A Travellerspoint blog

Never a dull moment

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All I can say is that my life is colorful. I have gone through some rough experiences recently, and maybe I have reached a certain level of apathy, but all I see is that these moments make for some pretty interesting stories.

After all of my visa trouble, I arrived to Leeds without any difficulties entering. To my surprise I had that Joe guy give me the VIP treatment and pick me up from the airport. Those are interesting moments 1 and 2. I have now settled in, made friends, and whatnot. However, I found out that I take only 4 classes here, which means I have to take 6 when I get home, in order to graduate. Interesting story #3. I ran around for a week trying to get my timetable (schedule) fixed, and even though I am not attending my classes at the present time (will explain in a moment), the timetable is still not fixed. Am I enrolled in these classes? I’m not sure. Interesting story #4. On Sunday, the night before my classes began, I was in charge of organizing some bowling. I believe more than 10 people were to come, but at the last minute the number dropped significantly. Half of the people had understandable reasons. The other half… well, I don’t know what was going on. In the end, only 5 people bowled. I enjoyed myself, but the mood was shot for a lot of people, including myself. Interesting moment #5. These all sound kind of like disappointing stories. Trust me, while I was in the moment, I felt significant frustration. But now they’re just… colorful.

I did have a wonderful moment when about 6 or 7 of us Mary Morris people went to York on the free trip. We had a really good time and the city is absolutely beautiful. I would love to live there. See the pictures in the gallery! That makes #6.

Then we get to the whammy of all stories. The day before classes started (Sunday), I started feeling a little sore tickle in my throat. Nothing terrible, but if I started laughing, I would cough. And my back was awfully achy. Nothing Advil couldn’t help with. However, around midnight of that night, I was in bed and got this terrible fever. I was wearing sweatpants, socks, my t-shirt, my sweatshirt, a polar fleece, and I was wrapped tightly in my blanket. I was shaking like crazy, I was sweaty, my teeth were chattering, and I was freezing. My fever broke around 4 or 5 in the morning and felt like I was boiling. The next day I called the doctor and they told me to come to an appointment in a half hour. I wasn’t able to eat breakfast for 2 reasons. First, the walk was a half an hour long. And secondly, I vomited and didn’t want to take my chances of being sicker.

So, I walked to the doctor on an empty stomach. After getting lost a couple times, I finally arrived to see a sign on the front door saying that if I had any flu-like symptoms, I could not come inside. Instead, I had to call the Swine Flu Pandemic Hotline. So that’s what I did. I spent 20 minutes on the phone, taking this oral assessment. Based on what I told them, I was not in need of the antiviral drug, and they told me to go inside to my appointment that turns out I was 20 minutes late for. Now here’s the kicker. When I was in my appointment, the doctor told me that he suspects I have swine flu. He said that the seasonal flu is not in season, the other virus that’s going around does not cause a fever, and because mine hit me so rapidly, it seems to be just like the swine flu. He also told me that I shouldn’t panic because he had both the swine flu and the regular flu, and he found the regular flu to be much worse.

Anyways, that makes for lucky #7 on the interesting story list. At the present moment, I am locked in my room, unable to attend classes. I had to walk to a campus yesterday to hand in a doctor’s note saying I had the swine flu. Who knows if I actually have it because I don’t have all of the crazy symptoms that require the antiviral. Whatever I have, it’s a beast and I hope it goes away soon!

Posted by lmckenn6 11:13 Archived in England Comments (0)

Pictures from Mary Morris

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I was only able to take 2 photos today because I forgot my camera card in my computer, which therefore only allowed me to store 2 pics on my camera. But here they are!

From Left to Right:
Arps-- from Australia
Sophia-- from Greece
Monica-- from Spain

From Left to Right:
Ferhat-- Turkish from Germany
Nathan-- Nigerian from America
Rohan-- from India

Posted by lmckenn6 23:59 Archived in England Comments (0)

Cheers from Leeds

I couldn't think of a better title, so you got the stereotypical British greeting.

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A lot has happened since I last wrote. I’ve met at least 20 new people in my residence and I have enjoyed all of them. Tons are from India, but I have met people from Poland, Germany, China, Australia, England, Greece, Spain, France, and Nigeria…oh, and America. Everyone is really friendly and they enjoy going out as a big group.

I never realized how much attention one sweatshirt could attract. The other night, I took a walk with a few of my new friends and I wore one of my favorite hoodies, which says "Oregon" on it. I cannot tell you how many times I was stopped on the street by drunken British men. I naively wore it out without thinking that it was a big American stamp. So, my word to the wise is, if you want to blend in, never wear anything that clearly references your mother country, especially if it’s the oh-so-popular America. On the other hand, if you want to have a good conversation starter and a way to meet tons of people, please do so.

The nightlife at Leeds is completely dedicated to college students. There are 3 different universities all next to each other, and clubs and pubs surrounding them. Apparently there is a special every night, and people take these events seriously. I saw many people dressed for a club in clothes that I wouldn't even imagine owning. Besides the fact that they weren't exactly my style, they seemed SO expensive. People really dress up! Regularly! I went to the club for the first time this past weekend. They are really fun, but I am not sure if I can handle it as often as the regulars. I actually know I can't. I have been introduced to a drink that is nice for those who don’t generally like the taste of alcohol. It’s Strongbow (an alcoholic cider) and black current (flavored syrup).

I went clubbing for the first time this past weekend. First, about 10 of us walked to a pub near my residence. The pub was like this massive restaurant, except it served alcohol instead of food to hundreds of college kids. All of us sat at a giant picnic table in the Beer Garden and had a few pints. When everyone was feeling the pints, we went to the city center for clubbing. That was crazy. Leeds is crazy expensive for the clubs, but one of my new friends Nathan paid my way in. When we were in the club there were all of these guys trying to dance with me. For the most part I was ok with it… until I would get a squeeze of the butt or a spin-and-try-to-kiss-a-stranger… then I would dance away or grab one of my friends to dance with me.

The other night, well at 3:45 in the morning, the fire alarm went off in my residence. One hundred and fifty people were woken up out of a dead sleep to this BLASTING alarm. My first instinct was to find my room key because I didn't want to be locked out if we had to come back in. Then, I realized it could actually be a fire and the last thing I needed to worry about was a room key. Turns out someone was smoking in the hallway. Tisk tisk. Another word to the wise: Don't smoke where there are 1) smoke sensors and 2) ear-piercing alarms.

That actually wasn’t the only time it happened. Either the following night or 2 nights later, the same thing happened. It occurred right after I received a drunk dial from one of my new friends here. So, even though I was wide awake by then, it was still very disturbing.

I have been getting my courses (modules in England) straightened out. It appears that students are only allowed to have 4 modules AND they are required to have one day off a week. At first I had 2 days off, but now I only have Wednesday off. For each course, you only meet for one hour of lecture and one hour of seminar (or tutorial). So I definitely will be having a lot more time on my hands. Also, I found out textbooks can be rented from the campus library, instead of students having to buy them. If only schools in America did this!

That’s all I have for now. Oh wait, I forgot to say when I was leaving the Amsterdam airport and going through security, the guard read my initials LEM on my backpack and started laughing. He said that where he is from (I have no idea where that is), a lem is a really drunk person. He also showed his co-worker my bag and they both shared a laugh. I couldn’t tell what their accent was, but I hope it wasn’t British. Otherwise, I will be laughed at a bunch walking around campus.

I posted some pictures that can be seen in the gallery. I like it here, but I miss home every day.

Posted by lmckenn6 01:55 Archived in England Comments (3)

Settling in...

overcast 19 °C
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It’s been about 24 hours since I have arrived in Leeds. To my pleasant surprise, someone was at the Leeds Bradford Airport to pick me up! He was a very nice (and handsome, but shhh) guy named Joe from Leeds Met who, when found out about my arrival, offered to come greet me himself. It was really quite wonderful after a long flight. I didn’t have to pay for a taxi, I got shown around town a little, and I was able to have a friendly beginning from the start.

We first went to Leeds Met so that I could meet the people I had been working with on my application. Once again, very nice. I apparently got special treatment because no one gets picked up by people who work in the international office. I also got a welcoming phone call from the Director in the office, which is once again not typical. All in all, I had a very pleasant greeting.

After this, Joe took me to Mary Morris, my residence (even more special treatment = AWESOME). It’s an international residence, but not too many people have moved in yet. Only a couple people out of 12 have moved into my hallway.


This morning I made friends with the cleaning guy. His name is Sam, and he’s from Africa. He’s extremely social, funny, and happy. I can tell that we will be friends.

I slept in this morning because my trip was so long and exhausting. When I finally arose from the dead, I challenged myself to take a bus to the city center. It really is a city. I called it a super-small-scale NYC. So many college students walking around, as it truly is a student city.

This time, however, people were not as social. I walked by so many people, and it seems that no one really interacts with anyone unless they need to. I am very used to saying hello, even to passing strangers. Everyone walked in groups of people that they knew, and they had their own conversations going on. I don't know, there was a definite lack of eye contact. So it was a little overwhelming feeling so alone in the busy city. Actually, the more I walked around and absorbed all of this, the more overwhelming it got. At one point I said, "Wow this is so different. I really don't feel like I fit here at all." But then I remembered that I have to wait longer than 24 hours to make a judgment like that. I'm trying to be as friendly as I can be (without being awkard), but I definitely will have to get used to the urbanness and the differences in social behavior. That will be an adjustment for me.

I will be taking my classes in the city center, at the Civic Quarter. Very metropolitan buildings right in the smack-dab of the city. It will be very interesting once my classes begin! Quite different from Nazareth! I did not bring my camera with me on this outing because I was too preoccupied with getting lost. I plan to take photos this weekend, now that I SLIGHTLY know my way around.

I’ve met a few people since I have arrived. There are 2 Sara(h)’s in my hallway. One is from Mexico and the other is from China. I also introduced myself to another Chinese girl on my walk back from Mary Morris. Her name is April. They are all extremely nice and either share my love for food or my love for movies. Seems like we will get along quite alright.

Posted by lmckenn6 21:56 Archived in England Comments (1)

Wasting time and possibly money

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OK, I just deleted this entire post I was about to put on here, so now I have to rewrite it as my timed internet runs out. This is what the original message was supposed to say:

I am in the Amsterdam airport. With 5 hours of layover, there was not much to do except nap, eat, read, and go on the internet. I have already done the first three, and now I am spending 6 euro to write this post to you at an internet cafe. My plane over here from Detroit was a very smooth flight, but I did not sleep well. I feel exhausted at this point. My back also hurt tremendously. Who knows why I am turning into such a problematic person. Anyhoo, I have been here for some hours and this will be my last time that I am able to contact anyone until after I arrive in Leeds. Customs-willing, I will be there tonight (this afternoon on US time).

I say customs-willing because the regulation actually states that students who are studying in the UK for less than 6 months are not allowed to enter the country until 7 days before their classes begin. Because I was never told this information until after I purchased my plane ticket and after I was issued my visa, I am attempting to enter the country and basically ask if I can be the exception to the rule (as I am entering 11 days before classes begin). I have my letters in-hand, and although I am nervous, I have a plan. If this doesn't work, I will have to travel to some country for a few days to wait until the 7 day period opens up. However, I have necessary induction stuff that begins tomorrow, so while I am not allowed in the country, I need to be there. I know, I was confused about this, too.

But let me quickly tell you about the cool things that I have experienced on this trip. First, go to the Detroit airport if you haven't. There is a tunnel that connects Concourse A to Concourses B&C. This tunnel is underground, and it is light with purple, blue, turquoise, and red lights that flash to this awesome music. It's like you're in Wonderland or something. I sauntered through and took my time enjoying it all. I was in no rush. I had a 3 hour layover in that airport.

Now that I am in Amsterdam I have to say that the airport is not too exciting. The only thing that is above and beyond are these reclined chairs that they have ALL around the airport. They are in this wonderfully comfortable position for people to sleep on (I assume). Of course, when I discovered these, I just HAD to sit on them. Sure enough, with my backpack in my lap, I konked out for 40 minutes. I firmly believe all airports should have these guys. They really do miracles. Rochester, you can expect my petition for them.

Now it is my time to leave, since I am watching my time run out on this machine. If I hadn't had accidentally deleted my post before, I would have saved some money! Oh well, we will save the surfing until I get to a more permanent place.

Posted by lmckenn6 07:07 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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