Thursday, January 12th.
(I wrote this post in pieces throughout the day.)
You know how I tried to be optimistic at the end of my last post? Screw that. The dinner event was horrible. We waited for ages and ages and when I finally got to the food, the only thing there was mashed potatoes. Which usually have dairy in them. Which I am allergic to. (I asked the servers if there was dairy and they had no idea, and I didn’t want to risk it.) We were promised haggis (including a vegetarian version), the potatoes, turnips, and plenty of other food as well. (I’m a vegetarian–or technically a pescatarian as I eat fish–so I was all set to try the veggie haggis, but no dice.) I think I overheard someone say the people who organized the event weren’t expecting so many people to show up, but still. I was pretty angry, especially since I filled out a form for the event with my dietary restrictions days ago, so I sulked back to my accommodations and made pasta with this great dairy-free pesto I found. Good thing I already bought groceries.
(The bright side is that we passed the building I was supposed to have that meeting in yesterday–it was right next to where we went for the dinner. It turns out I somehow managed to go in the complete opposite direction right at the beginning of my trip, so of course I couldn’t find the street the building was on! It was never there in the first place! It was on the other side of my accommodations!)
Overall, the actual food I’ve bought is pretty great for people with allergies though. They bold all the potential allergens in the ingredients list, which is great when you have mild neurological stuff going on with your eyesight and you’re really bad at picking words out from the tiny print those lists are always in. In the United States, they list the common allergens in a food in a separate part under the ingredients–since my main allergen is milk, which is quite common, they’ll list it if it’s there. But the lists here seem to be picking out more than the main allergens that people usually warn for, which would probably be helpful for someone with more unusual allergies. It’s also nice to see what form the allergens are in–for example, I picked up something where the only dairy ingredient was whey, which I’m pretty sure I’m not allergic to. (I think I’m allergic to the casein protein–it’s hard to tell exactly. I’m also lactose intolerant. You can, apparently, be both at once.) If I had been feeling a little more adventurous, I probably could’ve bought the food with whey in it and eaten it without getting sick. I’m also amazed I found the aforementioned dairy-free pesto; normally I have to make pesto by scratch from a food processor if I want to eat it without getting sick. It’s so much easier to just spoon some out of a teensy bottle! So grocery shopping has gone really well (although I did forget a few essentials–but hey it’s just around the corner!) but my hopes aren’t very high for the food other people are going to make. I suspect I’ll be eating a lot of fish and chips, which is fine because it’s one of my favorite foods when done well. Maybe I’ll get fish and chips for lunch today on my way to the orientation stuff.
Another bad thing, though, is my bedding situation. I didn’t bring anything–no sheets, blankets, pillows, or towels. Yes, I brought so much stuff that I hurt myself pulling the suitcase (my shoulder is very sore) but no bedding. I figured I’d just buy it here. But because of a mild crisis yesterday that needed immediate solving, I didn’t have time to buy any of that stuff. My wonderful hallmate said I could borrow some pillows and a blanket off our couch, so I cranked the (now working) heat up and slept in long underwear under the one blanket. (I was fully prepared to curl up under my down jacket, but I was relieved not to have to do it.) So sheets and blankets and pillows I can live without for a day or two, but I really should’ve brought at least one towel and washcloth. I need to shower! I washed my face last night with a clean, fuzzy sock. It felt kinda weird. I got some recommendations for where to buy bedding, although they were all kind of vague, so I’m hoping to do that this afternoon.
My shopping list.
[Image description: my left forearm, covered in a list of the things that I need to buy like various bits of bedding, some groceries, school supplies, etc. A few are crossed out. I also have “find a Barclays” written on my hand.]
I ended up showering and used the mate of last night’s sock as another washcloth, and a flannel shirt as a towel. It wasn’t awful. Then I went off to the orientation stuff and only got a little turned around on the way there; I bought fish and chips for lunch like I was thinking, but they were very, very bad and I threw them out half-eaten. I also had my first cup of tea since I got into the U.K. but it was just some plain green tea from a café.
The orientation events were the pretty standard, dry “here are the services available” kinds of things that I’ve already forgotten and will have to look up again later. They did remind me of a few things though, like the fact that I needed to pick up my ID card (done!) and scan my visa (will do soon). My (rescheduled) meeting with my personal tutor was very short; I think they’re much less involved in your life than your advisor or committee chair at Hampshire. I may change one class and instead of walking me through the options he was like, “Yeah, just email me when you figure it out!” I was sort of prepared for this, though; Heather at the Global Education Office warned me that at Edinburgh, the culture is very self-advocacy focused and you have to ask for everything, because it won’t usually be offered to you. The one place they’re starting to change that is in the housing activities and events, which I already saw when my RA just automatically arranged a group of people to walk to the dinner event instead of making me ask for directions. (Which is good, because knowing me, I would have gotten lost.)
I ended up being super tired, so I’m hoping I’ll find the time to buy bedding tomorrow–I do think part of the reason I’m tired is that I may have woken up up in the middle of the night (I don’t remember that sort of thing so I’m not sure) because I was too cold, so this is definitely something I need to fix sooner rather than later. I have a store all picked out, though, and I have more than enough change for bus fare both ways since there’s no way I’m walking and carrying all that. I’ll just be the obnoxious person with too much crap on the bus.