A Travellerspoint blog


rain 5 °C
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To all of my supporters/readers/whatnot-ers:

I am sorry that I have not updated in a while. For the most part, things sort of remain the same. However, I did get sick AGAIN recently, and I had a visit from my father. Both are worth going into detail about. Unfortunately, I do not have time at the moment. Possibly tomorrow I can arrange a chunk to do some writing and uploading of pictures.

But DON'T WORRY! I will post soon! This broad is still abroad and has plenty to say!

Posted by lmckenn6 10:44 Archived in England Comments (1)

Ferhat's Birthday

Wild and crazy fun.

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Yesterday was my buddy Ferhat’s birthday. The day before I decided that I wanted to make him a card and try to have as many people sign it as possible. To my surprise, I was able to get a lot more people to sign than I originally thought. My plan was that I would give it to him the next day (his birthday) and that would be that. However, my friend, Parichay, came up with the idea that we should give it to him at midnight with a cake. My other friend, Akash, went out and bought the cake while I was busy getting card signatures. The new plan was that we would give Ferhat the birthday card at midnight and have a little cake. This plan was added onto as people kept signing the card. Everyone else wanted to take part in the celebration and be there when we gave him all of the stuff, so we started to tell people to show up at midnight for the festivities.

Midnight came around and EVERYONE showed up, including Ferhat. He was wondering what was going on. Pari and I snuck out to get the cake and card, and we all surprised Ferhat with them. I thought that would be all, but little did I know… the simple card-giving and cake-cutting turned into what I think is a traditional Indian birthday celebration. It was absolutely crazy and brilliantly fun to watch. I should mention that Ferhat was a great sport, agreeing to take part in all of the rituals while everyone else watched. Although he was surprised, nothing happened against his will. I posted all of the good pictures in my album so definitely take a look. Now is when I begin telling you what these rituals were:

1. After cutting the cake, Akash went to feed a piece to Ferhat. That turned into a complete cake-smearing on Ferhat’s face to the point that it was completely covered.

2. With cake on Ferhat’s face, Parichay came behind him and smashed some eggs on top of Ferhat’s head. Very messy, got all over the floor.

3. Then Ahmit took a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola, shook it up, and exploded/sprayed it all over Ferhat and the ceiling.

4. Being completely wet and sticky, Parichay then proceeded to dump flour all over Ferhat.

5. Then came the BIRTHDAY BUMPS. Basically 4 guys pick up the birthday boy by each appendage. Once he is hoisted in the air, other guys take turns kicking the dude in the ass. The number of kicks equals the age of the person, plus one for good luck. By the way, the kicks aren’t delicate.

6. Once his butt was completely sore, Ferhat then had to complete the last task of chugging a large quantity of alcohol. For this birthday, Ferhat was given an almost full bottle of wine.

Now I am not sure how often this happens in India, or whether or not it is in fact “tradition”. However, I will say that all of the Indian guys at this hoopla sure knew all of the rituals. I asked what happens for girls’ birthday parties. They said that none of this happens to girls, except maybe some cake in the face. Hearing this was a relief. It’s one of the few moments in my life that I am happy genders are treated differently. My birthday takes place while I am here. I gotta watch out! Hehehehe.

Enjoy the pictures.

Posted by lmckenn6 16:31 Archived in England Comments (0)

Updated some pictures

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I added some pictures that I took around Mary Morris fairly recently. I really should take some more, but I have a tendency to forget. My apologies. Anyhoo, here is one of the big Mary Morris gang. It is not close to being everyone, but it gives you an idea of how many friends I have made since I've been here. Very cool.


Posted by lmckenn6 12:54 Archived in England Comments (0)

It's there to discover, should you choose to.

sunny 10 °C
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I realize an entry has been long overdue. To be honest and fair, not a lot of new things have happened. Classes have begun. As I have mentioned before, they educational setup is extremely different than Nazareth’s. We have 4 classes instead of 5. For each class, you have an hour lecture with about 100 or more people. Then, later in the week, you have a 1-hour seminar with around 25 people. It acts as a place where people debate their ideas they’ve gathered from the lecture and the week’s reading. Oh and reading isn’t required. It is “suggested” and followed by a list of at least 20 books you could choose from. Although reading isn’t required, teachers still want students to skim through at least one of these textbooks a week. And for the assessment? Well, I have 1 essay for each class that counts for 100% of my grade and is due at the end of the semester. The essays range from 2,000-3,000 words. They are ones that require a lot of research, but not in the form of book report. You choose from a list of questions, and the questions do not have a right or wrong answer. You take a position/have an opinion and defend it. That’s Leeds Met in a nutshell.

Although nothing surprisingly new has happened in a little while, I can still write you something. I tend to notice and appreciate the weird/fascinating things in life. The little oddities that people tend to overlook are usually highlighted in a bright fluorescent yellow for me. On my many walks around the city of Leeds, I have discovered a few of these things, and I would like to share them with you.

When you take the 2.2 mile hike from Mary Morris to Civic Quarter (my campus in the city centre), you discover that the sidewalks have become so saturated with gum remnants that they are quite literally polka-dotted. Should you choose to look at this another way, they even remind me of a reversal Dalmatian… black with white spots. Anyway, these spots have gone far beyond the point of general litter, and instead have reached the status of decoration. What also decorates these sidewalks is shattered glass. About every 50 feet, at bus stops or right outside a pub mostly, you will find piles of broken glass. Every time you pass one of these, you imagine the drunken group of Uni kids that could not possibly hold onto their drink any longer. There are about 19 or so pubs on the main road in Leeds and people attempt to have a pint in every one. They call this the Otley Road walk. Maybe, perhaps, these glass pieces indicate moments on someone’s journey when their Otley Road challenge has come to an end. Good push, guys. Better luck next weekend.

At every bus stop and all along Otley you will find smashed Styrofoam containers, revealing the leftovers of whatever munchies these Uni kids had the night before in their drunken stupor. Generally it’s fish and chips you will find spewed across the sidewalk, keeping the gum company. If not that, definitely a burger. Whatever greasy mess that can be inhaled to help absorb the pints of Otley Road.

If you get tired of going to pubs, why not try the clubs? There are dozens of them. Probably more than dozens. For instance, oddity #4 is the club called Halo which is remarkably a former church, a gorgeous old building with beautiful stand glass and dark, aged brick. The place that people used to go to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness and guidance is now a place where people attend on a regular basis to commit what would probably be considered sin-like behaviors. To put a cherry on this irony, Mormons stand outside of it on the weekdays doing their missionary work, trying to persuade passersby to see/hear the truth of God. If that does not open your mind, I’m not sure what else would. Only in Leeds.

All of these things just reveal the unique evidence that this is a student city. I haven’t quite discovered what it says about the actual people here. I’m not quite Sherlock Holmes with mastery in deductive reasoning. Perhaps I will let my observant nature take me there one day. For now, these little factoids remain a mystery.

Posted by lmckenn6 11:08 Archived in England Comments (1)

Freshers Flu is the new Swine Flu

sunny 11 °C
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I finally went to classes today. I decided to walk because it's nice exercise, and it really doesn't take that long. Maybe like 35-40 minutes. With music playing, it goes by quite well... except for the whole sickness thing. It was quite difficult to breathe and even more uncomfortable to cough. Lots of pain. Anyhoo, the walk was nice anyway. The sun was coming up and there was a fresh, crispy coldness to the air.

When my professor came in, it was like he was from out of a movie. He wore black pants, black shoes, a button up shirt that was tucked in, and a tweed jacket on top. What sold him was the perfectly tied man scarf around his neck that clearly distinguished him as British. The stereotype I learned always associated a man like this with elitism of some sort. He was quite the contrary though. He's deeply passionate, down-to-earth, and kind from what I gathered when he spoke. I'm glad I didn't let my preconceptions get me.

The class should be interesting. It's psychology of folklore. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but the professor says that that is absolutely fine. I'll trust him on that.

I had a slightly embarrassing moment in class. The professor asked if anyone had been to York, or from York... I can't remember. I raised my hand and said that I had. He asked me where I was from. I said New York, and his response was, "No, no, no, I meant York not New York." I apparently misheard him and raised my hand like I knew what I was talking about. I did visit York, though. Just last weekend. I though that was what he was asking!

Once people found out I was from the states, some girls introduced themselves to me. One is actually going to Florida on exchange in January. This is where I start talking about the title. She called the bug that everyone is getting the Freshers (first year/freshman) Flu. Apparently people get the freakin' flu here when they get sick, not just a regular cold. Anyways, now I don't know what I have. Is it the Freshers Flu or the Swine Flu? Or are they one in the same? Freshers Flu definitely sounds more mild, but what I had/have is a freakin' beast. Labels shouldn't make much of a difference, but when people run away from you because your doctor says you have the Swine, you can see why I'd like to solve this mystery. It would also definitely help me when I return back through Customs to the States. Hmm.

Posted by lmckenn6 11:20 Archived in England Comments (2)

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