Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Interesting Trend in Scottish Hair Care

Mostly I just wonder if the stylists partake as well....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Some of you may be wondering why I have been (eh hem) a bit behind on my posts these days. It is because she has been wandering the streets of London? Has she been too busy being pulled by boys? Has she spent one too many nights in the pub recently?
Well, no. Actually I've been too exhausted (lazy) to even record events in my journal and the internet keeps futzing out. :(

So here's to play a little catch up:


Late start to the day (I swear mom its jetlag!). Colleen and Christi decided to show me the neighborhood if you will, just to make sure if I do start wandering (and you know I will) that I can at least manage to find my way back home without that pesky trail of breadcrumbs. So we started our mini adventure by going north (south? east?!) over to Kensington Park and Gardens. On the way I also discovered the we live like literally a block from the Natural History Museum, yay! Once at the park though, it resembled a bit of a winter wonderland with everything dusted in snow and all sparkly. There were all these adorable families wandering about and playing in the "blizzard" (insert eye roll here) of 1" or so of snow. It was weird to see like dozens of dogs just running around without leashes in the park, and they were so well behaved! God knows if Roxy was there she would have been off like a shot, never to be seen till dinner time.
I, being the awesome person I am, saw something sparkly off in the distance and convinced Col and Christi to investigate. Turns out it was the Albert memorial in all of its slightly gaudy gold cover glory (I want one!). So we got all touristy and took like a dozen pics in front of it. Also side note: thank you mom for the rain boots, it was super slushy in the park and I'm wicked glad I brought them.
Next we took a run to the grocery store and went by the building where classes are going to be. It doesn’t seem that far, like prob a 10 min walk from my flat. is soooooo expensive! I just spent like 20 pounds on like cornflakes and rice...oh yum. I swear this marks the beginning of my London anorexia, yay! (not)

Sooo classes started this morning, which in my opinion is never a valid reason to wake up early (I'm sure the parents would disagree though). In my defense, 9 am still feels like 4 am US time, ouch! My British Life and Culture professor seems really cool though. His name is David and he’s really laid back and funny. He even said that throughout the semester he’s gonna be asking us questions and if we get those certain ones right he'll buy that person a coffee form across the street. Thats what I call motivating! The class its self seems like its going to be pretty interesting too, so far its been a little about who the English are as people and their national identity as English and British. Even though the classes here are 3 hours long (eek) it doesn’t feel like it at all. We took a 15-20 min break about an hour and a half in but the rest of the time just seemed to fly by which is good.
Fun fact: the Union Jack is comprised of 3 different flags including the St. George's flag which is England's flag.
After class I had like 5 hours to kill before my next one. Christina (flat mate) and I decided to wander and explore the neighborhood. Apparently we live in a really nice area because all the houses are GEORGOUS. Like wicked nice. They even have private gardens and parks for yards that are filled with all sorts of flowers and bushes and trees. Now how come if everything is so nice around me and my neighbors across the street have hardwood floors (yes I creep) I have to live in a flat where there's divots in the floor and a lack of hot water? So not fair. Boo.
So get to my 5:00 Shakespeare class and just hanging out in the stairwell chatting with Marist kids when guess who I see. ... Really, try to guess. ... PAUL MARSHAL FROM ST PHILS!!!!!! WHAT?!?!?! Yeah that was pretty much my reaction in a nutshell. Weeeeeellll it turns out that he goes to Hobart (where Ricky Lyman goes) which is also in NY and is staying at one of the other residence halls here in London within the FIE program. What a freaking small world. It was like "OMG HI" "Hi" "So, how have the past 7 years of your life been?" So weird.
Anyways, my Lit class is awesome! First of all my prof is wicked cool and ended class early (hehe) but to make up for it he is going to take us on a walking tour of Shakespearian London Wed night. I'm sooo excited! How many students can say that their prof is going to take them to an unmarked grave yard, the Globe Theater, some Bear Gardens and end the night at a pub? I think I really love London lol.
Also I have discovered Ben's Cookies. They will be the death of me. And later my flat went to Imperial College where they have both a bar and club downstairs? Weird but cool.

No classes! No classes! YAY
Woke up and dragged myself to the Natural History Museum. First of all let me ask what is it about dinosaurs that turn 20 year old boys in to 7 year olds? It was kinda cute how excited they got over the t-rex and other dinos. The museum was fun though I didn't get to see anywhere near all of it sadly. Oh well will just have to go back soon!
Let’s see, after that went to lunch with a French guy that Megan met the other night. He was very nice and sweet and took her, me and Christina to this cute little Italian place down the road. Yummy lunch but I still don't understand why they give so many kisses? xxxxxxxxxxx
So another day of exploration with Christi and Christina. Found a little bookstore by the tube station as well as a place that sells coffee for 80 pence! 80 pence! Fantastic :) So somehow we found our way in front of Harrods? Who knew we were so close. I guess every day around 6 or 7 the food there goes to half price or 2 for 1 which was cool. Christina and I ended up eating the most amazing cupcakes that melted in your mouth. Can you say sugar rush? It’s a little sad how much my life revolves around food, well at least its good food! Oh also discovered the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is just around the corner form me too. It looks so huge and I can’t wait to go inside! :) One more for the to-do list.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Observed in the Streets of Scotland

The age old question: What DO they wear under their kilts? Rumour has it that the answer is nothing. Some confirm some deny. I tend to agree with the former group (don’t worry Mom I haven’t actually checked!). Last semester I went to a rugby game for which a kilt is basically required attire. All of a sudden there was a gust of wind, and every guy groped for his kilt, walking on with his hands firmly at his sides until the wind had died down. Then as we were sitting down I was treated to commentary from the guy next to me as to how crucial kilt placement is when sitting. He sort of started to sit, adjusted his kilt and very slowly lowered himself, checking along the way to make sure the kilt hadn’t moved. “The seats are REALLY cold,” he explained.

The latest in my super serious Kilt Watch 2010 happened today as I was walking to class. Crossing a street I heard running water to my right, which was unusual, so I turned to look. It was not running water. Rather, a man was relieving himself against the wall of the building I had just passed. I very quickly looked away, but not before realizing that he had strategically arranged his kilt so that he was not exposing himself. Which I thought was rather decent of him. I mean, as decent as possible while urinating in the street in broad daylight. But every little bit helps.

This being called “Observed in Scotland” it seemed like I should have a picture, which of course I don’t for obvious reasons, namely that it would be totally inappropriate. But also, I didn’t have my camera on me…

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Art of Pulling

Pulling, or the act of being ‘on the pull’, is the process of trying to attract someone, usually while out at a bar or club, with the intent of getting them to accompany you home. Just a British phrase for something that anyone who’s ever been out clubbing or bar hopping knows about right? Well sure, but what makes the phrase “on the pull” or “pulling” so amazing is how accurately it describes what is actually happening.

In 2007 I was here in Edinburgh and one of the first nights my roommate Aheli and I were at a flat party. We had found two seats and were taking a break from standing in our oh so cute but hardly practical shoes. All of a sudden a shadow fell across us as two guys that we knew, but not well, approached. Awkwardly, they were standing close enough that we had to lean way back to speak with them, but also way too close for us to stand up without bumping into them. Aheli subtly linked arms with me. Safety in numbers. They suggested that perhaps we would like to separate and spend time with them individually. We politely declined. They looked at each other baffled. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We then watched from our awkward seated position, necks craned way back as they negotiated. Right in front of us.

“They’re not letting go of each other.”
“Well maybe we could convince them?”

They looked down, saw our determined faces and linked arms, and decided they could not.

“Well, how about I take them for five minutes, then you take them for five minutes?”
“How do I know you won’t keep them?”

Were we actually being bargained for? This was too much. We decided to try and slip away while negotiations continued. Unfortunately we were spotted, and since we were now standing, our free arms had been grabbed, and were literally being pulled to try and separate us. On the pull indeed. Luckily on the pull is no match for on the run and we scurried away.

Why do I bring this up now? Two years later? Well having been enlightened to the art of pulling, I felt I was a little less oblivious and in a good place to prevent future sneak attack pullings. However, this week I was subjected to the most awkward of pick up lines showing that even identifying the attempted pull does not prevent it from happening.

Tuesday night is karaoke night at one of my favourite local bars so in celebration of being back in the Burgh, a group of us ventured out to show off our beautiful singing voices. And make sure that the Strongbow is as good as when we left.

After wowing the crowd with our rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” I was standing against a wall, when I heard a slurring near me. “Huh?” I so eloquently enquired at which the speaker jumped back with his hand to his mouth in happy surprise. “You have teeth!” he shouted excitedly and then left. I have teeth? I quickly checked with my roommate to make sure I did not have something horrible in my teeth. Nope good to go. I have teeth. I have teeth? Well of course I have teeth!

Later, the Slurring Simon found me again and once more told me I have teeth, except this time, since he was no longer as surprised, he clarified that we both have similar gaps in our teeth. And thus we should be friends. Well sure, how did I not guess that earlier? After being cornered by him and his friend for 30 minutes, of which the highlight was him telling my roommate and I “I’m so glad you are older than you look. I thought you were 19 so being 32 I felt really creepy coming to talk to you.” Oh. Not sure it’s any less creepy now, but cool. Soon they had to go and we assured them that no, we would not be leaving with them. I returned to the rest of my group and was greeted with a chorus of “YOU HAVE TEETH!!!!” Thank you Simon.

And so ended another pulling. Never the same…and never boring…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meanwhile, Further North...

I am back in Edinburgh for Semester two of very serious and important Postgrad work. OK maybe not all serious and important, especially now that I am only a four hour train ride from Allie! But I’m trying to work on that whole balance thing. So don’t worry Dad!

The trip back was fairly uneventful aside from a minor incident where the friendly people at Heathrow allowed me to wander through the wrong gate and only informed me that I needed a stamp from the other gate when I was trying to get on the plane. But minor hiccup, tiny detail. I managed to circle back, go through the correct gate, and make it to my flight just in time.

Anyway the real adventure of the day involved the transport of my bicycle. For those of you who don’t know, Edinburgh is big on societies: Sports societies, dance societies, chocolate societies, if you like it, chances are there is a society for it. I decided to join the Triathlon club. I swim, I run, I have a bike, so it works right? Well in semester one my cycle was conveniently at home in the States so I could be a multi-sport athlete without actually having to work on that third sport. But not this semester! No, this semester I wanted to have a bike so that I could finally live up to the Tri club sweatshirt I’ve already been wearing around.

But how to transport a bike? Well I managed to find a very nice cycle shop to pack it up for me in a large box, to be assembled at this end by whatever friendly cycling shop will take pity on me first.

At the airport, as I hauled the box to the counter, the agent shuffled back slightly and his eyes widened. Who was this little girl and why did she have such a big box? Upon answering that I was the only person travelling, he responded with “You and your bike!” as if to assure himself that he was actually seeing what he thought he was seeing. I checked in and he was even kind enough to ignore my grossly overweight rolly bag, mostly because he was still shooting glances at my bike box to make sure it was really there. And it was, until it was checked like any other bag, through to Edinburgh and life was easy.

That is of course, until baggage claim on the other end. It came around the luggage belt, people following it to see who the serious athlete was, and tilting their heads in confusion as the short girl in sparkly rain boots pulled it off the belt. With the help of a very nice girl I loaded it and my other bag onto a cart and off I went, people giving stepping aside to clear a path for me. Clearly because they were in awe of he ease with which I handled the cart, assuring them of my equal athletic skill when actually on the bicycle. Right? Sure…

Outside after the all too familiar stepping back and rapid intake of breath on the part of all the taxi drivers, I was loaded in and on my way to my flat. Upon reaching the door, two painters asked if I needed help. By this point I felt I was an old pro at manoeuvring the box and suitcase but they nodded at each other over my head and swept the box up to my apartment door.

So maybe I don’t look quite like the cyclist I hope to be by the end of the year, although I’m sure once I’m not wearing sparkly rain boots my image will improve slightly. Still, I’m here, my bike is here, and I’ve already experienced the friendliness of the people here, in thanks of which I can only hope I provided them with a story to bring home at the end of the day.

“Hunny you’ll never believe what I saw today. A little girl, 13, maybe 16 at the MOST dragging a huge bike box through the streets of Edinburgh. No I’m not lying it was twice her size! I agree I wonder that her parents let her out all alone like that…And she had on these rain boots….”

Busy and important Postgrad work aside, it promises to be another interesting semester. And I can’t wait!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Allie's First Days in London


Finally I'm here!

The flight form Boston to Amsterdam was mostly uneventful. Yummy pasta (surprising right?). Personal TVs. Not so bad blankets.
The only downside was the twitchy guy who sat next to me. Seriousally everytime I tried to go to sleep or was just nodding off he would bump the armrest, or my sholder. Arg so fusturating! There was also a guy a few rows back who was just whiney. Seriousally if your over 40 stop complaining about the airline food, its on a airplane- expect the worst and be happy if its edible.

My list of things that shouldn't be allowed near airports:
shreaking children
squeeky rolling bags
twitchy people

1/8/10....not really sure what day it is?
Next plane ride from Amsterdam to London was pretty plesent. Bonded with the girl sitting next to me, she was from Holland and goes to university in London. It was cool, she told me about different things to do in the city including shopping and which neighborhoods are fun to visit.

mailing address for next 4 months

Allie Karzenski
Metrogate House
3-7 Queen's Gate Terrace

Mail to this address even though in living at flat 16A on a flat in Manson Place.

Finding the flat was a bit of an adventure, you would think that 16A would be the street address. Wellllll apparently not. In fact I live in building 13, which is just plain confusing. Luckly enough as I was wandering up and down my street my neighbor showed me which house and which flat as well as helping me to carry my 1000000000 lb bag up four flights of stairs. Thank you sir who I don't remember the name of.
So the flat:
I would draw a little sketch but I dont think I can on the blog thingy. So walkin in, its a small hall that has 5 bedrooms and 3 bathroom leading off of it with a common room and kitchen. Sadly, no dishwasher but so far its been ok. Theres 12 people in my flat, two of which are boys and the rooms are made up of 2-3 people each. I'm rooming w/ Coleen and Christi in what I'm convinced is the biggest room in the flat. (YAY). Its not too bad, sparce w/ a bunk bed and a single as well as 3 armouirs (sp?) so it works.

1/9/10 cont...
The neighborhood is very pretty made up of white, well brownstones I guess. Row houses? Flats? Whatever. Its pretty. I guess they are all pretty expensive around here, or at least they look it and around the corner are some reallllllly nice hotels. Down the block a bit theres a lot of different resturants and shops, mostly small family owned ones. So far the prices don't look too bad for things- around $2 to $3 for a cup of coffee (more than Costal eek!) but its a cute area.
Col, Christi and I went for dinner with Alex Vas at a little homie Italian place arround the corner which was nice and had really good food with super fresh ingredents. On the way there I noticed that the street were painted at cross section to say "look left" or "look right," adorable how they dont want their tourist to get killed (cough mom cough).
So after dinner we adventured to "The Sports Bar" to do the quinticental Engligh thing of....watching the Jets game! Eh whatever dont judge. It was still fun to hang out with people in my program and we met a few local American Football fans.
Jetlag, its the only thing keeping me back!.........sleep......zzzzzzzzz