Days 21-29: they still have lick-able stamps here!

Tuesday January 31st-Wednesday February 8th

You know how I said I’d see on Tuesday if going to the protest was worth it?  Oof.  I took painkillers on Monday evening since I was in such severe pain from all the standing.  Problem is, I react in all sorts of different ways to those painkillers, and this time I ended up being completely unable to fall asleep until about 4 am.  And I woke up at 7 am.  Yeah, this is why I don’t generally do this particular flavor of activism.  I think I read one too many “if you’re not marching in the streets, you’re not a REAL activist!” posts on Tumblr.

Anyway!  On the good side of things, I woke up at just the right point in my sleep schedule and felt really alert and awake in the morning.  I brought green tea to class, so I managed to power through, but things did eventually start blurring together.

One thing I realized I haven’t talked about yet is the classrooms here–specifically, that classes aren’t always in the same room.  I don’t think this is just a “big school” thing because my UMass classes have always been consistent.  And I’m not talking about classes with lab sessions that are in a different room because you have to do, uh, lab-ish stuff?  Anyway.  Traditional Drama only has one session a week, so it’s always in the same room.  But Pragmatics is in a different room every day, and Current Issues is in one room for Monday and Tuesday, but another room in the same building on Wednesday.  So that’s just something to keep in mind!  It may not happen with your classes, but you should check to make sure that you know what room you’re going to be in each day, because you can’t depend on it being the same.

I had a horrible headache on Wednesday and didn’t do anything except drag myself to class–and I guess I looked awful, because someone I’ve never spoken to before asked if I was okay and then gave me a pretty rock when I said I wasn’t.  If nothing else, it cheered me up, because I like rocks.

(A quick bit of completely unrelated advice–if you need to register with the school’s Health Services, do it as soon as possible.  I went back in to schedule an appointment a few days after I registered, and they had a sign up saying that they weren’t taking any more new patients.  I just squeaked in, but if I’d procrastinated any longer I would have to go find a GP in the city.)

Thursday was also unremarkable, and I ran errands on Friday.  One of the errands took me pretty far from my usual haunts, and I encountered something I didn’t even realize I’d been missing–plants!  (I think I was in the suburbs.)  I teared up a little when I saw a mimulus; I didn’t even know there were any here, although it turns out they’re non-native so it’s not necessarily good that I saw it.  I know there are botanical gardens around here somewhere, so I might go.  I’ve never lived in a city before, and I’m discovering that it definitely doesn’t suit me; it’s loud here, all the time, although that may have to do with the fact that I live near three different strip clubs.  Also I think being in a city is messing up my skin.

Ugh, I know, I sound horribly pretentious–but when I’m not at school I do genuinely live on a dirt road in the middle of the woods.  So.

Anyway, I did basically nothing over the weekend.  I thought about trying to go to the Royal Botanical Garden on Sunday, but was thwarted by my own terrible sleep habits.

Class on Monday was the same as ever, but I did have two appointments!  First, at 9:40 am (ugh) I had that appointment with Health Services that I’d been waiting for.  It was really short, just a sort of “here are the medications I’m on, here are the five million illnesses/syndromes/other problems I have, and here’s my immunization record” kind of thing.  (I decided that I’m not going to be here for long enough to dump my huge stack of medical records on them unless they ask for a specific piece of information.)  I also took care of the one medication thing I needed to do–and it was remarkably easy!  (I do still need to fill the prescription, but I’m shocked that there weren’t any problems getting it prescribed.)  I’m planning to make a separate post about handling medications for study abroad at Edinburgh, and I’ll go into more detail there.

I then had an appointment after classes with the temporary disability-stuff-coordinator-person for the school I belong to (Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences) within the university.  I was surprised that he reached out to me to ask to meet and talk about how things have been going so far, since my experience has mostly been that people just leave you alone.  I told him that one of my classes is in a building without an elevator (or rather a lift) and that the elevator in another building is kind of wonky due to construction.  I also clarified how attendance and absences work here, which is nice, because I was confused.  So apparently, larger classes don’t take attendance–my Pragmatics class doesn’t, because while it’s not a huge lecture, it’s probably got forty or so students.  But my other two classes do take attendance.  However, attendance isn’t necessary to get a passing grade, so you can still miss those classes.  (Not that I’m encouraging it!)  The attendance sheet is mostly for administrative stuff.  Still, just to make sure that people know why you’re missing class, you should email your personal tutor and let them know you’re going to be gone.  This is basically what I’ve been doing anyway, but the website was a little unclear, so I’m glad I got a chance to clarify.  Also, this is more or less PPLS-specific, so it may be different for different students.

(Update: my personal tutor said that if I’m just missing one day, it’s a better bet to email my teacher.  His job is more to coordinate stuff if I’m going to miss, like, a week of classes.)

Tuesday and Wednesday were just generic going-to-class days.  I was planning to try for the Botanical Garden again on Tuesday afternoon–now that I’ve thought of it, I really want to go–but it rained.  After dinner on Wednesday, I finally got up the nerve to look at the email my Traditional Drama professor had sent me about my short paper (I’m so bad at looking at emails that have the potential to be bad news) and it was very complimentary.  I was worried that I’d been unprofessionally snarky–I mean we were supposed to be refuting a certain idea, but still–or that I’d made some Horrible American Mistake.  But nope!  All good.  (“Horrible American Mistake” could be the alternate title of this blog.)  This was very reassuring, as I had another paper for that class due on Thursday.

On Wednesday night, I finally went and did a social thing.  If you’ve been wondering if I’ve been socializing and just haven’t posted about it, nope!  I am actually just that much of a hermit.  But I figured I ought to try being less of a hermit, so when the Linguistics Society (LangSoc) hosted a murder mystery event, I decided to go.  The basic premise is that one person at the party dies, and their murderer is in the room.  There are clues around the room pointing to who the murderer is, and you have to ask people questions to see if they match up to the clues or not.  Everyone has a character, so they have set personality traits that match up with the clues–for example, a lot of us had details about what car we drove, and one of the clues that pointed to the murderer said they drove a fancy car.  I assumed that our characters would be generic murder mystery types or something, but no.  We were all playing various Linguistics lecturers.*  And that’s all I’ll say about that, since this is a public, school-related blog.  (I learned some pretty juicy gossip though.)  I had a lot of fun, and chatted with a few cool people, but most importantly I did correctly figure out who the murderer was.

Coincidentally, the murder mystery event was at that same pub I ended up at the one other time I was social.  I almost decided to take the same route back–the one where I got horribly lost–but I realized it was actually really long, and I didn’t remember it too well.  Then I went ahead and took a completely new route, because I wanted to be adventurous.  I didn’t really get lost, but I did end up walking for a really unnecessary loop to get back to the street to my housing.

*”Lecturer” here doesn’t seem to mean quite the same thing as it does in the U.S.

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