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Archive for April, 2014

Culture Shock and Readjustment

April 28th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

We left 65 degree days and green trees and abundant flowers and are back to 40 degrees, greyness, and rain. No sign of BBC1 on my TV. Not in a good mood at all.

So here's some Robert Browning to increase my pouting.


HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM ABROAD

Oh to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower

My Own Decluttering and London Property Prices

April 6th, 2014 at 11:52 am

With five days left here, I've started to sort, pitch, and pack. Since we're going on to the cottage rental from here, I don't feel pressure to get rid of everything, but do need to sort out all my teaching materials. Too bad I have so many books. And my winter coat. And rain boots.

I've already made a donation pile, but I do need to be ruthless with other stuff. Again this year I have a student who refuses to deal with British change. He had a huge Ziploc bag with him Thursday and asked me if I'd deal with it. Uhm, he's 21. I sent him to the change machine at Tesco. My colleague said to him, "Not much of a problem solver, are you?" I had to turn away so he couldn't see me laughing.

Now my absolute wonder at the continued escalation of London property prices. Neighborhoods that I wouldn't venture into after dark ten years ago are now far out of my budget's range. The latest thing I read said prices here have gone up, are you ready for this, 18 percent THIS YEAR. It's absolutely ridiculous, and I'm not sure if I hope it's a bubble or am afraid it's a bubble. Either way, it's difficult on many people. But I'm hooked on the property shows and love to look at the decorating. Great stuff to grade by.

Wednesday Wanderings

April 2nd, 2014 at 03:57 pm

I meant to make it to the Plague Pits today (what's the likelihood of ever writing that sentence again?), but I've had several student crises today, and it didn't happen. Hopefully I'll manage the PP tomorrow, but man, it is busy here.

DH reports my car tire at home has a sidewall bulge. I've told him where the receipts are. I think they're still under warranty. I've made DH and DD packing lists. I've made myself some sample menus to try to eat all my food here before we go and to minimize waste. I've made a list of a few more things I want to see.

While emotionally I'm not ready to leave London, I am very eager for the semester to be over. It's a much more intense relationship with students than a standard semester. I see the same 20 or so students three or four days a week,often for five hours at a time. I suspect they're pretty darn sick of me too. But we are bonded in a way that is so different from any kind of relationship I ever have with a student at home, it's very cool. And we need a break from each other.


One financial detail. I spent a grand total of 40p today on reduced price baps (rolls) for my sandwiches. In our lecture today a student told me he eats lunch out every single day, spending about 6 pounds a lunch. That's roughly $10. Just for lunch, every day. I had a cheese sandwich and a clementine from home, supplemented by a granola bar during the field trip, also from home. That means he spent 300/ month for three months or about $1000 since January. Sheesh, they sure spend.

The university has asked me to do the program again next year. I'm pondering; I'm pondering.

Only Ten Days Left

April 1st, 2014 at 05:41 am

I have ten days left in my London semester. I haven't started kicking and screaming about leaving yet, but I will. My students are becoming very sad about leaving too, but many of them are traveling for a while later.

I've done moderately well with my spending. Because of last year's super cold weather, I have lots of sweaters with me, but we've had some lovely warm weather, and really, I'm very tired of those grey and black cardigans. I did a little shopping over the weekend at a charity shop near where I live. They vary in quality, but I really like this one, run for the benefit of the air ambulance. The staff has painted it to look like a beach shack, and the fitting rooms are very cute. I bought three summery tops and two books for a whooping total of 10.15pds

If I didn't have to eat here, I could go home with money from my stipend, but I do spend a fair amount on food. Yet compared to my spendthrift students, I'm Scrooge. I never eat more than one meal a week out, even lunch, unless I was with guests.

Last night I saw the X Factor musical. X Factor is the Brit version of American Idol with Simon Cowell. As part of the faculty package, I get free tickets, and I enjoyed it very much. It was silly, but cute. Unfortunately one of my colleagues dropped her Oyster (transportation) card with a pre-loaded cash card. We searched for quite some time, but she'll need to cancel everything. We had a stand-up Chinese meal in the street that set me back 6 pds and a beer later for another 3.50, but it was a great evening.

We have a few more things going on, Stonehenge on Friday, curry night on Monday, and a farewell party the following Wednesday, but these are all paid.

Here's one for the morbid amongst us. Tomorrow, I'm going over to have a peek at the Plague Pits recently unearthed by the Barbican. What free fun!