Hallowscream 2013 in York Maze

For the past 2 weeks, I have worked at the York Maze for this Halloween event called Hallowscream. It basically means that each week from Thursday to Saturday, the maze changes into a Halloween spooktacular where people come and get their scared off of their pants lol. I am part of the team of freaky clowns, scary zombies and other freaks. It has been such a fun time working with all these amazing people. The doors are opened at 6 pm, so we need to get there around 5 to get our make-up done and costumes on. I have probably one of the best characters to play- the three breasted lady lol. There are different houses with different themes and I am obviously at the freak show. Next to my cage I have a fellow freak the Elephant Man. There is also the fortune teller, werewolves our lovely ring-master and a couple of zombie, soldiers and victims are scattered in the maze behind our tent. The people (audience) who come each night is so diverse at this is really the best part of the day to see their reactions. Most of them want to take a picture with me and even though they are not allowed to touch me, 80% of them do. A couple of nasty comments from guys, some naughty little boys, a lot of mentioning of “Total Recall” and some offended oldies is a every day thing. It’s definitely a too fun experience to call it a job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it, ey! Today is our big Halloween night, looking forward to what it has to offer 🙂

with my fellow freaks

with my fellow freaks

Hallowscream 2013

Hallowscream 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides my job at the maze, school has been great as well. I’m still enjoying my courses and have managed to find enough free time to enjoy the societies. Basketball society had a fresher’s party last week which was a lot of fun. We were dressed as farm animals and the second and third years were are farmers. Long story short, it all ended in York’s biggest and newest nightclub called Kuda.

Basketball Fresher's Party

Basketball Fresher’s Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week is a little special for York as a city as well. There is this gorgeous event called Illuminating York that takes place form the 30th until the 2nd. As I will be working all these days, I went to see some of it yesterday. It was exactly the same like we had in Sydney in May. Basically, the whole city is in lights and the most famous buildings have different light shows on them. It really is gorgeous!

 

That’s all for now, but it’s never boring in York so until next week 🙂

 

Sleeping at Last.

Since July I am wandering through the majestic campus of the University of Melbourne. Surprisingly, my time here at University will soon be over and I have one last challenge to master:

The examination period (a little thunder would fit remarkably after this sentence).

The courses have their final exams in November and the students here are becoming slightly nervous. If not to say: they are panicking! Every morning I witness hysteric students at the university libraries, struggling to maintain a good position in front of the doors so they can get a seating place in the library with access to a plugin. I witness angry comments at the universities Facebook page condemning all students which are ‘blocking’ precious plugin access while just reading or making notes, seating at a plugin-place without using the plugin is not tolerated easily. I witness threats, like spilling holy Latte Macchiato over fellow students to get access to a university computer. I witness how every screen is structurally checked if fellow students are on avoidable pages such as Facebook, Twitter or their email account, and in case they are: loud protests are heard from the help-desk that ‘the twats can check their Facebook at home! I NEED THIS COMPUTER’

Yes, the examinations period is indeed a state of emergency; where the students mutate to zombies with dangerous coffee-cups. I have to say the sign ‘no drinks allowed’ gets a totally different meaning during this period. Also, when I talk about students becoming zombies I don’t mean the harmless zombies struggling to keep their eyes open; slurping from computer to printer. NO. I talk about the horrible dangerous once, being smart and aggressive like you can see in Marc Fosters World War Z or Francis Lawrences I am Legend. As they are reacting extremely aggressive to noises and are avoiding the sunlight; also they like to gather in groups and breathe simultaneously whilst studying with maniac eyes.

Giblin Library

 

Unnecessary to say that as a Swedish student I am not really used to this collective amount of stress at one place; having my exams evenly distributed at the end of each month. However, even though I am slightly irritated by the change of behaviour of my fellow students, I found it even more surprising that after an approximately 3h working session they take a nap (!) In Uni. Wherever they occupied their belongings, students fall asleep. It seems like the effort they put into snatching a seat in the earliest hours is so vast that they simply cannot leave their place, not yet to say that the effort in itself is rather tiring. Of course this totally contradictory behaviour of falling randomly asleep triggers the other students’ anger, who are still searching for places to work at. Hence, the hands holding coffee-cups are scarily starting to tremble when passing one of the sleepyheads. It seems to be a vicious cycle. Nevertheless, after the nap I found it even more astonishing to see how the person just forgets it and continues to work in a total serious manner, as if the dribble spot does not exists on his or her shirt. I would say: this is commitment, and since studying is always so extremely prized for its ‘best time of your life’ and it’s ‘you will never ever have so much fun’, I feel there is also a need to congratulate all students for their unbelievable strength in stress-coping.

Assessments- same, same but different.

99Back at MAH (Malmö University), my assessments in two years of university have been divided in essays, sit-in exams, and presentations. Sometimes a portfolio makes an appearance but this has been pretty much it. I’m sure this can be very different depending what people are studying, but I will try and only talk about my experience. At Newcastle, things revolve around the same things: a presentation here, an essay there. However, there are certain differences in how this is executed.
You know…same, but different.

armstrong

Armstrong building, where I have some of my courses. Yes, I know-amazing!

Yesterday I did my first (and last) presentation at my adoptive university. It was the first time I felt extremely confident about presenting. I’m not the type of person who takes assessments lightly. I don’t have the que sera, sera attitude. As a matter of fact, I get really nervous days before, thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could happen. This paranoia, although annoying to the people around me, helps me in a way. Having all this extremely bad scenarios in my mind, reality never proves to be as bad as I paint it in mind. I always do extensive research, much more than I would need to serve the purpose of a ten minutes PowerPoint presentation, so no question can ever take me by surprise. And they never really do. I’m always super early at school just in case the planets align that day and clog the traffic. And I’m never late. Things like that. But for this presentation I was there only ten minutes early, had a nice chat with the teacher before, started my slides, went through them very naturally, even affording myself the luxury to crack a joke or two on the subject of my presentation. And it went well. So how come? Why did I feel so confident about it? I think it has to do with what happened a day before. The teacher encourages us to come see him in his office and go through our presentation, tell him what we want to do, ask for advice, etc. I did that and I felt extremely confident knowing that I’m not blindly jumping in something like a twenty minutes presentation without knowing if I’m really on the right track. Of course after doing so many presentations back home I knew I was on the right track, but reassurance works wonders. Also, something interesting about the whole thing was the fact that it was an individual presentation (YES!) and not mandatory. Now, this is the different part. In this course, we could do a twenty minutes presentation only if we wanted. If we did it, it would count as 30% of the grade and we would have to write a 3000 words essay as part of the last 70% (due late January). If we decided we don’t want to do the presentation, we would have to write a 4000 words essay that would count as 100% of the grade. It’s debatable which would be the “best deal” but I can tell you that an hour seminar is much livelier with a presentation.

kcaco

Original KCACO poster at Barter Books Bookshop. Yes, I was there. Yes, I find it fitting to this post.

Another interesting type of assessment that I will go through in December is a so-called individual presentation that is really nothing like it sounds. It is in fact a debate, done within a pre-established group, but graded individually. The teacher gives us three topics. We choose one and end up in a group with the other people in our seminar who also chose that topic. So we have the group. That group can meet as many times as it wants, or be spontaneous (and insane) and just go to the debate the day of the assessment. There, we have twenty minutes to talk about the subject. This can be as staged as we want it to be. We can have meetings before and script it, knowing who speaks when and what, so we don’t create chaos and talk over each other. If we want to talk more than twenty minutes we can have friends in the audience asking the questions we couldn’t fit in our time. Even though this is a group debate, it is graded individually. Even if you don’t say a thing at the debate, the teacher assigns 3 minutes for every students to say his/her own conclusions on the matter at the end so everyone gets to talk. The grade is all about the quality of what you say rather than the quantity. To me it sounds a bit chaotic at the moment, but I’m sure things will clearer with time. Next seminar we will do a mock debate and see how things will go.

The essays are the same everywhere, except the style of the house is Harvard, not MLA. It seems to be much more official though. To submit an essay I need to submit it online and as a physical copy that needs to be stamped by the department secretary before I can drop it in the teacher’s pigeon box. I also get a receipt as proof that I submitted my work.

So far my courses are going really well, I am very pleased with my decisions. Next assessment is on the 7th November, a case study for the (amazing) Advertisement course. So I guess I should go back to my research now…

Have a nice weekend everyone!

A Flat White, please!

IMG_0050

As a Student from Sweden I am quite familiar with the idea of drinking coffee constantly during my presence at university. The lectures have a 15minutes break, where you have the chance of keeping your precious caffeine-level as high as possible. As one hand is occupied holding the holy cup the other one seems to be filled with a cinnamon roll. But this is not mandatory. However, when I began to study at Melbourne University I felt it was rather natural to look for a coffee container and some paper-cups around it to maintain my new developed need for coffee. Thus, I started to look for a coffee-distribution place everywhere; I was even expecting some serving stations. At last I entered the Union House which seems to inhabit all snack bars, shops and various mini restaurants where you can purchase food from; there is no cafeteria as at Malmoe University. As I strolled around the campus, which is rather huge and confusing, but looks like Hogwarts (see pictures attached which traces my search for coffee), I experienced my first cultural shock: There is no ‘brygg-kaffe’ served. Not even at Uni.  My search for a coffee container and a smiling blond cafeteria staff member handing me a paper cup in which I can pour in the black gold for a cheap prize was in vain.

IMG_0021

Coffee is essential during my studies, especially when a deadline runs short, coffee needs to be close. In Melbourne I encountered a different kind of coffee culture, not the entire loss of it. I found was the total admiration of coffee. Coffee at University seems to be not simply black, maybe with a hint of milk; it seems to be: cappuccino, latte macchiato and flat white (?), freshly made from pressed coffee beans (It wouldn’t even surprise me if they have an own roaster behind the various coffee shops). I do hope you start wondering what a ‘flat white’ is. I certainly did. As the Swede likes to drink coffee during his work-time preferably black, the Australian likes to enjoy their coffee with a lot of milk (here you can chose naturally between soja-milk, non-fat milk, lactose free milk and normal milk), and a flat white is basically a coffee with so much milk that just a delicate hint of coffee can be detected.

IMG_0147

In Melbourne, a city adorably proud of its coffee serving, each speciality you order is topped by fine foam; cappuccinos are even sprinkled with chocolate powder. No doubt, it is possible to find such coffee in Malmo too, but at my home University the students keep strictly to the ‘more caffeine the better’ method.  It might not be the most life-changing event which I came across during my exchange but it struck me how the small simple changes are the ones which surprise.

The Lake District

Another great week has passed by with a lot going on. It’s definitely been a busy week as school has officially started and there is no limit on readings. Nevertheless, I have managed to find a steady balance between studying and having fun, and so far it has worked out fine 🙂

Last weekend(well actually 2 weekends ago now), the International student group organized another trip for the exchange students- the Lake District. I had heard so much about it and was really eager to go. Before I could be fast enough and make up my mind, the tickets were sold out. I was quite bummed, but figured I can still do it by myself some time in the future. As it happened, one of my friends had bought a ticket in advance only to find out that she had to go back home to Spain for that weekend. Lovely as she is, she was more than happy to give me her ticket and with only half a day notice I was getting ready to go to the Lake District

1385490_10151971407068792_1913080016_n

The ride there was quite long, almost 3 hours. On our way, we stopped at this little village where the poet William Wordsworth had lived, and written most of his poems. It was lovely little place with hills on horizon and sheep in every corner. We took some pictures of Dove’s Cottage- Wordsworth’s home and circled the houses nearby.

When we finally arrived to Bowness next to Windermere(the largest natural lake in England), the 3 hour ride was all worth it. The lake was gorgeous as well as the the bright green hill tops caressed by sunlight that you could see from every direction. It really felt like a magical place, no wonder Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth had been fond of it so dearly.

Peter Rabbit heaven

Peter Rabbit heaven

As a poor student, there wasn’t that much to do to be honest. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money taking ferry rides, nor did we pay for the extremely expensive entrance to the Peter Rabbit world. Instead, we settled with a picture with Ms. Potter and decided to visit all the Peter Rabbit stores we could find. I don’t know about the other girls, but I loved it!

To finish up our day more adventurously, Asma, Alina and I decide to rent a rowing boat for an hour. We were so nervous in the beginning and I personally wasn’t sure if it was the right decision. Happy to say, it was the best decision of the day! We had so much fun and saw the whole lake with a way better view than from the shore. The hills were just marvellous as the sun was about to set and the water was opalescing in our direction. We took some great pictures and truly enjoyed our time on water. I also found out that I am a hell of a good rower 🙂

1377548_10151971408353792_978704227_n 1385590_10151971407098792_493091188_n 995217_452992421487070_1825760071_n 582379_580926655276723_1764473397_n

Visiting the Lake District was definitely something I would recommend. Probably nicer in the summer time, but hey, if you have the chance, don’t hesitate and go in any season, you won’t regret.

A whole week and 2 days have past since Lake District. Mostly school and reading, but also getting a new awesome job at the York Maze. I have been playing a freak/zombie for the past 3 days now and scaring people out of their socks lol. It has been so much fun and definitely the coolest job I have had so far, but I post more about it in next week’s blog.

Cheers!

First weeks in York, England

It’s been almost 4 weeks since I arrived to England, can’t believe how fast time has gone! Needless to say that it has been busy and I have had too much fun, as I haven’t managed to post a single blog post since then. (Well I also don’t have my laptop anymore which makes it harder). Anyways, there has been a lot going on within these 4 weeks. I guess the best idea would be to start from the beginning, but I will try to keep it short 🙂

1231209_10151918674013792_536659137_n

The first week (Sept 15th-22nd) York St John University had a Welcome Week or Orientation Week as some call it. During that week I familiarized myself with the gorgeous campus, learned to know the beautiful historical city and joined for all the fun events that were organized for us. I met a lot of people and got many new friends, mostly fellow Erasmus exchange students from Germany, Spain and Sweden, but also a good amount of young British lads lol.

 

York as a city is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities I have ever lived in (and I have lived in quite many countries). It has the sense of history most definitely- you can’t really escape from that having walls surrounding most of the city center and towering churches echoing Britishness from every corner. It does have a younger vibe to it as well as not all the people you see on the street are tourists. I think York St John University has  a role to play in it by inviting younger people from around the world to come and be part of this well known and established university as well as of this historic city.

531908_10151916399788792_674869086_n

Ok, that sounded a bit like an article for a newspaper haha. Anyways, it is great here and I am not ashamed to acknowledge it 🙂

 

The International Office here also organizes trips across the country. The first trip we had was a day in Whitby. Whitby turned out to be very typical British like seaside town. Unbelievably beautiful and definitely more than I had expected. Bram Stoker even wrote his book “Dracula” there because he simply got inspired by the beauty around him, no lie. We had an amazing day strolling along the haven eating fish and chips. Even “Prince Harry” showed up 😉559800_10151930479048792_254697509_n1240666_10151930477743792_211251717_n2013-09-21 13.58.372013-09-21 14.09.41

 

I can’t remember much more, but there have definitely been a handful of concerts, comedy nights, parties, pub nights, sightseeings and readings (especially within the past two weeks). I have joined the drama society and basketball society that have also kept me busy.I also managed to go to Leeds last weekend to check out the famous Primark. Man, was that worth going or what! It is literally as cheap as WallMart in the States- I’m in heaven now 🙂

2013-09-28 16.32.22

I will try to get myself on a schedule now and post weekly, so until next week.

 

Cheerio!