Days 65-75: an unexpected academic difference

Thursday March 16-Sunday March 26th

Wednesday night fit very neatly into my idea of hell on Earth.  There were many, many loud people.  This has been an ongoing problem for me–loud people above and below me in the building, going to the various strip clubs near me, etc.  It’s been contributing to my insomnia/messed up sleep schedule, which in turn is contributing to my poor health.  I have good earplugs but they only do so much when a group of people is cheering drunkenly outside my window.  (It opens onto the street, which should be interesting when I need to open it to cool my room down when the weather warms up.)  Things started to quiet down around 1 am.

On Thursday I went to class and scrambled to finish my PowerPoint for Traditional Drama.  I was presenting on how my favorite movie, MirrorMask, shows signs of influence (conscious or not) from masking traditions; it wasn’t the best presentation I’ve put together, since I didn’t have much time because I was so sick.  I also had to re-do some of the work, since it turns out that students here get Microsoft Office for free.  Due to computer problems this past summer, my computer wouldn’t let me use my copy of Microsoft Office, so my plan was to convert from LibreOffice to PowerPoint and hope the formatting didn’t get messed up.  But I found out the morning of the day it was due that I could just use PowerPoint, so then I downloaded Microsoft Office and transferred everything over.

There wasn’t enough time during the class period for everyone to present, so I just watched.  (From what the teacher said in class, I wasn’t required to show up.  If I’d known, I probably wouldn’t have come because it would’ve given me more time to work.)  I noticed one interesting trend, and it continued when the rest of us met outside of class on Friday to do our presentations.

All the U.K.* students seemed to follow a specific format in their presentations.  It’s not wholly foreign to me–it’s the same format I was required to use for the presentations in one of my classes last semester.  (Now those were good presentations.  I had data!  That I’d collected myself!  I got to talk about Shakespeare and the Internet!)  Still, I don’t use this format unless it’s required.  Basically, your first slide after your title is an overview where you tell your audience what points you’re going to hit.  Then you go through and hit those points.  Then your second-to-last slide (last being your sources) is a conclusion where you sum up what you just said and reiterate that you hit the points you said you would.  I’m used to that in essays, but not in presentations.  I tend to do presentations in a loosey-goosey way, with minimal text on the slides and a lot of enthusiastic talking.  I couldn’t change my presentation, since we all had to turn them in at the same time on Thursday, so my teacher already had it–I hope he notices the nationality divide with respect to the formatting and doesn’t take points off for it.

My presentation on Friday was okay; I’m an awesome presenter (except for when I get excited and talk too fast) but my thoughts were a little scattered and didn’t quite cohere.  Oh well, at least I did it on time and got it over with.  Now I have to get back to working on all the late stuff, and the Special Circumstances paperwork, and the Hampshire accessible housing, and my Div III committee request…

Friday was also St. Patrick’s Day and so people were predictably loud that night.

On Saturday, I finally managed to run the errands I’d been needing to take care of.  I also found a new electrolyte drink!  See, with my heart condition, you have to drink a ton of liquid to keep your blood volume up.  It’s best if that liquid has lots of electrolytes in it, like Gatorade.  But I haven’t been able to get ahold of the normal stuff (tablets that dissolve in water) I use over here–if you find it on U.S. Amazon it won’t ship here, and if you find it on U.K. Amazon it’s incredibly expensive.  Literally it’s about $130 for stuff that’s $35-55 on the U.S. version of Amazon.  I asked my parents to buy some from U.S. Amazon and mail it to me, because that’s still way cheaper, but Amazon mislabeled the tablets and it was the kind with sugar in it.  I have really messed up teeth, and sipping at a sugary drink throughout the day is a huge no-no.  (But I don’t want to pay for returns.)  Up until now, I couldn’t find anything in the local stores, because everything has sugar.  But finally!  I had the idea that the health food store by my bank might have something and they did!  And it’s sugar free!

So I withdrew money, bought that stuff, and refilled my phone.  (Yes, I was very late on the phone thing.)  Then I rested for a few hours–I was exhausted–and went grocery shopping in the evening.

I’ve been having one major frustration with the grocery stores I’ve been to–I can’t find a lot of the spices and seasonings I’m used to cooking with.  I’ve gotten dried basil and oregano, black pepper, ground garlic, and curry powder at Lidl, and I found ground red pepper at Aihua (the Chinese grocery store).  But I haven’t seen cumin anywhere!  And now I want to make a couple of recipes–one calls for onion powder, bay leaves, ground ginger, and dried thyme and the other calls for cinnamon and nutmeg.  I can’t find any of those!  I also can’t find vanilla extract anywhere–it’s all almond.  There are signs saying there should be vanilla extract next to the almond, but it’s never in stock!  I couldn’t tell if this is normal for grocery stores here, or if it’s just because I’ve only been going to a discount store and a tiny corner store.  Luckily, while I was pondering this in the kitchen, one of my hallmates came in.  I asked her and she said that it’s the latter, so I’m hoping to go to a big, non-discount store sometime soon.

Also, on Saturday, there were even more people wandering around than usual.  A lot of them were wearing funny hats, kilts, facepaint, and costumes (usually not all at once) so I figured there was some sort of event going on.  I heard someone in the natural food store say something about rugby, so that might be it.  Getting around was really difficult–the buses were slow due to pedestrians all over the road in Princes Street, and walking along the sidewalks was a nightmare–I’d suggest avoiding errands on days when rugby things are happening.  (It did get easier in the evening, but in the early afternoon?  On Princes Street?  Yikes.)

I have no memory of what I did on Sunday, and I crashed hard on Monday and Tuesday.  I guess I’m still sick after all.  I did make some progress on my homework on Tuesday night, though, but by “progress” I mostly mean “wresting with how to format derivations and truth tables in a LibreOffice document”.  (I don’t feel the need to switch back to Word.)  I hand wrote my Current Issues assignment and now I need to put it into an electronic document; it’s currently full of incomprehensible keysmashing as placeholders for actual logic problems, just because I had to set the entire format up ahead of time.  I hope my teacher will appreciate how nicely organized everything is.  I also hope that the school will allow me to get even a smidgen of credit on this assignment.  I’m waiting on the doctor’s note for Special Circumstances, which I’m planning to pick up on Wednesday before class.  (If it’s ready by then.)  I also want to meet with my personal tutor to make sure I have everything filled out correctly, but like I’ve said, he’s a slow emailer.

Unfortunately, I continued to crash on Wednesday.  I was hoping that I was feeling better, since I’d managed to go to class and the doctor and everything last week.  But nope, I was just pushing through it and now I’m paying for that.  Thursday was even worse.  I’m starting to think I’m required to get horribly sick for weeks on end every other spring semester.  Junior year of high school I broke my elbow and caught the norovirus–even though I stopped being, uh, symptomatic** pretty soon I was still out of it for three weeks.  Senior year of high school I was okay.  First year of college I caught the flu for three weeks and landed myself on academic probation.  Second year of college I was… well I was having some life problems but not health problems.  So now here I go again in my third year of college.  I guess if the pattern continues I should do okay during Div III, although now that I’ve said that I’ve probably jinxed it.

Anyway, like I said earlier, my sleep schedule has been messed up.  So on Friday I finally succumbed to temptation and enacted the accurséd ritual known as “pulling an all-nighter to fix one’s sleep schedule”.  I did engage in some unplanned napping, but after that I managed to go and pick up the doctor’s note from Health Services.  I’m not gonna be able to give anyone the Special Circumstances paperwork before Monday, but at least now I have the most important piece.

I didn’t do much over the weekend except buy laundry soap.  My sleep schedule is a little better now, but I still feel terrible.

*Although I’m just guessing by their accents, and I’m not good with those.  It’d be more accurate to say “all the students who didn’t have obvious American accents”.

**Google it if you’re curious and not overly squeamish.

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