Friday, November 13, 2009

The not so bad side of high school

I was not a big fan of high school and still maintain that you would have to pay me a whole lot more that RPI tuition to relive those 4 years of my life. However, college has taught me that there are some not-so-bad parts of high school. What I'm missing the most right now is sick days. Mom says you're too sick for school = you are too sick for school. The end. Here if you don't go into the Health Center with a high enough fever, vomit while you're there, or produce a positive disease test result while you're there then good luck getting an excuse. I was out sick with a sinus infection complete with fever for the last couple with instructions to not go to class until I hadn't had a fever for 24 hours. I had a slight fever last night but I had a test this morning and the professor isn't the most forgiving guy to I figured I could muscle through it. During my exam this morning it was confirmed that my antibiotics are doing a great job killing the bacteria in my sinuses and also the bacteria in my intestines. This discovery sent me running a couple times before my TAs suggested that I finish my test later and go to the Health Center.

At the Health Center the doctor was nice enough but would only give me a note saying I was there and a paper with instructions for my symptoms instead of an official excuse. Now I'm waiting on pins and needles and waiting for my professor to tell me if, and how, I'll be able to finish my exam. Hopefully my "excuse" will be legit enough for him.

Happy Friday 13th everyone! Is it Thanksgiving break yet?!?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Round 1 of Exams: Over!

Coming back to RPI after a year abroad has been difficult for many reasons. The most aggravating of said reasons is the sheer mountain of school work I've been buried under. Sorry Brits, you may have a ridiculous exam system but you would die if you tried to keep up with an RPI work load. Knowing that I still have 3.5 more years of grad school after this semester has helped hold off the worst of the senioritis for now. I'm hoping that it doesn't come barreling through in the next couple week.

These last two weeks have marked the first round of exams and projects. It's been a very long couple of weeks with entirely too many late nights. I think I did pretty well my exams but it's still too soon to tell. I'm really looking forward to the 3-day weekend. A small break is definitely in order before things pick-up again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Senior Year Begins

I'm back at RPI after my crazy adventure overseas, which I still haven't finished writing about, and have been hit with culture shock almost comprable to the culture shock I encountered in England. I'm stilling using some English slang which is flat out refusing to leave my vobaculary. I imagine it sounds pretty ridiculous with my revived western New York accent. Reaclimating to RPI's workload has been an experience that has not involved a lot of sleep.

This is my fourth at RPI which usually means senior year. While I am graduating this year it's hardly a tradtional senior year. Fall semester is my last semester as an undergraduate. In the spring, I'll be starting my graduate research assistantship which is going to completely change the rest of my college experience. I'll participate in graduation in May and then prepare myself for three intensive years of grad school to finish my Ph.D. I know this is all well in the future but it's quickly becoming a reality.

When I started my senior year of high school I had been ready to move on for at least a year already. Now I'm flabbergasted that we're seniors and about to all start being grown ups with jobs and responisbilities. Inevitable? Yes. Do I like it? No. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to seriously start my graduate work. I'm just in shock of how quickly the years have passed and the enormity of what still lies ahead.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Study Abroad by the numbers

1 Summer Session
3 terms
2 Rooms
295 Days
3500 Miles
5 Time zones
13 Countries
3 friends from high school
37 Cities
8 languages to say "cheers"
23 English Pubs
9 entry stamps to the UK
22 Castles and Palaces
4500 Pictures
4 Suitcases
6 Transatlantic flights

Friday, June 5, 2009

Paris in the Spring

The one nice thing about the way my exam schedule is set up is that I was able to escape for a little while in between the first half and the second half of my exams. My friend Jennie and I ran away to Paris for 5 days after I finished exam four of seven.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hogwarts Exams

When I read the Harry Potter books I didn't understand why the characters were lamenting so much about exams (granted there was usually some dark wizard running around and disturbing revising but that's besides the point). Even when I arrived in England I didn't understand the look of serious concern which flitted across people's faces when exams were mentioned. Now I think I get it. In many cases the end of year exam is the ONLY exam for the course. Some classes have an end-of-term exam but not all. There are also only an average of 4 multi-part questions on an exam of which you answer three. You have to sit in the exam and weigh out which questions you think you can get the most marks out of in the time allotted. In the US my finals often had 200 possible points. These exams have 40-60 marks.

Luckily I'm such an overachiever that I've been pretty prepared for all of my exams but if I miss a section that shows out on the exam there could be serious trouble. Finals are weighted much heavier here than at RPI and while I haven't had any that are 100% of my grade, they do exist. I cannot wait for these last three exams to be over. I am lucky enough to have about two weeks off in between the two halves of my exams (that's right I have 7 exams) and will be escaping to Paris for a while and then doing some exploring in London. I am so sick of revising but I'll plug through the last three so I don't have to deal with Lord Voldemort at the registrar's office when I get back.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Royal Pavilion

The weekend I took a short break from revision, aka studying, and went to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. It was built in the early 19th century by King George IV while he was still the Prince Regent. It definitely stands out with its Indian inspired exterior, Chinese inspired interior, and from what the tour suggested may have been an early predecessor to the Playboy Mansion. I've been to a lot of castles and other grand buildings now and none of them were as over the top as the Royal Pavilion. We were allowed to take pictures inside the pavilion and there is really no way to try to describe it without them so here are some pictures of the exterior.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I decided to take a day off from studying the day after my first exam and went to Windsor Castle with my friend Liz. Liz is another American who is working at Sussex for the summer. She doesn't have any exams and I have a weird exam schedule so the two of us skipped out while the others were studying/taking exams. We didn't put a lot of thought into this excursion; just bought train tickets and figured we'd find the castle. The castle proved very easy to find and seemed bigger than some of the other castles I've visited . However it was difficult to tell since it's right in the center of town.

The castle has been the primary residence of the Sovereign for over 900 years so most of it was not open to tourists. The State Apartments, St. George's Chapel, and Queen Mary's Doll House are the main attractions. The gardens surrounding the Round tower were really pretty too. The State Apartments were very similar to all the other State Apartment's I've seen with lots of antique furniture, weapons, and paintings. One of the really nice things about the apartments at Windsor was that I recognized a lot more of the royal names than usual. St. George's Chapel was constructed in roughly the same style as King's College Chapel. However St. George's Chapel is the finally resting place of several monarchs including but not limited to Henry VIII, Charles I, and George VI, and their spouses; Jane Seymour, and the Queen Mum. Seeing names from my history book on actual memorial slabs was borderline freaky. Seeing a tomb, painting, building, or location that suddenly makes something I've read about very real is a phenomenon that I'm slowly getting used to. Queen Mary's Doll House beat the pants off my trusty fischer-price doll house. The house itself would have taken about half of my room at Sussex, and had over two dozen completely furnished rooms plus a four-car garage and back-garden. It was all beautifully made.

Visiting the Queen's residence was a really nice break from studying especially since the weather was bewautiful. The toughest part is going to be making myself go back to studying tomorrow since it's a Bank Holiday weekend which would normally mean three-day weekend, but not during exam time!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rainy Days in the UK

Anyone who has ever visited the UK has probably been warned about the how much it rains. I know I was. However, no matter how many times you hear it you really are never prepared for it. It's been eight months since I arrived in England and I still get some sort of crazy cabin fever/desire to hibernate every time we get rain for several days in a row. I have yet to experience a "pleasant" sort of rain here. Ever since September, if it's going to rain for more than about 10 minutes, it is a grey, cold, dreary rain. We're mid-way through May and it looks like the end of October out there. Unfortunately I have several deadlines looming over my head which means that I can't curl up with a movie and wait for it to stop. So please, rain, rain, go away!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Canterbury and Leeds Castle

Canterbury Cathedral

Leeds Castle

Poseidon in the Grotto

This past Saturday I went to Canterbury (like The Canterbury Tales) and Leeds Castle, both of which are is county Kent and no where near Leeds, England. Canterbury was a small English town with a huge Gothic cathedral in it. It's also where Thomas Becket was assassinated, which is way Chaucer's pilgrims were traveling there. However, no one in my group new who Thomas Becket was so the importance was lost to us. Outside of the cathedral was a pedestrian-only shopping area where my friend Claire and I got some of our favorite pub food (Bangors and Mash!) for lunch. After lunch we found a "Canterbury Tales tourist attraction" which featured all of the tales that I read in high school. It was just a tad over-priced so we didn't go in but it looked like it would have been very Disney-esque.

Leeds Castle was beautiful. Much like Warwick, it is surrounded by huge grounds which are a lot more pleasant to walk around when the weather is sunny and warm. Lady Baillie lived in the castle until the 1970s so the interior has been restored and refurbished from its original 9th century design. It is still used for meetings, parties, and wedding receptions. Although the castle felt much more comfortable than some of the other castles I've visited that are essentially a stone shell, Lady Baillie had an obsession with birds that was a little scary. Just about every room had some sort of bird decoration in it. Outside, there was a duckery, and an aviary, and several birds of prey. It was just a little bit intense. In another area of the grounds there was a hedge maze. Claire and I managed to get halfway through about three times for the guy at the end took pity us and told us how to get out. In order to get out of the maze you went through 'the grotto' which was meant to be a creepy underwater cave of some sort. The inside was pretty nifty with seashell and driftwood scupltures, but after coming from "bird heaven" it seemed really random.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

København, Danmark

I just returned from visiting Copenhagen, Denmark which is also the city where a lot of people I know are studying right now.