Friday, February 8, 2013
I think it's safe to say that I have managed to break my new year's resolutions already. My biscuit addiction is still going strong, I'm still drinking a lot (A LOT) of tea and I have not completed - nor started - one blog post. MASSIVE FAIL.
I have decided that this semester instead of boring you all with the ins and outs of my life I would take a step back and allow the Ithaca students here in London to tell you about their journey here. From orientation through to departure I am hoping you will get an insight into life as an international student in London and those of you who have left us behind can reminisce on the past and potential future students can be assured that life over the other side of that huge pond is not quite so scary after all...
On that note I would like to introduce our first blogger of Spring 2013: Marissa Andrews, a junior Drama major. Marissa has chosen to enlighten you all on the cultural differences between London and the USA as although we may think we speak the same language there are many times when we find ourselves lost in translation.
Travelling to London for the semester was my first time outside of the United States, so needless to say I was a bit scared. I’ve never encountered a different culture before and was worried about the change. I can now say with confidence that London is not scary at all! But there definitely are some cultural differences. I’ve made a list of a few that I noticed. If you’re thinking about travelling to London for a semester, don’t stress about memorizing every one of these before your plane touches down in the city. The ICLC staff will teach you everything you need to know about the country. However, it may be nice to know some of these ahead of time. This is in no way a comprehensive list, just things that I’ve noticed!
1. We all know that they drive on the opposite side of the road. However, I personally forgot this means that we also have to look the opposite way before crossing the street. Look to your right first!!!! Luckily, many of the central areas of the city actually have LOOK RIGHT and LOOK LEFT painted right on the pavement. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. Let the cars go first!
2. You have to swipe OUT of the tube (subway system) as well as swiping in, so don’t put away your Oyster card (subway card) too fast! Also, instead of literally swiping a card, all you have to do is put your oyster card up to the card reader (Like the dorm buildings at IC).
3. The tube closes around midnight, so buses may be your only option if you’re out late. Luckily, there are a lot of buses that run all night and they’re pretty easy to figure out. If you’re in a bind, there’s also always a taxi service that can get you home.
4. There are no 1 pound (dollar) bills. They’re only made in coins. They also have a 2 pound coin. It’s much easier and more efficient.
5. There are also 2pence (cents) pieces. They are not efficient. I still don’t understand why they exist.
6. Fashion is very different. You won’t see anyone around in sweatpants or sweatshirts, and jeans are a lot less common. Everyone is much more put together in general. Muted tones are also much more common than bright colors.
7. Pants means underwear, and trousers mean pants. Don’t say pants.
8. “Wellies” are rain boots.
9. It is totally okay to sit in a café for an hour with a friend, even if you’ve finished your drinks.
10. Most cafés and some fast food places (such as Pret a Manger) will charge more for food to eat in than to take-away (their word for take-out). So, if you’re looking to save money it may be best to bring your food back home or to school, rather than eating it there.
11. There is a HUGE difference between preservatives in food products in the United States vs. England. England uses a lot less chemicals in their food, so food doesn’t last as long. Be prepared to shop more and stock up less.
12. It is a universally accepted fact that chocolate in England is superior to American chocolate. Cadbury is accessible, cheap, and amazing. Buying too much chocolate is a huge problem that I just don’t mind having. Try it all. Aero bars are also great. (Can you tell I’ve developed a chocolate problem???)
13. Peanut butter is a lot less common, expensive, and harder to find. Nutella is a lot more common, cheaper, and everywhere. Take advantage.
14. Classes are held only one time a week (mostly) and they are 3 hours long. It takes awhile to get used to, but having a 15-minute break in the middle helps. The classes are much more essay-based rather than exams, and there will also be more outside components – museum visits, sporting events, theatergoing.
15. 24/7 store hours are rare. A lot of stores close early, and some do not open on Sundays at all.
16. You push a door in to enter, and pull a door to exit. (Unless noted otherwise).
17. Slang words such as “cheers” and “hiya”.
There are obviously many more, but after a month of living in the city I already have a hard time identifying them. Once you get settled in to your flat and the city, London becomes a second home away from home. I’m so thankful to be able to live in such a great city for these next 4 months!
Friday, December 21, 2012
We wish you all a festive holidays and a very happy new year!
The center is winding down for it's own vacation after the departure of our Fall 2012 students who have now all returned safely back to their hometowns and are busy catching up with family and friends. We shall be back in the new year ready to welcome the next group! Until then, be good!!
Ciao for now... :)
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...
Monday, October 8, 2012
I've never written a blog before. I tried once. I was in Italy and thought that instead of continuously repeating myself I would record the ins and outs of my daily life online for my friends and family to read themselves. I wrote one entry. My "friend" kindly pointed out that I had used semi-colongs in the wrong places and I must admit that whilst I have been crowned the "grammar queen" of international languages - Spanish and Italian, let's not get too carried away here - I was ashamed to admit that my English perhaps needed a little wok. As the Fall 2012 students are all too aware, email is my preferred method of communication as I feel like I can be as formal - "to whom this may concern..." or informal as I deem necessary but a blog proposes the challenge of talking to a very wide audience, some of whom I have never met (hello stranger) and as I think I have demonstrated rather well already, I have a slight, OK, quite a large tendency to ramble...
I've not even properly introduced myself. I am Jessica - or Jess (not Jessie or else I feel like the cowgirl from Toy Story 2) - the new Programme Coordinator at Ithaca College London Center. I recently graduated from University where I studied Spanish and Italian and so I have first-hand experience of what it feels like to study here in the UK and abroad. [Note to current students: (<-- correct use of colon?!) come and find me in the Front Office. I'll swap stories about Italy if you tell me about yout travels in Europe. I'm already quite envious of your adventures overseas.] It's also worth noting that surprisingly I am the only English member of the admin staff, but contrary to what you may believe after watching all those Hollywood movies, being the token English girl by in no way means that I; 1. talk like Keira Knightly, 2. look like Keira Knightly, 3. live in a palace/castle/stately home and nor am I 4. an evil butler.
I have been told that I have free reign over this blog. Kindly passed on by Claire, ISee Elsie is like my adopted child and I am expected to take care of her in the same way as my predecessor did. I like her so far but then again, so far all I have done is talk about me and I like me so, so far so good right? I should probably talk a bit more about the London Center. I suppose that this space is for people other than me. I did warn you about my ramblings. However if you do want to find out mroe about the life of Jess then pop into my office, bring a brew (northern slang for a cup of tea. I'm not actually northern.) and pull up a chair. I do love a good gossip. And tea. And perhaps some digestives? Sorry, I'm talking about myself again...
So last weekend I was taken on my first trip away from London. Having prepared the packs, organised the rooming list and got everyone on the coach - after apologising to Colin for spelling his name wrong (it was an accident, I promise!) - we were all set to go. First stop --> Warwick Castle! Now you would think that after flying all that way across the Atlantic the students would be impressed by such a grand and prestigious building, but no, these students were quite entertained by the local wildlife...
After Bill and I enjoyed our champagne lunch (I'm joking.) we got back onto the coach and headed toward Stratford-upon-Avon. Here the students were able to visit the place in which Shakespeare was born and buried and in the evening we watched a "Comedy of Errors" at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Now, I must admit that not having read the play - nor knowing anything about it - I was probably at a slight disadvantage. However everyone else seemed to enjoy it, laughing along at the right times and generally getting the gist of what was going on. It was then onto the infamous Dirty Duck pub for a pint. Bill had bought a number of badges with various Shakespearean quotes on, which he handed to each of the students. I received one with the line, "Though she be but little she be fierce", which I think says more about my height than anything else. I'm not entirely sure what did happen a the pub that evening...I retired to bed early. My student days, though I hate to say it, are far behind me now...
The following morning I enjoyed breakfast with Katy and Molly before we headed to meet the others for a talk and tour on Shakespeare's life. The weather held out beautifully during the day (I now write this beneath a gloomy sky - not literally, I'm still sat in my office). There were blue skies and spots of sunshine and - can you believe it - it did not rain! After some free time filled with retail therapy, it was onto our final stop, Oxford. The London Center students were given a couple of hours to explore the town, take a nosey aound the prestigious colleges and buy some merchandise from the shops - Kelly made the mistake of purchasing a college jumper and was told by our coach driver, David to take it off or face walking back to London...which she did. Take it off I mean - she certainly did not walk home.
Overall my first trip was pretty fun. I enjoyed getting to know the students a bit better and I hope that they feel the same way about me. I must admite that I have rather enjoyed my first three weeks at Ithaca College London Center. It has a somewhat family feel to the place that is easy to get swept up in and I feel like I have been taken under its wing. This blog seems to have turned into some sort of sentimental piece. I must quickly rectify this; I am British after all a do not, under any circumstance display my emotions. On that note, I think I shall bring this entry to a close before I get too carried away; however it is practically an essay now. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my second attempt a blogging and that this time I can get past writing just the one entry. Maybe I can get to grips with those semi-colons too...?!
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Why the ICLC is located in a royal borough or 9/15
London has 33 boroughs, three of which, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston and Greenwich, have the status of ‘royal’ boroughs. The first such royal borough is ours, Kensington. Edward VII, long the Prince of Wales [not unlike the current PoW], conferred the honour on the borough in memory of his recently deceased mother, Victoria, who grew up here and cherished it until her death.
Illegitimacy, barrenness and widowhood best explain the circumstances. In a previous blog I mentioned two monarchs, Charles II and Anne, both Stuarts, the Scottish dynasty that came south to rule England in 1603 when Elizabeth, the virgin queen ,died. It goes without saying, ‘without issue’. The 6 Stuarts who reigned between 1603 and 1714 had mixed luck when it came to legitimate children. For example, Charles II littered the aristocracy with his bastards, but never divorced his wife, Catherine, who had no children. Anne had 17 pregnancies but only 1 child reached the age of 10. The death of each, in 1685 and 1714 respectively, created mini crises of succession. Anne’s older sister, Mary, ruling jointly with her Dutch husband William between 1688 and 1694, was also childless, as was her widower who died in 1701.
But the Dutch William, an asthmatic, contributes greatly to the story. He and Mary purchased a house in the outlying village of Kensington and turned it into a major royal palace. The next dynasty, the German Hanoverians, continued to use Kensington. The George’s initially had much better luck in the marriage bed. George III and his German wife Charlotte were prolific in producing 15 children, 9 of whom were sons. The growing family might have been a reason to desert Kensington for the larger and more central Buckingham house. Since then, Kensington palace has been the home of minor royals, those past their prime [Diana?], and those whose time has yet to come [William and Kate].
9/15 is a pretty good ratio of sons, one which Henry VIII would have been accepted. The next generation fared badly in the progeny stakes, no one more so than the Prince of Wales, the bane of his father, after running up enormous debts and secretly marrying a widowed Catholic – come in Edward VIII, you are forgiven! George despised his wife so much that they produced only one child, a daughter, who died in childbirth in 1818. When it became apparent that his 3 older brothers would not produce a legitimate heir, Edward, Duke of Kent, fifth child and fourth son, hastily married, impregnated a German princess and lived just long enough to greet his daughter Victoria. [NB. the crown skipped over George’s 4th child, a girl, to the daughter of the fifth child, a son. The law has only recently changed giving daughters the same rights as their brothers]. The rest of the Royal family ostracised the newly widowed Duchess of Kent and sequestered her and her baby daughter, Victoria, in the ‘home for troublesome royals’, i.e., Kensington Palace. So the little princess grew up in Kensington and loved it so much that she introduced her beloved Albert to love it in turn.
ISSUE: would we have had a reformation in the 16th century had Henry VIII produced 9 sons out of 15 legitimate children?