Jesus Christ on toast, this place is amazing! I knew the department here was fantastic when I applied, now I'm just blown away by the place.
This week was all the orientation stuff here at the Centre for Medieval studies. It was a bit overwhelming, especially on Monday when they threw EVERYTHING at us. Also that same day we had a LATIN test, which I completely panicked at. I think I did fairly well, but the entire time I was taking it there was a chorus of "crapcrapcrapcrap I'm so boned" running through the back of my head.
(Note: Since the time of writing the above paragraph, I found out I was placed in the beginners LATIN. Nothing to stress about, but I obviously didn't do as well as I'd thought.)
Something I'm becoming very aware of that's quite different from the college mentality in the states is the drinking culture. You're encouraged to drink and, in fact, some of the research/reading groups meet at pubs. It's a social thing though, not the way that I saw it in the states, where people drink mostly to get drunk. It's kind of nice really. It helps that all the CMS (Centre for Medieval Studies) people are completely nerdy/awesome and I'm really enjoying getting to know them.
I'll avoid giving you a blow-by-blow of the week this time. Instead, I'm going to list a few things I noticed/found out on week two here.
1.) Apparently PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon for those who aren't beer drinkers) is really big over here. If you don't get why this is odd to me, let me explain. In Santa Barbara (and CA at large), PBR is just above cow piss and Corona in terms of cheap bad beverages. If you want something good and cheap, you get a Coors or a Bud. Here, PBR is like...THE American Beer. I've seen it on tap more than I've seen Bud, which is bizarre as hell. Also, more expensive beers in the States (Stella Artois, Fosters, Guiness, etc.) is ridiculously cheap here and considered on the level of Coors back home. It's....wierd, like someone just took the normal ranking of beers and turned them on their heads.
Still, the local lagers here are fantastic, so I'm not complaining. I'm underwhelmed by Carling though. Heard Strongbow is better and I'll have to find out for myself if that's true or not.
2.) No matter where I go, if I'm at a grocery store and have to bag my crap, I will have a mini panic attack. I thought, for some weird reason known only to the inner workings of my mind, that being out of pushy California would stop me from acting like I'm trying to get through security at an airport when I'm at the checkout line, but that's just not the case. I get all shaky and sort of flail about, trying to get everything bagged as quickly as possible while also trying to pay my total and not hit the cashier in the face with something. Not the most dignified behavior in the world.
3.) I need to eat more regularly here because of the drinking culture. Back in SB, I had a couple of Gin and Tonics Sunday night while making Salmon, or I had a beer if I went out somewhere other than In-n-Out Burger. When I got home for the summer, I drank a bit more regularly, but it was always with a meal and I don't, you now, FORGET TO EAT at home the way I do when I'm on my own and get fixated on stuff. However, I've discovered half a pint of lager will make me the most obnoxiously talkative person on the planet if I've had nothing to eat since breakfast. And, given that I don't like feeling like I need to punch myself in the face when I sober up, yeah, I'll be eating more regularly.
4.)Apparently the bureaucracy of Academia sucks everywhere. Hearing some of the PhD students talk, it sounds like unless you're doing research or actually have a medieval studies program at the school you're working at; you're probably going to be teaching classes in your area whether you want to or not. I sort of knew that, but I'd hoped maybe over here it'd be less of a problem since, you know, all the sites and stuff are here, but alas, Medieval Studies apparently only interests us select few.
Also, on the bureaucracy thing. They're taking a fridge from us. We're low on fridge space for 30+ people and they're taking a fridge away. We're raising cain about it, but, come on people. You fill the place to capacity and then take away something we NEED? Are you daft? What the hell are you thinking?! Arrrrgh.
5.) One washer/dryer set + 30 odd people = complete fail. This has probably been one of the most irritating things all week. I went down on three separate occasions with the intent of doing laundry, only to find that everything was in use or someone had left all their shit in the dryer. I did finally get it all done, but Jesus Christ in a handbasket, it took me far longer than it should have.
6.)Nobody makes strong coffee here. I'm not joking. Even the expresso is weaker than what we have stateside. It's depressing since I drink my coffee Norwegian black and I can't make the strength I like. It tastes like I'm just drinking slightly bitter milk and that's just not right.
7.) Whatever function you are at, it will end up moving to a pub. Everything except my LATIN briefing did that this past week. Orientation is over? Awesome, let's go to the pub. Oh, we're throwing a meet and greet for the CMS? Let's head to the pub as it winds down. Old English/Old Norse reading group? To the Pub! Not that I'm complaining much, half pints are cheap and I only get one, but it just seems to be where everything ends up, as opposed to SB where you stayed at the party and drank or go to someone's house and drink socially.
8.) York is full of nerds and God bless it for that. There is a Sci Fi/ Fantasy society (totally joining it), a Medieval re-enactment society (also joining), The Lords of Misrule (medieval drama group, no joke), Medieval Choir, the list goes on. It honestly makes me a very happy nerd. I'm so glad I came here. I really do feel like I fit in. I mean, Christ, someone's running a PERSONA D&D GAME, how bleedin' awesome is that?! I mean its PERSONA!
Until next time dear Blogger (which may or may not be late based on my work load).
(also, in cause you're wondering, yes, I will always type LATIN in big letters to express my loathing.)