Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One Year. One. Year.

A year. A year. A year. A YEAR. When did that happen? I really can't process it. I knew it was coming, but nothing could prepare me. Now I'm sitting in my office, on June 2nd, remembering sitting in my office on June 2nd, a year ago. It was a different office, I didn't know anyone, all I knew was that I was scared out of my mind. New country, new people. I had the motivation to be there, because, well, it's Scotland, but I could not help that nagging feeling that I was way in over my head. I wandered around in a daze for days and honestly, I can't remember one specific day from the first few months. I hated where I lived, I missed everyone back home and I did not know how to do my research.

Now a year later, I find these blogs really difficult to write, because my day seems so routine now, I don't have a concept of what is interesting to people. Here's what my day looks like:

06.30 - Alarm goes off...snooze button hit

06.45 - Alarm goes off... buried it under my pillow

07.00 - Forgot that alarm also vibrates...unhappily awoken to a vibrating pillow

07.15 - Open eyes

07.30 - Sit up

07.35 - Stand up

07.45 - Made it to the bathroom

08.00 - Emerge squeaky clean and dressed. Go to kitchen to turn on the kettle

08.05 - Make some tea, pack my laptop into my bag, eat some toast and jam and make a lunch with bacon, tomato chutney and lettuce

08.15 - Leave my flat, flatmate still asleep and walk to the university to some music

08.35 - Get to the office, check/respond to email, read the news. Get long email from friend in Edinburgh about coming through this weekend, write back

09.02 - print off and handed in my First Year Report. Do a happy dance down the hallway

09.05 - code isn't working. curses ensue...

10.23 - wrote a long email

11.13 - Tea time in the common room - meet a new REU summer student from America...remember how I felt coming to these coffees a year ago

11.52 - Get back to office. Friend suggests we take the new summer student out for lunch...put sandwich back for dinner tonight

12.05 - Leave for a super early lunch due to lab tour dress rehearsal at 14.30

12.20 - Enjoy a Caledonian 80/- and a scampi and chips - way more satisfying than a BLT.

13.18 - Get back to department. Lab tours postponed until 16.00... help someone with their statistics (hurray, BA in Mathematics!) and get back to simulations. Anomalies arise; rerun simulation

13.57 - Best friend gets online. Stress from simulation begins to wane.

16.01 - Weekly group telecon...cannot describe the excitement this brings

16.24 - Still discussing first thing on agenda... lightbulb in office starts freaking out

16.45 - First item finishes

17.13 - Telecon over!

Now that I am done with my workday, I can tell you what the rest will entail. I am going to go home, eat my BLT with some chips and have some of my leftover beer from the party. Then I will clean the rest of my flat from Saturday.

To update you quickly on the last, well, month, I have mostly been earning some extra money helping out with exam season, by reading and grading exams, I have been writing my first year report and basically keeping my head down, working away. There have been the occasional pub nights, the occasional concerts; nothing terribly exciting.

Last week my next-door-neighbour sent me an email saying she was in Edinburgh and I offered to come through for dinner to keep her company. I met her at Waverley Station and she showed me some quick Harry Potter sights that she saw on her walking tour the previous days. It was really cool to see the Elephant Cafe again because that is the cafe that my family always used to hang out at when we were visiting Edinburgh as it was always close to our hotel. A few years later, Harry Potter hit big and it was revealed that the same coffee house was where JK Rowling wrote the series. I had not been back to the cafe since that came out, but when I got to go there last week, it definitely was. It seemed a lot smaller (as I was a lot smaller when I was last there) but it was definitely the same place. It is so the type of coffee shop that my mum would hang out at. After that, I took her to a seafood restaurant that my friend recommended off of Princes Street. Pretty touristy (as is a lot of Edinburgh) but the food was really great. We then met up with my friend and his girlfriend for drinks at a nearby chain pub. I hung out with them until far too late and had to get the last train home to Glasgow. One of my friends referred to it as the "Wrong City Syndrome" where you get up at the end of the night and you have the "...... ..... damn." moment when you realise you have to travel to another city first. Definitely the worst train ride of my life. I should have had more to eat than 6 scallops at dinner.

On Friday night my neighbour came back through Glasgow and I took her to Mr India's and the Friday night ceilidh in the city centre. We had a fantastic time and I still have the ceilidh bruises on my arm. She left the next day as I had a party to get ready for! My friend (with a car) picked me up and we went to the big supermarket outside of Glasgow. We, of course, had to stop at B&Q (equivalent of Home Depot) as her and I both love these kind of stores. We begrudgingly left after picking out material to rebuild the seat of her dining room chairs to go and actually do some shopping. We got carried away and I spent far too much money on this party. Stupid alcohol. I made it back home, got to catch up with a friend on Skype while I prepared some food and got the place all ready to go.

The theme of the party was America and people did a pretty good job of coming through on such a vague theme. Mostly, it was a chance to buy crap, synthetic American food. One of my friends mentioned to me later how entertaining it was to see me getting so excited about seeing crappy food again. Someone managed to find a fridge-pack of Mountain Dew Code Red, which had clearly been imported from America (flavor spelled the American way) and we were pretty sure that the chemicals were actually illegal in this country. Eurovision was also that night, so people made me promise to stream the final on BBC iPlayer. I am so glad that I have such a huge flat for people to lounge around in and break up into groups. As it was meant to be a cocktail-type party, people really stocked up on the hard liquor. Though a lot of money went into this party, I am not going to have to buy booze for like a year from the party profit. We experimented making Long Island Ice Teas, which I do not recommend approaching them from an experimental standpoint, as you have to taste it every step of the way, but we made a sufficiently decent batch by the end. The last crowd left at 4:30am and I promptly crashed.

Sunday I spent the whole day in bed. The whole day. Stupid Long Islands.

Monday was a Bank Holiday here so we had the day off. I went over to my friend's house as her boyfriend had just left for America for three weeks and she wanted to work on the dining room chairs. Her and I sat in front of her flat in a grassy patch and sawed some blocks of wood, put some primer on them and drank some beer. There were some little kids running around (as it was a supremely nice day) and we must have been a sight. It was basically like, "see kids? when you're a grown-up you get to play with saws and wood and paint and beer all day!" I must say though, it was a good bank holiday to be covered in paint and sawdust, drinking cheap beer. Inevitably, there was a call for a barbeque at the University again, so we went over there and enjoyed a good barbie for the rest of the evening. It's light until almost 11 here, which is unbelievably phenomenal.

Last night I had roller derby practice again. I am getting a crazy good workout with these ladies. It is basically rebuilding all my dead muscles that I had when I was a dancer. I am not technically on the team yet, as I have to go through a few months of training before I can join them, but I really just wanted to get in shape and this is a great way to do so. It is hitting my bank account pretty good though. I hope I do not have to give it up due to finances. I love the ladies though and the workout is fantastic. Three hours on Tuesday evenings...crazy!

That's it for me now. I am off to Edinburgh on Saturday and then Hannover, Germany for a 4 day meeting with some collaborators. Like I said, I have basically hit a routine here, so my updates are going to be more infrequent, but I will keep you up to speed with all the exciting events! Cheers for now!

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