and I think that they might just be doing it the right way over here.
For most classes, you've got the "lecture" and then a separate smaller group for discussion. Basically.
Like, both my Midieval Knights and History of Disease (shortened names because the real course names are like 9043589357 words long) classes have about 30-40 people in them. That's it, and that might be an over-estimate. Then on Thursdays, there are seminars with about 10 people in them where we sit around and talk about the lecture or other reading we have to do. Disease class is having us do a group presentation too, but really, that's not that bad.
Organic Chemistry only has like 150 people in it. Organic lecture at Tech probably has like 250+ kids, and there are probably 4-5 lectures of it a semester. Now, unless I'm missing something somewhere, there's only one organic lecture this semester here, and it only has 150 people in it. Also, University of Leeds is like twice as big as Tech. Now, true, it's got all those liberal arts kids ((no offense!!)), but still, that's amazing that theres only 150 kids who need/want to take it. Also, something that makes me happy about that, is that the professor writes on the board instead of just using powerpoints. I hate it when Chemistry professors just use powerpoints. It's useless. And then, in addition to the 2 lectures a week, there are 3 tutorial sessions spread throughout the semester to help us out if we have any questions.
Statics I haven't been to, but the room it's in can only hold like 50 kids, max. And again, I'm pretty sure it's the only statics lecture there is this semester. And Tech has like... 10 of those or something. (Probably less, but I'm too lazy to check the catalogue and I've never actually looked it up.) And statics will have the handy-dandy tutorial sessions too.
Oh, and all these tutorials and seminars? They're mandatory. It's like they're forcing us into individual contact with teachers! It's amazing! Tech should try this! Although I'm pretty sure it would never work at Tech. Logistics and all that jazz. Plus the fact that the tutorials arent at the same time/day of the week from what I hear, and seminars don't always meet every week. But I think it'll be nice to learn this way. Not that I have any major issues with how Tech does things. I mean I'm a MSE major... most of my classes only have 10 kids in them. 15 max. Or at least, they will, once I start taking mostly MSE classes instead of general ed requirements.
Oh, the other nice thing here, is that for 4 classes, the Tech equivalent to 19 credits, I only have 7 hours of class every single week, some weeks have 8-9 depending on if there's a seminar/tutorial that week.
Now, for reference, last semester at Tech I had.. 18 hours of classes for only 15 credits (true, that included a 3 hour lab). Last spring I had 17 hours of class for 16 credits (no lab, just regular classes).
But there is a ton of reading outside of class. And I'll have 3 essays to write, plus some chem homework (3 assignments), and probably some statics homework.
Then 3 finals after that.
The grading too, that's something awesome as well-
Knights- 2 2000 word essays, each 50% of the grade
Disease- 1 2000 word essay 30%, 1 presentation- 5%, participation-5%, final- 60%
Chem- 3 hw assignments 12%, final- 88%
Statics- not sure yet.
But look at how little the teachers have to grade! So little they don't have to pass it on to TAs. I think. I'm really not positive, because all the homework gets turned into central locations of the schools the class is for. (History goes to History secretary, etc.)
But still. This is awesome. Unless they don't like my essays and give me an F on them, that would suck. So it's a lot more work for fewer assignments, logically they ought to have more work put into them. The other hard part that I'm going to have to figure out, is how to make MS Word on my laptop think that it's English. We have to use English spelling. As in UK English, not USA English. Basically, they put extra 'u's in words, and turn double letters into single letters. I've got colour and armour and... yeah, that's about the only ones I'm fully aware of. So I've got to figure that out. I think theres probably some setting for spell checker as to what version of English to use... western vs something else. But if someone else wants to look into that for me, that'd be great.
Oh, and, converting UK grades to US grades makes a C something like a 50/60 I think, which is all you need for transfer credit to transfer back to Tech.
Not that I'm trying to make it sound like everyone should do this instead of staying at Tech, but it is pretty awesome. And fun. All this free time means you can go do exciting things, like explore and take pictures of places you explore. (I'll have more up in a day or two or three.)
So, yesterday instead of a seminar for the Knights class, we had a field trip to the Royal Armouries. It's pretty cool, and admission is free, so I'm definately going to go back and take pictures. Since we were a special group, they put us all in a room and let us play with replica armour. AWESOME! Seriously, how many times in your life does that happen? Almost never. Unless you take this class. Most likely. Unless you decide you want to grow up and become a professional jouster or a armour studier-person who gets to play with it all day.. or if you decide you want to make it.. ok, so maybe it can happen, but for the vast majority of the population, I doubt they will ever touch shiny pointy things. (They trusted us with a sword and a little stabby thing with a special name. True, they weren't sharp, but still... awesome.)

Random weird England thing: Their keyboards are different. Mostly the same... but the @ sign isn't above the 2. It's above the '. and the # sign is over by the enter key, above the 3 is the £ sign... " is above the 2. The ~ is above the #, and where the ~ belongs is ¬ whatever that is. I really hope it shows up in the character set over in the US and that the internet doesn't freak out and put one of those little boxes for characters that don't exist. Anyone know what it's for? Also, the 4 has a euro sign on it, but I'm not sure how to get it, since hitting shift-4 gives you $.
Takes a little getting used to, especially when you're signing into a website that you need your email address for, like blogger.

I've still got about an hour till Statics, so I'm just going to keep going.... Nothing better to do really, since the stuff I need to read for class next week is at home and I don't feel like trying to find it in the library.

There are a lot of Subways here. One on every block almost. Maybe more. I think I've only seen one or two Starbucks.
Their McDonalds are a lot nicer than the ones in the states. Food tastes about the same, maybe a little better, but that could just be because I didn't get a regular burger.
Last week for lunch one day, Jake and I went to a pub down the street because he wanted fish & chips. I'm not big on seafood since it looks like it could just get up and walk off your plate half the time, and the other half of the time it still tastes bad, so I got a steak and ale pie. Basically, it's a pot pie shell with beef burgandy in it, but beef burgandy made with ale instead of burgandy. It was very tasty. I had this really awesome lemonade there too, don't remember the brand name, but it was fizzy and had more than just lemonade flavor. Jake made me try a bite of the fish and it was ok. Still wouldn't order it though.
I think that was probably the only "Brittish" food we've had. We've made pasta a couple of nights, sandwiches, grilled cheese, had Subway, KFC, pizza, he had a donner kebab one night, made tacos one night, made mini-pizzas one night for like £1. Hooray for super cheap grocery stores! Last night we ordered Chinese. They have something similar to campus foods here, We ordered from some restaurant with Dragon in the name, and got sweet and sour chicken balls. Ten times more awesome than regular sweet & sour chicken.
It seems like it's about the same to eat out as it is to cook. Pasta and those mini pizzas we made being the only obvious exceptions. Buying meat is kind of expensive, depending on what store you go to. Ground beef is like 3£ for 500g. Which is roughly equal to $4.50 for a pound, and I'm fairly certain that it's only about $2.50 a pound in the states. *shrug*
Oh, the weirdest thing (in my opinion) about their food is their milk. Now, for those of you who know me, I am a huge milk fan. It's about the only thing I drink, and at home, my family goes through over a gallon a day. So milk is pretty important for me. I walk into the grocery store for the first time, get to where the milk is, and OH MY GOD! IT'S IN RECTANGLES! It is. It also only comes in 1pt, 2pt, 4pt and 6pt containers. Why pints, I have no idea. But it makes sense. The fridges here are like... less than half the size of American fridges. They don't have room for regular square gallon containers. Their milk goes on the door. So it's gotta be all rectangular shaped. Its pretty cool, but every time I go and buy more, it's so weird to see them all sitting there. I'll take a picture sometime. Also, the milk containers have pint markings on the sides so you can tell how much you've used. Pretty awesome. However, the rectangular shape makes it a little awkward to drink out of the 6pt container. Heh. Not that I do that. >.>
Also, there are a million little hole in the wall restaurant/ take away places. Where we're living isn't that big, it's mostly residential, and we've got 8 places within a block that I can think of, I'm sure theres more that aren't jumping out at me. So theres a pretty big variety of food close by if we want to walk down the street and order it. Also, we've got 3 grocery stores really close by. Aldi, Netto's and Meanwood Grocery. I was kinda surprised they had Aldis here. *shrug* Also surprised that they had Helmanns mayo. But that made me really happy since I don't trust other mayos, not after my run in with that crappy mayo wanna-be that tastes like crap (don't remember the name at the moment). Mayo is one of the things I refuse to buy the cheap brand of. Cheese is another, but they don't really have anything other than the "cheap" expensive cheese. As in, no-name cheese, but it's expensive. All their cheese is. Maybe 3£ for half of a regular sized block back home? But it tastes really good since it's aged super long and not processed. *shrug*

But I think this is long enough for now, someone is going to complain about the length I bet, but that's ok.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I put up pictures.  As you can see by the telephone booths to the left.
If you click on the telephone booths you can go and see the rest of the pictures I put up.
If you don't want to click, then all you get to see is that picture.  The one on the left.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Entry #2 from Leeds

I promise, pictures will be up soon, I'm using a school computer at the moment, and I don't have a SD adapter on me, so no pictures yet, definately by the end of next week. I promise.

So. We got here, and then Wednesday morning decided we should head to campus and let the International Office know that we were here. As we were leaving the house, we realized we didn't know where the hell we were going. This is why you need to print off maps of the area you're travelling to if AAA doesn't have them for that area. We eventually found our way to the city center without knowing it, then stopped in at a hotel and asked the guy at the front desk, he looked at us like we were crazy and said we just had to go up turn left and walk like 10 minutes.

Got to campus, checked in, they told us where computers were, so we went and used them. Yay internet! The rest of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were mostly full of wandering around Leeds and figuring out where stores were.

As for phones:
I think I may have said in one of the earlier entries (I don't remember and I'm too lazy too look) that I was planning on getting a Skypephone. Skypephones let you call people in the UK and use Skype to call the rest of the world. Pretty awesome sounding, right? Well, the company that sells the Skypephone, 3 mobile, is really, really annoying. They want a bank statement or a utility bill that says you live here. A letter from your landlord isn't enough, already tried that. So I might end up getting a phone that is skype compatible on a pay as you go plan. We'll see.

If we wanted ethernet cord kind of internet, we'd have to pay for installation. We didn't want to do that, so we decided on dongles. Hehe. Dongles. Anyway, we went to Carphone Warehouse and I got a 12gb, 12 month starter kit on 3's network. It's basically pay as you go internet. Yay. That was like £100. Of course, if you pick to live in campus housing, you wont have to worry about that because it'll have wifi or be wired for you.

Is expensive and you need to get an even more expensive TV license to watch TV. So we most likely won't get a TV.

Buying DVDs:
Don't do it. At least if you have my computer don't do it. DVDs have different regions on them, and the rest of the world is not the same as the US. And for my Mac, you get 5 chances to change what region you're in. So if I wanted to watch a different region's movie, I'd have to change my laptop's region to watch it, then change it back when I was done so I could watch all the rest of the movies I brought from America. Not that this happened to me, just letting you know incase you're thinking of buying DVDs in the country you visit. Yes, you.

Things I've noticed about England:
People pay attention to "fashion". Almost religiously. In America, you can walk around in jeans and a hoodie and chances are, most of the people around you will be dressed the same, college campus or grocery store or city. Here, girls are either in skinny jeans and boots, or skirt, leggings, and boots. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Guys I'm not paying as much attention to, but I think the general rule is, that if H&M sells it, thats what you should be wearing. It's really weird and makes me feel like I stick out since I'm a t-shirt, hoodie and jeans kind of girl. Oh, also, I think I can count the number of girls with curly hair that I've seen since I got here on two hands. They all have straight hair. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Again, a little creepy.
Disclaimer: This is my opinion. Apparently someone *cough* Jake *cough* considers tshirts & jeans to be America's fashion. Whatever. I still say all the English chicks are weird. No offense to y'all.
Other werid things: They say "Cheers!" a lot. And at the randomest times, too. I have no idea what it means.

So, International Office is doing a trip to Liverpool next Saturday, we're going to go on it and see Liverpool. Might go to Manchester next Sunday, I'm not sure. But here's a list of places we're going to try and hit in the UK/Ireland:
Loch Ness

Other places we might hit on weekends:

Europe places:
Yeah, too big of a list, I'll put it up later, closer to when we're going to go.

So... yeah, guess that's it for now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


First entry from England!
So. Let's just say that the trip from **super secret place where I live** to JFK was entirely too long.  For a trip that was supposed to be around an hour, we ended up on the plane for 6 hours.  That not only ate up our layover at JFK, but it may have been partially responsible for the flight to Heathrow being delayed by 3 hours. Hooray.  JFK needs to learn how to de-ice planes.  Seriously.  That, or develop planes that don't need to be de-iced.  Because all those delays made us miss the train we bought advanced non-exchangable, non-refundable tickets for.  And thing is, we had planned to be able to get it even if the train was a bit delayed.  A bit is not three hours.  *angry face*  So, advice for all of you people who might want to study abroad at Leeds, if you are flying into London, give yourself 5 hours between the time your plane is supposed to land, and when your train leaves.  Takes two hours to get from the plane to Kings Cross, which is the station you want to take to get to Leeds.  Or, you can fly into Manchester instead.  Or Leeds!  That way you fork over the money early and there's probably less of a chance of wasting shit-ton of money, like we ended up doing. 
To get to Kings Cross you have to take the Heathrow Express to Padington, and then the London Underground from Padington to Leeds.  It was £19.50 for  the Express and the Underground.
Money here is pretty much the same as in the US, except for the fact that it's pounds and pence instead of dollars and cents, and it's worth more.  Hooray US economy!
Annnd... yeah.  That's it for now.
I won't have internet until probably the end of the week at my house, and probably won't be able to use the internet on campus until at least Thursday, so this will probably be the last time you hear from me for a couple of days.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Alright. So, most obvious thing first: Yes, you need a passport.
Hopefully you knew that already and have one if you're planning on studying abroad.  Otherwise, get one now.
Next thing: Visas.
This is complicated.  Also, it might change in the future, but as of today, this is what's going on for me:
If you're from the US and are going for less than 6 months, you DONT need a visa, as long as all you plan on doing is go to school.  This means no job.  The reason for this is because of all this (which I'm copying from an email I sent, because I don't feel like re-wording):
So, we aren't visa nationals because the USA isn't on the list on the first link.
And because we aren't a visa national we dont need a visa.
Couple paragraphs down says:
"Non-visa nationals do not need a visa prior to arrival but will need to declare their intentions to the Immigration Officer on arrival and will be required to show evidence that they can meet all the requirements of the Immigration Rules, Paragraph 56K."
56K says:
Student visitors
Requirements for leave to enter as a student visitor
56K. The requirements to be met by a person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom as a student visitor are that he:
(i) is genuinely seeking entry as a student visitor for a limited period as stated by him, not exceeding six months; and
(ii) has been accepted on a course of study which is to be provided by an organisation which is included on the Register of Education and Training Providers; and
(iii) intends to leave the United Kingdom at the end of his visit as stated by him; and
(iv) does not intend to take employment in the United Kingdom; and
(v) does not intend to engage in business, to produce goods or provide services within the United Kingdom, including the selling of goods or services direct to members of the public; and
(vi) does not intend to study at a maintained school; and
(vii) will maintain and accommodate himself and any dependants adequately out of resources available to him without recourse to public funds or taking employment; or will, with any dependants, be maintained and accommodated adequately by relatives or friends; and
(viii) can meet the cost of the return or onward journey; and
(ix) is not a child under the age of 18.

So that should answer any questions about visas.  If it doesn't, keep clicking around the first couple links, eventually you'll get somewhere that should help you.

As for getting to Leeds---
I've got a plane that leaves *super secret city I live in* and goes to NYC, then NYC to London.  From there we'll (Jake & I) have to take a train up to Leeds, but we still have to figure that out.  Hooray last minute details!

And I think that's it for now.
Might not do another entry until I'm actually in England.  Depends on if I can come up with a relevant topic to talk about before then.