I’m a caffeine addict. The on-campus Starbucks is closed on the weekends, so I have resorted to instant coffee. It’s not my favorite, but it’ll have to do. The closest Dunkin’ Donuts is in Staffordshire or Leeds, which is over an hour drive. Unfortunately I’m not going to be getting my Dunkin’ fix any time soon.
My go-to drink is the Americano; it’s the closest thing to coffee back home. That’s all I drink: coffee, beer, water, tea and lactose-free milk. Juice and soda doesn’t seem to be as popular as back in the States. It’s not brazenly advertised on shelves – not the first thing you see and definitely not the cheapest.
During orientation week I was jet lagged and bought coffee twice a day. There were luggage bags under my eyes – bloodshot and drooping. I hadn’t received my student ID card, so I wasn’t privy to the much-needed coffee discounts. The Starbucks lady knew I was a foreigner and gave me a break. Every time I went to the Binks Hall Starbucks, which was all the time, I always gave her a hard time because I paid in coins.
I didn’t have an Americano for an entire week – an unintentional caffeine detox. When I went back to Starbucks, the same lady was working and smiled. She’s incredibly friendly. I whipped out my ID card, and she laughed “You finally got it!” Honestly, it’s the little moments that brighten my day.
The B-E-A-utiful Anglo-Saxon Invention
Crumpets. A yeast and flour griddle cake. Cheap. Delicious. Versatile. I make it a breakfast, lunch and dinner thing. Hands-down the best food I have eaten so far.
First Week of Classes
It’s one thing to travel in another country, but it’s another to study. Credit values are different. Homework and assessments aren’t the same. At the University of Chester classes are either lectures or seminars. Lectures are a full two-hour regurgitation of facts while seminars are an hour of interactive study. Professors are called tutors. It’s first-name basis.
All my lectures seem to be engaging. I’m going to have to dig into the books and study hard while I’m here. I planned my modules so that my Fridays are free for traveling.
As a journalism major, I’m taking one media class while abroad: News: Agendas, Discourse and Commercialisation. The Nature of Language, Specific Author (Shakespeare), Archaeology and the Irish Sea Province, Phonetics and Phonology and The Making of England will consume the rest of my time.
I will schedule my trips with STA Travel shortly. Classes stop for Student Development Week, so that’s when we’re going to Ireland. A Scotland and European tour are musts. I want to jump out of my skin just thinking about it! I have an itch to travel, and I’m about to scratch it with a gold-plated bear claw very soon.
I’ve been here two weeks and have already encountered some interesting slang. I’ll be sure to keep updating my list as I hear more things, especially as I begin to travel outside of Chester.
“Are you all right?” I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hearing that. It’s similar to our “How’s it going?” or “What’s up?” Nearly everyone says it and every single time I stand still for ten seconds and self-consciously touch my hair or face before replying “Oh…no. I mean, er…yeah, I’m good.”
There’s a lot of British lingo I’m not about to get used to and many habits I’m not letting go of. We went to George & Dragon on Friday night. I used the term “quarters” freely (accidentally referring to pence) and didn’t think anything of it until they looked at me in confusion.
Manny, Cassidy, Mike and I went to the SU (Student Union) on-campus pub Friday night. A girl crashed into the bathroom as elegantly as an inebriated body could, arm propped against the tile wall. She was just chillin’. “You’re so fit,” she kept saying, petting my hair as if it was a lion’s mane (which is kind of is) as I was flexing my biceps. “Fit” doesn’t mean you’re a lean, mean fighting machine. That person just thinks you’re good looking. And I confess – I wasn’t flexing. That would be weird.
I never realized how much I say “awesome,” “true” and “cool.” It’s beginning to sound very American. I’m trying to incorporate “brilliant” and “cheers” into my vocabulary. I need to adapt to the culture.
List ‘o Slang
Bollocks [noun] – vulgar slang
nonsense; rubbish (used to express contempt or disagreement, or as an exclamation of annoyance).
Mate [noun] – common slang
- a fellow member or joint occupant of a specified thing.
Are you all right? – common slang
- Informal British greeting
Fit [adjective] – common slang
- sexually attractive
Cheers [exclamation] – common slang
- a friendly expression said just before you drink an alcoholic drink
- used to mean “thank you”
- used to mean “goodbye”
Brilliant [adjective] – common slang
- very good
Take a wee [noun/verb] – common slang
- the act of urinating
- to urinate
Rubbish [noun] – common slang
- UK waste material or things that are no longer wanted or needed
- informal something that you think is very low quality or not true
Wanker [noun] – common slang
- a very stupid or unpleasant person, usually a man
- This isn’t the all-important and politically correct list of British slang. Sorry.
Warrington Campus Confusion
“You have classes in Warrington?” The question is followed by a scowl.
“No, well…yes. I only have one class. I’m a journalism major, so…”
Not many people like Warrington Campus. It’s an hour away from anything happening – parties, pubs, clubs and shopping. It’s not a campus rivalry either. A fellow International from Hong Kong, Annik, didn’t have many nice things to say about her campus, and she’s been there for a few years.
That in mind, I wasn’t exactly all rainbows-and-sunshine excited for the Warrington class. We were told the free shuttle left at 2 p.m. Something was nagging at me. After our lecture Cass and I went to Grosvenor House to check the shuttle times. It turns out the shuttle had left an hour and a half before and the next one wouldn’t be around until 3 p.m. Come on! Our media class began at 3 p.m. It takes an hour to get there. It was 1:30 p.m. We knew we could make it. We hurried to the Temperance Hall International Office, which is a fifteen-minute walk, and they directed us toward the Chester Railway Station.
Our journey to Warrington involved a train and taxi ride. Warrington is just as uneventful as everyone said. After a two-hour long regurgitation of media law I was ready to go home. It was 5 p.m. The shuttle’s last run was at 4 p.m. Great! Then by the grace of god, the angel named Annik offered her help to fellow foreigners. She found two trains that would bring us back to Chester. She not only located the station and the times, but she walked us to the nearby station to see us off. After a short ride, we hailed a taxi to Warrington Centre and took our final train to Chester Railway. We were home by 7:15 p.m.
To shave off hours of unnecessary travel, we’re going to catch the free 11:30 a.m. shuttle and take the train home. We ordered railcards last Wednesday and hoped to get them before our Tuesday class. Today, the edges of weathered envelopes peaked from underneath our bedroom doors. We got ’em in the nick of time.
The Journey to Queens Park
Cassidy and I traveled to the Riverside and Queens Park campus on Friday. She has a class in Bridge Hall, so we decided to see how far she has to walk every week. Of course, my squirrel brain (or travel bug) can’t stay on task, and we ended up exploring a majority of Chester. The city is absolutely beautiful. We took a left onto Castle Drive and kept walking until we somehow made it back to the city centre. We were able to see the gorgeous greenery of a Chester winter.
We’ve walked through the city many times, yet there is always something new and beautiful to discover. Similar to anything we do, it’s never on purpose. Cass and I tend to take adventures. We stray from the beaten path and get lost, but we discover fascinating places. The city is bathed in history: a Roman Amphitheater, mosaics and a Roman Garden are among our next travel spots. Thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic near the Chester Castle because I was gawking as we passed and veered slightly toward the road.
There’s no device that can capture a moment like the eye. I have an amazing digital camera that my Nana gave me, but I forgot the battery charger in my room. I just ordered one off Amazon, so I’m hoping to have it within the week. I promise my picture quality will get better 🙂
My iPhone doesn’t begin to grasp the awe of the Chester Racecourse. I’m mostly shocked by the green. I mean, it’s January, right? We just had Blizzard 2016 back home. It looks like summer, but there’s a little bite in the air. The racecourse’s seasonal dates have been released: it opens on May 4th. You can bet your horse’s behind I’ll be there.
Pigeons. Are. Everywhere. And it doesn’t matter where you look. Left, right, below and above; you bet there will be a pigeon. At the Chester Railway Station we sat on a bench that had fewer bird droppings than the rest. I think they were having a boxing match above us. There was a flurry of feathers and fists (pigeons with boxing gloves should be a thing). I quickly looked up just as one of those buggers turned around and aimed. BAM! The damn bird crapped a foot in front of us.
“There is a belief that if a bird poops on you, your car or your property, you may receive good luck and riches. The more birds involved, the richer you’ll be! So next time a bird poops on you, remember that it’s a good thing.” – Bruce Kahn
I was lucky that it didn’t.