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I See Elsie

The Ithaca College London Centre

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Posted by Claire Mokrauer-Madden at 8:41AM   |  Add a comment


For the Fall 2010 students it is the final countdown of weeks left in London.  You are counting down your weekend trips, the tourist sites you STILL haven't been to and let's not forget the number of plays/sporting fixture/gigs still remaining to be seen.  For the Spring 2011 students it is the final countdown of days left in Ithaca before your semester in London, of days left on the 28 day holding period (if you are applying for a visa), of figuring out exactly how many credits you need to take here in London and which classes you will be taking (actually, I bet you all have a pretty good handle on that one already).

For Bill, Sarah, Heather and me we have a lot going on during this season, too.  This is the high season for competitions.  Bill has just named the winner of the dinner quiz (the one where you win a homemade dinner at his house!  I was one of the lucky winners of this one in the Fall of 2002.  That's probably why Bill knew that I would be good hiring quality in 2009).  Coming up is the Travel Writing competition, for which the prize is £50.  There is the Photography Competition, voted on by the students.  And of course the new term-long Scavenger Hunt.  The prizes for these competitions will be given out at the End of Term Event.  Fall '10 students, find info about these competitions on the board in the front entry.  But the competitions don't end there for us.  The Spring '11 students are getting weekly emails from Bill with quizzes to win a bit of cash upon arrival in January. 

Here are some reminders of the glory that comes with winning:

Dena was the first to ask a man in a kilt to dance with her at the ceilidh! That was worth £5. I don't think he wanted the dance to end.


Carrie was a bit of a quiz master in Stratford and Oxford.


Heather taking £5 off of Bill.


Back in August Theresa collects her summer winnings for answering one of the quizzes in the pre-arrival emails.  I bet £10 made her jet lag a little less bitter.


 -Claire (no help from Elsie)


Posted by Claire Mokrauer-Madden at 10:30AM   |  Add a comment


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)


Posted by Sarah Davies at 10:36AM   |  Add a comment

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)

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