What did I do today?

UK Uni Champs 2010 – Semi-Finals vs. Sheffield

My first time battling in a jam (I don’t wanna show the horrendous first round I did when I crashed haha).

Sorry for the lack of updates–more about this and my weekend in Edinburgh later! With plenty of pictures to come.

Advertisements

A collapsed lung, Wayne Rooney and Amsterdam: recap of the past week

Last Last Saturday-Sunday: Chinese New Year! Year of the Tiger. On Saturday, cooked dinner with a bunch of friends, of which I made scallion pancakes–a recipe I learned from my mom. Everyone had something good to say about them so I must’ve made them right!

Sunday, I woke up reallllly late. We ate dinner together at a Chinese restaurant called Red Chili. If you didn’t know, they don’t tip in restaurants here–thankfully. The service is pretty bad, with most servers being unattentive and unenthusiastic, with a plethora of communication problems. The food was decent though–not typical American-Chinese fare–highlighted by dishes including clay pots (mixtures of meat/seafood with vegetables in sauce stewed together) and frog legs (ask anyone who’s had them and they’ll say they taste just like chicken). Afterwards we watched Mulan in someone’s flat.

Monday: Someone suffers a collapsed lung during bboy practice. Dancing is serious stuff guys!

Wednesday: I discover that the local grocery store, Sainsbury’s, has donuts for 69p (about a dollar). Five awesome sugary donuts filled with jam (“jelly” here means “Jell-O”)or apples for 69p is a huge steal, and they are actually better than almost any donut I’ve had in the states.

Friday-Sunday:
I leave for Amsterdam! I get there at night after all my classes, traveling with a group of about 20+ exchange students. We organized it (well, my friend Stephen basically did) all by ourselves, independent of our exchange program. Yay for my first international trip while abroad!

Although Amsterdam may be known as a place of tulips and canals to the older crowd, unfortunately amongst college kids it is known as a haven for marijuana (sold under “coffee shops”) and legal prostitution. (Do not worry, mom–I did not use either of these Amsterdam goods.) The hostel that we stayed in was actually near the very middle of the Red Light District where almost all the prostitutes are (ironically the hostel is a Christian hostel with optional Bible studies every night at 11:30). Although this area obviously has the connotation of being very dangerous and unsafe, I don’t think I ever felt that way due to the strong regulations by the government and the prevalence of police in the area. Most of the people in the area are just creepy old men or tourists who point and giggle at the sight of the area (we were the latter). The district has a pretty interesting history with a bunch of unique tidbits. The street our hostel was on actually was for transgendered prostitutes–evident by the blue lights near their windows in addition to the red ones. I am somewhat (actually, very) proud that I was able to recognize on my own that they were all guys before being told about the blue light.

Aside from the seemingly corrupt sights, I also went to a few museums. The first one was the Rijkmuseum, featuring a lot of interesting arts, with a focus on their Rembrandt exhibit (including the large “Night Watch” painting). It was quite a hefty fee of 14 Euro though, but the artwork was impressive nonetheless. I also went to the Heineken factory/museum which was actually probably the highlight of the trip. They take you all around the factory and museum and show the history of Heiney and how it is made–from making the beer to bottling it. They also give you tips on how to enjoy a beer and things like how to tell if your glass is clean. Comes with 2.5 free beers as well! Well worth the 15 or so Euro. The last museum was the Anne Frank House. Quite depressing, but interesting as well. Took about an hour to go through the entire house. Their hiding place was actually quite large–I always thought it was like some really small cupboard or something. But it’s pretty crazy how they had to hide there and how long they were able to. Probably the most striking thing I remember is Otto Frank (Anne’s dad) talking about how he never knew some of the emotions and thoughts that her daughter had until he read the diary after her death–and how parents often do not really know who their children are.

Amsterdam was pretty cool although, surprisingly, not as “crazy” as I thought it was. When half the city is high it tends to have a mellow mood. The smell of marijuana is everywhere in the city–one of my friends said they even smelled it in the Anne Frank house. Also, if you come, you must try the fries with mayonnaise. Really unhealthy, I know, (and yes I had fries again) but it tastes oh so good and is such a good late night snack.

Today: Went to Manchester United game, vs West Ham. West Ham is the team in the movie Green Street Hooligans. 3-0. Two headers by Rooney! After going to both Manchester teams’ games, I have to say Man U is much more energetic (73000 people in attendance) and more positivity (Man City berates all of their players, I feel). I probably won’t be going to a football match for a while though–time to save money for Spring Break!

No pictures for now, but I may update soon with some. Until next time!

Lake District Panoramic

From 2 weekends ago but I didn’t post it. Click twice–first to see the full blog post–then click again to see the full size.

First football match!

After the lethargic entertainment that was Super Bowl Sunday, I went to the Manchester City vs. Bolton game on Tuesday. Student tickets were only 10.50 pounds–not bad at all. We sat in the 2nd row from the corner kick! The thing is for soccer games you actually want the higher up seats (but not too high) so you can actually see the game. Honestly though I liked being so close to the action.

I don’t really know much about Premier League soccer but it was an enjoyable time. Mainly a lot of old British people cursing though…and it was COLD! Imagine sitting outside for almost 2 hours. I went to wash my hands under hot water at half time so I could feel them. (I bought gloves the next day).

Anyways Manchester City won 2-0. Bolton wasn’t really that good…actually, Manchester City didn’t play too well either. But hey, had to go to a football match while I was here, right? (I actually got tickets to a Manchester United game too, but that’s next next week)

The second week of classes have also finished. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are pretty long days for me…kinda wack. Some of the lecturers here are painfully dry, even though the subject actually may be somewhat interesting. I’ve also noticed that it seems as if students don’t really pay attention. Lectures are actually non-compulsory here (although I still go to all of them…I mean I’m paying for it…) so a lot of people don’t come to class–my Marketing Research class had about 40% attendance. The people in class end up doodling a lot, reading the paper, texting, etc. etc. You’d think it’d be ultimately unproductive, but apparently they are doing something right–US News ranked the University of Manchester 26th in the world.

This weekend is going to be a relaxing one for me as I’m going to take it easy, and try to save money for where it will count the most–travelling. The next few weekends begin a whirlwind of destinations and adventures!

And now, pictures…

Stadium

View from my seat

This is called Donner Kebab on Naan–really filling, I could not even finish it. The naan (bread) is probably about a foot wide if not more. Just roll like a taco and eat it.

Hehehe

Chrome R8 I saw on the street. I actually saw this on a bus ride but didn’t get a chance to take a picture–luckily I saw it again on the streets!

Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday was pretty nice. Woke up at around 11ish and had dim sum with some friends at the Chinatown in Manchester. I hadn’t had dim sum in a longggggg time so I was definitely ready for some. If you don’t know what dim sum is, it’s a way of eating Chinese food through a lot of small plates–I guess Spanish tapas would be the best analogy. It’s reallllllly good. You pay a la carte, and usually there are actual carts rolling around where servers offer you food. Unfortunately there were no carts in this restaurant (I’ll have to try the other popular dim sum spot in town next time). My favorite dim sum dish is probably the rice noodle rolls with shrimp–essentially just shrimp wrapped around thick rice noodles and then covered in sauce. The picture (not mine) probably looks non-descript to most of you but it’s making me hungry looking at it. Mmmmm.

After that I decided to play basketball with some friends for some hall practice. Basketball here is a lot different from the states–I’m gonna have to say the UK people are pretty soft. Lotta jump shooting and not a lot of driving to the basket. Just pretty sloppy, and the court was dingy as well. There were a lot of people in the practice but none really particularly stood out as “good”…kinda disappointed. Not sure if I’ll come back after that, as I’d probably be too busy to commit anyways with extensive travelling plans coming up. I am still glad I went to play though, as I haven’t shot a ball in the past few months…

After that, I went back and took a shower, then headed to dinner with some other students–they are good cooks. We had to eat fast though…to get ready for the Super Bowl!

The biggest dilemma was finding a place that would show the Super Bowl. Obviously, American football is not big here (or anywhere outside of America, really). Ended up finding a bar near the center of the city and got there with about 8 minutes to go in the 1st quarter.

You really can’t realize how complicated football is until you try to explain it to foreigners. I had to explain it to my friends from Australia and Canada and it just seems like a ridiculously complex game. Like all the downs, 2-point conversions, safeties, onside kicks, what a tight end does, penalties, etc. etc. Makes me wonder how long it took me to understand it!

I do have to say that it was a really good game. I was happy the Saints won (so as a Cowboys fan, I could say we beat the Super Bowl champions in the regular season). Colts already got their shine a few years ago anyways. The game did feel REALLY long though because we don’t get the Super Bowl commercials over here! Instead each break was filled with commentary and analysis of the game–pretty boring (although probably not as boring as The Who’s lackluster halftime show).

Pictures:

Making dinner

Results

True true.

What the Super Bowl does to non-Americans

Heading to a real football game tonight…gonna try to take a LOT of pictures!

I ate a French fry today…

Ah, another few days without any updates. Anyways, here’s the important stuff from the past few days…

  • Officially finished first week of classes. Went to all of them (pretty rare here actually). I ended up dropping one because I only need to take 5 and the 5 I am taking now count towards my major–makes sense. All the classes are pretty chill, all are pretty much 100% final examination essay though. One of my classes is taught in a church!
  • Met more and more bboys. They are pretty insane over here–I’ll be honest, I thought they wouldn’t be as high caliber as in the states, but they are all really solid from what I’ve seen. Not even too much difference in style. I think it’s very interesting that although there are distinct cultural differences from our respective countries that dancing is pretty much universal and familiar among us.
  • Got a little bit sick. Stuffy nose, cough and such. But I’m on the rebound now (thanks to DayQuil), so no need for my parents to send e-mail me after they read this wondering if I’m ok…(which they probably would have done if I didn’t write this…or probably will anyways). As a result of getting sick I didn’t go out on Friday, but seeing as I went to nightclubs Monday and Wednesday as a part of the “Welcoming Week”, it wasn’t a big deal. I needed to get some sleep anyways for the…

Lake District trip! Went to Wildemere today with some fellow MBS students. A lot of fun, I enjoyed the town. Perfect place to retire in, really, if the weather was like it was today (sunny, bright, cool lake breeze, not hot not cold). I took advantage of the scenery with a lot of photos.

I also ate a French fry today! Not exactly pioneering news, but the background story is that I haven’t had a French fry in about 5-6 years (I don’t even know anymore). It started as a New Year’s Resolution to stay healthier and ban the ubiquitous fry from my diet. I just kept up with it every year because I figured there was no point in ruining a good habit. I finally broke it today though–I figured there was no better time than to be having Fish n’ Chips in UK in the Lake District. No regrets…(and even if I did, I could claim it was a “chip” and not a “fry”, right?)

And now, on to the pictures…

Yummy scones and tea…REALLY good tea.

Joyce and a swan that she didn’t wanna get too close to

My stereotypical view of Britain before I came here: a Mini Cooper speeding through the curvy roads of a posh small town

Bargain Booze…PLUS

This would probably be my friend Cassie’s favorite store.

Thought of my friend Terra…

Cute

I LOVE this macro–dew on moss

They take their crap seriously *drum hit*

My camera’s zoom is toooo nice. The next two pictures are from the same spot, 0x zoom and then 10x.

First fish and chips in the UK!

I look mischievous.

Weird ketchup packets here

We named it Alistair the Womping Willow

Struggle

Until next time.

First day of classes…

Had my first class today. Classes started monday but I didn’t have any so today was my very first one–it’s in a rather huge lecture hall. The professor is cool, and its 100% final exam–2 essays out of 4 given prompts. Doesn’t seem bad, but I’ll probably drop it because I only need to take 5 classes (signed up for 6 right now).

I also bought Man City vs. Bolton game tickets today for next Tuesday night, should be a lot of fun. Man U tickets are too hard to come by!

I guess the highlight of my day today was bboy session–finally got to dance for real! It’s this place in an area called Hulme where it’s just a dance center. It’s really awesome, all the bboys were very nice and it gives me a place to improve, met a lot of cool peeps. One of the bboys is going to France, Austria, and Denmark in the coming weeks and said I could tag along–I might have to take him up on that offer!

Last night was another Business School welcoming event with an event at a club called Entourage. It’s in the center of the city, it was pretty nice place, although I didn’t really like the DJ that much. I’m kind of disappointed that they play a lot of American music here–I hear it too much! I am starting to get used to the popular European tracks though, particularly the house songs.

I actually ended up getting into a cypher battle with someone…I mean I took it competitively but it was all fun. Can’t exactly do much in a collared shirt on a non-smooth floor though. Ended up being pretty fun–met some more exchange students–and came back around 2:30 to get some more 2.50 pound pizza! Man such a great deal.

I’m getting into the routine now and I’m starting to love this city.