(1) I saw Linde yesterday! That was great; she's one of those people with whom I can be out of touch for a year or more, yet when we finally see each other it's like we've been keeping up all along. (For the uninformed: Linde was my Ton-A-Wandah co-counselor in 2002, and the very first person to ever teach me any Dutch.) We chatted and shopped and drank white-chocolate cappuccinos and generally had a nice time. She did an internship in South Africa for six months this past spring and had some great pictures to show. She also brought me a pair of handmade salad tongs with carved and painted giraffes on the handles - very cool.
(2) Speaking of giraffes... I really wanted to see The Lion King on stage while I was in London, but I realized it too late - while checking the times online at the hostel at 14:30 on Sunday. The matinee was at 15:00 and there were no shows on Monday. Phooey - Renate saw it in New York last Christmas and some of the Americans saw it in London and they all said it was awesome.
(3) Something else I loved about backpacking was how un-picky everyone (well, most people) were. We had impromptu contests for who'd been wearing their jeans the longest. And when I accidentally left my shampoo and conditioner behind at the first hostel and mentioned that at the second one, someone said offhandedly, "Well, here they have soap dispensers in the showers." Problem solved - use plain liquid soap. Anything that foams.
(4) In contract to un-picky, University College claims to use the American grading system, but they don't at all. Oh, they use As, Bs, Cs and so forth, but the degree of harshness by which they grade is very different. The scaled system is something like 100-92 equals an A+, 91-84 = A, 83-77 = A-, et cetera - which looks easy, but it turns out they do it that way because they grade much more harshly. Spanish and Creative Writing aren't posing a problem, but Language & Development, well... I just got an exam back, an exam on which I felt I'd done very well, and the grade was a B- (percentage 68!) When I went to review it with the teacher, he said, "But I don't understand - that's not a bad grade!" (Others in the class had D-minuses.) "Well, for me, that IS a bad grade!" There were numerous comments of 'Good!' and 'Very nice!' in the margins, and yet he still found ways to chop off points for 8 of the 12 questions (all essays/paragraphs, which obviously ups the difficulty level as it is). In some cases, it was justified, but in others, I felt he was too harsh. That exam would have been an A by UF standards - it wouldn't have been a hundred percent, but certainly somewhere between 90 and 95. I know we're not in America, and I know I actually did really well compared to some classmates, but still. Ugh. My UF major GPA is a 3.9 at the moment and I don't want to lower it because of a hypercritical Russian. I have to submit fall grade reports to all seven grad schools when I get home, and a slip like that will not look too good. Mission: do a kick-ass presentation (on William's Syndrome) next month.
(5) Everyone probably knew this already, but, ahem, London is EXPENSIVE. Every time I thought something should be, like, a maximum of two DOLLARS (i.e. a one-way Zone 1 underground ticket), it would be two POUNDS (the pound is a little less than twice the dollar). And although I am certainly prone to doing so, this time I am not exaggerating. Everything, absolutely everything, was twice what it should have been. This is a public thank-you to my parents for helping me out with that trip, because otherwise I (a) would have far fewer pretty pictures and memories, and (b) would be about ten pounds lighter. (Wait, why am I thanking you again? ;))
(6) Something I forgot, though, is that I also went to the Science Museum (because it was free and I was in Hyde Park, just a short walk away). It didn't turn out to be all that interesting, but I forgot to include it before, so here it is - I went there.
(7) My linguistics exam just got moved from 19 Dec to 15 Dec. Wish I'd known that earlier, because I probably could have moved my flight up a few days. Oh well.
(8) I need to go to the grocery store today; the only food I have is cereal (but no milk), peanuts, tea, a chocolate bar, and three stroopwafels. I need milk, OJ, and Actimel, at least. Based on the budgets I've been sketching, I think that if I stop going to Waddinxveen to swim twice a week, and start going just once, that I will make my E4000 limit for this semester. (I transferred $5000 in August and that's what it came out to.) Although if I include the Cork/London trip and the extra $200 'gift' from Mom, I think it'll be more like E4500. Not terrible, although I can't wait to be home and living with Monique and paying $340/month. Yippee!
(9) I'm starving and the dining hall opened for lunch 25 minutes ago, so I'm off.
(10) I don't actually have a (10), but it just didn't seem right to leave it at 9.