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Does That Make Me Crazy?

30 Nov

To say that things have been nuts lately would be an understatement. But probably the craziest thing around is me. With less than six hours total in three days, I am so sleep deprived that I am actually losing my mind.

“But Claire,” you say, “you are normally so stable and rational It just seems hard to believe that you could be acting crazy!” I know, I know. So let’s just recap a few things that have already happened this morning, shall we?

  • I realized this morning when I went to get dressed that I had completely  forgotten to do laundry last night, so I had to wear the same thing I wore on Monday.
  • On the way to class, I had a good three minute internal dialogue  where I was honestly trying to determine if I was dreaming or if I was really awake and walking around.
  • During class, I had the sudden realization that my name is ‘Claire’ which, for some reason, I found absolutely hysterical. I couldn’t stop giggling.
  • After class, my friend Katie L. waited patiently while I struggled to get my jacket on for about five minutes. I finally got it on, only to realize that it was inside out.
  • Once I got back home, I couldn’t remember which floor I lived on. Really. I went up to four, but then I went back down because I was convinced it was three. And after my key wouldn’t open the door, I realized that I do in fact live on the fourth floor.
  • I also am finding it very hard to understand my flatmates/other Londoners when they talk, as it requires some level of focus to process the accent. Focus is not something that I currently have the capacity for.

Yes, I know all of those things make me sound stupid and are probably so embarrassing I shouldn’t tell people that I thought/did them. But my dignity went out the window after the second day of no sleeping.  The only redeeming thing about today was that the sun was shining brightly – we had a big blue sky and lots of fluffy white clouds. The kind of days I live for back home. It was so nice!

Today also marks the largest strike since a general strike in 1926. Over 2 million workers in the public sector are striking and there was a massive protest and march near Strand this afternoon. The schools are closed, the NHS services are suspended, and most of the departments cancelled class since the professors were out protesting! (Not my professor, though. Because I’m just lucky that way.) When I got to class at 10AM, there was already a strong police presence. And by the time I left around 12:30, there were hundreds of policemen lining the streets waiting for the march to move through the area. My bus got stuck in traffic for twenty minutes or so, because they weren’t letting the buses cross over the river at Waterloo Bridge. (Most of the streets at north bank were barricaded and closed off). We were literally stuck between two bus stops that were each just yards away,  but the driver wouldn’t let us get out since they’re only allowed to let passengers on/off directly at the stops. Londoners get really mad anytime stuff gets screwed up with the buses and some people were yelling at the driver. Once we finally moved again and made it to the stop, we had to get off and I continued the rest of the trip to school on foot. I took a few pictures of the policemen that were starting to line up around the time that I left. And just after I snapped these, about six or seven big police vans pulled up and probably 50 or so more officers started lining up.

You can just make out all the neon vests in the upper left corner, too.

Really blurry but the group leaving from King's to join the protest was stopped by police and forced to go a different way.

More officers arriving.

Starting to line up.

 

 

They are obviously not messing around!

This public showing of discontent and frustration follows along with a lot the feelings of the Occupy movements, which are also causing some problems around here at the moment. People are upset, and not just in London. They’re struggling to be heard but who’s listening? Who is protecting the interests of the  working class?  People should not be passive about the way they are being governed, especially not in countries where the electorate truly holds the power. I think the apathy and political lethargy that  usually accompanies success and stability is slowly being replaced by action as people fall onto harder times. I hope that this very visible movement will get the politicians attention and maybe some good will come of it.

And I still owe you guys some photos for Dover. I promise I’ll get to it soon!

Cheers,
Claire

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Orientation

19 Sep

Hello!

Today was the first day of KCL orientation, which was very exciting since no one has any idea what the HECK is going on. We have been allocated “modules” (classes) but we don’t know our “tutors” (professors/lecturers) or our “timetables” (schedules).

In the UK, most students only take classes from one department at university. By your first year, you are expected to have chosen your academic path. If you are going to be a history student, you take only classes in the history department. Unlike the US, where even if you do not attend a liberal arts school like SMU, you are most likely expected to have a well rounded foundation when you finish your degree – no matter your major. I have not met a single UK student who is taking classes outside of their department, nor has anyone ever heard of such a thing as a double major or minor.

So, schedules are not given out on an individual basis. They are given out by the departments. If you are a UK student, you should not have any issues since the departmental timetables do not overlap internally. However, if you are an international student from the States, you’re in trouble.

You must register for your classes first (I register for mine this afternoon). Then tomorrow I have to visit the orientation meetings for the two departments I will be enrolled in (History and Classics). There, I will be given the two departmental timetables and my classes may or may not overlap. If they do, I will have to re-register in a different class(es).

If someone can explain to me why this makes any sense – that is, to require enrollment before receiving a schedule (which may or may not then have to be rectified to said schedule) – please be my guest. It seems to me that it is much more logical and efficient to provide students with schedules and then have them register! It saves time for both the student and registrar!

Enrollment here seems difficult and elusive (even for the UK kids), while in the US everything is online, personalized and organized in, usually, a very clear way.  You can see your class sections and professors and reading lists long before you have to enroll. All of you back at home – be thankful that Access is such a breeze.

I also found out today I may not even start classes until October 3rd. I will know for sure whether this is true by this afternoon. In which case, I will probably be saying Cheerio! to London and  Bonjour á Paris for a week or so.

 

Cheers,

Claire