Hectic September!

Soooo… Back again after a busy month of parties, exploring the city, meeting new people and building friendships, and of course studying *wink wink* No seriously 🙂 studying!

I managed to get sick twice so far, along with most students living in the halls. The nightlife here is amazing which makes it difficult to get sufficient rest.

I’ve been doing quite well on the nutrition front, eating healthy and going to the gym regularly.

salmon & veggies

gym

I’ve been to the beach :D, actually swam in the sea, it was so cold that my body was numb and it felt amazing (I think I just realized why i got sick!). My lovely French friends and I have also been to Arthur’s seat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur’s_Seat), we climbed all the way up and had a picnic at the top followed by a choreographed dance to “dancing in september”, footage of that might be revealed someday in the future. I have to mention that Mel B from the Spice Girls was in a (what i think was) a festival tent outside just a few meters from the beginning of Arthur’s Seat, I only realized that after we had gone up and was too lazy to run back down to meet her! 🙁

swans

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picnic

picnic

Made it to the top

Made it to the top

Arthur's Seat

Louis

Axel

Louis

at the beach

So far I’ve baked twice for 2 birthdays, and cut 3 guys’ hair. Fun fun fun!

Charline's Bday

my friends

Axel's haircut

Haven’t had so much time to see my baby sister 🙁 I’ll hopefully get to see her more soon assuming my life won’t be as hectic.

I haven’t managed to get to any skateparks yet 🙁 I’m dying to though so as soon as I get a day off and it happens to be sunny I’ll go out and skate.

Oh yeah, one more new thing done, I went to Musselburgh Racecourse for research for one of my courses (Marketing Research). I’ve never seen a horse race live before, it was interesting and quite fun 🙂

Musselburgh Racecourse

I’ve joined the football team and cheerleading but since I’m sick I’ve only managed to show up one time for each. I’ve also applied to do some volunteering with sports. Time time time! Need more time. And MONEY! I need a job… :/ TIME!

Wow I’ve written over 400 words so far 😀 which reminds me that I have an essay of 700 words due next week!

I’m a blogging correctly?!?! :s /Dania OUT!

Queen Margaret Uni

The Parliament

Pub Crawl

Harry Potter

J. K. Rowling handprint

Pre-Autumn Semester Shenanigans – Week 2

Balloonapalooza

Dear reader,

Snow cones, glazed popcorn, and cotton candy are only a few among the many delicious sweets one can enjoy at the annual Balloon festival held in Downtown Windsor, Ontario. Sweets, food, beverages, face paint, and “tattoos” can be purchased at the various stands spread around the closed streets – no cars may pass while the event is held. Along the sidewalk, with perhaps a glass of cold lemonade in hand, you can watch and admire the huge tomato or pickle. If you’re into Sesame Street you will absolutely adore the several foot tall Ernie, Abby, and Big Bird. Should you be more into fast food, then don’t fret! A large hot dog can be seen, but not eaten, by the sidewalk next to Frenchy’s Poutinery.

What am I babbling about you may ask?

Well, the quadruple Oed word I entitled this post with is literally a balloon festival. You can do so many things there: casually stroll down Downtown Windsor and look at the large balloons, donate to the Breast Cancer Foundation among many others, ride the Ferris Wheel or the Berry Go Round, drink a glass of lemonade, eat glazed popcorn, try out your luck with the many games. There are hours’ worth of fun and relaxation down there!

Personally, I went there with my uncle and his family. We had glazed popcorn, cotton candy, my first snow cone (cherry flavour!), face paint, rode several of the rides, tried out a few of the games and ended the day with dinner by the river. An overall amazing day.

Sincerely,

Lady Diala

For Illustrated Shenanigans Please Click Here.

Pre-Autumn Semester Shenanigans – Week 1

An Introduction of the Author:

Greetings,

My name is Diala and I am a 21 year old Lady (got proof of this claim) from Denmark. Situated in Denmark I’m currently taking a bachelor programme called English Studies at Malmö University in Sweden. The said programme has allowed me to study abroad in Guelph, Canada as an exchange student. The following semester will last all Autumn, and end in December. Throughout these months I will be documenting my observations, experiences, and mischiefs adventures.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you will enjoy these posts as much as I will enjoy writing them.

 Best regards,

Lady Diala of Chaol Ghleann

 

Over-Friendly Canadians and Suspicious Michiganders.

Dear reader,

My first impression of the Canadians, I was forced to share an 8h 20min flight with, was a relatively good one. They were quiet, polite, and very apologetic. Even their children lived up to those adjectives! They only spoke when spoken to and they apologize a lot. Also, they never showed signs of impatience or anger. Impressive.

IMG_1175IMG_1159IMG_1161IMG_1214Apart from having prepared a long list of essential and semi-essential items to purchase for my dorm room and stay in Guelph, I also had an empty list entitled “Canadians”. However, this one was a mental one and not written on paper. I knew absolutely nothing of this country and its culture before traveling there; nothing aside from Tim Hortons, the people’s over friendly/apologetic nature, Canadian goose (the brand, too), moose, and the rumoured “eh”.

I did see several Tim Hortons on my way from the airport, and I did experience the over-friendly Canadians who would apologize for the simplest of things such as spacing out, not standing in your way, you bumping into them etc. I have seen no moose as of yet, but I did see Canadian goose by the river the next morning.

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The city I am currently staying in is called Windsor. Windsor is located about a 5min drive away from Detroit, Michigan. The day I went there I was relatively excited. The last time I had been to the states was back in 1996, and a lot had changed since then.

After crossing the border I was stopped by a couple of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. My goodness did they take their roles seriously. The hardest part of the entire procedure was for me to keep a straight face. I was questioned by both a white officer and a black officer. Their accents were pure American Hollywood movie accents, and so were their body language and facial expressions. I managed to get though the customs after filling out a form, going through a series of questions, having my fingerprints taken, and getting called ma’am.

Would you blame me for bursting out laughing after getting back into the car?

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Sincerely,

Lady Diala

Pre-Autumn Semester Shenanigans is a special series of blog posts posted once a week in August.

We want you.

 

we want you

Receiving a newsletter from a store, fashion label, human rights group and whatever you have sign up for to get a one-time-extra-discount and whatever you have sign up for when rushing through the streets of a busy city and got stopped by some teenager to sign something for a good cause, via mail is rather common. These constant mails, call them spam, inform you about important discounts or new arrivals or even if you should sign some petition to save the world from its utter evilness (means from us). However, after a time the inbox is filled with these kind of mails and it’s a mystery how some of the stores go you mail address. However, after a time the adverts just land directly in the bin and the attention is captured just by the tagline. Thus, the other day I got the weekly newsletter of some fashion label I used to buy my clothes from, I was about to delete it when I saw the headline:

‘We Know What Girls Want, We Know What Guys Like’

Well, I thought to myself ‘really?’ you know what I want, that’s interesting, so yes I clicked on it and voilà…

Obviously they didn’t know what I want, but I guess it’s a nice tagline to upset people like me. Hoping to be FINALLY enlightened in ‘what I want’

Nevertheless, my personal desires aside, I also noticed something else and I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have noticed it some months ago.

Before I went to the University of Melbourne, before I took a class in Gender Politics.

Yes, this text will address feminism. So don’t stop reading.  In fact, I was convinced to do it. When I first started studying the course ‘Sexual Politics’ at Uni Melbourne I thought

‘Why should I engage in this class? I AM a woman, I am naturally a feminist, I know what it is about!’

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My friend showing provokingly her unshaved armpit and our courseliterature

Also, I had a quite strong belief that many so called feminist are totally against men, in a mystical sphere of overanalysing and self-pitying ; basically, that they are somehow crazy. In fact, if you type in ‘crazy feminist’ on Google images you will be surprised how many memes and pictures are ridiculing that movement. However, a friend of mine said that it wouldn’t hurt to attend the course and she believed that I should go. Another thing that stroked me when I discussed it with her was something that some people would undeniable call a female reaction.

I was scared. I was scared that I might find out that feminist are not crazy, that they have a point, and that I not just belonged to the biological sex  which is supposed to be weak, but also that I wasn’t doing anything against it, that I was laughing about jokes which were sexist, but hey ‘it’s just a joke’, that I was one of the girls which laughed with the guys when a sexist joke was outspoken and that I judged  the girls who weren’t, that I looked at them and said:’ what a prude’.

I do have the strong but strange feeling that many women do feel like this, and that so many men don’t what to have the feeling of being ‘the evil one’ maintaining the system.

How stunning it is, how personal feminism is; as nowadays the decline of state-identity men and women tend to search for another identity-pool which is mostly to be a man or to be a woman, thus the theory (which was widely supported in the 60s) is instead condemned by ridiculing it, or by claiming it is too extreme. The radical voice is always the loudest, so in which theory don’t you hear about the radical views first?

Back to the newsletter I got the other day from the fashion label; the ad suggested that girls want:

Make-up

Hand- Bags

Nailpolish

Nailstickers

a hair straighter

Shoes

Trendy clothes

Feminine watches

and a book about fashion.

 

Guys liked (notice how the brand knows what girls want whilst they just know what guys like)

A pencil case

Shoes

Clothes

Two wallets

A case to put your eventual writings in it (uh wait, that could be something for for me but ahh.. no. that not what I would want.)

Headphones

A watch

2 books about hobbies

1 comic

… well, of course it could  be claimed that there is no difference and of course it could be said that this choice of products is based on demand, but then again:

That’s not the point is it? The point is that girls just want something which includes looks, whilst guys like something which includes action, includes reading something with content (not just plain picture of how you are supposed to look), having something which has an actual purpose: headphones-to listen to music, writing utensils, a wallet to put all themoney in which is earned.

we can do it

Clearly, as a girl I wish to have more choice and my choice to study feminism brought me closer to this wish.

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!

Greetings from Newcastle, United Kingdom.

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Newcastle University. King Edward VII building.

Today I have been in England for one week and three days. I travelled to Newcastle filled with fears, hopes, dreams, and big plans, all in one suitcase and body. I wanted to write my first post Tuesday, when I was in England for exactly one week but sometimes it’s not that easy. I tried my very best to write something but I kept deleting everything after only a couple of paragraphs. I wanted my post here to be smart, witty, funny, and inspirational. Instead, I think I will just go with honest. So here we go…what I honestly did in my first week in England (ever).

My flight went well and uneventful. Upon arrival, while waiting for my luggage to appear,  I kept repeating the words “ please don’t lose my stuff, please don’t lose my stuff, please don’t lose my stuff” like a mantra. I guess it worked since they didn’t lose my stuff. They lost my colleague’s.

That day I also learned that I should always read the fine print. The Meet & Greet service that promised me someone from the University would come and pick me up was apparently available only for the students who arranged accommodation in the University owned rooms and houses. That, as you may have guessed by now, was not my case. Fortunately, I have the best housemate and landlord ever, and she was more than happy to come pick me up from the airport. When we got home she told me I had mail waiting for me. “Well, that’s weird” I said. But weird was not the right word to describe it, since amazing is a much better fit.

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My letters and cookies that helped me through my first (cold) night in England.

The mail was a small package from my best friends in Sweden, in which they each wrote a letter with all their good wishes for me as well as baked me 4 cookies. I’ve read the letters my first night in England thinking I have the best friends ever. I will miss them terribly but I was happy to know they were glad for me and thought it was a good idea to spend a semester abroad. This small package made of paper, cookies, and good thoughts, is a memory I will always have of my first night in England, when freezing in my bed, I learned how much I am loved and missed at home. Oh, and the cookies are gone. Yum!

Last week was just filled with introductory meetings meant to give us, international students, an idea of what to expect, where to go if we need help, etc. I can honestly say I can find my way around the campus with ease. Everything seemed overwhelming the first few days but after a while you see the logic in things and start to function just like any other student. There are maps of the campus and signs everywhere; and, if that fails, the people are more than happy to give you directions. Which leads me to my next point….

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View over the South Africa War Memorial and St.Thomas Church.

Geordies! Geordies are the people of Newcastle, the friendliest on Earth, the most funny, the best. They speak a very distinct dialect of English called Geordie. It’s Scandinavian influenced (those Vikings…), which makes any Swedish speaker go crazy about it (Ok maybe not every Swedish speaker but it sure interests me).It’s frankly quite fascinating and I hope I will have time to learn more Geordie and write something about it here. The people here are very proud of their heritage and I think they should. Geordies are very funny and welcoming. As a matter of fact, this region is well known for the hospitality of the people here and I sense this every day: when I shop, when I ask for directions, or when I go to a lecture. It’s just a natural wittiness and friendliness they have about them that I love. Sure, people are very nice in Sweden also, but this is another kind of nice- this is a funny, cracking jokes kind of nice. Lovely!

I got to go a bit in the toon, as Geordies affectionately call the town. Newcastle is extraordinary. There is something for everyone and I have a long list of things I want to do. The Millennium Bridge and the Tyne Bridge are amazing, and I want to go see them at night, since they apparently give a spectacular view. Tons of lovely shops and pubs everywhere, and I like to take  a walk before going home through the main street, Northumberland Street, and just window browse or go in and take a look inside a bookshop.

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The Millenium Bridge and The Sage music hall.

Teaching starts next week and I am looking forward to start my classes. Being a tourist is very nice, but I didn’t forget why I’m here in the first place and I’m so excited to see my teachers, hear the first lectures, attend the first seminars, and generally get into the skin of a student abroad.

 

 

Looking at this page, it seems my student-abroad-writer’s-block thing passed, so I am looking forward to report back from the lovely Newcastle Upon Tyne. See you soon!

P.S: My colleague’s luggage has been found and sent back to her. We both have winter clothes now and are having a terrific time.