castalia: (Grumpy Bear (cookies!))
Saw the new Harry Potter flick last night in Llandudno, as it was bargain Tuesday at the cinema. Twas fun, though we had to sit way too close to the screen so I had to look away during some of the action scenes or risk a raging headache. I enjoyed it for the most part, though possibly still a spoiler )

ETA: Oh yes, also went to Plas Newydd yesterday, as they were having a summer festival thing with a reenactment group called the Jolly Jack Tars, who were there all dressed up in navy gear and showing off period weapons and things. They had cannons, which made me happy. Evidently they do reenactments at Waterloo every year, as part of the Hussars who were under the command of the Marquess of Anglesey - Plas Newydd is his house, which is now a National Trust site and does tours and such. Saw lots of lovely paintings (many by Rex Whistler - very nice indeed), tons of Napoleonic-era military clothes and memorabilia (including the uniform the Marquess wore during the Battle of Waterloo), and some very nice gardens with lovely views of the Menai Strait. Sadly, my camera chose to die on me yesterday, so all my photos are on my cell phone. I'll have to try and find the right equipment to get them off of there one of these days.

Took care of the diploma mix-up today, though they said it would take 10 - 14 days and would have to be shipped to me in the post, as this is the busiest time of year for these people. Argh.

I have had absolutely nothing to do today that was healthy and good for me. Nothing.

We all met up at noon for a fry-up, the usual English breakfast fare - egg, bacon, sausage, fried toast, black pudding, and tomatoes. Sadly, I gave away some of the healthier items, the beans and mushrooms, to Kate b/c I don't like them. I got her black pudding in exchange, so it was worth it. It looks and sounds like some of the vilest stuff ever, but omg, so good with breakfast.

We took a football/soccer ball up to the Roman camp and kicked it about for a bit, then sat down in the sun and read aloud a few chapters of the new HP book. This is my first experience with these books, but it was fun to read it with a group like that when only two of them are really reading it seriously.

All these literary and oratory endeavors made us hungry again, but of course not for proper food. Instead we went to Marks and Spencers in search of pudding. Found a hot fudge gateau sort of thing and some chocolate mousse things with a bourbon biscuit base and chocolate sauce center. Had these with ice cream and tea and generally stuffed ourselves silly with all this chocolate and sugar. Tomorrow will have to be a salad day just to make up for it, but omg, what a nice day. So worth it.

*waddles off to bed*
castalia: (Al (FMA) - woe)
After a nicely busy weekend, socially, I seem to have caught a bit of a head cold thingy. Possibly due to going from 90+ degree F weather and drought conditions to 50-60 degree F weather with torrential rain. Have Lemsip and tissues, so will try to carry on.

Went out to dinner in Menai Bridge on Friday to celebrate graduation stuff with Kate's family and Ruben's family. It was fun, but the meal part was mostly an exercise in trying to be frugal and polite at the same time, as we went to the Cantonese place and it's rather expensive even in pounds, let alone dollars. I always feel annoyed having to pay a lot for food I'm not even particularly fond of. Still, I found something neutral and muddled through.

That didn't stop me from being something of a target all night, though. They had the revolving things in the middle of the table, and my table was "the table what spilled things" due to that. I had a glass of water knocked over which of course poured completely into my lap. Kate lost two glasses of red wine to the revolving table and Ruben's elbow, one only onto the table but one went all over both of us just as I was drying off from the water. Not a great night in that respect. Oy.

Saturday was a mostly free day for me, so I finally got some grocery shopping done for while I'm here. In the evening we all trooped over to the Catholic Chaplaincy where Christiane and her family hosted a meal for everyone. They made pizzas and we all chipped in for everything else. Finn made his delectable Bavarian cream again, and I managed to be very good and only have one helping.

Sunday's weather was simply dreadful. I attempted to go for a walk on Anglesey, but the bus schedule online seems to differ from what's actually running right now, so that was foiled. I went for a walk up to the Roman camp instead, and got caught in the torrential rains mentioned above. Still, it cleared up a bit in the middle and I was able to take some nice pictures. Then I hightailed it home to dry out and have some dinner (Shepherd's Pie, yum) before pub quiz at the Belle Vue. We came in fourth out of 8 teams - not too bad.

I've mapped out a bit more of my itinerary ([livejournal.com profile] keleos, you'd be proud), but a lot of it will depend on the weather and how my cold progresses. Right now I'm waiting for it to clear up a bit more (it claims it's supposed to be sunny today) and then I may head over to Anglesey to see some burial mounds and landmarks and walk along the cliffs, etc. I think I shall save the really touristy stuff - castles and other attractions - for later in the week when I feel better and can make full days of it. Tomorrow is a festival thing at Plas Newydd, with some reenactment group there doing something about Trafalfar, so I'll definitely be going to that. Then we're all trooping over to Llandudno to see Harry Potter. Heh.

Pictures soon!
castalia: (Wales)
Finally have my luggage, although it didn't make it in time for graduation and in fact arrived while I was at the ceremony. A neighbor was kind enough to take it from the delivery guy and keep it until I got home. I borrowed some clothes from Christina and wore the brown boots I'd left here last year, so I didn't look too rumpled under the gown. Good thing, too, b/c the British ones don't close in the front like all the US graduation gowns do, so whatever you're wearing underneath is totally on display. Whew.

The ceremony itself was interesting, with lots of symbolism and people carrying strange sticks and a mace and staffs and things. There was a guy who looked like an 18th century page boy or something, except far older. He had on velvet and tights and the whole nine yards.

The entire thing was conducted in both English and Welsh, and the welcome thing the vice-chancellor the president say to all the graduates when they've received degrees and are being formally acknowledged as (in our case) "masters" was entirely in Welsh. A translation for that was provided in the program book. That was very cool.

I have a little problem with my certificate which I'll have to have remedied - they neglected to add the "distinction" bit on there, and I didn't even notice until a classmate pointed out that he had his on there, and a quick glance at mine revealed the mistake. I hope I can get it fixed while I'm here, so I can take it home with me. The design is pretty simple, with the university seals and crests and whatnot, but I love the fact that my degree is also written in both English and Welsh. The Welsh is at the top and then they repeat it all underneath. <&heart>

Had a bit of a lie-in this morning, so as to recover from last night's epic session in the pub. Everyone went to the Auckland in Menai Bridge to celebrate, and it felt just like old times. I didn't feel like drinking (especially not with the exchange rate at over 2:1 right now), but it was great to chat with everyone and laugh and feel like we'd never left at all. A lot of people expressed surprise that I'd come all the way over here just for graduation, but honestly, this is the last time I think we'll ever have so many of us all together in one place, this place ever again. It's special. A lot of my classmates have had to go home today, as many could only get so many days off work, but a good number will be here throughout my visit. I said a bunch of goodbyes again at the pub last night (or early this morning, technically), which was sad but I know I'll keep in touch with these people. I've been ordered to get on Facebook, heh.

Gotta go later to Kate's graduation, and then we're all having dinner tonight, so in the meantime I'm just chilling at the house and hoping the rain will stop. I need to go and get some groceries, too, just a few things to tide me over while I'm here. It's too expensive to eat out all the time, and I'd rather not spend more than is wise while the dollar is so weak. The first few days have been expensive, what with buying a new SIM card so I can have a phone while I'm here, eating out a few times with friends, paying for the dinky reception thing they gave us before graduation (kind of a waste, but oh well), etc. At least I get paid today, and mum can put that in the bank for me. I still have the stupid temp job, so at least I won't be completely broke with no way of making some money when I get home, though my credit card is acting wounded at the moment. It's such a wuss, I swear.

I'll keep everyone updated with my goings-on over here, though I doubt they'll be all that interesting. I'm not really here to sight-see or travel like so many are assuming; I'm here to see people and to be here in this place and enjoy a relaxed vacation with my friends. I may not do anything more exciting than having a night out in the pub, or going for walks in the mountains, or seeing a film in Llandudno with the group.

Okay, and I want to see my cuttles, too. I missed those crazy things.
castalia: (Back to the Future knackered)
Happy Easter, flist, to those of you who celebrate it!

I am soooo tired. Mother and I ended up having an evening in b/c the past few days have worn us out. We've had tons of fun so far, though. She got in late Thursday after a train delay, so we mostly just got her settled in her room and went to get a quick dinner at the Black Bull. It was nice just to catch up.

Friday was Anglesey day. I had to feed the cuttlefish anyway, so I took mum over to the school to see the animals and give her a little tour of the school. We saw the ship and the rest of Menai Bridge, then walked to Church Island. After a lunch of fish'n chips at what is supposed to be the best chip shop on Anglesey, we took the bus to Beaumaris and toured the castle there. Although I'd seen the castle before and several others in the area, this was the first time I'd actually been inside so that was really cool. Afterwards we had ice cream and took a walk along the pier and through the town before going home to have a light dinner. Very nice day.

Yesterday we went to Conwy, a beautiful walled-in town close to Llandudno. We saw both the castle and the Plas Mawr house, one of the oldest and best preserved Victorian houses in Britain. Lots and lots of walking, plus a very nice Welsh cream tea for lunch - sultana scones with jam and cream, bara brith, Welsh cakes and tea. Yummy.

This morning we got up way too early to go to the sunrise service up at the Roman Camp. Despite my sleepiness, it was a very charming Anglican deal in both Welsh and English, at the top of quite a high hill in Upper Bangor. Awesome view. Then we went back home for a nap b/c 7 am is just too early to be walking up hills after so little sleep. Woke up in time to walk to Menai Bridge for a proper Sunday roast at the Bridge Inn, then back to Bangor for the choral evensong at St Deiniol Cathedral. Barely a handful of people there, but it was nice. By this time we were both pretty exhausted, so we've been lazing around all evening and got pizza for dinner so we wouldn't have to cook.

I'm probably crashing after I post this. We're walking up Snowdon tomorrow so I'll need all the energy I can muster. I may be more tired after this "vacation" than I was before it.

Haven't watched last week's House yet, unfortunately, but Dr Who was quite entertaining. Ten is very, very pretty.
castalia: (Aeryn by greensilver)
I've got a very few up here, but for the bulk of the pics go to this album hosted by one of my classmates.

My goodness, my Guinness! )

Alas, the t-shirt was borrowed but I now have one of the extremely goofy looking green hats seen in the pic of us having an Irish singalong in the Auckland. I think the horrendously orange beards really make the hats ;P

Snow!!

Mar. 1st, 2006 10:46 pm
castalia: (Lt George by wild_rice_icons)
We have snow in Bangor! Dude, and they said it never snowed here. At least it hadn't in several years - I obviously chose just the right time to come here :)

We did drive in to Menai Bridge this morning, just b/c we didn't think we'd be able to get out of the lab stuff we had to do - I couldn't believe Marie's little car got us there, but the light weight must've been in our favor, b/c we made it up the ramp to the A55 while all the heavy vehicles around us couldn't get any traction. The gritters hadn't even been out yet we got there with no trouble at all.

Anyway, despite everyone coming in anyway, neither of the profs supervising this module did so the safety officer told us we weren't allowed to do any work. Despite us telling him we'd been on our own for most of the past two weeks anyway. So we had an impromptu snowball fight in the parking lot instead. I got thoroughly pelted with snow and did some pelting of my own. It was more fun than I've had in weeks.

Afterwards we went for a walk along the Strait and to Church Island, then dropped by the bakery for some hot chocolate. I had planned to come home and read for my lit review, but lunch, a nap and lots of poking around Snopes.com later (urban legends are fascinating, I tell you), I haven't actually done much reading. Oh well.

Pics of snow (not many of the actual fight b/c I was too busy lobbing snowballs) are up in my photobucket album. Other pics of our day at the Bangor Pier are up the international students album.

Hm, I need a proper winter icon.
castalia: (Welsh)
I suck at keeping my photobucket account updated, but here are the latest uploads.

Several weekends ago, I went with a few international friends to the tiny village of Portmeirion ("Port-mary-on"), located just outside Porthmadog. It's a completely secluded village which requires tickets to enter and is one of those oddities you wouldn't expect to find in rural Wales. Regarding trivia, it's where Patrick McGoohan's tv series "The Prisoner" and Igrid Bergman's 1958 film "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" were filmed, and Noel Coward wrote Blythe Spirit while staying in one of the hotel suites. The architecture is just...bizarre, I think. The scenery is lovely, however, and we had the most perfect weather for our day out.

Pics from Portmeirion

That album also includes some pics of Caernarfon Castle, as we stopped there on the way to have breakfast. [livejournal.com profile] keleos, I took pics of the bathroom for you - I gave it 8 flushes for cleanliness, comfort, and the hysterical instructions of how to do your business that were posted on the wall.

The next weekend was spent in Aberystwyth in celebration of not having any work to hand in the next Monday. Marie, Helen and I drove down to visit Marie's sister who's doing her undergrad in maths at the Uni of Wales, Aber. We hit the pubs, stayed up late to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, then spent Saturday at the pier and the old castle ruins, with lunch at the local Wetherspoon's. That toilet gets maybe 6 flushes; despite a spacious interior and a nice window view, the toilets themselves were cramped and not terribly clean. I also have rocks for you, K, from the beach.

Pics of Aberystwyth

Another of the international students in our group is leaving this week, so we're having a party for him tonight. I hate that so many of the Erasmus students are leaving. These are the first people I met when I arrived and we all bonded so quickly. It's sad to see them go.
castalia: (Kraken)
Well, finally got my checks deposited. It wasn't as much as I wanted it to be, but I was afraid to wait any longer. The dollar just isn't doing well, and I'd rather not take a chance on it going down even more. I'll just have to be really careful with money. I'm doing ok so far, so it should be fine. Have to wait possibly a few weeks for the checks to process, though, before I can write the school a check for my tuition fees. I swear, I'm so damned tired of worrying about money.

I'm also annoyed, b/c I was looking at one scholarship I'd wanted to apply for, but I noticed something in the fine print - only US schools. Argh. There goes that, unless I want to do my PhD in the States and apply for it next year. *sigh*

I do have some good news, though. Dropped by to talk to Chris Richardson yesterday about my project, and I came at just the right time, b/c two of his other students were there - one guy doing a PhD and another who just got his PhD, and both work with cuttlefish. I got to sit down with all three of them and talk about my ideas for a project, and they seemed to think this could really work and be interesting. Might even tie in with what the other guy is doing for his PhD project. I have to write up a proposal and turn it in for approval, but as long as that goes well I think I've got Richardson as my supervisor for sure. He seemed impressed that I'd read up on the subject and knew what I wanted to do :) He said the PhD student and I might have to take a trip down to Portsmouth and finagle some eggs and possibly some juvenile cuttlefish from this guy who usually supplies them, then we'd grow them to breeding status in time for the actual project to start in the summer. Then I can set up some mating experiments and look at intra- and intersexual selection during mating, basic mating behaviour, etc. Might even do a little side experiment on various ways of transporting the eggs; we kind of brainstormed for a bit, so there are plenty of things I can look at. I'm really excited about this now!

My body always seems to sense when I finally get some downtime, or else it's just the annual pre-Christmas sinus revolt, b/c my sinuses are acting up again. I'm all tired and feverish, and I've got icky drainage yet again. Don't really have time to be sick, but if I have to be, I'm glad it's during my reading week so I won't have to deal with deadlines on top of feeling bad. At least I can sleep in if I want, which I've done almost every day this week.

Picspam...

Nov. 27th, 2005 05:34 pm
castalia: (Shiny squid)
Taking advantage of a rare Sunday off to spam you all with posts. Here are some new pics from Wales, for those interested.

Our international student family photo, as Ruben calls it. We had a low-key party last night, which was fun as I hadn't seen some of these people in weeks. I don't know a few of them, as they're new additions to the group, but some I've known since I got here. Andi, Johannes, Maria, Manis and Pawel in the back; Me, Sonke, Jake and Ruben all squished in the right-hand corner. You can also see my spiffy new SOS sweatshirt.

Another shot of the above, as someone was rude and walked into the shot in the first one.

Ruben, a fellow Marine Biology MSc student, has put up his own album of pics from the SOS, which can be viewed here. My favorites are from the Prince Madog trips, the pics from my birthday, and of course our muddy shore group from Shell Island. You can see our group photo (which is going on the cover page of our report) here.

For fandom-related picspam, go over to [livejournal.com profile] cimmerianwillow's LJ, where she's been posting wonderful screenshots from Starsky and Hutch.
castalia: (Stephen Fry by oollah)
I can't believe I didn't rec this before, but for those of you who haven't seen [livejournal.com profile] just_eunice's new Dogma vid, go here to download it.

[livejournal.com profile] cimmerianwillow, I thought you might especially like this, b/c this may be the same song you love so much. Do the lyrics on your LJ come from this song?

Anyway, yes. Movement and humor and awesome beat-whoring, not to mention some rather touching bits as well. I dare you not to tap your foot to this one.

While I'm reccing vids, check out [livejournal.com profile] birgitm's latest Farscape vid, Wonderboy. John and Scorpy and Tenacious D. No, really.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I had fish and chips rather than turkey, and spent most of the day working on the Shell Island report, but all in all it was a good day. The holiday was also topped off by snow. Actual snow. In November. Definitely new for me, but lovely. It's mostly gone now, but the mountains are still all white and beautiful. Will post pics of that soon. Also on a good note, the papers from the bank came in the mail, so I should be able to have the loan thing wrapped up on Monday. Whee!

One last bit of squee - OMGWILDWILDWESTISCOMINGTODVD!!!. Ahem. That is all.

More pics

Oct. 23rd, 2005 05:15 pm
castalia: (Shiny squid)
Pics from our offshore fishing trip on the RV Prince Madog )

Am exhausted, but it was a profitable day. It's nice to learn new things that are both fun and useful. I've never eaten some of these things before, but I'm going to get some tips and give them a try.

Today is more flailing about doing the stats for our barnacle report, and writing up the fisheries essay. Monday is more ship work (this time just taking measurements here at the pier) and writing up the barnacle report. I'm not sure how good this report will turn out, considering how little time we've had to learn about this and do it, but I'll do my best. See you all after the deadlines...
castalia: (Shiny squid)
Snowdonia, Porthmadog, and Aberffraw )

Next on the agenda - pics of Menai Bridge and the School of Ocean Sciences. And pics of our group of international students, once Angels sends them to me :)
castalia: (Default)
A little late, but here are the pics I've taken so far, as promised. Flash drives are wonderful inventions, oh yes.

Scenes from Bangor and home )
More to follow...

Decision!

Oct. 6th, 2005 05:09 pm
castalia: (D/P triumph)
Ok, I think I have a house.

Lecture today was just as boring, I'm afraid (sediment transport...ick, I want more about animals, thanks), but after dropping by the housing office again and telling them the details, I called the teacher (Christina is her name) and said I wanted the room (after hearing the price, they said I shouldn't pass it up if I thought it was a nice place). She was happy to hear that, b/c she said she liked me and that the other girl living there thought I was nice as well. I'm going over tomorrow after she gets home from work to look over contracts and such and if all goes well hopefully sign. The deposit will be something under £400 (£200 plus the first month's rent)- she'll do the math to subtract the days in October I haven't been there, and if everything works out I can move in tomorrow night.

I do feel better, b/c I think this place will be ok, the people are nice, and I've been shown a back way to ride my bike (I have an appointment tomorrow to look at a used one) so my trip into Menai Bridge will be shorter. Also, now I can start doing other stuff like get a bank account and maybe a cell phone plan and things.

*deep breath*

I think this will work. Christina seems to have a good reputation with the school, the other tenants seemed nice and no one warned me away from the place saying it wasn't good. The room is much smaller than I'm used to, but as it'll be only a home base, really, just somewhere to sleep and work a bit, I don't need much. Honestly, I wouldn't be able to fill a bigger room anyway; not like I brought much stuff with me. I'll have a bed and a wardrobe and a desk, and this way I'll have money to actually enjoy myself while I'm here.

Hm, I'm actually sort of at a loss as to what to do for the evening now. I can't do anything more about the house until tomorrow, and most of the shops will be closed, so apart from a bit of reading I have nothing pressing. Now that my stomach feels better about everything, I might try to find something to indulge in as a bit of celebration ;)

Am torn...

Oct. 5th, 2005 08:27 pm
castalia: (Ineffable by dwightredshoes)
So, an update for those of you following the sordid and possibly emo-filled saga of my housing search here in Wales. I assure you all, once this is sorted out my posts should be a bit more interesting again.

Went by the student housing office again, and between them and a few new things I'd pulled off the net, we were able to make some phone calls and set up a few viewings for me tonight. So I paid for yet another bus ticket and set off back to Menai Bridge. So much walking tonight, and now I'm exhausted. (Knackered, as many of my fellow students would say).

House #1: Two-bedroom bungalow, maybe a 5-8 minute walk from the school, just a few minutes by bike. Shared with one other girl who seems very nice and most importantly clean and tidy. Large lounge area, nice furniture, good kitchen and bathroom, a lovely good-sized bedroom, and a backyard garden. The only drawback here is really the cost. Rent is £225/month, not including bills. The meters are evidently run by some sort of cards you put credit on, so that would be taken in turns every week or so; she said it averaged about an extra £20/mo each, which is more than I was expecting for a small house. Water is, I think, an extra £16 or so a month split b/w the two of us, so it would be something around £250/month for this room. Which is...pricey. For me, anyway. Everyone else seems to think this is standard, especially for Menai Bridge.

House #2: Larger house with two floors, shared with one new tenant I've not met and the landlady who is a youngish teacher in the area. This one is in Bangor, which is less convenient for school (probably 15 minutes by bike), but more convenient for everything else. The room is much smaller, the house not as new or as nice, but it's clean. The biggest incentive here is that the rent is only £200/month, and that includes all the bills, so I wouldn't have to pay anything extra.

So...yeah. Dunno. I'm not sure I can afford the first one, as nice as it would be. It's lovely and quite close to my school, but that's over $400 a month and is quite a bit more than I wanted to spend. I'm going to ring mum and see what she thinks, but I have to decide by tomorrow b/c there were other people interested in the first one. I told the lady from the 2nd house I was interested, so I should have that one if I want it. I'd just need to get contracts and things sorted out.

I suppose I'll have all day to mull it over, since I can't call either of them back until after they get home from work tomorrow. I don't want to rush into anything, but I can't afford to wait too long, either. The part of me that wants the nice, quality home close to school says take the first one, but my more practical side tells me I shouldn't spend that much, not when I'll have other expenses that will crop up along the way.

*indecisive*
castalia: (I heart sea creatures)
It's rained, at least a little bit, nearly every day this week. Oy. Am so glad I invested in that raincoat duster.

Not much time for computer stuff this weekend, what with all the welcome week stuff at Ocean Sciences. Finally got to meet the rest of my class - there's 10 of us in all, the biggest class of Marine Biology they've ever had. 7 girls and 3 guys, I think, and everyone seems pretty nice. We got a tour of the school and did some field trips as well. We hiked up part of a mountain in Snowdonia to see Cwm Idwal (a mountain lake), went to the Anglesey Sea Zoo, and went for a walk on the beach at Aberffraw; can't wait to show you those pictures.

After all the introductory talks, everyone was suitably terrified of how intensive these programs are going to be. I have to get used to modules and the way they do assignments here. I felt good after talking to the department head, though, and I think I won't have too much trouble narrowing down a research project, b/c there's a cuttlefish lab right here; a PhD student just finished a big project with them, and they breed them, too, so I could work with that and still be specializing in cephalopod mating behaviours (even if it's not squid just yet). Also, the MB supervisor did confirm that I'm the only American student in the School of Ocean Sciences. But I did get to meet several others who are undergrads at the main school.

I think we've found a house here in Bangor, but the landlord has a very busy job so we didn't get to view it today as planned. Probably in the morning instead. It's pretty new - red brick, nice space, good kitchen and living area, etc. The agency showed us the pictures and I think it'll be perfect, despite not being as close to Menai Bridge as I'd wanted. Rent is £50/week, so it's not as cheap as I'd prefer, but still manageable. There are four bedrooms, so a guy from Ireland is joining us. I have to wonder what my mother will think about me sharing a house with three guys, but they're all very nice and most importantly neat and tidy. Some of the other places I'd looked at were full of the messiest people in the world. All of us can cook, too, so that will be nice. Hopefully we can be moved in before the weekend is over, so cross your fingers that everything goes ok with that. I really want my stuff unpacked, oy! It's getting cold and I want my sweaters.

Already there's some food I miss. English food is good, and I'm thrilled about being able to buy my favorite teas so cheaply now, but I haven't been able to find some of the things I'm used to cooking with in the supermarkets here. Black beans, for one, seem to be scarce. The hardest thing to find is going to be my favorite drink, though. I want a Midori Sour like mad, but although Midori is quite easy to find, there's no sweet and sour mix to be had at all. No one even seems to know what I'm talking about, b/c evidently cocktails aren't a huge thing here and I don't think anyone does margaritas at all. *sad*

I can, however, get all the Woodpecker cider I want. There is much happiness in the world.
castalia: (Welsh)
Ok, so things are looking up a bit, and the housing situation is looking a little better. I've joined forces with the two German guys from the hostel, and along with a girl from Spain we've been spending the past few days together hunting for a place and also just hanging out. It's been fun, and I think I'm going to like them all very much. Unfortunately they're only here for the semester as exchange students, but still, not bad. We're thinking of getting a house together until they leave at the end of February, so then I'd either find new roommates or move somewhere else. It seems to be the best option, b/c really, I didn't have a very good feeling about the Indian place. This way I'll be more comfortable for the first half of the year, I'll have plenty of time to secure another place for the second half, and all the places we're looking at are only a short bike ride away from my school.

One house was a little further away than any of us would have liked (it's that town with the longest name - yes, that one - which is usually shortened to Llanfair PG), but it was absolutely beautiful. Rent would be affordable once we split it b/w the 3 of us, and the kitchen was brand new; it's all very well kept up and the view is spectacular. Three bedrooms, a lovely living room, and fully furnished with appliances to boot. So if nothing else works out, we may take that one. We're viewing a place here in Bangor today that is cheaper and would be a better location, right in the middle of where we'll all be going. And a house just opened up in Menai Bridge for 4 people if we want to try that instead. So, yeah, we have options now, and I have good people to be with that I know I like. Much better than taking a chance with people I haven't met. We can all cook, too, and have been making group meals at the hostel which is fun.

I feel much better now that I've found a nice group of people. Johannes, Andi, Angels (there's an accent grave in there on the E but I can't figure out how to type that on these damn British keyboards) and I get along really well, and once I have my computer up and running I'll post some pictures of all of us. We took a trip to Beaumaris yesterday - one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. It hasn't even rained that much.

One thing I don't think people realize about this area is just how much Welsh they really do speak here. I'm told a majority of the population is bilingual rather than just a small percentage as in other parts of the country, and all the welcome meetings so far have been conducted in both languages. A good number of the staff and higher-ups speak Welsh, all the signs are bilingual, and it's very easy to go into any cafe or pub and hear someone rattling away in Welsh. I'll have no trouble at all finding ways to improve my skills here.

There's an international student field trip type thing this Saturday to Mt Snowdon - optional, but it sounds like fun so we may do that this weekend if all goes well with the houses. Once we get settled I can see about getting a cell phone and broadband service; some of the shops here offer some good deals when you buy both together. Then I may be able to be on LJ a bit more frequently. Hope so, anyway.

One last interesting thing? Last night I met my first fellow American in this country, an older man from Oklahoma who's here on vacation and is staying at the hostel. I've honestly seen no one else yet from the US, so we may be a scarce breed around here.
castalia: (Murray Hidden Strength)
I'd like to smack the person at the uni who told me no worries, wait until you get here and we'll help you find a place, there will be plenty left.

Um, yeah. That's a load of shite right there, thanks.

Pickings in Menai Bridge are slim, it seems. Two of the four places still listed were taken and just hadn't been updated, one I had to leave messages and am waiting to hear back about, and one is...well, it's available, and it's not too pricy, but it's not the greatest in the world. A little more run-down than I was hoping for, but I have to wonder if anything for students wouldn't be. For my budget, it's not like I can expect the Taj Mahal. I had a little tour of it last night. The only thing that worried me was that some of the lights didn't work when he flipped the switches, so I'd want those fixed beforehand. The whole thing is on three floors, and I'd be sharing with several other people of mixed genders. At least three others are also students from the School of Ocean Sciences, so that's cool. If they're doing ok there, it can't be too bad.

It's certainly old, the way most things in places like this are old. Kinda reminds me of NYC apartments. Location-wise, it's perfect - right next to the bank, maybe a two minute walk from the school, and right on the main road through the town (which is pretty small, but not a bad bike or bus ride from Bangor). If the landlord fixes those lights, I think it could be liveable. Some of the bedrooms are absolutely tiny, but a few were medium-sized and not too bad. One that was left on the second level had a desk for a computer and stuff, and it looked right out over the main street. There's central heating, mostly stacked mattresses (they looked nice enough, clean at least) type things, no headboards or anything, a shared kitchen and a few living room type areas. Nothing looked falling apart or dirty or anything, at least. It's right over the tandoori restaurant, so I guess I'd have to get used to the smell of Chinese cooking. The landlord said rent was from 40-50 pounds a week depending on which room it is, heating bill is extra. I'll have to go back today, take a look at the contract and ask more questions, then I suppose take a copy over to the student advice center on Monday to get them to look at it before I sign anything.

Oy, I hate this. Once this is taken care of, I'm sure I'll be fine, but I hate not having a place yet. It doesn't help that this is my first time apartment hunting, so I don't really know what to expect.

In fannish news, I'm steadfastly ignoring all the posts about last night's Sci-Fi Friday, since I won't be able to watch any of it until I can get my own 'net access (a few places here in Bangor advertise broadband for about 10-15 pounds a month, so I may try to fit that in my budget) and can download the eps. *jealous, omg*
castalia: (Welsh)
Hi from Bangor! I've made it here safely, though not unbruised (I hate my luggage with a passion, I really do). The youth hostel where I'm staying for the moment has shite internet service, so I've only just now found a proper internet cafe where my gmail will actually load. This week I'm mainly wandering around the city getting my bearings and looking for a place to live. I'm looking forward to being able to use my own computer and having steady 'net access once I'm settled in Menai Bridge, not to mention setting up a local bank account to make things easier.

No surprise, of course, but it's absolutely beautiful up here. The weather has been lovely apart from a bit of rain, and the people are very friendly. I was thrilled when on my first day here I stopped in a Subway to get a cheap sandwich and ended up sitting with two older ladies who rattled on in Welsh the entire time, pausing occasionally to switch to English and talk to me a bit. I've been taking pictures (Mum saved up and got me a digital camera as a surprise bon voyage present), so as soon as I get settled I'll set up another Phtobucket account and post them. I don't register until next Wednesday, so I've got some time to kill until then.

Thanks to everyone who replied to my last post and wished me luck. I may not have time to answer you all at first, but I appreciate every one of you.

*runs to check flist before the hour of 'net time is up*
castalia: (Starbuck flail by amedia)
*FLAIL*!!

Now I know why people kept asking if I was nervous yet and then eyeing me and saying I was oddly calm about it all; the panic stage was just delayed a bit.

Am packed, though tenuously. My original plan of one large suitcase, one smaller one, a duffel carry-on and my LLBean travel bag was dashed to bits by the realization that the duffel was too small to do me any good. Thus a trip to Walmart to get a larger duffel; but of course, that meant two huge bags to deal with plus carry-ons, and the thought of trying to struggle with all of them while on the Tube and the trains seemed impossible. I've eliminated what I think I can live without, so now there's the two large bags and the travel bag for my laptop and essentials. Both the large ones have wheels (they can be up to 70 lbs each before any extra fees get added on), so I think I'll be ok.

Gah, I have to leave so many books behind. I managed most of my CDs and a good number of DVDs, but still. Ouch.

Am terrified of dealing with luggage on the Tube. Absolutely no idea what to expect, but I am armed with maps and advance train tickets, so I should survive somehow.

I hardly ever cry, but I think I've made up for years' worth over the weekend. The stress of it all and the prospect of really leaving home for the first time has finally hit me, I think. Managed to hold it together through the Eucharist this morning despite Father Joel's little speech about me leaving, everyone's comments about my singing (we did a special anthem we'd been working on forever and for communion I sang "I Am a Poor Warfaring Stranger" and made Sandy cry), and all the hugs and goodbyes. Several more people came up and gave me cards and money, but it was Pat who made me break down when she took me aside and gave me what should be a proper family heirloom: a crystal and silver rosary from Ireland which she had blessed by an Irish monk when she and her husband visited the country. I'm to take it with me on the plane. The response to my leaving has been rather overwhelming, and I feel very blessed right now.

Not blessed enough to avoid panic, of course. Just a bit. I need a Hitchhiker's Guide of my own to tell me not to panic in large, friendly letters.

[livejournal.com profile] cimmerianwillow will be here at 8:15 or so, then after a quick trip to the bank it's off to Knoxville. My flight is at 1:10, with a connection at Dulles in DC, and I should arrive in London around 6:20am their time. I'll be staying at the Bangor Youth Hostel at first until the student housing office can help me find good yet cheap accomodations. I'm wireless equipped, so I'll try to post when I get there and keep you all apprised.

And now I need a nap. See you all soon.

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Castalia

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