Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beginning Classes

It finally has been that week!  I started my classes at Bangor University.  I know I shouldn't complain about not having classes but I've been twiddling my thumbs for too long now.  Also, being in the UK for two weeks before classes was nice at first but once I caught my first cold (which left holed up in my room) I was looking for something to get me back into the land of the living.  I was excited when Monday rolled around and I got to start my classes!  Now before I tell you about them, I'll first tell you what I'm taking:

  1. Wales Tyrants to Princes
  2. Literature Since 1945
  3. God in Film
I confused so many full time students here with my course selection!  In the UK, you pick a major and only take courses related to that major.  Also, you have only three years of schooling before graduate school.  It's sounds interesting but I'm glad for American schools where you get the diverse background that could lead to interesting jobs.

Now to the start of my week.  Classes are run slightly different here.  There isn't a set pattern to your week (which I think may throw me off).  My Monday classes consist of God in Film (the screening of the film) and Literature Since 1945 (the lecture).  I walked over to the Main Arts academic building, which thankfully all my classes are in the same building, about a half hour early.  This building is a bit confusing, even for third-years here.  Luckily there is a secretary at the main entrance who can give you directions anywhere you need to go.

Unfortunately my first class, God in Film, had been cancelled and I wasn't informed.  Oh well, the secretary of the Theology Department was most helpful in trying to figure out what was going on!  My second class, Literature Since 1945, happened(!) and the professor seems really cool.  I haven't taken an English class in awhile so we'll see how it goes.  I may end up going to his office hours (which he says no one ever attends) for some help.

On Tuesday I only have one class.  It was Wales Tyrants to Princes (the lecture).  I again showed up early and asked the secretary where the classroom was.  To my surprise, the secretary of the Theology Department popped up behind me and offered to walk me there!  She is becoming my favorite person here!  I ended up showing up really early and went in a sat down.

Students started gathering outside the door (even the professor stood there for a minute).  The professor then popped his head in and asked why I was there.  I told him for class and he then waved all the students in.  Oops I guess confused everyone!  I realized I made a great first impression (especially when I noticed my shirt matched the table top!)

And then when I introduced myself to the professor after class as an international student, he told me he figured.  He was really cool about it and talked to me for a bit and I think I'll enjoy his course!

Today I had two classes, Literature since 1954 (the interactive lecture) and God in Film (the discussion). The interactive lecture wasn't much different then Monday except he asked us questions regarding the play we are reading: The Caretaker.  I didn't have much to say due to my lack of knowledge of concepts but I got some terms from today to look up and understand!

After my God in Film class, I think I'm most excited for this one.  The professor has made me know as the "International Student" but has volunteered his services to help me whenever I need it!  He also apologized for not informing me of his cancellation on Monday which made me happy.

I can't wait for more of my classes to happen and hopefully settle into some sort of routine for the week!  More to come soon!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wales Life

Wales has thus far been good to me.  I'm settling in nicely and have made friends.  It wasn't that hard to meet some locals.  I'm living in a flat of full time students and am the only American.  Each of us have our own bedroom and bathroom and we share a large kitchen/common room.  My bedroom is HUGE!  I love it!!  I have a bed, a large desk, a closet, and a shelving unit.  My bathroom is also a nice size.  I don't think I'm going to used even half of it while I'm here.

I haven't met all my flatmates yet due to it still being final exams and semester holiday still.  The one's I have met are AWESOME!!  Each of them have lived in the UK at one point or another.  Ever since I moved in with them, they have been helpful in answering my "stupid" questions, including me in their festivities, and making me feel welcome.  I know I wouldn't have made it without their help.

Last night was a fun night.  One of my flatmates was playing at pub's open mic night.  It was so much fun!  The three musicians I heard where so good.  I got to know some more locals and learn more about the Welsh culture.
My one flatmate performing
My two flatmates that I went out with
Also, the international office here has been very helpful with trying to get my courses sorted out and welcoming us to the University.  On our first real night her they threw a party for us and taught us Twmpath, which is traditional music and dance.  It was a lot of fun dancing the night away.  The North America advisor has been helpful on telling us where to shop and how to travel.  I did feel overwhelmed after my first couple of days but now that I'm getting the lay of the land I'm feeling more and more confident.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More London Adventures...

Officially in Wales now!

My time in London came to a close when I left on the train for Bangor University Monday morning.  I loved my time in London.  I made so many memories, meet some wonderful people, and saw so many sights I've only seen in pictures.  It was AMAZING!!

To end my London adventure I spent Saturday out and about seeing more sights then what was planned for me.  I saw Big Ben in the daytime, the Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, London M&M World, and many other sights.  I have to say my feet hurt a ton after Saturday but it was well worth it.  I will admit I did get lost, well more like turned around, once.  However, I kept my cool (which is the most important) and found a tube (or subway) station.  I knew which stop I was staying at so I jumped on the subway and made my way back to my neighborhood.  Here are some pictures from my day:
The Tube Station
The Tower Bridge
The Tower of London
The Original Globe Theatre
Cleopatra's Needle
Big Ben
Westminster Abbey
Buckingham Palace
Sunday I spent at Hampton Court.  It was spectacular!! I remember when I was in HS, I played King Henry VIII in a skit and it was cool to see the place where he actually lived.  Everything was amazing.  I have to say my jaw dropped a couple of times in the castle.  Unfortunately London shuts down in the snow so none of the gardens were open.  However, there was some excitement when the fire alarms were set off.  All the guards started running around evacuating people.  We weren't told what actually happened but after about 20 minutes we were allowed back in.
Hampton Court
One of the many highly decorated ceilings 
A new friend
A view of the garden from the castle
A collection of weapons - the whole room was decorated like this!
King Henry VIII and (I think) Anne Boleyn evacuating during the fire 
One of the thrones
King Henry VIII giving a speech

That's all of London for now!!  Soon I'll have an update about Wales!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Living London Style

New Friends Make Lasting Memories in London
It's been a long week already and I still have two more days of this London exertion!!  It has been AWESOME so far.  I've seen so many places, made new friends, and felt the exhaustion of jet lag.  Everything has been wiz-ing by and the way I've remembered what I've done is by snapping pictures and keeping a journal.  I think I would easily forget where I've been already if I didn't do either of these.  Well, here is a snapshot of what my stay has been like so far:

January 15th:   Left the states at about 9:15 at night for my adventure
Checking in for my flight
About to head through security

January 16th:  Arrived early morning at Heathrowe and realized I lost my water bottle (sad face).  With my program we made our way through the streets of London, where I kept getting confused with driving on the other side of the road.  After throwing my bags in my hotel room for the next couple of nights I ventured out to find a wifi connection and food at the Arcadia Center here.  Then feeling like I had to keep moving otherwise I thought I'd fall asleep, I went to the British Museum and checked out the different nationality exhibits.  That night, everyone in the program gathered for dinner that first night where I'd say half of us almost fell asleep in our dinner plates.  Needless to say I was in bed by 8pm that night.

January 17th:  I was determined to make the most of this day and I felt as though I did with the time allotted around meetings scheduled.  With Arcadia's help, I got to see the St. Pancras (the train station), the British Library, and Spamalot.  All were excellent and I was glad these activities were planned for me.  On our own, I ventured with my friends to Big Ben and the London eye at night all lit up.  We even took some tourist pictures at a phone booth.

Si Pancras
The London Eye
Big Ben in the background and me in a phone booth

January 18th:  Today was a big tour day set up by Arcadia.  Today I saw the London Museum, the British Museum (with a guide), the rooftop view of St. Paul's Cathedral, and some more sights along the way.  Today was basically a non-stop day but unfortunately I didn't take many pics in the London Museum because I thought you weren't allowed and the British Museum I had done the other day.
The Mayor's Chariot
Rooftop view of St. Paul's Cathedral

More to come soon with more pictures too!!  A lot more adventures are in store for me this semester and I'm excited to experience them all!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SMC to Bangor University

It is weird not being at school with all my friends this semester.  I see them posting stuff about kicking off the semester and I'm not there to enjoy it with them.  I'm sadden by this but I about to embark on my own experience that I know will change my life and I probably wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for St. Mike's.  So, this post is going to kick off my Study Abroad experience.

I will be studying this semester at Bangor University in Wales.  I'm leaving tonight for this journey and I think I'm just about ready to go.  I've packed my bags (I hope I didn't forget anything important!), I've printed all my documents, and I've cleaned my room.  It doesn't feel like it should be happening and I don't think I'll realize it until I'm sitting in London tomorrow.

The first leg of my trip will be in London for orientation before I head off to Wales.  I don't know how long it will be until I have internet again but as soon as I do, I'll have pictures of my adventure.  I'll do my best to keep this updated with information on the experiences and travels as the semester progresses.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Figuring Out Your Next Home

This post is a re-post of one I did last year.  I think it is very useful and so did a lot of people so I decided to revise it a bit and re-post it for those of you trying to figure out your next home:

Now is the time when high school seniors are finishing up college applications and beginning to receive the acceptance letters.  You are also beginning to really question which college is the right one for you.  To help you through this process I'll tell you the steps I took in choosing St. Michael's as my final decision.

Step One:  Gather all the information you have from each of the colleges you are considering and sort it by college.  Next I personally made sure I had information on their Computer Science department (since it was my intended major).  I also checked to make sure I had the tuition cost and any other costs that the school required.  An option to add to this may also be any specific clubs or sports you may be interested in.

Step Two:  I made a generic document on Excel that had specific information to fill out about each college.   A lot of information on it helped me throughout the application process.  My first column said "College/University."  Then the following columns read in order:
  • City/State
  • Anticipated Major
  • Application Sent (date)
  • Application Submit Date
  • ACT Code - St. Mike's is 4312
  • ACT Scores Sent
  • SAT Code - St. Mike's is 3757
  • SAT Scores Sent
  • Guidance Sent - any information your guidance office needs to send, this was the date which I checked to confirm it all went out
  • Response - this line contained a smiley face to tell me if I was accepted by the college
  • Tuition
  • Room/Board
  • Miscellaneous Fees - any other fees that the college has
  • Scholarship - if I received a specific amount of scholarship from the college
  • Total Cost - the cost of tuition, room/board, and miscellaneous fees added with the scholarship subtracted
  • Number of Students - St. Mike's:  2,000
  • Visit - dates I visited the school
  • Web Address - 
I suggest something along this line so it is an easy comparison between the colleges and then you have important information in one place too.

Step Three: Then make a pros and con sheet for each college.  This step is sometimes tricky because you really don't know what you should put.  Depending on your interests and concerns some items you can put on the lists are:  size, location, cost, sports, clubs, and perks.  Perks is probably the hardest because you are thrown so much information about a school that you really don't know what may be considered a perk.  For an idea, some of my perks for St. Mike's were:  Housing for 4 years, Smuggs Ski Pass, MOVE and Wilderness Program, and a Chapel on campus.  Your perks will probably be different but they should be something that stands out at you and will make your experience enjoyable.  By visiting you may find a perk you didn't even know you wanted.

Step Four:  This is an option, but a highly suggested one.  Visit the colleges again.  You don't have to visit all of them again but the ones that are top of your list are highly encourage.  When you visit this time you will most likely retain more of it because you are more interested.  You may come up with more questions based on the information on your lists.  When visiting, if you're interested think about requesting a lunch with a current student or meeting with a professor in your intended (or interested) major.  If you don't have a major in mind you can still talk to a professor in any area just to get a feel of the college.

Step Five:  Hopefully you've narrowed down your choices and maybe even have made a decision.  If you haven't then this is probably going to be the hardest step.  My suggestion is look again at your lists, update the pros and cons, and let it sit for a day or two.  If you can't stop thinking about a specific college or have more questions make a note.  Get those unanswered questions answered!  Then look again at your options and go with your gut.  That is what I did and I love my school.  A few more ideas to think about when making the decision are:  Where do feel at home?, Where can you see yourself?, What do you want from a college experience?

I hope these steps help and if there are any questions I may be able to answer you can post a comment or formspring me by clicking here!!  I wish you the best of luck :-)

Hint: St. Mike's is a good choice if you ask me!

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year, New Resolutions

I don't always start my New Year's Resolutions on January 1st but it is always a base for me to realize there are certain areas of my life in which I can improve.  I try not to make resolutions in which I can't keep even though I know I may fail at the new ones too.  That is why my first resolution is always:

1.  January 1st is not the only time to start resolutions.  Start or restart one anytime of the year.

The rest are basic and some I've already started and some I can't start until a certain date.

2.  Reconnect with good friends and stay connected those who I'm a connected with now.  I've already done this by reconnecting with one of my best friends from High School.  He lives in NJ and goes to school in NJ while I'm up in VT most of the time.  It was nice to spend the afternoon/evening with him catching up and laughing at old times.

3.  Don't procrastinate.  or Don't put off what you can do today until tomorrow.  This I'll probably fail at more times then I want to think about but I'm determined to seriously try not to.  Since I'll be going abroad next semester I want to enjoy as much as I can while in another country.  If I let my work pile up, I know I won't have fun.

4.  Read the latest news, especially technology related news.  It is good to stay up with current events, especially in your major so I'm determined to become better educated in world related news.

5.  Take time for myself everyday and do something for me.  This doesn't mean it has to be alone, but I want to make myself smile at least once a day to remind myself (especially on a bad day) that there is still a reason to smile.  Somethings on my list will probably be reading, crocheting, or hanging out with friends.

Resolutions may be hard to keep at times but it is always nice to have them because it makes us keep tabs on ourselves.  If we break a resolution is doesn't mean we should give up on it but set a new date (like tomorrow) to start over and begin it again.  If it is a particularly hard goal, set mini goals along the way.  Maybe even reward yourself for accomplishing your resolution for a week, two weeks, a month, etc.  I find this works for me after a long week a mini tasks.  I'll put the book I want to read or TV show I want to watch on the back burner until I complete what needs to be done (this helps with my procrastination).

I wish everyone the best of luck on your resolutions!  Have a New Year filled with Joy and Love!