Friday, January 17, 2014

First Day of School

I know it took me awhile to write this next post, but it's been a busy week. On Monday, the day after my first post, we had an orientation with the University of Exeter. It started out with a welcome talk which was pretty interesting, but not much different from what I remember from freshman orientation (although it was considerably less exhausting). We were informed that if we do intend to travel after exams are over we should not leave the British Isles because border control might not consider "My luggage is still there" as a valid excuse to get back into the country after school has finished, so good to know. On that note, I love the way the semester is scheduled here; we get three months of classes, then a month off, and then the last month is just for exams. Weird, but definitely cool. Anyway, after the welcome talk we went on a campus tour, which I certainly needed. Unfortunately there are just as many hills on campus as there seem to be in the rest of Exeter, and I'm not talking gently rolling hills either. On our tour I met a girl from Vancouver, Sophia, so I'm expanding my group of friends who are not also from William & Mary. Finally we went to our study abroad coordinator meetings with whichever department we were taking the most classes, so that we could finally get registered. This was certainly the most stressful part of the day, lots of people didn't get any of the classes they wanted (Jen, one of my Australian flatmates, didn't get into most of the history classes she wanted), and some didn't get into anything (which was the situation my other Australian flatmate, Lucy, found herself in). Luckily, I am registered for four classes, not all of which I am thrilled to have, but at least I will receive some sort of credit for taking them.

That evening we went to an orientation quiz night and buffer, I won't deny that I was mostly there for the food. The quiz was fun and the food was good, even if all of the food was either bread, covered in bread, or just happened to be some shade of brown. Our team (which comprised of Lucy, Jen and I as well as three girls from Germany and one from France) didn't win, but we had fun attempting to figure out the correct answers. I was really only useful on the questions about literature and the single question that referenced Star Trek (kudos to my brother for making me watch it when I was little).

On Tuesday I went to my first classes, which were not actually my first classes as I missed the first sessions of my economics class on Monday due to orientation (my economics course: Behaviors, Decisions, and Markets). I had Strategic Operations Management first; I can't deny that I was not looking forward to this class at all, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to the professor (which is good since this class, as well as each of my other classes, lasts for two hours).  Professor Steve Brown, who told us that we could just call him Steve, informed us that he had just had surgery and if he winced during the lecture it was not because he hated us. He also said that if everyone lived like America, we'd need 9 planets; he did, at least, follow this up by admitting that if everyone lived like the UK, we'd need at least 4. He was definitely not prone to censoring himself and when he found himself discussing the lack of female CEOs in the business world, he quipped "we're all equal, but we seem to be equally stupid." I don't doubt that the class will be difficult, but it does at least look as if it will be entertaining. My second class of the day was Business and Tourism, which is actually a first year class, so it shouldn't be too difficult. The professor mentioned a hotel that costs about $65,000 a night, its crazy that anyone could spend what plenty of people don't even make in a year on one night in a fancy hotel. I share this class with Maddy, one of the girls from W&M with whom I traveled. I actually share three out of my four classes with her, it'll be nice to have a familiar face.

On Wednesday I don't have any classes, although starting next week I will have a seminar/discussion for my Strategic Operations Management course. I did still end up going to campus in the afternoon for another of our orientation activities, a traditional Cream Tea. What this entails is: tea (of course), and scones on which you spread jam and clotted cream. Believe it or not there is a regional disagreement on whether you are supposed to spread the jam or the clotted cream onto the scone first. It was pretty delicious, but very heavy, and I would definitely never use clotted cream as a spread by itself because it kind of freaks me out (it tastes good, but it looks a little strange). Simon, who hangs out in our flat a lot even though he doesn't live there, spent the evening insisting I was saying the word 'scone' wrong (he thinks it should be said so that it rhymes with 'on' rather than 'own'). He also found the fact that we say 'aluminum' rather than 'aluminium', our refusal to spell 'behavior' or 'neighbor' with a 'u', and our use of 'z' instead of 's' somewhat offensive.

Tea Time!
Thursday I had Intermediate Management Accounting, which will hopefully be more interesting than it sounds, but it will at least be the last accounting class I will need to take. After I got back from campus I went on my first grocery run (I had gotten a few things to get me through the week a bit earlier at the Co-op, but I hadn't been out to the big grocery store). The benefit of our location is how close we are to all the shopping, so it was only about a 15 minute walk out to the big Sainsbury's on High Street. I hadn't really anticipated how strange something like grocery shopping might be in another country, I had a great deal of difficulty finding things. I was also quite displeased to discover that they don't sell large jars of peanut butter, just small ones.

I have today off from school, and will continue to do so throughout the semester (there is an accounting tutorial on Fridays, but it is optional and you are only intended to go if you have questions after the week's lecture and seminar). I did go out and finally get a SIM card for my phone, so that's one more thing checked off my list.

This weekend will be quite busy. I'll be going on a day trip to St. Ives (which is along the coast) tomorrow as one of the orientation activities; on Sunday, I'll be having a roast at the Old Firehouse Pub, which is the pub which inspired the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter series. Can't wait, and I'll write again when I get the chance.

The view from my window (above and below)

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