Tagged as “ICLC”
Friday, October 12, 2012
Mid-term break seems to have hit us. It’s like the Apocalypse has fallen upon the London Center. I feel a bit like Will Smith having survived. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a legend...
Students are flitting in and out, collecting their passports and any forgotten items so that they can flee the country or at least get some respite away from exams and studies. Don’t forget us though! We shall still be here throughout the week. Working…
Since I hear the majority of you are flying to lands far far away (Italy, Spain, Holland etc…) I would like to share some pearls of travel wisdom of my own in an attempt to cheer myself up. I also hope that this serves as inspiration for the current ICLC students to write some pieces about their travels for this blog.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."
A quote I recently found and ‘favourited’ on Twitter. Quite frankly I don’t usually like deep and sentimental phrases but something about this one really hit home and made me smile. I’ve been fortunate over the last four years to have travelled quite extensively, telling friends and family it was imperative if I wanted to succeed with my language learning. I have volunteered in Costa Rica, run around a maze dressed as a clown – ‘working’ - on the island of Menorca, studied in Mexico (climbed some volcanoes too…) and I have worked in a rather up market hotel on the Amalfi coast in Italy. Diversity certainly appeals to me. As does a challenge. I liked arriving on foreign lands with a guidebook in hand and a rough idea of what to expect from the next few months. However it’s not until you land safely back in the comfort of your own home and look back on what you have learnt, achieved and more often than not struggled with that you really appreciate the distance you have travelled. Before I left for Costa Rica, a 17 year old angel (…) never would I have imagined that on my 18th birthday I would be teaching kindergarteners the “Happy Birthday” song, slaughtering chickens (for meat purposes) and dancing to Latin beats until the sun came up. What I’ve really learnt from these past few years is that anything really is possible. And probable. So why am I continuing to ramble about this to you? Well. Having been an international student on two different continents and having safely come out the other side of Higher Education, I would say that your University years are a truly educating experience and your time abroad will teach you as much about yourself as it will about others. Grab each and every opportunity, make the most of new experiences, try something new, because before you know it you will be resting your head on that familiar pillow wondering where all of that time went.
Have a fantastic mid-term break. Stay safe. Give your brain a well deserved rest. I've included some favourite photos of mine below...
Yep. That's me beneath the Gandalf costume...
Thursday, November 11, 2010
My right to work at the ICLC is based on the fact that I am a dual citizen. I am both American and German. Don't worry, despite some rumors, it is completely kosher and loads of people are dual citizens. The Germans are aware that I'm also American and the Americans are aware that I'm also German. Being a German citizen makes me a member of the European Union and eligible to work in all EU countries. Being a natural born American citizen makes me eligible to be the president of the United States. So both passports come with perks. Today I would like to announce the "dual citizenship" of the ICLC's blog. Begun using Blogger, we are moving over to the IC blog format and continuously experimenting with it. The original blog will still be there, but it is now a dual citizen of Ithaca College and Blogger.
Decoration in my office
On a side note, the ICLC will have at least 3 dual citizens coming to study in London this spring. I have seen a number of cases of students coming over here to study, falling in love with Europe and chasing up their roots to find out if they can become dual citizens. Even if it isn't possible to to get a hold of that second passport, digging into family history and ancestry can be really interesting. A few years back I researched where my great grandfather on my father's side had been born in Northern Ireland. When my brother came to visit me in Dublin, we took a bus north of the border and found the site of the family farm that his birth certificate said he had been born in. It is now a tile shop, with very generous proprietors who gave us a large ceramic tile with a picture of a French boulangerie to commemorate our trip.
Wall decoration outside Sarah's office
There is a show that the BBC makes called Who Do You Think You Are? and I have decided that I would like to become a celebrity so that one day they will do an episode based on me. The premise is that they take a well known figure (usually a tv celebrity) and help them track down their roots. Often the celebrity has some sort of question about a relative that they are interested in answering. Sometimes they trace families back to the person's grandparents, sometimes they are able to follow them backward centuries. I have seen a few episodes where the people were even traced back hundreds of years to royalty. My grandfather, on my mother's side, was convinced that we were illegitimate Hapsburgs. I'm ok with this allegation because being illegitimate probably means that there isn't much of a history of in-breeding in the line I descend from. I know that the point of the show is to get people interested in making their own discoveries about their past, but my mother and I had a look at some old papers that my grandparents brought over from Germany, and they are written in a beautiful Gothic German script that is nearly impossible to read. The language barrier was a bit rough, too, even though my mother and I have both studied some German. The German language seems to go through overhauls once in a while, so it was a little like trying to read your family history as if Jane Austen had written it. No, I think I would like the BBC to help me with my research.
The Union flag with the Scottish Royal Standard sneaking in on the side
We have a worldly staff, with all members culturally associating with more than one country. Bill was born in Canada but has spent more than half his life in the UK. Sarah is Welsh but grew up in Holland. Heather is American and is married to a Yorkshireman. Choosing to remain a bit of a mystery, it seems that Elsie, who is mostly manifested in our blog, is a dual citizen of Ithaca College and Blogger. Congratulations Elsie!
-Claire (Elsie would have helped, but she is on holiday celebrating her new citizenship)
Friday, November 5, 2010
November is a month of remembrances in the UK. The most significant occurs on November 11th, the day when World War One ended, and the day when we remember and give thanks for the sacrifices of the dead, disabled, missing and survivors of all wars. And so we should remember and give quiet thanks to the thousands slaughtered in the grim trench warfare of the western front and in all subsequent wars. Retrospectively, of course, it seems like WWI – unlike WW2 - was a wholly unnecessary war. The pain of separation, wasted lives and broken bodies is greater as a result.
Another November day, the 25th this year, is a huge day for Americans, a day of family gatherings, celebration and thankfulness. November25th is Thanksgiving, not much of a day to remember for the British. They stayed put while radical Protestants took ship on a hazardous 3,000 mile journey across unpredictable waters to get religious freedom. Had they stayed and fought for religious freedom, who knows whether there would still be a monarchy and established church here! Had they stayed they would have learned to play cricket, always an advantage in life.
The strangest of the ‘remembrances’ occurs TODAY, the 5th, Guy Fawkes Day. Like Thanksgiving it is meant to recall the ‘freedoms’ of the English. These freedoms began in the 12th century when the monarchs summoned lords and commoners to a consultative process called ‘Parliament’. In 1605, 400 years after the birth of Parliament, Guy Fawkes and his associates tried to blow up the Palace of Westminster during the State opening. The plot was rumbled in the nick of time, the king, his chief ministers, the bishops, gentlemen from the shires and the royal family were all saved to rule or misrule in perpetuity. Hence Nov 5th recalls English liberties, a reasonable enough event to celebrate.
But, there are two puzzles about our celebrations today. First, should we be celebrating in the way we do? Fireworks are OK, but they do paradoxically suggest that the attempt was successful. What is critical about November 5th is that there was no explosion! Second, the bonfires are even more problematic as participants in the riotous celebrations are meant to hurl ‘guys’ onto the fire and watch them burn. The throwing of human effigies or ‘GUYS’ on to huge bonfires in our city parks recalls the religious zealotry of the wars of religion when Catholics burnt Protestants and vice versa. But Fawkes and his co-conspirators were not burnt: their crime was high treason and punishment for this most serious of crimes was being dragged on a hurdle head down through the streets of London, from the Tower to Westminster in Fawkes’ case, there to have his genitals cut off and displayed in front of him and then to be hung drawn and quartered. Ouch! The same happened to William Wallace three hundred years previous.
I’m not so sure that we should be ‘remembering’ the 5th of November and man’s brutal inhumanity to man.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The NFL road show, featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, with Jerry Rice and John Elway in tow, plus scores of hangers on and media technicians, arrived in London last week. Almost 85,000 people attended the match at the brand new Wembley Stadium. This 4th in the NFL’s annual series of ‘international’ matches was a close game, dull in the first half, more exciting in the second, when 37 of the 40 points were scored and two critical refereeing decisions shaped the outcome. The 49ers came out on top, a bit fortuitously, but any win is good when a team has a 1-5 record. The game turned on penalties that negated two explosive Bronco touchdowns. The Broncos’ place kicker also missed a conversion which would have brought his team to within a converted touchdown of the ‘Niners’. “Wait a minute,” I jokingly commented to Gen at the time, “a skewed conversion reminds me of the ‘spot betting’ scandal in the recent Test series between England and Pakistan.” Had the Broncos place kicker found a betting shop in central London? What are the odds on a missed convert, one that is not even blocked, not even close? Shades of “the 5th ball of my 4th over will be a ‘no ball’”. To say nothing of the officials who were decisive in turning a game Denver should have won into the 49ers’ second win of the season**.
All dressed up for the game!
Over here we believe that American football developed out of Rugby which in turn developed out of football/soccer. Both parent games are played on a wider and longer pitch, for longer periods [80 minutes and 90 minutes], with fewer substitutions and no time outs. When substitutions are made in football’s Champions League the distance the player has run is shown on the screen: for example, in last night’s Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan game, the Spurs winger Aaron Lennon was substituted in the 80th minute having run over 10km. [He also made tackles and was tackled.] Spurs have a minimum of 38 games each year and are allowed just three subs per game. To play football at this level the players need to be very fit. No doubt the same is true in US football, but the game doesn’t show it. No US player would run 10km in a game.
The main novelty the Americans introduced was the forward pass. Much of the equipment and the sophisticated strategy came later. The biggest difference between US football and its grandfather, Association Football or soccer, and its father, Rugby, lies in the amount of time the players actually PLAY the game. I am not challenging the supreme fitness of the players, nor the sophistication of the strategy which calls for numerous substitutions and time-outs. But for the soccer or rugby public it does seem strange that US football has too many occasions when fit, professional athletes stand in half huddles on the pitch doing nothing but drinking water and chatting amiably to each other. US football is far slower and, arguably, less physically strenuous than other versions of the game.
Non-committal QPR hat, Bill
Check this data compiled during the first half of the Wembley match.
ACTUAL CLOCK TIME FOR 1st half: start 5:00pm; finish 6:12pm = 72 minutes
ACTUAL GAME TIME: Two 15 minute quarters = 30 minutes
ACTUAL PLAYING TIME: [from snap to end of play]
Possession 1: DENVER 37 seconds [5 plays]
Possession 2: SF 31 seconds [4 plays]
Possession 3: Denver 50 seconds [8 plays]
Possession 4: SF 70 seconds [13 plays]
Possession 5: Denver 49 seconds [6 plays]
Possession 6: SF 37 seconds [6 plays]
Possession 7: Denver 41 seconds [7 plays]
Possession 8: SF 41 seconds [6 plays]
Possession 9: Denver 83 seconds [12 plays]
Possession 10: SF 1 second [1 play]
TOTAL PLAYING TIME: 440 seconds = 7 minutes 20 seconds for 68 plays OR roughly 24% of the ‘game time’ and a mere 10% of the ‘real time’ of 72 minutes. Each play lasts on average about 6.5 seconds.
I ask these questions of the NFL.
1. Do fans attend games to watch superb athletes at the peak of their performance OR to be otherwise entertained by the razzmatazz, the cheerleaders, the Mexican waving, the tailgate parties, etc.
2. Can football players & fans cope with bursts of play that last longer than 10 seconds?
3. Do the cheerleaders, also fit, choreographed and with facial make-up [like the running backs and receivers] perform more strenuously and for a longer period of time in a game than the players?
4. Who is more highly paid? The [arguably] underperforming fit athletic footballers or the equally fit cheerleaders?
5. Are some fans more active than players in a match? Do they burn more calories watching a game & cheering for their team than the majority of kitted players?
** DISCLAIMER: The author does not believe that the BRONCO place keeper and the referees placed bets on the outcome of the match.
Thanks for this one, Carter!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
This is a completely true story:
This morning Sarah was in my office with me. We were the only two in the building, as it's Fall Break and most people are enjoying some time away from the London Centre. Weren't we surprised, then, when my phone started beeping to let me know that I had an internal call coming in! There is the normal phone ring that you get when an external call comes into the building, but that wasn't what I heard. The internal ring is more like a beep. It's a repeating monotone and the caller's extension appears on the phone's screen. The extension that appeared was 200, which is the phone on the Work Study desk across from mine. No one was sitting there. Last night when we were closing Sarah went through the building to make sure it was empty and to lock it up. This is what happens every night. I set the alarm when we left, and I am sure there was no one else in the building with us. I was the first one here this morning, and when I opened the door, the alarm was set as I had done it the night before. There was no one else in the building!
Elsie left her mark in push pins. I may have helped her. This was back when I thought she was a figment of Bill's imagination.
As I said, Sarah was in my office when this happened, and we were the only ones here, so we know that it could only be Elsie calling. Sarah said that this reminded her of the first time she was alone in the building. Bill, Heather and the students were away on a trip, and Sarah was working hard, when the lights of the 6 phone lines coming into the building started flashing for her own personal light show. Only slightly unnerved, she checked with Heather and Bill when they returned to find out if this was something they had ever seen. Heather said she had seen it plenty of times before. So perhaps Heather has more in-depth knowledge of Elsie than the rest of us guessed?
This is what my phone looks like when I get an internal call, though I wasn't fast enough to capture it with Line 1 lit up.
Not that I'm trying to spook anyone as Halloween gets closer, but I had always thought of Elsie as the creature that would reach through the balustrade for my ankles as I ran up the stairs from locking up the basement in the dark (the light switch is at the bottom of the stairs, so it's a dim trip up). Or perhaps she would be the one banging on the radiator behind the closed door of room 8. I guess I just didn't expect her on the phone. I think that one has been used for the plot of more than one horror film. Come on Elsie, show us a bit of creativity!
I guess the moral of the story is that Elsie doesn't make outgoing calls, because if she did, it might be a worry to us all that she is going around the ICLC to phone her friends, and she might be giving the alarm code away. But the alarm was untouched this morning, so she probably doesn't know how to work it. On the other hand, she may not know how to dial out of the building either, so she keeps it to internal calls, which is fine since Bill, Sarah, Heather and I all know the alarm code already, so she wouldn't be divulging confidential information to us that we don't already know. Or maybe Elsie just forgot to dial 9. Luckily this happened when we were both in. Tomorrow I leave for Ithaca and it will just be Sarah. If Elsie grabs her ankle on the stairs, who will hear her scream?
And these are the things that happen in the ICLC when the students aren't in.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
As students come into my office to staple their mid term essays and ask where the faculty pigeon holes are, and as I hound students for their fall break travel detail forms, I think we are all feeling the middle of this term. That strain is only allayed by the sense of relief that comes after an exam is finished and an essay is printed. It is one of the most pleasant feelings this world can offer us, but how did mid terms creep up on us all?
Interrelationships journals due?
I remember learning in school that Distance = Rate x Time, so I asked Google maps the distance between London and Ithaca, but they wouldn't calculate that for me, so I have had to extrapolate that one. Wiki Answers says that the distance between London and New York City is 2,983 miles and the distance from NYC to Ithaca is 223 miles according to Google maps, so the total distance is 3,206 miles. The time that you are here is 4 months, which is 17 weeks or 119 days. The only variable that leaves is Rate, and since you are about to leave for fall break and Bill and I will be meeting the Spring 2011 students in a week, I am keen to calculate the rate at which this term seems to be flying by.
To find that variable therefore we must divide the Distance, 3,206, by the Time. 3,206 divided by 4 is 801.5, divided 17 is 188.588 and divided by 119 is 26.941. Now that we have these Rates, we have to clarify the increments they represent. Perhaps we could measure in MPH. That means that in the 2,856 hours between your arrival in August and departure in December this semester will have sped by at a rate of 1.119 MPH. Even in your sleeping hours you have been going just over a mile an hour. We aren't cars and we aren't training for marathons, so I would just like to ask, where is it all going? Where are you all going?
I can answer that with a look at the map on the board outside my office!
There are going to be so many more initials around this map one you're back from break!
-Claire (and Elsie)
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Birthdays only come once a year (for most of us), and they are such a good excuse to spoil ourselves just a little. Whether you are having three celebratory breakfasts or treating yourself to a lie-in, this is a day that stands out from the other 364. If you are having your birthday while on your semester abroad you may find it a strange and exhilarating experience. One of the best parts has to be getting packages and presents and cards from home. Others make a special point of being out of their home country for their birthdays. Perhaps it has become a tradition, or perhaps it is a clever ploy to ask for money to take traveling for your birthday. Either way, there are infinite ways to celebrate birthdays.
A horse and a snake after the birthday brownies are eaten
This scavenger hunt installment therefore deals with years. Here in the ICLC, Bill likes to keep abreast of the where his faculty and staff fall in the Chinese calendar to see which animals are represented. Bill himself is a dog and amongst our staff the dogs grossly outnumber any other animal, so I think we all know where this bias in his hiring policy comes from. It may also have to do with the fact that people born in the year of the dog possess the best traits of human nature. When including the faculty into the mix I thought that the dogs topped the leader board with six of us, but much to my surprise we have seven snakes! Snakes are deep. They say little and posses great wisdom. It makes sense that a college would employ people who possess great wisdom. We also have four rabbits, three rats, two horses, one dragon and one boar. Unrepresented are rams, monkeys, roosters, tigers and oxen. Your job is to find any one of these last five animals. Extra points if they are living, breathing animals.
3 horses, 2 tigers and a snake
On a personal note, when I was born I think my doctor was very excited on the occasion. My evidence for this is that she dated my birth certificate with the wrong year. As a result, I have quite a unique certificate which says that I was born a decade after my birth certificate was signed and dated. My parents were there, that's not how it happened. I don’t think she is a psychic as well as a doctor, but I don’t really have an explanation for this one. She’s a very good doctor, so she probably just put in a better effort studying medicine than the calendar. Birth certificates, being part of public records, can involve a lot of bureaucratic effort to change. So my parents never did it when I was a kid, and I think it’s such a weird quirk that I have no interest in changing it myself. When I was a kid I hoped this would help me get a driver’s license ten years early. My dad, with more of a mind towards forward planning, thinks I should apply for social security ten years early. Needless to say, I had to wait until I was actually 16 years old to drive, because no one would believe that a child who looks six years old should be behind the wheel of a car. And I have no intention of trying to scam the social security system. In honour of my wonky birth certificate, your second mission is to find something made in 1972, the year I wasn’t born.
A horse and a snake
-Elsie (as well as one of the ICLC’s many dogs)
Monday, October 4, 2010
As you well know, each semester we choose a Book of the Term. This term the book is Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin. It is set is Edinburgh in the early 1990’s and deals with violence and the IRA, as the books we choose are meant to introduce the students to different aspects of British culture. Now we are thinking of the book of the next term, and Sarah and I are leaning toward Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Whereas we live in London Above, much of this book is set in London Below. What is London Below, you ask? I’m about halfway through the book and I don’t really know myself.
Speaking of the things that happen below London, the London Underground is one of the oldest continuously running subway systems in the world. It has a fascinating history from acting as a shelter for Londoners during the Blitz to surprising pedestrians as they pass by disused stations on the street that have been closed for decades. Because they are often not lit up at all, they can be easy to miss. Who has seen Aldwych Station on the Strand right in the middle of London? It’s staring you in the face just after you pass Somerset House. Keep an eye out for this one. Your first mission this week is to find a disused Tube Station, but not Aldwych, since I have just pointed that one out. Here is a link to a great website that has images of out of date Tube maps to help you along with this one: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/clivebillson/tube/tube.html. Don’t be deceived by stations that are still there but have changed names. Have a look at the outside of Gloucester Road Tube station the next time you pass by and notice that the top of the building says that the Metropolitan and District Railways go to this station. A lot has changed since this station appeared on one of the earliest Tube maps (1889) as Brompton Gloucester Road Station. Also, excitingly, there were plans on the 1949 version of the map to extend the Bakerloo line down as far as Camberwell! Alas, this would only have added to the paradise that Camberwell is!
Also, if you go to the northbound Piccadilly line platform, you can see the tiled sign on the wall saying that these trains go to Finsbury Park, as that is where the Piccadilly line once terminated
You may have also gathered by now, if you have been checking out the TfL website to plan your journeys or to figure out alternative routes during the Tube strike, that as well as the Tube there are also buses, trams, boats and bicycles on offer as public transportation options. During the last Tube strike there were photos in the paper of the queues of people lined up to take the boats across the Thames. So, speaking of photos and boats, your second mission is to capture the underside of a bridge. Obviously you don’t need to be on a boat to see underneath a bridge, but taking a boat across London offers a new perspective to modern eyes and a view of London from what has traditionally been one of its busiest thoroughfares.
-Elsie (who loves Camberwell!)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The old adage that America and Britain are two countries separated by a common language has a truthful ring, but, if one were inventing a 21st century variant of the adage, one might say that the USA and Britain are two countries separated by their summer games, baseball [an English invention] and cricket [also English, but once very popular in the [USA]!
When first at university in the UK, my American friends and I regularly laughed uproariously when reading a cricket report. How could a popular domestic and international sport be so much like the ‘goons’? Was Spike Milligan The Times’ cricket reporter? It was a bit like reading the Law Code of Hammurabi or Einstein’s theory of relativity. Without a great deal of background, the reports would never make sense. Cricket seemed to be absurd, like the Pythons’ ‘ministry of silly walks’, ‘four Yorkshiremen’ [my favourite Python] and ‘dead parrot’ sketches. Clearly a sentence like “Smith was caught for 15 by Harris fielding at silly-mid-off off the bowling of Johnston” is a joke! How can a ball be a ‘no ball’? How can a position be entitled ‘silly mid-off’? Would Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, or Roberto Clemente ever humiliate themselves by playing in such an undignified position? More significantly, would Marilyn Monroe have married a ‘silly mid off’ [or a ‘silly mid on’ for that matter]? Was every day April Fool’s day in the UK?
The British can’t make sense of baseball [apparently, and rather patronisingly, just a slightly more sophisticated version of rounders, a girls’ school game], and the Americans remain incapable of understanding how a game can be played over three hours [Twenty/20], eight hours [50 overs or a one day match], or four or five days [first class matches, internationals and Test matches] and still end in a draw. And then why are there always two batters? [UNLIKELY ANSWER: the loneliness of a batter who is out in the middle all day – he needs to talk to someone.] Why don’t the fielders use gloves [UNUSUAL ANSWER: since its creation in 1948, the NHS has specialised in broken fingers, and it’s free!] How is it fair, indeed part of the strategy, for the bowler to hit the batters? [TRUE ANSWER: ‘bodyline’ was developed by the English to use against the Aussies, the old rivals, a nation who could give as good as they got]. Why invent a game for 11 players that has at least 20-30 fielding positions? [IMPROBABLE ANSWER: the British invented a game that would be good for its huge and under populated colonies like New Zealand, Canada and Australia.] And what about stopping 45 minutes for lunch and another 20 minutes for tea? [ TRUE ANSWER: Nothing to do with strategy; rather an attempt to fill the belly if one had to field or bat for another 3 hours and a day. The British feel that cricket is a ‘manly’ sport that requires more fitness and hardness than baseball. Discuss this proposition over a pint. [The same is more obviously true for the comparison between Rugby and American football.]
The simplest route to understanding cricket and baseball is to play the games. There is new equipment to consider – the size of the bat, the colour of the ball, the state of the pitch or wicket, the positioning of the fielders, the need for collaboration between the two batters when running between the wickets, sliding and stealing bases, the freedom to hit in a 360 degree area, etc. Mindset: in cricket you just can’t ‘take a pitch’ in case that pitch knocks your middle stump 20 feet into the air. Also when chasing a score, you need to take advantage of just about every ball. You need to know when to dig in, be obdurate, play with a straight bat, don’t take risks, slow the tempo, steady the ship, and when to attack. You need to be adept with the bat.
In baseball, you need to hit in a 90 degree area. You also get to keep the ball if the batter fouls it off into the stands. If a new ball that has just emerged from the umpire’s pocket has the slightest hint of acne – a little red mark], it goes into the recycling bin. But there are no free balls in cricket. Indeed a ball must last an entire innings, whether it be a 25 over match, a 50 over match or a test match [80 overs per ball change]. The American League’s ‘Designated Hitter’ role doesn’t always fit its purpose, that is, to make the game more exciting.
Can this expatriate choose between the two ‘games of summer’? Well, he will sit on the fence for the time being. Both games can be occasionally boring, although a 1-0 pitcher’s duel is technically not a boring event. One good thing about baseball is that you can buy hot dogs at the games. One good thing about cricket is that you can read a book, get a sun tan, have a Pimms, applaud politely or be as raucous as England’s ‘barmy army’ on tour. Cricket has been adopted by many countries in the now defunct Empire, while baseball is on the offensive trying to woo Europeans away from soccer, and rugby.
Final word: laugh all you want at cricket and baseball, or yawn if you must, but before dismissing the games, play them. See the accompanying pictures of Ithaca students playing cricket on a very dodgy wicket in Hyde Park September.
-Bill (with no help from Elsie)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In my research of what a blog is, the trend seems to be for anecdotal stories about the events of the day or the week or the month. Here is what happens around the ICLC:
Sarah: makes a cup of tea, fixes the internet, makes more tea
Claire: makes a cup of tea, kicks the photocopier, makes more tea
Bill: makes a cup of tea, plays some cricket, teaches some classes, makes more tea
Chris: drops off the post, makes a cup of tea, fixes the building, makes more tea
Perhaps Bill doesn't play cricket everyday, but otherwise this is pretty accurate. Obviously we do other things, too, and Elsie would like you to guess what those things are. The first installment of scavenged items for you to find this week is going to require a lot of stretching of your abstract creativity muscles. If you were living a day in the life of Bill, what would your ideal supper be? Remember that Bill is a sports fanatical, World War II and east London loving Egyptologist. Please compose a photograph showing this meal.
Sarah's tea and strainer
Also, tea is very important to our lives everyday. It is a reason for breaks in the day, it is a required drink at breakfast and it is part of a posh afternoon involving sandwiches and cakes. Thing 2: Please find the most interesting tea paraphernalia that you can, whether it's a teapot, tea strainer, tea flavour or anything else related to tea.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
In 2004 my mother sent me an email with the subject line, Welcome to the 1990's. I read the email to discover that she was delighted to tell me that she had just gotten a webcam. As a result of reading this email, whenever I make a slightly behind the times discovery, I like to preface it with the phrase, Welcome to the 1990's. Until today my most recent use of the phrase had been this past April when I bought a television, something my flat had been lacking for the previous year and a half. I use it today to express my joy at having discovered how to link other blogs to this one. It has led to a work filled afternoon of blog stalking not only Fall 2010 ICLC students but also family members and my high school American Lit teacher's daughter who was 1 year old when her father was my teacher.
As a result, I feel like I have had real insight into the some of the cultural differences picked up on by our students, particularly linguistically. This seems to have been a through line. Almost all of the blogs that I looked at had a post outlining the difference between British English and American English. I expect that this is because there is no shortage of people reminding us that we speak differently. I love the assumption that because the USA and the UK are both English speaking countries we must be able to understand each other perfectly, but between accents and subtle word choice differences there's no denying that we are two nations divided by our common language. My sister is married to a man from New Zealand and I once asked them how much they could really understand each other in conversation. We were all a little shocked when he answered 100% and she answered 70%, but perhaps this is some little known secret to marital success. Bill exerts much energy each term pushing for intercontinental relationships to develop, so perhaps he has been privy to this secret, too.
Anyway, this is all part of the immersion experience. It is a real shock to the system to be told that you aren't speaking your native language correctly, and I have heard many an argument that American English is wrong, because if it were right the language would be called "American". Americanisms have permeated British tongues and are hard to avoid, which adds to the confusion of not knowing which language you are speaking. Even in Britain things come out of left field now and at McDonalds people order fries with their burgers.
Here is the moral of the story: Bill looked at the spelling of a word and said something looked wrong. I said it must be the American spelling. He said that wasn't it, so I suggested that it was the British spelling. Sometimes I get confused about which is which. Bill said that there is a solution to not knowing whether you are using the American or British version of a word. Stuff them both and use the Canadian way.
-Claire (with a little help from Elsie)
Friday, September 17, 2010
Bill Sheasgreen is a very hard working man, often the first one to work and one of the last to leave. But not this week. (Not that Bill isn’t working hard this week, but hopefully he is also having some down time to be a tourist.)
Alyssa trying to dodge the camera at this week's coffee talk
Bill has gone to Nantes in northeastern France for a conference this week and left Sarah as the beauty on duty, with me as her second in command. He hasn’t been gone long, but we are pleased to report that it has been business as usual. The coffee has been made in the morning and the newspapers have been bought. The students are attending their classes and the internet has crashed (twice). What makes this week different from most others? With any luck, not much, except that I led one of Bill’s classes this week.
There is a feeling of great satisfaction that comes with knowing Bill is comfortable leaving the smooth sailing of the ICLC in our hands. I would even dare to say that we have really “serioused” this place up in his absence. While Bill has been gone there has not been student wide cooperation on a practical joke, which is good. Mass organization of approximately 54 people is the type of thing that can lead to overthrow and revolution. Bill may never leave the London Centre again if he will only use his time away in future to worry about what is being plotted in his absence. No, this week flowed seamlessly into the next when Bill will be back, and everything will remain normal. No one had any mug shots taken of them, either.
More work study work, Kathryn posting a notice
I’m not trying to say that Bill’s absence is going unnoticed, but he runs such a well oiled machine, that is the ICLC, no crucial responsibilities go completely unattended without one of the three of us here. There may not be a walk with Bill scheduled this weekend, but that's because he's working on his tan so that he can come back for his next walk as a bronze god.
-Claire (and Elsie)
Monday, September 13, 2010
Many ICLC students celebrate their 21 birthdays during their semester in London. While it's a momentous occasion in the States to go into a bar and buy your first legal drink, you may have noticed that there is much less fuss about 21 year olds buying a drink here in the UK. In many ways drinking culture is a horse of a different color. The legal age is lower in the UK and pubs close much earlier than Americans are used to. You can go to a pub for a classic Sunday roast or for a pub quiz to find out how good your knowledge of trivia really is. There are also similarities, though. They are major social meeting points and binge drinking is problematic in both countries. But one thing that definitely separates British and American drinking establishments is what they are called. Often sites have had pubs on them for hundreds of year and have names that don't necessarily make sense to a modern audience. There are more pubs than it's worth counting called the Queen's Head, the King's Head and the King's Arms. There's a chain called the Slug and Lettuce. There's a pub in Notting Hill called The Windsor Castle. My local when I was a student was called The Elusive Camel. What do these names mean? For some the answers can probably be found on Wikipedia (a reputable source), but other meanings may be completely lost or even made up, not ever really having had any particular meaning. Pub names can also be influential. The areas of Swiss Cottage and Elephant and Castle are named after local pubs (actually I think there is some debate about where the name Elephant and Castle comes from, but it sounds like the name of a pub. The area's more official name is Newington, not to be confused with Stoke Newington which is not nearby).
Your two missions this week, should you choose to accept, are to find the most interesting pub name that you can and, in honor of my old local, to find a camel. Dromedaries need not apply. Only Bactrian camels. Elsie will be counting the humps. I have high hopes that both of these will prove difficult and time consuming, but lead to admirable creativity. As a Londoner herself, Elsie probably feels that she has seen it all. Show her how wrong she can be!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Part of the appeal of studying abroad is the possibility of immersing yourself in another culture and meeting new people from around the world. However, it can be all too easy to find yourself immersed in an American bubble once you get to London, living and studying with your fellow students from Ithaca. In an effort to try and pop this bubble and open up more opportunities for immersion, Elsie is creating a scavenger hunt spanning the Fall 2010 semester. When the final judging is done it will be based on the sense of immersion that the entries show (Elsie won't mind you playing to her vanity, either), so be creative. Everything is open to interpretation.
The creation of this hunt is the product of evaluations from past students who said that they wished they had been more immersed in London life. While here you will have opportunities to join clubs with students from British universities, and we hope that you take advantage of this chance. Many of the classes running this term involve getting out in London for walks and tours. This is a great way to see London, and can be used as a great spring board for immersion, but the leg-work is up to you. Housing yourselves was one of your first initial experiences in getting to grips with life in London. You met landlords, saw what people's homes in London look like and possibly even met your new neighbors. This scavenger hunt will be easy in comparision.
We are working with a loose interpretation of the word 'immersion'. We can't force you to walk up to a stranger, introduce yourself and share the stories of your lives with each other each weekend at a different pub in a different area of London. In envisioning this scavenger hunt with an eye towards immersion, the onus of getting out, seeing new things, meeting new people and experiencing how life is lived in another country is on you. So when you are sent out to scavenge it is in the hope that you will treat this as a suggestion for an opportunity to immerse yourself. The things themselves that you are being asked to find are more likely to be on the periphery of immersion. We want you to go to concerts, festivals, sporting events, exhibitions and plays, we want you to meet new people and we want you to explore beyond the traditional American hangouts.
Throughout the term Elsie will post things for you to find. As the deadline for entries will not be until the end of the semester, take your time and keep your eyes peeled. In no particular order, here are some guidelines for the hunt:
- All entries must be submitted in photo form.
- The back of the photo must have the location it was taken and the entrant's ID# (don't put your name on them).
- All entries from an entrant must be submitted at the same time.
- All entries are subjective and will be judged by Elsie on the degree of immersion that they represent.
- Unless stated otherwise, all entries must be photographed within the UK.
- Please make sure you have permission to photograph your entries.
- You don't necessarily need to submit entries for every object in the hunt. It's quality that's important.
- Teaming up with a partner (no more than 2 working together) is allowed, or you can go it alone.
- The entrant must appear in at least 5 photos, showing them interacting with the objects that they have found.
-The Three Dogs (none of whom are pink)
* * *
London, originally created as a Roman outpost, is a reflection of nearly two millenia of inhabitants. It has been a magnet for migrants for much of its existence, from the Romans to the Saxons to the French Huguenots to the Ithaca College London Centre staff. In turn, these migrants become locals and make London their own. Steeped in history, so many Londoners have left their mark somewhere (lucky for Bill, he can't be identified as having graffitied Stamford Bridge). The plaque marking Christopher Wren's burial place in St. Paul's Cathedral says, "Reader, if you are looking for his monument, look around you". So, we would like you to find the most interesting burial marker or memorial, whether it be a headstone, a monument or anything else that serves as a reminder of a person (but don't bring a photo of Christopher Wren's, that's just unoriginal). Many of you may be new to London, so this may seem like being thrown into the deep end, but that is what immersion is about. Dive in! (Actually, if it's diving you are doing, don't necessarily try it in the Thames. It's cold and has a strong current. The Thames Barrier is a pretty cool landmark to see, but rather than traveling as a human boat my recommendation would be to take a train to get there. That also saves you needing a change of clothes, so that's one less thing to carry with you. I'm not speaking as the voice of experience or anything, but just taking a really educated guess.) To pay tribute to migrant populations we would also like you to find some Danish cuisine.
Friday, August 27, 2010
It’s Saturday on Bank Holiday weekend, August 28th-30th – NB the cultural issue: in England we don’t have July 4th, Memorial Day, MLK day holidays; instead, the banks go on holiday as befitting a nation that rose to greatness on the strength of its commercial and financial expertise – and you’re doing a little cleaning in your new Bayswater lodgings when you hear the unmistakable sound of steel bands coming from somewhere in the west. On Sunday, in a taxi on the way from the hotel to your flat, the cabbie complains about the closed roads and disrupted traffic in W11. As you clamber out of the taxi, tripping over an overlarge suitcase, you again hear the sound of music carried on the westerly wind. On Monday en route to class, you note that some of the local tube stations are closed. Your curiosity well and truly raised you ask the underground attendant, “What’s going on?” Answer: “It’s CARNIVAL time.” And Monday the 30th is the big day.
Urban Britain had a substantial black population from the 17th century. As a key player and financier in the triangular trade which brought slaves from western Africa to the West Indies and the United States in the ‘middle passage’, Britons became increasingly familiar with Africans in the period before the Industrial Revolution. Some came as slaves, others as ‘freed’ individuals, some no doubt as mariners. It was not, however, until after World War II, when a victorious yet ravaged and impoverished Britain, short of labour for reconstruction, appealed to people from its West Indian colonies to take up work in the newly founded National Health Service  and the public transport system. As you might expect, the indigenous population did not extend a warm welcome to the new arrivals. “Keep Britain White” placards appeared and all of a sudden landlords had no rooms and flats to rent. The more literate of them simply put ‘No coloureds, Irish or Dogs’ signs in their windows. [TIP: Read Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island for a fictional account of the racial tensions in nearby Earl’s Court in the late 1940s.] Tensions grew throughout the 1950s and riots broke out in 1958, the most important of which occurred in Notting Hill west London in September 1958 when ‘teddy boys’ began attacking West Indian homes, offices and people on the streets.
The police made arrests and the courts imposed stiff sentences on the rioters. The West Indians responded by celebrating their culture, initially in halls and latterly in the open air. The inspiration came from the Trinidadian born, American-raised, communist Claudia Jones, who had been deported by the USA during the McCarthyite witch hunt and been granted asylum in Britain. The model was also Trinidadian, a carnival, held on the streets of Notting Hill over the Bank holiday weekend [the end of summer].
The Notting Hill Carnival is now the largest street festival in Europe and the second largest carnival in the world after Rio. The three words that best describe it are (a) music [VERY LOUD], (b) costume [VERY BRIGHT and OUTRAGEOUS], and (c) food [DELICIOUS]. There might also be a heavy smell of cannabis on certain streets in the Notting hill area. Police don’t mind the smell but they will not tolerate buying and selling of drugs. Carnival is a wonderful celebration of the vitality of Afro-Caribbean culture. Be smart: the carnival has attracted trouble in the past, especially near the end on Monday evening, and there is a heavy police presence. If you go, and you should, leave wallets, bags, jewellery at home. Go as a twosome or threesome. Just bring a few pounds to buy some food and drink. Cameras are OK – remember that we run a photo competition at the end of the term - but take good care of them.
-Bill (without any help from Elsie or Pete's scooter)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I would like to measure this fall's orientation week against a loaf of bread.
This summer, for my birthday, I was given a bread machine. I love making bread in it, though I sometimes get frustrated because I don't make it through the whole loaf of bread in the course of a week, by which time it starts growing mold. In an effort to waste less food, I haven't made a ton of loaves of bread. But on Monday evening of this week, when I had come home from a day of feverishly preparing the ICLC for the arrival of 50 new students, I thought I would make a loaf of bread. Normally orientation week has the building buzzing with students coming in and out all day reporting back on flats that they have looked at, finding out about how to withdraw enough money to put down a deposit, how to set up internet, where to go for their internship, which areas of London are both nice and affordable... With all this excitement happening in the building I could foresee very little opportunity of popping out to get a bite to eat, and with a loaf of fresh bread at home I decided it would be a good week for homemade sandwiches.
Fresh fall '10 faces, straight off the plane
It's now Thursday, and the building is pretty quiet. By Wednesday evening most groups of students either had flats sorted or very promising leads that just needed a bit of finalization. I, as it turns out, have the time to go out and get something to eat if I want. I'm not going to, because I have been responsible about making sandwiches each morning this week. Actually, I'm beginning to think that I should continue doing this, because I have tallied my bill for lunch this week and it comes to an average of about £1.50 a day. I can't complain on that count. I can also report that this loaf of bread has been the perfect size to make for a week of sandwiches, with very little left over. I think by Friday afternoon the whole loaf will have been eaten! This will be a real first for my bread machine and me.
I baked that bread!
Knock on wood, the housing experience seems to be going pretty smoothly. When I was a student here my group was that last to sign a lease. I think it wasn't until Friday afternoon that we signed. That afternoon felt as if it came years later than the Tuesday afternoon three days earlier that we started flat hunting. With any luck, those feelings of complete exhaustion and weariness won't be plaguing the fall '10 students. You can sit back and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes with having a place to live.
The Common Room isn't usually this empty during Orientation Week
It looks like everything is coming together for the semester. The builders have nearly finished all their work in the bathrooms, though I would keep an eye out for 'Wet Paint' signs around the building. The students are hopefully getting a bit of free time to be tourists in London before the term starts. And Bill, Sarah and I all got to take a turn on the scooter belonging to Pete, the builder. As for my bread, I have learned that with diligence I can eat a whole loaf on my own over the course of a week.
This is Bill's scootering face
-Claire (and Elsie)
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
This Friday, August 20th, some of our fall 2010 lads and lassies are off tae Scotland or North Britain as it was once called. It is the 11th consecutive year that our students have attended the famous Edinburgh Festival. The fall 2010 students will have a great time: it’s impossible not to enjoy Edinburgh during the Festival. Thanks especially to Dr Jack Hrkach for leading the group and to Professors Steve ten Eyck, Norm Johnson and Greg Bostwick who have also taken groups.
Fall 2009 Edinburghers. Similar to Hamburgers, but more like the Scottish version.
Some three dog advice to the participants: first, keep your belongings and your persons safe. Vehicular traffic runs on the left hand side [the correct side, apparently] of the road, and pickpockets are attracted to major street festivals. Edinburgh, the so-called ‘Athens of the north’, is a picture postcard city, but it also has a gritty underbelly made famous by the novels of Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh. If you find a cheap ceilidh [pronounced ‘kayley’] during the festival, go, go, go, both lads and lassies, and get your picture taken dancing with a man in a kilt. You just might win a prize if you produce the evidence. During the term we’ll be attending some ceilidhs here in London. We are planning a trip to Edinburgh in November for students who didn’t go in August. More ceilidh opportunities!
Sarah works her magic on a Scottish man in a kilt
How to make a hit at the festival? How can you fit in with the locals and not be an obvious tourist? Here’s more ‘three dog’ advice that you won’t find in any guidebooks. To enjoy Edinburgh, get dancing, carry your copy of Ian Rankin’s Mortal Causes with you, and above all, eat well. You can do so nutritiously and inexpensively by taking the following on board.
But first a caveats: there is wonderful food to be found in Scotland. Scottish beef, game and fish [especially the wild salmon from the fast flowing rivers] are renowned the world over. You will get the finest haggis in the world in Edinburgh. Scotland also has produced some wonderful chefs. But there has also been a high incidence of heart disease in Scotland due to the usual factors: alcohol and tobacco over-consumption, lack of exercise [it’s dark in the winter], and poor diet.
We have long been concerned with the myth of Scotland’s notorious poor diet. If Scots followed the advice of our chef-in-residence, Claire MacKrauer of clan Maddon, who operates out of our five star basement kitchen, their health would improve a hundredfold and the middle aged might live long enough to see Scotland triumph in the 2034 World cup [see Irn-Bru website]. The ‘three dog blog’ challenged Chef MacKrauer and her Assistant, Elsie, to take traditional Scottish ingredients and to cook the staff, the builders working on our toilets, and our distinguished visitor from the home campus, Dr Jack Hrkach, a fine Scottish meal that would delight our palates, while not endangering our purses, nor our hearts.
Chef MacKrauer carving the haggis. Note how masterful her technique is!
As Claire herself explained, getting the best Scottish ingredients for a traditional Scottish feast can be difficult in London, almost 500 miles to the south. The drink of choice for Scots at table is of course Irn-Bru: take a swig and you’re back in the streets and shipyards of Glasgow in the 30s. This non-alcoholic Scottish favorite may sound unfamiliar, and that is of course because it is banned in the United States (my understanding from Mock the Week is that because the makers will not list their secret ingredients on the can, the FDA will not allow it to be imported. This may or may not be an actual fact). But like Mr Arthur Guinness’s equally well-know product, famously brewed on the Liffey in Dublin since 1759, the critical question is - ‘does Irn-Bru travel well?’ Chef MacKrauer solves this problem by taking delivery of a gross of Irn-Bru from the 0615 overnight Edinburgh-King’s Cross sleeper train three mornings a week. Why so much Bru? Chef MacKrauer’s secret: the famous Bru not only quenches thirst, but also makes excellent gravy and sweet sauces for dessert. It is also her favourite drink while cooking. Elsie likes her Irn-Bru mixed with pineapple juice.
Next, of course, comes the haggis. Our Chef uses only the highest quality free range highland haggis, bred on an estate adjacent to the Queen’s Scottish compound at Balmoral. To save the free range haggis from poachers – especially guests of the Royal family - Chef MacKrauer relies exclusively on Edinburgh’s best ‘haggiserie’, Renton’s of Leith, for her supply of the plumpest corn fed yearlings. She collects the live haggis at King’s Cross while picking up the Irn-Bru. Haggis is of course served with neeps and tatties. Cookery secret number two: do not using butter when mashing the neeps and tatties. Irn-Bru is an excellent and far healthier substitute for the mash and gives the tatties that familiar rust orange colour so beloved of Scottish gastronomes.
Haggis, neeps and tatties. Yum!
Dessert, of course, is Scotland’s world famous pudding, the deep fried Mars Bar, Elsie’s favourite. Chef MacKrauer explained that her secret was to get only the stalest Mars Bars available [generally to be found in health clubs and gyms], oil which has been used to deep fry spuds and fish for a month, and a can of Irn-Bru for the sauce. Vegetable oil can be used for the frying but remember that vegetarianism is generally viewed by many Scots as an unsocial habit, introduced surreptitiously over several decades by the English in their attempt to lower the Scottish birth rate. Cookery secret number 3: to prevent disaster, freeze the Mars Bar for about 6 to 8 minutes to prevent it from dissolving in the boiling oil. The pan of oil should be cooked at gas point 4 for about 15 minutes until it begins to bubble gently. Finally, for the best result, and this is the critical fourth cookery secret, use un-sieved oil: bits and pieces of cod, plaice, herring and potato skin left in the oil give the Mars Bar a subtle fishy taste beloved of all gourmets. Finally, the last secret: for the sauce, take 6 oz of Irn-Bru, add a teaspoon of sugar, heat gently for about 5 minutes while stirring continually – but do not allow to boil – and pour over the bar as it emerges from the fryer. Serve immediately.
Be prepared for murmurs of satisfaction, but advise your diners to keep their ‘emergency contact’ 999 card handy throughout the meal.
Have a great time at the Festival!
-All three dogs and Elsie (because no individual wants to be associated with this entry)
Monday, August 16, 2010
I have noticed that this blog is followed by current students and alums alike. So some readers might remember the toilets at the ICLC. Do you remember hanging out in the bathroom waiting for the toilet tank to refill so that you could have another stab at flushing because the first one didn't take? Did you ever let the staff know that the toilets weren't working, only to be told that you should try going back and flushing like you really mean it? I'm not trying to jinx us or anything, but hopefully before the Fall '10 group gets here, that suggestion will be a thing of the past! Right now the builders are in. Of the six bathrooms in the building, we have three that are fully functioning. While some have toilets and sinks, they also have wet paint on the walls and doors so that they have to stay open, making the room somewhat less private. Other bathrooms in the building have been completely gutted are are awaiting new and exciting things like stalls! I have used more exclamation points than normal in writing about the new toilets, so I hope that goes some way to showing our enthusiasm for the work in progress. This work should all be completed by the time the Fall '10 term starts in a few weeks. Our recently retired caretaker, Fred, used to spend much of his time jury-rigging the toilets back into operable shape. But with new toilets, we are anticipating that as long as no one gets upset writing their Shakespeare essay and tries to flush their laptop down the toilet, we should have smooth toilet sailing.
The painter is painting the skirting board in the first floor bathroom. I can read from his body language here that he is as excited about the new bathrooms as I am!
35 Harrington Gardens is a really lovely building, the history of which Bill is capable of sending any audience to sleep with. For example, I work in the front office which is the room closest to the front door. Bill likes to tell visitors that when this was a private home this was the smoking room where the men would go after supper. In my office I can hear Stage Combat students throwing each other on the floor in the Common Room above me, and in Bill's office he can hear the voice and music students practicing in classroom 1 below him. Bill also claims that there is a poltergeist that haunts the building, which is something I'm a lot more likely to believe when I'm the last one in, locking up the building on a dark evening. It really is a building full of character. Built in the late 19th century, the ICLC is very much a 20th century building inside. It has a Grade II listing which means it is an important building of more than special interest. I believe being a listed building limits the changes that can be made to it, but I'm pleased to say it doesn't preclude installing new toilets! Whoop!
This is Bill. He's hard at work. (Hard at work stealing the red football off my desk and hiding it in plain sight on his desk. Nice try, Professor Moriarty!)
We sometimes refer to the London Centre as a campus, and it is that, but I think the word campus may imply to some people a larger space than it actually is. There are five floors which comprise the college, plus a flat above the fifth floor that is used by visiting faculty and staff from the home campus back in Ithaca. Upon entering the building you are standing in the main entrance. Bill, Sarah and I all have our offices on this floor. One floor above is the Common Room, classroom 2 and the Faculty Room, not to mention one of our brand spanking new bathrooms! On the next floor up there are 2 more classrooms, our 2 computer labs and yet another brand new bathroom. These three floors can all be accessed from the main staircase. To get to the next floor up you are relegated to the servant's stairs, our other staircase which spans the entire height of the building. This top floor has 3 classrooms. Oh yeah, and a new bathroom! The other floor that can only be accessed from the servant's stairs is the floor on the very bottom of the building. This is where the student kitchen and vending machines can be found, as well as the library, classroom 1 and the student pigeon holes where mail is put. This floor also has the bathroom that is undergoing the most change. It was probably the ICLC's least used bathroom, partly because people may not have known what to make of it. This bathroom used to have a shower in it, but that has been removed and will be replaced by 2 toilet stalls! Accessed from a back exit through Bill's office, there is a shared private garden behind the building where we are currently allowed to have a maximum of 4 Ithaca students in at a time. Using the garden as a bathroom may result in Ithaca being allowed no students access to the garden, so I won't include that in my list of bathrooms. And that's the campus!
St. Andrew- patron saint of Scotland and modesty in first floor bathrooms that are awaiting sheets of frost for the glass and which overlook hotels. He is quite a specific saint.
-Claire (and Elsie)
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Hopefully, you have all been reading Bill's email updates. His last one included 'Le Quiz - Part Une', which I am sure you have already solved. I know I have as Bill made me.......he even gave me some of the answers! He will not do this for you.
Le Quiz - Part Deux
Answer the questions, take the first letters of each answer & re-arrange them to form the family name of our writer. QUESTION for £20 - who is the author and who is her/his most famous character? First correct answers to Bill via email gets £20 on arrival in UK.
- Tube line that runs through the ANGEL in London..............................
- If Lord's is the principal test cricket venue in London, which is London's 2nd test venue [also a tube stop]?..............................
- Greater London site of the Queen's House, the Royal Observatory, the Millennium Dome, the [ex] Royal Naval Hospital/College, etc........................
- The Irish tricolour signifies peace and unity between the island's Catholic and Protestant, nationalist and unionist communities. Which is the Protestant/Unionist colour?......................................
- The current UK government is a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal-...................
- South London borough home to Shakespeare's Globe, the Tate Modern, Borough Market, etc.....................
- Tube line that has 3 western termini, Richmond, Ealing Broadway and Wimbledon.....................
And the author is..........................and her/his most famous character is....................
Claire has technically already solved the quiz, but she is disqualified. She may have at one time been a student of Bill's, but this is no longer the case. She has to face up to the fact that it is now someone else's turn to win. P.S. Claire will also not help you and there is just no point asking me.....
Sarah and my best friend Elsie.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I would like to say that this is a Kylie Minogue inspired blog post, but that wouldn't entirely be true, it just happens that she is playing on the radio right now. I imagine that with her immense pop star status, she chooses not to take the Tube. Maybe she drives or is driven. As a result her travel costs are probably above average. That's fine, though, because all she wants to do is dance. But Kylie Minogue is not a student (as far as I know). Being a full time student in London gives you the opportunity to use Transport for London (Tube, bus, river boat, tram and, soon, bicycles) for a 30% discount. This discount applies to travel cards and passes, which allow unlimited travel within the zones you buy it for, lasting for a week or a month, depending on which you buy. This means that your travel costs may be below average. The card used for traveling on TfL is called an Oyster card (I think that the idea is that when you use this card, the world is your oyster. I can't verify that that's the meaning behind the name, though, it's just what I've heard). It works on a system of tapping in and tapping out, so you need to present it at the beginning and end of your journeys on trains, though only on the beginning of bus journeys.
You might find this place good for night life. Sarah and Claire love it for its bus links!
Within the London Centre we all use different variations of travel cards. At this point, not only do you know where we all live, but you also may have scoured the Tube map to answer Bill's quiz questions. So it will mean something to you when I say that to get to work I take the overground train into Victoria and then take the District or Circle line to Gloucester Road. My entire journey is within zones 1 and 2, so I buy a monthly travel card for these two zones. I keep a little prepaid money on my Oyster card for times I travel outside these zones and need to pay the excess. I know this seems like mundane information, but it may suddenly seem important when you go out to Richmond to meet Bill at a rugby match and realize that you don't have enough money on your Oyster to get out of the barriers. Sarah travels on the overground from southwest London in zone 4 into Wimbledon and takes the District line to Earl's Court in zone 2. Earl's Court is the second closest Tube station to the London Centre and is on the border of zones 1 and 2. This saves her the fare into zone 1, making her travel card for zones 2-4 cheaper than mine for zones 1-2. Though he's lived in London the longest, Bill may be the person who has paid the least amount of money to TfL. He was a longtime cyclist through the streets of London, and now carries a Freedom Pass, which is like an Oyster card but gives free travel within London to people over 'a certain age'. He picks up the bus in Stoke Newington and takes it to the Tube to travel into Gloucester Road. Fred, our caretaker who retired at age 81 this past spring, recommended that I get a Freedom Pass, too, since it makes travel so cheap, but being in what I like to call my mid 20's, I told him that I'm not quite old enough for one yet.
Be sure to check out our emergency exit door downstairs when you get to the ICLC. It bears an uncanny resemblance to the decor at Putney Bridge station. This just happened to be our ex-caretaker's tube stop and he decorated our emergency exit for us.
With the freedom you have in housing yourselves, you will probably not know what mode of transportation you will be needing to get to the London Centre until you are housed. Some of you may live close enough to walk and not want a travel card at all. Others may find a direct bus route, a monthly or weekly pass for which costs less than a travel card which covers not only the bus but also the underground and overground trains. When planning your journeys, there are a lot of factors to take into account. Many classes meet outside of the London Centre, so you will need to find a way to get there. Work placements are scattered all over London, so this will effect your travel needs, too. Because the British universities start their autumn term later than the American ones, the earliest you can apply for your student Oyster card and get the 30% discount is September 1. That means that for approximately the first few weeks you are here, if you get a travel card, it will cost you the normal rate that it costs everyone else. I guess the moral of this paragraph is that your initial travel costs may be a bit unpredictable, but once you settle in you will also probably fall into a pattern and develop pretty predictable travel costs.
Obviously public transportation isn't the only way of getting around. London is a lovely place on foot, as you may learn when you get here and go on Bill's walks. Walking in London is one of my favorite things to do, though I admit that I do it more as a hobby than as a mode of transportation. Some students have also found cheap second hand bikes to get around on. Boris Johnson, the Mayor and a cyclist himself, has been endeavoring to make London more cyclist friendly. TfL has recently begun a new scheme with public bicycles for rent located all around London, though it is currently only available to residents so far. If I had to classify myself by a mode of transport I would be a train/Tube/bus girl. The Tube can be a bit like traveling in some sort of space warp because it's so easy to walk into the station, take your Tube journey, walk out of the station at the other end and have no sense of the geography you have covered. With the trains and buses, especially the tops of the double-decker buses, you get to actually see where you are going. Rarely, I travel by taxi. They cost more than public transit, but late at night when the Tube is closed and I can't bring myself to face the night bus, they are a good option. Speaking of the night bus, I think I had one of my most positive bus experiences there. Not many people can say that. I was once leaving Balham in south London, heading towards Camden in north London around 1am. The Tube was closed (since it does that at night in London), so I was walking down the road with a friend trying to find a bus stop that a northbound bus would be stopping at. In the distance down the road behind us we could see a bus coming, and in the distance ahead of us I thought I could see a bus stop, traditionally, the only place a bus will stop to pick people up. So, as glamorously as we could, my friend and I made a dash for the bus stop, hoping to catch this bus since night buses come less frequently than normal buses. That very kind driver knew that we were trying to catch that bus, and just pulled over and opened his door, knowing that if he waited ahead at the stop he might be there for ages. That was not normal night bus procedure, and I was soooooo grateful.
The person who locates where this exact sign hangs wins a prize, i.e.this is not any old Camden Town sign!
Something else that might effect your journey is weekend closures. Most of the maintenance work on the London Underground happens at night when the Tube is closed and on the weekends. I cannot think of a single weekend in the time that I have lived in London when all of the Tube lines have been open on the weekend. The closures change each weekend, so you have to go to www.tfl.gov.uk to see what they will be. The Jubilee line is partially closed a lot of weekends, and I have heard a rumor that this is to get it ready to bring people out to east London for the 2012 Olympics. The Circle line is also closed most weekends, and I think this is because it is one of the Underground's oldest lines and often incurs 'signalling problems'. I'm not totally sure what that means, and, again, this is an unverified fact.
I apologize for the longwindedness of this post. I'm sure if Kylie Minogue had written this it would be a lot shorter, but that's probably because she has less personal experience with TfL (one more unverified fact there). I could conjecture more on her thoughts on transportation, but it's vaguely related tangents like that which lead to wandering longwindedness.
Claire (and Elsie)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
So, I have been reading Claire and Bill’s blurbs about their London and have to say that Bill seems awfully defensive about North London. I believe this is because he simply realizes that the south is better. I lived north of the river once, but otherwise the south has always been my home. I am not one to develop ties to an area necessarily as I have always moved around a lot and still do. In the past three years I have lived in three different towns. Currently, I am in a place called Old Malden, which is very near New Malden where I lived last year. This area has the largest South Korean community in Europe. It has a large Korean supermarket, endless Korean restaurants and shops. The South Korean ambassador’s former residence was in Wimbledon so many of the South Koreans wanted to live near the ambassador, but house prices were too high so they opted for the more affordable New Malden.
Old Malden apparently doesn’t exist, according to the post office, so my address actually states that I live in a place called Worcester Park. To be fair the train station I use every day is Worcester Park train station (3 minute walk away) yet I do not live in the same borough as most of Worcester Park. Personally, I am not quite as keen on Worcester Park as I am on New Malden. By this I am actually referring to the high street. Every town, be it in London or not, has a high street. In fact I still go back to New Malden to get my hair cut despite there being plenty of hairdressers in Worcester Park and this is not because I have any particular loyalty towards my hair dresser.
Now, I don’t want you getting the wrong impression. Worcester Park is a nice place. I’ll have you know that our nearest supermarket is Waitrose. When you all get to London you will learn about the supermarket hierarchy here in the UK. Waitrose is quite pricey, but does have good quality produce. It is just not where you would do you weekly shop as it all adds up. Where I live is actually quite secluded and quiet, yet right near a giant pub and the train station. I have Korean neighbours here. I haven’t officially met them but I hear the little girl scream “mom” in Korean at least 5 times a day so know for a fact that they are Korean. She is a very polite little girl (well to me, not so sure what she is like with her mother) so she can get away with it. After the “mom” bit my knowledge of Korean is a bit lacking.
I want to give you a bit of idea about where I live, but sadly forgot the camera. Thankfully a website that ends in ‘edia’ came to the rescue. Amazingly they know what Old Malden is! (p.s. this image has been released to the public domain). This is actually a picture of the local Harvester, which is a pub and a restaurant. They hold little fairs on the green outside the Harvester. I have not been to one, but have seen them whilst driving past......to go to New Malden.
I love how this makes it seem like I live in a little village in the country side. Not quite true, although some of you may consider zone 4 miles away. I also want to include a link to the Worcester Park blog, because I find it quite amusing. I can’t quite believe that there is a blog about Worcester Park. Who would have thought there could be so much to say about one smallish high street?
- The British Dog.
Monday, July 26, 2010
I don't really know why oversize suitcases were invented. It's like there is someone out there taunting students and willing them to over pack. Over packing is an elementary error that can become painfully apparent the moment you try and pick up your suitcase. The amazing thing is that a suitcase that is too heavy to move is sometimes not a deterrent to make the packer pack less. Sometimes it's not until the case is weighed at the airport that the packer decides that there may be too much stuff in their bag. And, more depressingly, some people don't realize that they have over packed until they get off the plane, having not slept very much, and try to lift their bags off the carousel. Sometimes this is the moment of sad realization that they didn't need to bring four month supply of soap, shampoo and conditioner from home.
September to December in London are not the warmest months, so you probably don't need to designate too much luggage space to summer clothes. That space may be better used for your coat. It's easy to forget to pack your coat in August, but often within a few weeks the wind will remind you how much warmer you would be with a coat on. Another thing that's easy to forget is a towel. Though you are likely to be looking for furnished flats to live in, this is something that is best provided by you. You can of course get a towel here when you arrive, but in the past many students have brought an old one from home and then chucked it at the end of the semester. On the other hand, sheets may be something that are better to purchase here. Most people don't know until they find a flat what size bed they will be sleeping in.
You may also want to bear in mind that many students accumulate things that they want to bring back when they leave. This could be stretching some people's ability to forward plan, but saving space in your suitcase from the beginning is a lot cheaper that having to having to pay for an extra suitcase or post things back home. Many, though not all, flats have washing machines in them, so you don't need to bring every scrap of clothing that you own. You may want to have a quick think before you start packing about the kinds of things that you think you will be doing while here. Is there a dress code at your internship?
Have you picked up your London Centre school uniform from the bookstore?Some good things to remember are that plugs in the UK are different from plugs in the USA and both are different from plugs in continental Europe. It's wise to bring your own adaptor before you get here, or else you will be carefully conserving your laptop battery. There is also a different voltage in the UK. Most laptop power cords have a transformer built into them, but many other electrical goods don't, and no one likes the smell of flaming alarm clock in the morning. Another good thing to remember is that in these four months abroad you will get to experience food from around the world. Leave that massive jar of peanut butter at home, give it's place in your suitcase to some more clean socks and consider the joy you will feel when you get home to your old favorite foods that you relinquished for British delicacies. Before you fly find out the airline's weight limits for luggage. Hand held luggage scales may make it easier to know how much you are carrying before you even leave home. And make sure you can lift your own bags; most blocks of flats don't have elevators.
Here is a parting narrative in the form of four limericks:
Friday, July 23, 2010
Reader, should you ever need to provide an example of bias, prejudice or arrogance, read on.
Here’s a question for the apprentice Londoners you are soon to become: what links Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Soho, St James’ Palace, Clarence House [home of Wills, Harry and their dad], Kensington Palace [post divorce home of their late mum], Hyde Park, Covent Garden, Oxford Street, the four Inns of Court [Lincoln's, Gray's, Middle Temple, Inner Temple – where solicitors and barristers are trained], Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Wren churches, the Old Bailey [the Central Criminal Court], the Royal Courts of Justice, Fleet Street [ancient home of the press], the City, 9/10's of the Underground, 11 of the 13 railway termini [including the Eurostar terminus at St Pancras], the Guildhall, Canary Wharf [new home of business], all three Olympic sites [1908, 1948 and 2012], over 150 Embassies and High Commissions, the 73 bus, the major museums [British, V&A, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Science, Natural History, London, Docklands, Soane], all 5 of London’s Premiership football teams, Lords [the home of world cricket], 4 of London’s 5 airports,…? I could go on, but will restrict myself to three more, the Ithaca College London Centre, MY HOUSE and MY CATS! [OK, I know cats own you, not the other way around.] Have you figured out the common denominator yet? Right, they are all in north London because virtually everything that is important in London is north of the river. Sorry, Claire!
Second Question: of the 15 million visitors to London this year, how many have gone south of the river? Is it 1%, 0.5%, 0.75%, or 1.25%? Note well: I am not including the 2 coach loads of Japanese tourists who took a wrong turn in Parliament Square, crossed Westminster Bridge, only to be ambushed by Lambeth authorities demanding to see passports and visas and to inspect luggage for contraband. Since they didn’t have visas, Lambeth authorities imposed a crushing £500 fine on each person and confiscated their coaches, rings, cameras and watches. OK, Ok, I exaggerate, the above is ‘fiction’ [but fiction informs prejudice], but there can be no disputing the fact that the Thames divides London unevenly. The fates have favoured the north; they showered Heavyweight North London with rich and plentiful gifts, while casting only the crumbs to the South.
Oh, my colleague, my co-blogger, she who misguidedly raised London’s North-South divide, do not betray your south London affiliations. No one will take you seriously. It is better to sleep rough north of the river than to maintain a domicile in the south. It is more fun to spend a week at the dentist having all your teeth removed than to party in south London. It is more nutritious to exist on a diet of crisp bread and prunes than to sit at a south London table. Contrasting the merits of north and south London is a bit like betting on the likely outcome of a game between the NY Yankees and the winners of the Little League World Series. Of course, the south has some bits and pieces that merit a brief and hush-hush visit, like Wimbledon [that’s why no British man has won the title in over 70 years; it cannot be that serious if it’s south of the river], Greenwich [abandoned by the royals in the 17th century], Shakespeare’s Globe [wrongly located], the National Theatre & the Old Vic, but 95% of theatre land is north of the river. If officials at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square [north London] read this blog, they might re-think the decision of the State Department to re-locate the Embassy south of the river. Finally, this blogger has to admit that there is an oasis of sanity and good taste in Colliers Wood south London.
Ah, Stoke Newington, the ‘new village in the woods’, its housing stock chiefly mid-Victorian, just off the old Roman road running from Bishopsgate in the City to Lincoln and the north, full of trendy up and coming lawyers, teachers, & other professionals, a little Istanbul given the number of Turkish eateries, clubs, flower shops & barber shops in the High and Church streets [immerse yourself by coming up and sampling some ‘Testes’, the actual name of one of or local restaurants], adjacent to Britain’s largest Hasidic community, where football allegiances are split between Tottenham [Spurs] and Arsenal [Gunners or Gooners], where foxes roam the streets and gardens at night, where the bibulous wait outside the Rochester Castle at 10am on Sunday mornings to resume their pint consumption of Saturday night, where house prices are lower because the tube doesn’t go there, where young artists, musicians and gay people live. Stoke Newington, STOKEY or just plain N16 is a microcosm of the diversity, creativity and inner city problems of this FANTASTIC WORLD CITY.
IMPORTANT NUMBERS are 149, 73, 76, 476, 243, 106, 67: no they’re not my lucky lottery numbers, they’re the buses that take you into and out of my turf, my manor. I’ve lived in ‘Stokey’ for 28 years and I’m a governor of a local primary and a local secondary school. I live in one of the five 2012 Olympic Boroughs [Newham, where the stadium is located, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich]. My borough, Hackney, has the media centre, an important location for IC students from the Park school who hopefully will be interning here in summer 2012.
Finally, where lies my football allegiance in the country that invented the game? The cats give it away: Kolo and Sami – no Spurs fan would name his cats thus. And while on the subject of football, one of my favourite things, what’s the score over here? Alas it’s 3 to the south [maybe 4 if we count our postman who helps with odd jobs] and only 2 to the north. Although we are currently a goal down, Elsie, the other northerner on staff, would agree with me that the north is where’s it’s all happening. And if I might be prejudiced, she certainly is not. Stay tuned for the voice of sanity, Elsie’s blog.
-The only Dog from north of the river (and Elsie)
Friday, July 16, 2010
London loves its rivalries. You can be an Arsenal supporter or a Chelsea supporter (or any of the other 9 football teams in London), you can vote Labour or Conservative (or Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru or Pirate Party UK or any one of over 100 parties listed standing in the 2010 UK General Election), you can be a North Londoner or a South Londoner (not to mention an East Londoner or a West Londoner). The North/South divide created by the River Thames is one of London's oldest rivalries, as the water creates a natural barrier. Both sides have their pros and cons: North London is better serviced by the London Underground system, while South London often has more affordable property. For the first three years that I lived in London I was a North Londoner and proud of it. It seemed that with each passing year I moved further and further north, going from Camden to Highgate to Muswell Hill, sinking my roots deeper and deeper into the north. But then I left London. When I came back I looked up an old friend who was thinking of moving and we decided that we would become flatmates. I was beginning a job in London Bridge and she was starting work that would keep her traveling between Chelsea and Camberwell. With two out of three of those locations in South London, that was where we decided to base our flat hunt. In the course of about three days we had found a great flat in Camberwell.
Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago I like streets with leafy trees combined with some sounds of traffic. When we first saw our street I knew I already liked it. With lovely terraces of Victorian and Georgian homes, a handfull of bus stops within 5 minutes walk and being virtually on top of a railway station, my location is both picturesque and practical. I can travel to South Kensington in about 35 minutes, Marylebone in about 45 minutes and London Bridge in about 8 minutes. There is an enormous grocery story about 7 minutes walk from my flat which is open 24 hours (excepting Sunday hours, which are shortened for most large chain stores in the UK) where I like to shop at with my flatmate around 10pm on Thursday evenings so that we can go "Weirdo Watching". The theory behind this is that since this is a kind of weird time to go grocery shopping, the people there must be weirdos. Clearly my flatmate and I are completely normal, and are just interested in people watching at the same time as picking up a few groceries after we have watched as much QI and Have I Got News For You as we can handle (I used to have a similar hobby when I was a student in Ithaca, though the trips would happen after watching about 4 hours of Law and Order).
Part of what makes Camberwell such an interesting place to live is the input from some of London's universities. Camberwell College of Art (part of the University of the Arts London) and King's College Hospital (part of the University of London) give a bustling atmosphere to the area during the week, while it remains a quiet, residential area on the weekends where the pubs spill over with football fans. Camberwell's cuisine comes from all over the world with restaurants serving Indian, Greek, Chinese, Afro-Carribean and loads of other foods. For parks, there is Camberwell Green, Burgess Park and, my favorite, Ruskin Park. Ruskin Park is situated on a hill, and from the top of the park you can look north towards the rest of London, seeing Battersea Power Station, the London Eye, the Gherkin and Canary Wharf on a clear day. For wildlife there is a metal wolf near Denmark Hill train station that quietly stalks the small family of metal sheep across the road.
Though you wouldn't know it from my accent, I now consider myself a South Londoner. This made me all the more proud to read that in 2005 Time Out London took a tally on various aspects of the North/South London debate and gave more points to South London. Whoop!
-One of the three dogs (and Elsie)
Monday, July 12, 2010
We are so excited about the upcoming semester at the Ithaca College London Centre that we are starting a blog! The aim of this blog is to talk about life in London, to give you an idea of what lies ahead while studying with us in London and we might even mention a little bit about ourselves. A lot of students study abroad hoping to immerse themselves in another culture. You will be pleased to know, despite the fact that an American, a Canadian and a token Welsh person are running this programme, we have jointly spent a total of 55 years in London. As foreigners ourselves (Welsh are not English) we are experts at getting to know the locals and have even picked up some local slang:
"Claire climbed the Apples today and recovered with a Rosy"
"Claire weren't 'alf knackered after climbing them stairs. She was gasping for a cuppa."
One of your first projects when you arrive will be the flat hunt. Hopefully you have all started thinking about whom you would like to live with, what your budget is and possibly even started looking at different areas of London. The Queen may have rooms to rent in Buckingham Palace, and with she and the family being out of town on the weekends, it should be an excellent house for hosting parties. I needn't even mention the other parties that Princes William and Harry will be likely to invite you to. But in case she falls through, you may want to start working on plan B. On a serious note though, to get you thinking about where you are going to live in London our next blog will be about where we all live.You will get to hear about a great place in North London called Stoke Newington, a trendy place in South London called Camberwell and a more suburban place in South West London called Worcester Park. If you are lucky there might even be some photos! We will also give you some information about areas of London that previous students have lived in recent semesters. Zone 1, central London, probably has the most transport links and ease of access, but it is also the one of the most expensive places to live. We three live in zones 2 and 4, with average commute times around 45 minutes. Be open minded and have a look around at your options when you get here!
-The Three Dogs (and Elsie)