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Accents, Coins, and Rain . . . Lots of Rain

So it’s been awhile since my last post so I thought I should do some updating. I’ve been here just about a month now which is pretty hard to believe; it feels like I just got here. Part of this is probably because of how busy schoolwork keeps me. A major difference between college back home and university here is definitely the amount of time spent in the classroom.

I was warned that it was significantly different, but it’s hard to grasp how much “free” time you actually have until you’re here. I only have lectures and seminars for 8 hours on a full week and most of this is concentrated on Mondays and Thursdays with one seminar on Fridays (but even then it’s only every fortnight). Last semester I had Fridays off, but I still had 10 or 11 hours of classes every week which makes 8 hours seem like nothing. Now of course less time in the classroom does not mean less work (unfortunately). I’ve been busy balancing all the reading that inevitably comes with taking four English classes which comes out to about one to two novels or plays a week which is probably about what I was doing last semester, but it seems like a lot more when the professor isn’t telling you which chapters to read and instead saying “when we meet next week (or in two weeks) we’ll be talking about (insert play or novel).” This lack of set instruction is freeing in some ways, but pretty incompatible with my tendencies toward procrastination. I’ve been trying to correct these tendencies, but it’s a long process. I should be using my Tuesdays and Wednesdays to write my essays and read, but in addition to procrastination I tend to like sleeping in late (can I help it if beds are comfortable?).

Overall though, it’s been going well. While not exactly on schedule for today I did make it to the park and did some laundry. London has a lot of parks and I’m lucky enough to live about 10-15 minutes away from Regent’s Park which is pretty big and houses the London Zoo. Today was the first time I’d been there though so I haven’t seen all of it. What I was trying to do was set up a running route, but there was so much to look at that I got kind of distracted. Today wasn’t the greatest weather, a little chilly and rainy (though pretty good for February I think), but the park was still really pretty. There obviously weren’t flowers or anything, but the fountains were running and all the green trees and shrubs were a nice change of scenery from cars, streets, and buildings. Of course it started raining while I was walking around so I did get some running in, but luckily it didn’t last very long. I’m hoping to go back tomorrow and run again as well as on a nicer day when I can get some pictures.

While I’ve touched on the rain aspect of my title (to be fair it’s really not that much rain), I realize that I haven’t really addressed the rest of it. I guess the accents are a pretty obvious one, but it still feels really weird in a classroom or elsewhere when I start talking and my voice doesn’t sound like everyone else’s. At this point I’ve gotten relatively used to the different kinds of accents around me and for the most part I can understand what they’re saying (my favorite new word is chock-a-block). However, it then becomes really obvious that I’m American when I start talking and I’ve become really conscious of it. I mean it doesn’t make too much of a difference, people still listen and for the most part the understand what I’m saying, but I definitely know I’m the outsider. I do have 5ish more months though, so maybe it’ll stop feeling so weird. As for coins, that’s just something else to get used to: carrying more change. The UK has significantly more denominations of coins than we do in the US. While we have 1,5,10 and 25 cent coins in common use, they have 1,2,5,10,20 cent pieces (or pence if you like) as well as 1 and 2 pound coins. They’re really kind of neat though I’ve been forced to start giving more exact change to keep my wallet from getting too heavy. Consequently I don’t have pictures of all of them, but I did upload one of a few of the different kinds and I’m sure you could Google pictures of others if you’re interested. Despite all the different denominations, the coins aren’t actually that hard to tell apart or use. They’re all different shapes, sizes, and materials to better distinguish them from one another. For example, the one and two pence coins are both copper like the penny, but the two pence is actually twice the size. So overall, not that difficult once you get used to it. The paper money is pretty cool too since it’s so colorful (another way to easily distinguish between bills). For example, the 20 pound bill is purple (my favorite).

Well those are my impressions so far. We have a reading week coming up in two weeks and I’m hoping to use that time to explore all the sites of the city that I haven’t made it to yet so I should have some pictures and a new blog post then. I’m also going to see Wicked next week so I’m pretty excited about that too. Anyway, that’s all for now. Cheers!

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