(click on photos to enlarge if you want!)
What a weekend.
I went into the center of Norwich for the first time for grocery purposes. There are a few small stores on and near campus, but Norwich city has basically everything a person could possibly need located in a large but compact shopping center, and it is only about a 20-minute bus ride. I have to say that lugging all those groceries back on the bus and then hauling them to my flat was not a very fun experience. You don't really know how spoiled you are until things aren't done for you anymore. Man.
I came back to my flat, sweaty and slightly grumpy with no feeling in my hands due to the blood being cut off by the grocery bags, to find all of my flatmates standing together outside my door. Apparently, they had all moved in that morning after I left and were wondering who the mystery flatmate was. Minus one, they are all from around London area and are absolutely thrilled by the fact that I am from the states. Fay is a second-year international student from China, but she's here to be an actual student, not just for study abroad. As for
the others, they are all first years, which is kind of nice because first years are always so much more open to meeting people since they don't already have set friends, so it has been really easy getting along with them and not feeling like I'm butting in on friendships already made. Plus, all of us share the common sentiment of feeling like new people on campus, which is helpful.
So, Saturday night I went out with my flatmates. b*witched came to UEA campus to do a concert, which was really random, actually, because I didn't think the band still existed. The last time I listened to their music, I was nine years old. They were never that popular, although their song "C'est la Vie" was their biggest hit; don't worry if you don't know them...I wouldn't really think that you're missing out on great music or anything like that. Nonetheless, it was really fun to be out and dancing with my new friends, and the night was 90s-themed - I'm a huge fan of themed parties and the like - so that was fun. It's really awesome how well all of us get along; my flatmates are a
really fun bunch, so it won't be a boring semester by any means.
On Sunday, Sydney and I took a tour bus to Norwich (it was an open-top bus and was really fun - see photo) and got to see all of the sights. All of the photos in this blog are of Norwich City. It's really pretty; the buildings and streets have an old, historical feel but at the same time the shopping center and traffic give it a modern, edgier vibe. Some fun trivia I learned on the bus tour:
*Norwich used to be the largest city in England until London took the #1 spot
*It is on the Top 10 list for best places to shop in the UK
*Elizabeth Fry is a very important woman here (she almost single-handedly reformed the prison system)
*the house where she lived until she died is now the law school here at UEA
*there are more cathedrals here than in any other English city
*hardly anyone ever goes to church
*the wall that originally circled Norwich is still standing, although not by any means in good shape (see photo)
*people coming from overseas are considered 'strangers' while people
Roman Catholic Cathedral
of St. John the Baptist
from the UK but not from Norwich are called 'foreigners'
After the bus tour, I went back to my flat to eat my newly obtained groceries. I have to say that, despite it being such a pain, there was a certain satisfaction that I felt about being on my own. It is kind of fun. Then, my flatmates and I went to see Kaiser Thiefs, who also came to campus. The name sounded really familiar, but I didn't know their music. However, their lyrics are so repetitive that by the time a song ended, I felt like I had known it all my life.
Today, I had my first English lecture! My Psychology of Risk module started this morning. It's not a very large class - around 30 people - which is about the size of a Macalester class, so I feel right at home. The professor's name is Piers, and he's fairly young - I would guess about 30, although he does have his doctorate degree and seemed very comfortable with lecturing, as if he was very used to it, so he might be older and just looks young. Anyway, Risk is a level 3 module (there
are three levels), so I am nervous because my grade depends 75% on a paper and the other 25% on two presentations. I'm so used to having exams as a science major - presentations and papers aren't exactly up my alley - so this will be interesting.
After the Risk lecture, I had my induction into the School of Biological Sciences (lectures don't start in the bio department until Wednesday). New/international students got a tour of the bio department, bought lab coats, became familiar with how the system works. The main laboratory is absolutely amazing
. It is huuuuge! I am so thrilled about it. It's really white and pristine, and there are lots of windows, so it's not stuffy or drab at all, which I was worried about since everything here is concrete. There are 15 large lab benches, each of which can have up to six students on each side. Each lab bench has a large, plasma-screen TV mounted on the top so the lab professor can stand at the front of the room and an image of his demonstrations can be seen by everyone without having people crowd around his bench. It's really high-tech and really cool.
I found out today that both of my bio labs will be held in that lab, which basically made my day.
The UK educational system is apparently very hands-off. I have about the same amount of lecture hours and lab hours in my biology modules as I would if I were taking them at Mac, but I will have to get used to having only two hours of my psych class once every week. And there's no set syllabus, as are popular in the states. Instead, students are given a long list of possible supplemental reading to pursue on their own, and this list can have up to hundreds of articles and books from which to choose. Students are expected to figure out what interests them personally, as well as what they think is most relevant.
Also, final exams are completely different here. Instead of having finals after every semester, schools here hold them only in the spring. So, classes end early April, and then the final exam period goes from early May to early June, and students take exams for all modules that they took in that year. Since I won't be here for spring semester, my
grade will depend on what they call 'coursework,' which consists of one or two papers with maybe a few problem sets, depending on the professor's choice. This is completely strange for me to not be taking any exams and to have all of my grades depend solely on papers. Scary!
And that's basically it on this end. I should probably wrap it up. Sorry that my blogs are so long; I just always seem to have so much to say. I hope you all are enjoying my photos - it was easier than I thought once I finally figured it out.
As always, I think of you all often and hope everything is wonderful in your lives.
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