29 September 2009

Oh the joys!

Oh the joy of simple pleasures!

Owning some thumb tacks, a marker, and some hand soap.
Having spoons!
Boiling water and milky tea.
Seeing a familiar face in a foreign place.
Free trips to London, and Cadbury chocolates.
Having my first hot meal with new classmates, and meeting cool teachers.
Climbing 180 steps to say, "I can see my house from here!" and have it actually be true.
Blue skies above me, cobblestones below.
A cold pint.
Modern architecture, perfectly mixed with old, and classic mini coopers.
Everything within waking distance, even a full size grocery store.
An energy efficient library.
The best of both countries; functioning BBC iplayer and hulu.
The power of internet communication.
Family and friends at home loving and supporting me.

Just a few of the things that cheered my heart today.

28 September 2009

It was then I realized I didn't have a spoon.

Today I had my official "induction" which makes it sound like I had to perform a ritual killing or something. Well it was pretty long and a little torturous, but not all that bad.
I got my class schedule which sounds pretty awesome, but I am sure I'm in for hard work. It starts mid October, which right off the bat is pretty great. I have one class at a time, and each takes about a month. I have a full week of class time then a few weeks to complete the class assignments. This makes me pretty nervous, as the entire grade is based on an essay or a report, and well, what if they don't like what I do? There is nothing to fall back on, not even my American charm and good looks.
The guy who gave us the orientation is the head of the department. He's Canadian, and a bit long winded, but seems like a nice and fair guy. The class has about 14 students in it, most of which I didn't officially meet today, but those I did seem cool. There is another Ellie in the class which absolutely kills me. As a Brit, she was surprised to learn that all the Ellies in America are over the age of 80, save one other than myself. It's a much more popular name here.

After this I went to the "fresher's fair" I went although I am technically not a "fresher" and got lots of free, yet pointless stuff (except for the free pizza.) I got the local football club schedule, some ramen noodles, lots of coupons, a non disposable bag from Ikea,and some pringles were the highlights.

When I went back to my room, I finally caught up with my oldest friend in Coventy. We have been facebook friends for months now and finally got to meet. He took me, very generously, to see his family here, to the LIDL (cheap grocery store!) a giant Tesco (regular grocery store) and to the ASDA (UK equivalent of Wal-Mart)
I have never been so fascinated by retail in my life! I felt like, well a foreigner! I was as usual, absolutely fascinated by products, aisles, people, prices, everything. I got some groceries, tea, and a proper UK issue kettle.
When we got back from retail heaven we visited some French friends of his, and I had an enjoyable time helping them to improve their English grammar, and pretending that I know more French than I really do (which is any).

Back in my room I tested out the new kettle, and having assembled all the necessary accessories made a cuppa. The water boiled in minutes, tea looked awesome, sugar and milk in and it was then I realized I didn't have a spoon.

27 September 2009

Day 2

Today I learned that if you want to find someone in Coventry, 9 am on a Sunday is not the right time. It was at this time I started the day, after finally finding the right place and the right people had an international welcome talk about basically what to do today.

I went from there to the student centre (yes that was hard to type). Here I officially enroled, (also hard to type) got my student ID card, and registered with a campus doctor. Hurray for free healthcare!
I also indulged again in free tea and biscuits.

From here I took an historic walking tour of Coventry. This was a treat for a nerd like me with an official blue badge tour guide who was clearly proud of Coventry and tremendously knowledgeable. He showed us around the cathedral of course, bombed to a shell during World War II. It was never rebuilt as a memorial, but a new, modern cathedral was build adjacent to it. It is quite modern, (Britain's youngest cathedral) but strangely beautiful. He showed us what used to be the seat of the British government (for a glorious two years) during Henry VI's reign while the war of the roses was going on. It is quite old. The guide subtly made fun of young America for my benefit, "This tapestry is older than your country!" and tried to explain how 1776 wasn't that bad of a year for England.
He also told us the story of Lady Godiva and peeping Tom. There is a commemorative statue in the city for her. We also went through the shopping area which is the first pedestrianized shopping area in the world, and I'm sure among the largest.
When that was finished, I went to the bookstore to scope out some maps. I bought a 2 ring notebook (as opposed to the, well, more sensible 3 ring) and some paper (which is 8.27" x 11.69".) How precise and just not close enough to 8.5 x 11.
Had lunch with a new friend and then headed to the Ikea, which was good fun. That store is enormous! I bought a number of things I needed and spent only 11 pounds.

This evening I went to an acoustic music event and got a free smoothie. There were a lot of people there and I realized that I am too old for a lot of the freshers week stuff. Well, I've always been too old for freshers week, so I'll stick to the nerdy tours.

26 September 2009

Basically, can't believe it.

I'm here! Here, in my room, awake at 2 am! After being up for nearly 30 hours I couldn't take it and went to bed at 7 pm. Now I am rethinking that.
But, to the meat of the post.
Since my last post I said goodbye to a lot of things and special people. I've been on two planes, had a five hour layover in Dublin. (where at 8am everyone had a pint except for me) Got both of my bags successfully! Found the Uni people at the airport, took a train, took a British cab, waited a bit more, took a bus, and finally arrived in my building. With bated breath I turned the key (in the wrong direction) and instead of anything I possibly envisioned, found myself in an individual lofted room. Furnished, bed up a ladder, bathroom, closet! I would love to have seen my face when I opened the door. After jumping around with glee for a few minutes I sorted out the internet and talked to mom for a while.
Then I went in search of bedding items, food and TP, my top three needs at the time.
The nearest store looked like the Arbutus Giant in the first week of school when hot pockets were on sale. Things were strewn everywhere, prices confused, parents and their children desperately looking for a fitted sheet in the right size. I managed to get everything I needed there for 20 pounds. Not bad I guess.
From there I got a pasty to eat (pronounced with a long "a" sound) I believe I've raved about these in earlier posts.
I then just walked around and seriously wondered if I were really here! It is a beautiful area here and there are tons of shops. Most of them were closing at 6pm, so I went to a 99p store and got TP and Jaffa Cakes. I have priorities!
I came back to figure out how the hell duvets work, and how to make a bed with a low ceiling.

Short story at the moment, I plugged in my power strip, heard a "pop" smelled some burning and peed my pants as I frantically unplugged everything. Now I can't get anything to work in my outlets. Thus, at the moment I have about an hours worth of battery in the lappy until I take it somewhere else to charge. Oops! So, I'll be turning it off for now, until I can find some more power.

24 September 2009

Panic Packing Fashion Show

Do I really need these pants? How many tops go with them anyway? Does this jacket even fit anymore? It doesn't get very cold in the UK, right?
Will I wear this shirt? Do I need different winter pajamas, or should I just get a blanket?
Will I need more than one skirt? What if I go to church more than once? What if I bring two and then go to church more than twice?
Is there any earthly reason to bring my camp sleeping pad? Why am I bringing a backpack for school and a backpack for...other stuff? How many pens do I need?
Is it completely daft to bring sweaters to a country full of sheep?

As a result of these questions over the last few evenings I've found myself unfolding, trying on and refolding basically every piece of clothing I have. Strangely, putting things on and then back in the suitcase did not help me to decide what I couldn't live without.

21 September 2009

Pre Cov Checklist

Two years ago I declared that "To feel loved and cared for is truly all I need to survive."
I will take all the love and caring I have been receiving since then with me, and it will be all I need to thrive.

Over the last few weeks I have felt nothing but love. I had my last day at work and my bosses had set up a little ice cream and cake social for me. Most of the ER didn’t even know I was going, but everyone was so supportive and seemed truly interested. I gave many people the blog address, and I hope you’re reading this now! All invitations to visit me were genuine, look into it!
My shift at work and I had three whole uninterrupted meals together, which is more than we’ve had in the last six months. Everyone worked hard to make my last day special, and for that I feel truly blessed.
I’ve been able to catch up with a lot of my friends and family. Even my brother came down from NYC to see me off (and eat fair food.)

It’s been a strange time. I’ve been moving piece-meal out of my apartment, slowly dwindling to the bare essentials. I’ve avoided the wall hangings like snakes in a burning pet shop. Without them, the apartment looks truly sad.

I've been marking things off of my "Pre Cov Checklist" The only things left are to finish packing and move some furniture to the parents house. Of course I still haven't found a home for kitty, but I have one last plan before I pull out the heavy guilting.

I’ll be flying out on Friday so any thoughts/prayers/good vibes you can send my way would be truly appreciated. Will update when I get there (if not before.)

15 September 2009

P.S.

I also changed the date format on blogger. You'll have to remind me to change the time zone later.
I made a couple of changes to the blog, i.e., the picture and the description. I mostly did it to remember how, and it's easy! I should have changed the picture about two years ago, because the former picture was of a lake in New Hampshire. The current picture is sunset on Lake Luzern after a rain storm.
Also I did a new bit on the "about this" section. Also mostly to remember how. (also easy) It will undoubtedly change again in a few weeks.
Let me know what you think.

14 September 2009

Very Silly Preparations

A lot of things need to be done prior to moving out of the country. An updated passport and visa are a fantastic start. But then there are things that occur to you in the middle of the night, forcing you to scribble some unintelligible words on the back of your hand in the dark. These include changing my car insurance, giving away old clothes, preparing Christmas presents (in August), buying UK plug converters, cashing in my coins, and filling out national registry papers seven months in advance. And then there are some silly preparations.

I switched my version of word to UK English, and now apparently I cannot correctly spell color, enrollment, check, or organize. But, analyze; they'll allow.

I've also changed my facebook to UK English. This means that my favorite TV shows are now my "Favourite TV Programmes" the times are on the 24 hour clock, and the date is written day/month/year (as opposed to the US month/day/year version)
And I've become "UMBC graduate 2006" instead of "UMBC Alum '06" I'm not sure about that.

My google homepage now firstly lists Coventry's weather. Today it is cloudy and a lovely 61° F (16ish °C).

I've put my firefox forecast dealie in Centigrade which hasn't yielded too much confusion as I've had the thermometer in my truck in Celsius for years, subconsciously preparing for a life in backwards world. So, I already know that 22° is just about perfect.

I enjoy these relatively superfluous preps. Any other suggestions?

13 September 2009

Strange weekend

Yesterday I went to the last day of the wilderness medicine seminar. We had a lecture about travelers diarrhea and it's treatment, strange dermatological issues, and how to pack an expedition first aid kit. I learned a lot from the doc who's been a medical missionary in Tanzania for the last four years who is simply fascinating.
We did a little map and compass work which frankly still mostly baffles me, and I again tried to make fire the old fashioned way. I was far more successful with the bow drill, but still didn't actually light anything on fire. It was hard work! I could make the drill hot to the touch and produce a lot of smoke, but always gave up too early before making a little ember.
Again with not forgetting some fire starting tool whenever one goes camping.

After that, smelling of woodsmoke, I went to my friends house for a little going away get-together. A few good friends came out to see me off before I left, and it was super nice. Shelly even decorated a cake with a little American flag that said "Cheerio Ellie!" well, basically brilliant!

I love that although we've gone in different directions, we can still get together and live just like old times. Thank you guys! I'll miss you, but I hope to see you sometime in the next year!

12 September 2009

Tonight on...

It came out as a "residential rescue" and I was glad to be on it, mostly because I wanted to know what the heck that meant. And it wasn't just the ambulance that got to go, it was the engine, the rescue, the ladder truck, a second ambulance, and the medic unit.
We arrived first, and excitedly went into the house where we found an hysterical three year old with his head stuck between the railings of an open staircase. I immediately wanted to call William Shatner and get the Rescue 911 crew over there for some heartwarming footage. It was just like the time that kid got her foot stuck in a toilet. Ooh, or that time when the kid was playing hide and seek and got stuck in the laundry chute and they had to lube him up to get him out.
Anyway, so this kid was stuck and the fire department (all 50 of them) came in to set up a ladder use a screwdriver to open up one of the railings. The boy was easily freed and it was high fives all around.
I was thrilled to be involved in this call, bringing me back to the show that partly inspired me to become a paramedic. Back when every story had a happy ending and the dramatizations were believable (at least when I was 10.)
I still love how Shatner could say "Rescue....911! Man, I miss that show.

11 September 2009

Survival and such


Mostly these past couple of weeks I have been going to work and packing things up. I'll be storing my stuff in the same building where I live now, and it turns out that moving sucks, even if it's into the next room. Work has been good but not terribly interesting in terms of blogging.

But, this weekend I am going to a wilderness medicine and survival conference. So far it's pretty sweet. I almost made fire the old fashioned way, and by "almost" I mean not at all. But it was fun to try, and now my hands hurt. Our instructor said that the bottom line is "don't forget your lighter." Haha. We learned some other stuff about mental survival, building shelters, and responding to urban survival situations.
In the evening today we had two lectures about wilderness medicine and medical missions. Now I am filled with oh so interesting thoughts about all that stuff. It's pretty facinating how they have brought some western medicine to different places and, well it is unsurprising that it certainly sparked my interest.

Tomorrow I unfortunately have to go to work, but I will make it to sundays lectures to learn more about search and rescue, water purification and dealing with emergencies with travel groups. Sweet.

This day cannot pass without mention of 9/11. A day I will not forget. As we discussed today how to deal with urban survival situations, I could not help but wander back these eight years and put myself in the places of the survivors of 9/11. There is nothing I can say here that hasn't already been said, but please take a moment from your day to remember those we lost.

01 September 2009

Cov Update 4

I am pleased to report that I got my Coventry address. It’s approved off campus post grad housing. That’s a mouthful. But it includes a single room, shared kitchen and bath, internet, renters insurance, and a gym membership.
Thanks to the glorious google maps, I can get a street view of the building and surrounding area. This exploration let me to find several nearby ATMs, the ubiquitous “corner shop” other shopping and dining areas, and most importantly (at the moment) a huge IKEA mere blocks from my flat. I can now feel far more confident knowing that I no longer need to worry about packing a plate and a bowl, as I can get that stuff there, including bedding, hangers, a “püblie” and a 99p saucepan.
And in a pinch, I can eat Swedish meatballs everyday using a snärflat, or a fork.
Also, I am apparently I am incapable of spelling Swede, Sweden, or Swedish; just look at my facebook.