Friday, 18 February 2011

Positive outcomes only!

I thought my most recent entry required a follow up. I realise I sounded rather negative about being out here, and this could be off-putting for anyone planning to go travelling/planning to study abroad/planning to speak to me ever again. Therefore, I thought I would outline the main reasons some parts of the experience sucked, to demonstrate how freakish and unlikely these events were. (If they ever happen to YOU abroad, I will buy you a drink.) Then, hand on my heart and booming out the the Star-Spangled Banner, I will tell you just some of the things that I love.

Things that Sucked At The Time but are Now Told As Party Anecdotes:

a) North Carolina has a lot of bloodthirsty insects. I am allergic to insect bites. Much of my first week here was spent in bed, having feverish nightmares; I was in no way calmed every time I woke up to see my ballooning limbs. I feel somewhat guilty listing this, since two of my family have actually had Malaria, but it was scary!

b) When I say bed, this is a rather loose term... My room came unfurnished, and whilst I waited for a bed to arrive, I slept on a “wafffer-theen” mattress on the floor. When the bed finally arrived two months in, some of the parts were broken. I sent away from more parts, which took another six weeks. These were broken too. Finally I abandoned this whole bed thing and bought a futon on Craigslist, which has been fine except... it's bent and slowly breaking. It's propped up with books and does me fine, but I will probably weep with happiness when I get to sleep in an actual bed again.

c) No one had really explained to me the differences between the American university system vs. the British one. So I picked a combination of classes that didn't work together at all. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say if I had wanted to actually do all of the reading in order to actually do all my assignments/tests with a hint of comprehension, I would have to have my head in books at least six hours a day. Then work on essays. Needless to say, the whole semester was like those nightmares I used to have at the beginning of sixth form, where I had to sit my A-Level exams already. Tellingly, I did have quite a few bad dreams about A-Levels out here...

d) North Carolina law mandates that liquor can only be sold in licensed ABC stores, which are only reachable by car. You want to talk about illegal activity? HOW IS IT NOT A CRIMINAL OFFENSE TO DENY A BRITISH PERSON OF GIN & TONICS? I mean, I made up for it with beer and wine, but it's really not the same.

And now... Things That I Like and Don't Want To Leave:

  1. UNC is like a historical town. It has so many beautiful buildings, stretches of green, and random quotes and statues to remind you to study so you will actually amount to something one day.

  2. I can't be offended when people make comments about my accent, because I love Southern accents so much it's probably weird. (“I love your acce-” “I LOVE YOUR ACCENT!”) It hasn't worn off even slightly as time has gone by.

  3. Chapel Hill is considered to be one of the best places in the US for restaurants. It is a bit of a challenge to stay a size 10, but Weaver Street Market helps.

  4. This admittedly does backfire at times, but it's nice not to have to do a whole lot to get anyone's attention. Simply being from England makes me memorable and interesting.

  5. All of the professors I have had at UNC have been incredible academics, and incredible teachers. Not that I don't admire/borderline stalk the faculty of UEA as well, but attending another university has given me a wider perspective on teaching/learning methods. And made me even more sure that I want to be a professor myself.

  6. Carrboro. Running through Carrboro, wandering around aimlessly in Carrboro, spotting raccoons in Carrboro.

  7. Mountains to the West + beaches to the East = surrounded by perfection. Also, this is the best weather I have experienced in my life.

  8. After years of making excuses in order not to have to sit through football/cricket/rugby, I have finally found a sport I do like: basketball. Who would have guessed?

  9. I have made friends out here that I hope never to lose, and that is no small thing.

  10. Everyone has heard of William Faulkner.

It is a balmy 24C outside right now; sadly I am stuck in the library alternating between my dissertation proposal, reading for my classes, studying for a midterm and working on a paper. But I have Rooney to look forward to tomorrow night, and Spring Break is just around the corner.

As always, let me know if you have any questions about what it's like out here and I'll be happy to cover it on this blog!

Hellcats, the TV show that this entry's title comes from. Another thing I will miss once I go back!