Monday, 27 October 2008

I need this old train to breakdown

Who am I? Where am I going? -- these are questions I ask myself everyday. I've gotten to the point where I don't know what my purpose is anymore. Am I meant to be a journalist? A civil servant? A retail worker? A person who has to file bankruptcy at a very tender age?

Everyone I know from England (with an exception of some people in a course that wasn't journalism related) has gotten a bloody job or internship by now. People from my course and broadcast are in New York, yukking it up while I struggle to find something worthy of my MA degree.

I know the economy is failing. (quickly, might I add) I know I have limited journalistic experience except for my blogging habit and what I learned at uni. I know that these two issues are what's stopping me from getting a job. (And maybe because I don't have a license to properly operate a motor vehicle) But why are all these other people lucking out when I have a sharp mind and an eagerness to learn?

I've been looking for a job since December (just here and there) and super actively since August. I've had some interviews, but never any luck past that. It's depressing to be looked over for a job.

I don't know how chronically unemployed people do it. How they don't feel defeated when they don't get a job. They were probably never raised to believe in themselves and set goals, true, but still. Being unemployed sucks.

What I do to fill my days of unemployment is boring too. I apply to either retail or journalism jobs (after spending time searching), then I watch TV or aimlessly click through the infinite space of the internet until it's time to prepare dinner. Then it's back to doing whatever I can find to fill my time. Any opportunity I get to go outside is exciting. I even enjoy going to the grocery store now. I use to hate going to the store! But anything --anything!-- I can do to get my mind off the fact I have $0 to my name, bills to pay, and no job on the horizon is worth it.

I just want to go to sleep and not wake up. Until someone calls me with a fantastic job offer, that is. Then I'll be fully awake and ready to go. But for now I'm just going to bum around my house and think wistfully how life could have been different if only I had changed some things around.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

I don't want to get involved, but... a journalist I can't ignore this:

"The beating of two Japanese journalists by police in western China drew an official apology Tuesday, but Beijing also set new obstacles for news outlets wanting to report from Tiananmen Square in the latest sign of trouble for reporters covering the Olympics." (New Fears about Olympic press freedoms)

China is a communist country, I get it. It has limits on its press and their rules are not something you should take lightly. But don't offer to host an international event in your country, then (pretend to) fail to recognize that the press are going to want to get behind every angle of what's happening in the country before, during, and after the event takes place. The job of the press is to find an angle that is presentable to the public. You can't report mundane information like "China is smoggy. Olympics start Friday" every day of the week. You have to see chip through the exterior to see why the government is so uptight and what is occurring against the Chinese system. And if China thinks they can avoid the international threshold of what makes a story a story, well, then they've got another thing coming. Riots held by the press will be larger than those held in Tibet. Mark my words.

I want to give China the benefit of the doubt, really I do, because we should know better. We show know that any "promises" given by a Communist country are about as good as the paper their written on. And after 97 years since the Bolsheviks rolled in and communism took over Russia and Asia, we should know not to mess with Communist countries' long-installed rules. But, I guess us Westerners will never learn.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Things every expat should know

My time in Sheffield is coming closer to an end with five days until my departure. I have crossed a few things off my list of 'things to do before I leave', which is always a relief. One thing I did not put on my list was to learn more cultural things about England. It seems dumb to mention something like that, especially after living in the UK for 10 months, but I think it should be a high priority of mine. Why is that? Because a) I want to use slang that will confuse people in the US and b) I want to share what I acquire of British culture with my fellow peers so you don't look like such an idiot if you visit the UK.

With this said, I now would like to present to you my guide for Americans living in or visiting the UK:

1) Drop these words and phrases from your repertoire...:
-Garbage, trash can
-Awesome, cool
-Date/dating, make out
-Yo, what's up, hey, hi
-Excuse me
-Cell phone, call, drop-by
-Sneakers, tennis shoes
-Clean, do the dishes, laundry
-Grocery store, drug store
-School, class, teacher, professor

2) And pick up these words instead...:
-Rubbish, bin. Brits will make fun of you if you say garbage! (at least my flatmate makes fun of me...)

-Pants = underwear in the UK, so you can use this word for that article of clothing. Otherwise, be smart and use trousers or jeans when you're talking about the article that covers your bottom half.

-Awesome and cool are used, but rarely. Instead adopt words such as: good, nice, etc.

-Hoodie does not mean anything to Brits. Just call it a sweater or a jumper.

-Dating is kind of a foreign concept in the UK. They call it going out, which we Americans use this to describe a relation status...when we're 10.

-You made out with a bloke, eh? Well, you can tell your mates you snogged a guy or you got off with a guy. Which that last statement sounds dirty to us Americans, I know, but it's a legit form of our tired American term.

-Say it with me now: PUB. Not bar. PUB. Very good!

-You can say yo, hey, hi, what's up all you want, but you should probably drop the yo and what's up in favour of the good old fashion greeting of hello. If you're up North (like I am), you can say hiya!

-Asking where the candy is results in giggles. Asking where the sweets are means you will be lead to the aisle that is overflowing with Cadbury. (Best aisle in the store, if you ask me!)

-Unfortunately there is no word that can replace 'excuse me.' If you say this word, you get terribly weird looks. Instead, just smile or nod if you're about to run into someone and are sorry about that near-accident. If you're in a shop and a person won't move, a good ole huff oughta do the trick. Or you can just make room for yourself and get to whatever it is you wanted. Space bubbles here are quite small, so don't freak out. Which I did freak out when I first got here, but I'm over it now. Now, I run over people if they get in my way. Mwhahaha.

-I still tell people to call my cell phone, which Brits understand these terms because of the influx of American television shows and films into the UK; however, if you want to feel like a real Brit, tell people to ring you on your mobile. (pronounced mo-bile) And if you're going to drop-by somewhere, say you'll call at such-and-such hour. (By the way -- ALWAYS be on time in the UK. Especially if you're going to lecture)

-Kittens are cute. Puppies are cute. Boys are not cute. Boys you fancy (like, have a crush on) are fit, nice, good-looking, or hot. I got asked by a friend if it was true we say people are 'cute' when we're attracted to them and when I said yes, I was surrounded by the sound of laughter. Yeeahh...

-You can say you're tired, but it's much cooler to say you're shattered or knackered.

-Don't say sneakers and ESPECIALLY don't say tennis shoes. Yikes. Always, always, always say trainers. And when in doubt, just say shoes!

-If you're going to clean your room, then you're going to tidy your room. If you want to do a load of laundry, you're doing the washing. If you want to offer to do the dishes, say you'll do the washing up.

-It doesn't matter what store you go into -- they are all called shops. WHSmith, to H&M, to Tesco Express. Grocery implies you're going to the green grocer, which is like a market. And if you are going to a huge grocery store, call it a supermarket.

-Yes, I know what you're thinking. They have another word for that time of month? No no, don't be silly. It's the same word in the UK, Germany, Canada, whatever. But if you're talking about the dot that goes at the end of a sentence, then it's a full-stop.

-Going to school means you're five. Going to uni (university) means you're going to an institute that teaches people 18 and up. (And don't say college -- that's part of their high school system) And you can't go to class in uni, but you can go to lecture or seminar. Need to talk to your teacher/professor? Well, you'll find a teacher in secondary school and a professor has a PhD, so you need to go see your tutor or course leader.

Well that's all for my cultural guide today... But check back tomorrow for a continuation! Whoo. I'm still learning things so I have to prolong the publication of my list, you know. So, see ya tomorrow kids.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

I want you to stay and I guess I could give you a line

Today I went to Oxford. Since I started my obsession with everything British at the age of 14, I've wanted to go to uni there. I almost applied to the MA in Classics there, but I changed my emphasis in history to Holocaust, so that kind of went out the window... But it was nice to see the city and university of a place where I once wanted to study. And it was nice to see another British city. I've only been to like, five of them and train stations in two other cities. How sad is that? I've been in England for eight months and I've barely travelled. Yes, money and time has a lot to do with that conundrum, but I should have travelled more. I should have done more British things in general anyway.

So, with less than two weeks left to go, I have made a list of things I need to do before I leave.

Things to do Before I Leave:
1) Have a roast dinner
2) Go to Chatsworth House in the Peak District
3) Participate in a pub quiz (which I'm doing on Monday!)
4) See a local band live
5) Go to the coast
6) Have fish and chips (I've only had chips...)
7) Travel to Scotland
8) Track down Alex Turner! (lead singer of Sheffield hereos, Arctic Monkeys)
9) See a castle
10) See more of London
11) Go to Manchester and Leeds - properly!
12) Have a traditional British pudding
13) Have high tea
14) Go to Sherwood Forest
15) Flirt with more nice British boys. Met some cool ones recently, but they're all taken. So basically, I need to do some more harmless flirting. Gotta get back in the game before I go back to the US, yeah? (even though I do not want a US boyfriend! gross)

There are more things I need to do before I leave, but I cannot think of them. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

I promise this is not a test

I went with my flatmate Ama today to find the primary school where she was supposed to vote at for the local elections today. It was one we had never heard of, but it was apparently very near by. We went, found the school, were shocked and amazed at this little area that we never knew existed. The school was built in 1875 and it was just beautiful. It looked like it could be a castle. Or something out of Harry Potter. Sometimes this city just takes my breath away.

When Ama and I walked back to our flat, a realization came over me: I leave in two months and 10 days. I'm leaving Sheffield probably forever.

And as we walked past the distinctive British parking meters, dashed through traffic driving on the wrong side of the road, and walked past Devonshire Green, I became sad. I won't be able to find these kinds of things ever again. No more Division Street, no more Starbucks where the cute guy barista knows my drink, no more Forum and the taxis that sit outside it after its dark, no more usage of public bins... Nothing that's distinctively Sheffield/UK will be around me ever again.

AW MAN. Why? I hate getting attached to things because then I get sad. I don't like being sad!

This time last year I was packing my things up and doing a happy dance because I was FINALLY getting out of Tucson. Away from the constant cloud of dirt that surrounded my line of vision and away from people I once considered my best and oldest friend, then only to leave with the mind frame to never ever speak to her again. I was so glad to graduate and be done with my undergrad career. When my family showed up at my front door on graduation day, I wanted to collapse into my mom's arms and cry. I was so happy to be going back to where I belonged--the Pacific Northwest.

Now that I'm in Sheffield, I have found where I truly belong. I think I was meant to say 'hiya' and 'cheers'. No one says things like that in the US. While some Brits may be a helluva lot bitchier than people in the US, I find that I don't mind. Saying excuse me and having to be verbally polite all the time is quite exhausting. A smile can go a long way here. That's how it should be. Then again, I do love those looks of "what are you like?!" when I say "excuse me" to get past someone. Ah, classic.

Over seven months of my live have flown past me and really, I don't know where they went. I still feel like I have more to learn, more to see, and more things to experience. I don't want to go! I <3 Sheff!

While my course and course mates do drive me crazy and experiencing homesickness sucks, I find that I don't want this to be over. My entire life I have been waiting for things to speed up and past me because I couldn't deal with them any longer. Now, I can't get my life to slow down! Time does goes by a lot quicker as you get older. I have definitely noticed such a trend.

I will apply for jobs in the UK so I can try to create some grasp on to the things that have been uniquely comforting to me these past few months. I think the main reason why I want to stay is because of my friends. Who else is going to drink Starbucks everyday with me? Who is going to have an essay research cram session with me? Who is going to ask me "is this true about America?..."? Who is going to sit in the kitchen and chat with me over a brew?

I know I have American friends who will gladly sub into these roles, but... it's just not the same. It's not the same if they don't have a cool British or German accent. (AWWW I'm going to miss my friend from Munchen SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!) I miss my US friends and my friends here could never sub into their roles. It works both ways. God, when I came over here I told myself I wouldn't get attached. HMPH. Too late for that now.

Just cross your fingers I don't start becoming withdrawn, depressed, and a bitch over the next few months. I tend to do that when I know I need to remove myself from somewhere. Which sounds stupid coming from the girl who has moved 21 times. I'm used to just living my life and then all of sudden be somewhere else and starting over. Well, I guess I can't do anything about my new habit. We can thank Tucson for it.

Ode to Sheffield, I love you so! You have given me lots of things to have (H&M!) and to hold (err--an umbrella). I'll never forget your dodgy streets and moochers of the state. I'll never forget the fact you introduced me to my best mates. The new vocab you have supplied to me will come quite handy whilst in a row with some guy called Joe who doesn't believe I ever lived here. The plane ride home will be torturous, oh... but don't forget that one day I'll be back.

(don't ever let me write poetry ever again. what were you thinking? jeez. lol)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

M&Ms and Goldfish

(Are the two things I'm eating right now--at 1.30 in the morning. Ye-ah, I'm gonna gain weight if I keep eating as much junk food as I am now)


I can't sleep. I was inspired by my lil sis to make a list of things that are happening/have happened here in Sheffield.

1. I didn't go on the London trip with my course and broadcast today. Am I a bad student? No. I'm a smart student for staying behind. (Plus if I have to see another hostel ever again in my life, I will hurl)

2. I'm features editor of the electoral magazine my course is doing in honour of the upcoming local election. It's going to f-ing rock. And the course is lucky I stayed back because otherwise, this magazine wouldn't reach the catalyst level of awesome it's meant to reach.

2b. This sounds snotty--but I'm SO GLAD I'm feature editor because let's face, it'll look FANTASTIC on my CV. I want to be a current affairs magazine journalist anyway. (And I'm uber organized and totally freaking awesome so uh, yeah. This magazine is going to look beauty-ful!)

3. I changed my return plane ticket from 25 August to 11 July. I'm going home in July now. I have about two months and one week to go until I leave. I am super super sad. I <3 Sheffield so much. The city doesn't have TONS to offer, but it's offered me a lot of good times as it is. I met some friends-for-life here, had great laughs and times with my mates, and seen some good concerts. What more can a girl ask for in life? Maybe a MA course worth giving a shit about would be good...

4. I wrote an AWFUL essay this past weekend. I'm proud that I got it done in a weekend, but really, it could have been better. Maybe if the essay prompt hadn't been written so horribly or been so broad, I could have done a better job!

5. I saw We Are Scientists au concert last Thursday. Blew off an entire day of research so I could get ready for the show. I haven't properly gotten ready for a concert in ages. It was brilliant. I loved every second of the show. And, since I left my hair curly, it didn't look like shit when I got out of the concert! I was quite chuffed. Sure, I looked cute for no one but it made me happy to look presentable (and very British like! woo hoo!) for once.

6. I did a proper interview last Friday with Gemma--nanner nanner boo boo! (Whose an awesome journalist now? OH I think I AM!)

7. When your friend asks you "so do you like my brother?" WHILE sitting in her dining room, studying, knowing her brother is going to come home from work soon--it's OKAY TO PANIC. Which is what I did, last Friday. Except I gave a panic-ed answer. Stupid, stupid, stupid. *Note to self: fix this in the near future*

8. I'm going to apply for lots and lots of jobs this week as I enjoy my break away from my course mates.

9. I'm going to cut my hair soon. Between this week and two weeks from now. I might go in to a salon (don't know which one yet--there are like, a GAZILLION of them down my street) and just say "give me the coolest style possible" and see what happens.

10. It's a bank holiday on 5 May. My first UK bank holiday! Oh I have to tell my parents I love them on that day. I told them I only love them on Tuesdays and bank holidays. (For those of you who don't know, the 'Tuesdays and bank holiday' thing is a line from Lilo and Stitch)

11. Last but not least--I passed Law and Magazine from last term! I found out last week. Yeah, four months after I turned in stuff but, whatever. I passed!

Heeeeyy whadda ya know! I'm sleepy now. Bon soir! Gute Nacht!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

With the lights out!

When I was younger and lived in Arizona, the power would usually go out during a summer thunderstorm. My family would gather in the living room with the few candles we had and the huge camping flashlight and sit there, doing nothing. The power outages would last maybe one hour to three at the most. Maybe sometimes longer, but I can't remember. These were fun times for us. I couldn't tell you why, but there is nothing like a power outage to bring the family together.

Yesterday we had a power outage at Victoria Hall. Except it wasn't windy or raining. And it was just our hall that lost power; the two dorm halls behind me still had their power. The city around us still had power. It was strange, but fun at first.

At first when the lights went out at 6pm, I thought my lightbulb went out. I was watching a DVD on my computer so I figured that's what happened. Soon I was able to push past my blonde moment and realize that my laptop had a battery to run on AND it was impossible that both my desk lamp and the light on the wall conspired together to go out at the same time.

I picked up my cell phone and used the backlight to poorly guide my stumblng steps out into the hallway to make sure I was not the only one to be plunged into sudden darkness. There I found my flatmate Cindy checking the fuse box and Ama dashing into her room to gather her flashlight. It was really a power outage! This isn't the first time its happened to us; however, the power flickers we've been exposed to previously never lasted for longer than a minute. We concluded we must be the only flat without power and opened the front door to find light in the stairwell. Problem was, all the flats across the way were dark also. And then our neighbour came out to see what was going on. Her power was out and so was everyone else's.

Me and my flatmates gathered in the common room and stared at each other. Conversation was hard at first. It was not a normal power outage. At least, for me it wasn't. I mentioned my memory of power outages and no one seemed interested. I left it at that.

Eva stumbled into the flat an hour later and began panicking. She's a student teacher and needed to make her lesson plans for the next day. She soon left us for the Information Commons. The only amusement she brought to our situation (before her departure) was the fact she went out into the hallway and expected there to be light, burst back in saying "I can't see!," grab a candle and dash off.

By 7.30, I was falling asleep. Ama and Cindy were hungry. We decided to go to Pizza Express. I went along to contribute to more witty conversation and to see if they had dessert. I ate ice cream while Cindy and Ama had pizza. Cindy fell asleep as she was eating her pizza. It was quite amusing.

But not as amusing as sitting in the living room with your parents, watching the lightening roll through the black sky.

We returned home and played Taboo by candle light. Our evening started to pick up--despite the fact we did not have electricity--but by 11pm we were tired. That's right, I went to bed at 11pm. I don't think I've done that since I was ill. Or in high school. Ama spoke to the porter to see what was going on before I went to sleep and reported to us that an underground power cable burst and the engineers weren't coming our way until 10pm. OH MY GOD! Cindy's friend John (who lives in our complex and came over to play Taboo) thought it was a conspiracy. He's quite the conspiracy theorist.

I was able to get ready for bed by the LED light on the back of my phone (without stubbing any toes, thank you very much!) and I soon fell asleep. I was awoken at 7am when the porter came in to flip on our fuse box. I silently gave a shout of glee and settled back to bed.

After that whole experience, I've decided I don't like power outages. Our food all went bad (and I had been grocery shopping that day and the day before with new food in the fridge and freezer) and that was a lot of money lost. I don't think the stupid energy company or the dorm hall understands how much money I lost! And how much good food I lost! I lost microwave chips, for Pete's sake. Chips! My favorite food besides ice cream. Oi!!

When I was younger, I never paid attention to the politics of a power outage. (Yes there are politics to such an event) I used to sit in a candle-lit living room and do nothing with my family. It was like the only time we would come together as a family. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. Now, being without power is like being tortured by an enemy in a dirty POW camp. You can't open the fridge or freezer because you'll let the cold air out. You have to toss the food in the fridge/freezer out if the power is out for over three hours. It's impossible to see where you're going or know who you are in all that darkness. Thinking of things to do that does not require power during an outage is horrible. Relying on candles that may burn your house down is nerve-wrecking. You can't access the internet or use a cordless phone. And all you can do is go out to eat or go to sleep. Yawn.

If this happens again, I'm going to find the cause of the problem and fix it myself. I hate power outages.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

This is becoming a problem

Today we had a guest lecturer from the London Times online division. What should have been a fascinating talk about how to work in online media and advice with dealing with the conversion of print and the internet turned into an overdrawn droll about issues we've all heard about before (the evolution of the newspaper). It didn't help much this speaker had a posh London accent and quite frankly, sounded like an elitist who didn't know the slightest thing about online media.

To occupy myself, I wrote another silly news story relating to the event:

Lecture hall implodes after dry lecture takes places

The Richard Roberts Building on the University of Sheffield campus burst into flames after a lecture took place in the auditorium about the London Times online.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Journalism department and their professors were shaken to their core after the building spontaneously combust like a ticking time clock early Tuesday afternoon.

Twenty-seven students and eight professors were injured by the blast. Those with light injuries were treated on the scene; ten of the students and four of the professors were rushed to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital after sustaining serious injuries.

The blast occurred twenty minutes into the presentation. Flames exploded behind the auditorium doors like effects on a rock band's concert stage and the building shook with a mighty force, causing parts of the ceiling to fall down. The cause for the explosion and pyrotechnics is unknown at this time.

"It was like an earthquake hit," said Gemma Rhodes, 23. "And I know there isn't a fault line running through Sheffield. When I heard the building imploded on its own, I thought it was quiet funny."

One person who did not find the situation humorous was guest lecturer Anne of the Times online.

"I was in the middle of a very important presentation! These students were robbed of my brilliance," Anne said with a London huff.

(She continued to blabber on about her brilliance for another twenty minutes and your dear author thought it to be quite excessive and monotonous and left her mid-conversation to interview another student affected by the blast.)

"She said what?!," posed postgraduate student Sophia Saleh, 33. "That lecture was not... er... never mind. No comment."

For now the Richard Roberts building remains closed for further investigation. No structural damage was sustained during the blast, incredibly enough.

"Yes, it's quite odd. We'll see to the investigation with diligence and speed so the students can get back to class straight away," said the University of Sheffield president.

The building will be closed until further notice. Students with lectures in the building have had those classes cancelled until the building is put properly back together with scotch tape, glue, and a little love.

When asked if there was any chance this blast was caused by a terrorist attack, a University of Sheffield professor, who asked not to be name because he did not want his boss to find out what he said to the press, scoffed.

"This is Sheffield. We're only important because of this university and the Arctic Monkeys. I highly doubt we're on Al-Qaida’s hit list. They probably can't even point out the city on a damn map!," he said.

The police chief of the South Yorkshire Police also does not believe it was a terrorist attack.

"Probably a pipe bomb hidden in plumbing or in a closet or something," he said.

Students have a different opinion of what caused the blast.

"I think it was because we were all bored to tears. The building felt our internal strife to stay awake and not be bored and imploded. It was a simple distraction to get us the heck out of that lecture," said a postgraduate student who asked not to be named because he did not want to get in trouble with the University.

This was the first time in University of Sheffield's history something like this has happened.


Monday, 11 February 2008

When I don't pay attention in class... this happens

Today we had an introductory meeting into our special week of media convergence. We're learning how to put together things to be published on a webpage. (woo-hoo!) In order to take up two hours of our time this morning, the profs decided to submit us to a slow and painful death by letting an old prof (who doesn't even teach my courses) ramble on about his take on media convergence. All was received by our short attention spans was a 24 hour schedule of what news websites and podcasts the guy pays attention too. Wow. Riveting. Shall I come up front and go on about the podcasts I download? And tell everyone they should download the Anderson Cooper video podcast from iTunes/CNN because he is like, the best CNN reporter in years? (NO!)

While we were subjected to this cruel and unusual punishment, I took and opportunity to be silly and news-y by authoring a short sarcastic piece that was relevant to our torture. Enjoy.

Student goes into coma whilst in lecture

A 22-year-old University of Sheffield student fell into a coma caused by boredom after attending a lecture about media convergence week.

The postgraduate student in journalism, who is an international student from the US, came into class today fully awake and with a cup of Starbucks in her hand. Twenty minutes into the lecture, she passed out.

"She was fine five minutes ago!," said friend Sophia Saleh, 33. "Her family is going to be so upset..."

The student, whom her friends asked for her not to be named so as to not ruin her reputation and cause defamation, had no known sleeping illnesses. Nor was she on any medication that could cause a person to randomly fall into a coma.

"It's very strange. I've never seen anything like this happen before," said NHS paramedic Derek Sheppard.

She was taken to Royal Hallamshire Hospital where experts in several medical fields from across the country have flocked to her room to try and figure out what happened to the student.

Word is there is a competition worth money for the doctor who can figure out what happened to the student and how to revive her.

When a comment was seeked by the hospital on her status this afternoon we were told by a head nurse to "bugger off."

As far as we know, she is in stable condition and brain waves are active. This is based on information which a candy stripper leaked after we bribed them.

For now, the student will rest and miss class.

"I'm just jealous it wasn't me. I could use a long nap," said friend Johanna Zimmerman, 23.

Single (still) in England

When I came back to England in January after three weeks at home for Christmas, I was indifferent to my occasional swooning for a boyfriend. I was so chuffed to be back with my flatmates and coursemates that I could care less. Now that we're all back into the flow of our everyday lives, I'm starting to care about finding a proper British boyfriend.

There are an enormous number of fit guys here in Sheffield so one would think I wouldn't be complaining. Problem is, the ones that catch my eye usually fall into one of the Five Categories (according to my friend): 1. gay, 2. taken, 3. a jerk, 4. a mama's boy and 5... I can't remember the fifth one. And the huge problem that remains is the fact I'm HORRIBLE with talking to boys unless I a) work with them, or b) they're part of a group project, or c) they're one of my friend's friends. Even then, conversations aren't that varied. I try, really, but I'm not good with coming up with a broad range of convo topics.

I have confessed my utterly dismal performance with chatting up boys to a few of my friends. All give me the same advice: "Just go up and talk to him." UH, HELLOOO that's my problem. I'm too shy to approach the opposite sex (unless necessary) and I have nothing exciting to say!

AND I'm too picky. Do you know why I'm so picky? It's because I've been rejected by guys I thought were good for me and have rejected guys I was blind to see where good for me (one guy especially in the recent past and yes, I'm still kicking myself for that one. It was both our faults... Mais, c'est la vie!). I have taken all the favourable qualities of those past guys and put them in my "list" of what the perfect boy should be like. Oh and I add on whenever I get a crush on a rock star or actor (John Krasinski--now that's the perfect man!)

Thus far (in my advanced age), here is my list of the perfect man:
1. Taller than me (5'6 to 6'2 is good)
2. Thin but not too scrawny
3. Flattering, indie style hair cut (if possible... if not that just a flattering hair cut will do)
4. Nice smile, nice eyes
5. The best sense of humour (and can tell when I'm joking around)
6. Likes indie rock (whether it be the really awfully slow, whiny kind of bands or more mainstream indie like the Killers)
7. Is a liberal (or moderate) and has an opinion on politics
8. Has at least a BA degree and is on some type of respectable career track (or, for example, a really smart musician who has dedicated his life to music but can go on about literature, etc)
9. Isn't afraid to argue about intellectual issues (like Mr. Darcy)
10. Nice personality. Not controlling, not overbearing, polite, and opens the door for me! (like a true gentlemen should--yes, that's right folks, I'm traditional!)
11. Can pick up after himself! OH MY GOD is that so hard to do?? I'm not your mother.
12. Lastly: non-smoker, drug free, and rarely drinks (like one pint when he goes out with his mates and that’s it)

I know you can't tell these things about a guy at a glance, obviously. Sometimes you can't even pick out their personality until you've known them for a while. Now, I can compromise a little on some things (like political affiliation and height); however, it's difficult to know what I will compromise on when I'm so stingy and barely chat to guys.

Another problem I have besides meeting and chatting to a boy is the fact I have low self-esteem. Can you believe it?! (hardy har har) I don’t think I’m particularly pretty at this stage in life (I still look like I’m 18 and still have sporadic flecks of acne) first of all; second of all I cannot find clothes to flatter me or make me look my age because I have such a weird body shape so I will always look too young; and last of all, why would guys be interested in chatting to me when I have such gorgeous friends?

I always seem to make friends with girls that are really pretty, like the girl-next-door-type of pretty or girls who are semi-exotic looking. Why would any guy look at me and think I'm cute over my friends? And trust me, despite what people in the US say; having an American accent in England does not make me more attractive than my friends.

Here’s an example of what happened today to me (and what spurred my thought process for this blog): My friend who is from Germany is very fashionable, tall and pretty. When we went to do a voxpop assignment today, the guys would of course talk to her. When she went to ask two guys from the MA print course (we're on magazine) to answer her question for the voxpop once we re-entered our building (we were outside; and sorry forgot to mention that a voxpop is when you go around and ask a common question that can get a general answer) they were glad to talk to her. Joked around a bit, it was funny. I leaned up against the wall and laughed when appropriate. Then one of the guys (who I’ve seen around and think is pretty fit and after hearing him speak today, I found his accent to be quite cute and made him a little more favourable) said "we'll see you in the next lecture?" which my friend looked at me and we said "sure" and we left to go put our equipment away.

Now why on earth would a guy we've never really spoken to before (despite having some shared core classes) ask her such a question? Because he liked her! DUH. Well we didn't go to the lecture… even thought it would have been VERY interesting to see if those guys sought my German friend out.

I’m making myself more depressed as I write this blog; despite the fact hashing this information out always makes me feel a little down and I am usually able to shrug its lonesome tendencies off my shoulder quite easily. Today, I cannot. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s Valentine’s Day this week. Maybe it’s because all my friends who have boyfriends are complaining they’re not getting a Valentine’s Day gift this year. And maybe it’s because I’ve had too many people ask me “have you met any cute guys in England yet?” over a very short amount of time. (By the way, if someone asks me that question one more time, I am going to scream)

I hope I can find comforts in hanging out with my friends again and not think about wanting a boyfriend very soon. These thoughts are a girls’ worst nightmare.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

A fresh start

I should have started this blog months ago. As a postgraduate in journalism studies, one would venture I have no problem what-so-ever starting up a blog, getting inspired, and indulge in typing my life away. Ha ha, I wish. If only I was that inspired. At times when I feel like I'm inspired, I'll sit down in front of the computer, only to be greeted with the cold rush of my thoughts running away like a criminal out-running the cops. Today; however, I feel inspired. So let’s start this from the beginning.

I came to England on 19 September 2007 to begin a new chapter in my life; the Postgrad Year. Since I applied to graduate school in December 2006, I have been excited with the prospect of going to uni abroad. At the same time, though, I was shocked at my opportunity. Never in my life did I imagine I could leave the comforts of the Western United States and my family for another location in the US--let alone go abroad. Even vacationing abroad seemed out of reach, given my financial status. When I accepted my place at University of Sheffield in Northern England, I looked at it as killing two birds with one stone. I got to leave my comfort zone for another location and I get to be a tourist.

At first when I arrived, I was scared. Of course! London wasn't what I thought it was the first day or so (then I loved it once I got to the Westminster area) and Sheffield seemed too small. I wanted to turn around and go home. Things weren't actually turning out the way I planned them to be and jeez--it's hard when your plans are ruined. I'm not good with back-up plans. But things came into order, I became good friends with my flatmates and some of my coursemates, and am getting used to Sheffield. Since I arrived, I've had to tell myself how lucky I am to be here. And I really am. Sure I'm in serious debt (I could own a Mercedes right about now!) because of my decision, but... it's worth it. You can't get this type of experience anywhere or at anytime. I believe in fate and fate brought me to Sheffield.

Yesterday, as I was preparing my dinner, I thought about how I used to act whilst a resident of Tucson. I lived only to go to class and do my homework. I barely hung out with my roommates. I hardly saw my other friends. I had to seek therapy and medication because I was having a quarter-life crisis. Most of all, I was self-destructive.
For example, if I had cooked tortellini in Tucson and had some of the filling burst out from its starchy seams and not drain from the pan properly, I would have dumped it down the sink and not eaten dinner at all. The little voice in the back of my mind that tells me to give up in in light of those kinds of stupid situations hit me last night as I was trying to successfully drain the water from the pan with tortellini. But I wasn't going to give in. I know better than that. I'm an adult! Not a prepubescent teen. And I'm not who I used to be. I've grown up ALOT over the past four years, but mostly by force of the situation. Now I'm growing up on my terms. I'm a postgrad. I'm living in England. I'm stronger than the girl who was in Tucson two years ago. I'm even stronger than the girl who left Tucson in May last year (who was pretty strong given the fact she finally went into therapy and wrote an awesome thesis).

I like the fact that I'm in England and I get to start over again. Never again will I give up. I've gotten myself this far so I might as well keep on evolving into a real adult! I have a fresh start. How many people get this opportunity? Not many. I'm lucky. I'll remember this always. I love the feeling of being excited to live somewhere and not be grossed out by the heat and the scenery. I like knowing I have friends that will be there for me even though we've only known each other for four months. I finally belong somewhere.

Sure, I also belong back in the Pacific Northwest, where I can fulfill my lifelong stereotype of being a liberal tree-hugger. (thanks Arizona!) But, for right now, I have somewhere else to be. A place that finally gets me and accepts me for the Anti-American/Anti-Bush person that I am. They may not like that I say "excuse me," "thank you," and when I apologize; however, they don't get a choice when it comes to my personality. They can yak up all they want about the stereotype I'm supposed to fulfill as an American citizen, who is from the West Coast, and is from the Pacific Northwest--but I'll just laugh at them and tell them they're wrong. (I love telling people they're wrong) And I may not be as fashion forward as the rest of the Brits, but at least the girls here aren't some deranged valley girls who carry around a huge Louis Vitton purse and are dumber than a doorstop. These British fashion mavens and valley girls may all be bitches, but sometimes the ones in England can surprise you. The valley girls? I don't think so. I don't expect much out of them. Well, except their vote when I run for the House of Representatives in like, 15-20 years.


As a side note before I skitter away from my introductory note into my life thus far in l'Angleterre, I'd like to give the reason for why I chose Sheffield for grad school.

I chose Sheffield not just because it has one of the highest rated postgraduate programs, but because I love the Arctic Monkeys and Sheffield is their hometown. My goal before I leave England at the end of August is to see the band in concert in Sheffield and meet at least one of them. And guess what? Part of that dream came true on Friday (8 Feb).

I was packing up a box of goodies to send to my sister when I realized I hadn't purchased anything for her boyfriend. I had already been to the store that day and didn't feel like going back. But I remembered I had postcards to send off too and the closest mailbox was about two blocks away in front of Boots. Agh! I didn't want to go just to the mailbox. When I run errands, I need to go to more than one place. I decided I'd go inside Boots because I needed face lotion and they had a small selection of candy bars there. I finally got up off my lazy butt and went to Boots. I took some time in there deciding between things, purchased the items I chose, and left. As I walked out of Boots and walked towards the crosswalk, I noticed a guy on the other side of the crosswalk (coming towards my direction) that had a nice leather jacket and was pretty cute. Then my eyes refocused and he wasn't just a cute Sheffield guy anymore--he was someone very very familiar looking. I studied his face (while trying to look at the traffic and pretend I wasn't staring at him at the same time) and the lightbulb went off.

A look of "You look familiar..." flashed across my face and the boy looked over at me like he knew I knew him from somewhere. As we passed each other on the island in the middle of the road, I glanced at him, we made brief eye contact, and my expression (and body) went into shock. He looked at me as if he expected me to say something... but I kept walking.

My heart pounded as I left the island, crossed the road and landed onto the pavement. By the time I looked back across the street at him, I knew I wasn't mistaken. I had just walked past the drummer of the Arctic Monkeys.

I know I should have said "Matt?" or said SOMETHING but he was with a girl and I didn't feel like embarrassing myself in front of them. (plus I didn't feel like bringing attention to him in the centre of town! he's lucky no one else around me noticed him because I'm sure there would have been a crowd of people swarming at him) I'm a horrible journalist for not saying anything, but my god. Just seeing a member of one of my favourite bands in the middle of the freaking city centre was rewarding enough. My heart pounded in strange beats in my chest at my excitement the entire way home and for the rest of the night.

Can you believe it? I saw 1/4 of the reason why I came to Sheffield. Fate surely had something to do with this. There was no doubt about it. And maybe fate will be kind enough to let me make up for my horrible misjudgment of keeping my mouth shut. Maybe I will see them before I leave after all. I've got seven months to find out... Let’s see what happens.