Thursday, December 29, 2005
Tonight was the kickoff for the Hogmanay celebrations. There was a torchlight procession which started at St. Gile's Cathedral, then headed down the Mound and on up to Calton Hill. Torches were £4 and all proceeds went to charity. We had planned to participate in the procession, but forgot about it until today at dinnertime when we heard thunderous explosions that would make one think the castle was being bombed! These were the fireworks that began the procession. We put dinner on hold and ran outside to watch. Josh forgot his torch, though (flashlight = torch).
Saturday, December 24, 2005
For those who have asked, here is our Christmas Twee. Thanks to Grandma for the lights and Chris and Sarah for the scented pine cones.
We hope you all have a merry Christmas. Thank you for the cards and calls.
Why do you celebrate?
'Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.'
'Lift up your voice with a shout...say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"
'Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Chrst the Lord.'
And our Lord says, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
We went to see Narnia today. I liked it, but Josh said he was disappointed. On our way back from the theater we got to see Santa's reindeer! They were all just standing (or laying) around. I guess they are storing up energy for the weekend.
After visiting the reindeer we stopped by the nativity at the other end of Prince's Street Gardens.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
A dear lady from St. Augustine invited us as well as some of the other newer 'young folk' over to her house last night. When we arrived she took us to her parlor to sit by the fireside and chat. She then stuffed us with a wonderful 3 course meal of smoked mackerel with salad, 'spanish loaf' (a tomatoey lamb and pork dish) with veg (potatoes, carrots, and green beans), and strawberry and raspberry fools. She then took us back to the parlor for coffee and chocolates. It was a lovely night, but we all felt that Ms. Brenda was just beginning at 11pm while we were all ready for our beds!
Brenda told us delightful stories of her experience as a librarian at the University of Edinburgh and her world travels. She also just finished a book and expects it to be published in the new year! We are looking forward to visiting with her again when she can show us slides of her coming trip to Australia and have tea in her garden.
The pictures above were taken just as we were about to leave, if you will notice the sleep in our eyes. The boys include Andy (also a student at U of E) Josh, and Peter (working for the Scotsman newspaper). The girls are Sam (the other half of Peter, working in admissions at a university), Emma (Australian, working in social services), and De. Of course, Ms. Brenda is the little lady in the front.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
The nightmare: no car!!!
I felt adventurous today (I was also craving good clementines). I packed my backpack with a shoulder bag as well as a wheeled carrier and filled up my waterbottle. Yes, I bussed it to Costkea Way...solo. My first stop was Costco, in hopes that they would do my 2x3 reprints that no one else seems to do. Costco, you let me down. Where can a person go to get something other than a 4x6 done?
So I ran to Ikea to pick up a couple of things in hopes of solving some storage problems, then back over to Costco, the problem maker. Costco is such a dangerous place to be in with no car and little money. I had my mind made up on the clementines, so I picked up 2 boxes. The tomatoes are so much cheaper, and good cheese for a good price. I said no to many things, but ended up loading my backpack with the clementines, and filling my wheeled carrier and shoulder bag with other things. Riding home at 1:30 I thought the bus would be empty, but I get on to find it is filled with school kids. Ah, well. I guess I will rest after lug my baggage up the mound to our little flat. And have fun finding space for it all!
Yes, we do have friends now who have a car, and they have already graciously taken us to Costco (they were like kids wowing over the huge pies and the 5 kilo block of cheese!), but I did want those clementines (they have become synonamous to the holiday season for me) and we do not want to take advantage of their kindness.
Well, we hope you are enjoying the snow and cold. We have had pretty mild weather today. Nearly 50 degrees, and it looks like mid-50's tomorrow. It certainly doesn't feel like Christmas weather, but it is not bad considering how much I have to be outdoors.
What are you doing to celebrate this Advent season?
Saturday, December 03, 2005
I had the opportunity to meet some of the American expats on my forum today. We met at Starbucks (where I was able to utilize my discount!) and spent a couple of hours chatting; getting to know eachother and venting about some of our frustrations with customer service and other things we have had to get accustomed to here. Erin is in the picture with me. She is the one I met on the forum before we came who has helped me so much pre- and post-arrival!
Friday, December 02, 2005
ON THE ROAD
Here are a few more of the differences we have found.
1) Driving on the left side of the road. You probably already know all about this, but have you thought of what this means to you as a pedestrian? One must look the correct way before crossing the road. I quickly became accustomed to looking right, then left, as I spent a lot of time walking around. It took longer for Josh since he locks himself up in the library every day. :)
2) Dual/single carriageway. These are the names for the 4/2 lane highways.
3) Boot and bonnet. Trunk and hood. Our friends got a kick out of saying 'trunk' when we were putting our Costco purchases in their 'boot.' You will also see advertisements for 'boot sale,' which I guess would be like a flea market.
4) Parking on either side of the road. So you are driving south-bound, carefully looking for a parking space. You are thrilled to finally spot one, but then you notice the north-bound SUV waiting for the spot. Not willing to duke it out in your 1.5 ltr car, you move on to allow Mr. SUV to become the rightful owner of the coveted parking space. He does not even have to do a U-turn because it is ok to park in either direction. (everyone drives tiny cars and SUVs are only driven by the very wealthy because of taxes and gas prices). We discovered this road etiquette when we were about to park in a spot in Ireland, only to hear a car horn blaring at us. We found that it must have come from the car sitting on the other side of the road, but they couldn't be waiting for THIS spot, could they? Sure enough, we drove off and the other car pulled into the spot.
5) Double-decker busses. We have not had the chance to right up top yet.
6) No free transfers for public transportation. The cost is .80p or £1 depending on how far you are going, but don't hope for a transfer within 2 hours.
7) Emissions tests. Cars older than 3 years have to pay £80 (about $150) every year for an emissions test. No chance of getting one of those tickets good for 2 years because you passed so well.
8) Roundabouts. Hmmm...How to descibe these. They use these at intersections rather than stop signs or traffic lights, however, traffic lights are still used on city streets and at some large roundabouts. There is a large circle in the middle of the intersection with 3, 4, 5, however many exits. Cars drive clockwise on the roundabouts. As you approach, if there is no one coming on your right, you can countinue around and exit as you need. If the intersection is busy, you will need to wait until there is room for you. There are usually 2 lanes in the roundabout. The cars in the right lane will be continuing on the roundabout to another exit. The cars in the left lane will be exiting at the next road, so if the cars coming toward you are in the left lane, you can enter the roundabout because they will be exiting just before they approach you. I didn't expect that you would grasp all of that, but I wanted to show you how confusing it is to drive for the first time here! And try doing this while driving on the left side of the road, sitting in the right side of the car, shifting your gears with your left hand! It's a wonder there are not more accidents caused by tourists. :) If you are really determined to figure out how to handle a roundabout, here is a link giving a better description than mine: http://www.2pass.co.uk/roundabout.htm Here is another great link. This is for a "magic" roundabout. This one has mini-roundabouts within the large roundabout. I can't quite figure it out, but I figure it would be 'magic' to make it through! http://www.swindonweb.com/life/lifemagi0.htm
9) Exit on the left side of the road. The exit is just a ramp, sometimes with a roundabout at the end. Australia, having much British influence, drives the same way. When they decided on having their first 4 leaf clover, they hired an American to design it. The designer did not take into account that they normally exit to the left, making it a bit confusing for the moterists needing to exit to the right. It still worked out, though.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The funniest thing I have heard is the rhyming slang. I cannot wrap my mind around it. The only sense it makes is that it rhymes. Some things don't even rhyme, unless you know where the term originally came from. Here are some examples:
'plates of meat' = feet
'dog and bone' = phone
'jam jar' = car
'septics' = Americans (from septic tank/yank
'syrup' = wig (from syrup of figs)
'Sweeney' = flying squad (specialist police unit) (from Sweeney Todd)
First of all, one does not go on 'vacation.' Once would go on 'holiday.' When I serve Americans at Starbuck I ask "Are you on holiday?" Holidays are quite extensive here. You can expect 4 weeks of paid holiday in your first year on the job. School kids have 6 weeks of holiday in the summer, but they also have 2 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks at Easter, as well at 1 week in the middle of each term.
As unbelievable as it may sound, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving here. They do, however, celebrate Boxing Day (day after Christmas) and bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night, where they put off fireworks that rival our Fourth of July! New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay and it is celebrated BIG. Here is a link about Hogmanay http://www.rampantscotland.com/know/blknow12.htm and here is the Edinburgh Hogmanay link http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/ One more thing: it is ok to say 'Happy Christmas' here.
IN THE HOUSE
Most homes are made of brick or stone.
There is not electricity in the toilets (bathroom). It is considered unsafe and illegal. I have to blow dry my hair in the living room.
It is common to turn the heat off at night. Not good for me when the heat comes on 15 minutes after I wake up on my work days!
'Mixer taps' are not common. Sinks usually have separate faucets for hot and cold.
No screens on windows.
The washing machine and drier is located in the kitchen.
It is common to dry your clothes either outside or on a clothes horse indoors.
Sockets have to be switched off and on. It took me a few times of wondering why the kettle was not heating up to remember this!
I am really enjoying my day in today. I will have to go out later to meet with a friend (at Starbucks!). It is gloomy and threatening rain, but I am sipping cider (thanks to mom), listening to the 'smooooth classical' station (nothing like WFMT though) and enjoying the strong scent of cinnamon (thanks to Sarah and Chris who sent us scented pine cones and other goodies!).
Saturday, November 26, 2005
How much beauty will we wake up to? This morning was fairly clear, so we were able to see across the Firth. We were awed by the beauty of the snow that remained on the mountains. I know it will be hard to see it in the picture, but I hoped to give you a glimpse
Friday, November 25, 2005
We were suprised today to look out our window and snow! And not just little flurries. It looked like a white out! It changed from little tiny flakes, to big fluffy flakes, to light flurries, to heavy snow storm. In the end though, it did not accumulate and, later mixed with sleet it made for very slushy, slippery roads.
Josh gave himself a holiday today as we would have had in the States and we went to go check out the christkindlmarkt (the German market). They started all of the holiday festivities in Edinburgh last night with the market, winterwonderland, ice skating, and turning on the Christmas lights. Josh was hoping for some brats at the German market, but there were none to be found and he settled for a pork steak sandwich. I spotted a big jar of pickles and became hopeful. Could they be dill? I asked what kind of pickles they were. In a German accent the lady told me, "I just learned yesterday that you call them 'gherkins' here." She assured me that they were sweet and sour and not dill. "Oh"
Yesterday we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a bunch of Americans from the University. There were about 25 adults and 15 kids at this potluck gathering where we were in someway connected to someone there. While I had the pleasure of making mashed potatoes for 40 people, I still wanted to cook a dinner for us. We celebrated our own Thanksgiving tonight. While I had most of it planned, some of it I made up along the way from whatever I had in the fridge and cupboard. Here is what we had (for anyone interested):
Brown sugar ham (I cooked this yesterday)
Scalloped potatoes with chipotle pepper (and LOTS of cheese for my husband)
Green beans and cherry tomatoes with red wine vineger and basil
Sautees mushrooms and courgettes (zuchini) with Italian seasoning (thanks to mom)
Cheddar and jalapeno scones (Josh's personal favorite)
Pumpkin pie (haven't actually eaten this yet)
I roasted my own pumpkin for the first time. We will see how the pie turns out. I know it will be stringy as I do not have anything to puree the pulp. It was an adventure, though. I saved the seeds and made Mexican spiced pumpkin seeds. Very good, if anyone is interested. I am hoping to make pumpkin bread tomorrow and take some to our friends who have never had pumpkin flavored foods.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
fried Mars bars: The battered and deep-fried candy bar is very popular at the chippies.
battered and fried sausage
battered and fried burgers (do I see a pattern here?)
eggs, lots of eggs
hard boiled eggs wrapped in ground sausage meat
meat wrapped with bacon (do they have high cholesteral or what? Good thing there's universal health care!)
long-life milk: Maybe it is available in America, I just never came across it. Refrigerate after opening.
crisp flavors (potato chips): peppered steak, prawn, sweet red pepper, chicken
tea with milk (I like this!)
jello is called jelly
blackcurrent (jam, starburst, etc)
marmite (yeast extract spread)
a traditional breakfast would include about 4 kinds of meat, sauteed mushrooms and stewed tomatoes, and possibly baked beans and toast
when someone asks for a tea at Starbucks, even though there are about 10 different flavors, they most likely mean English Breakfast
Oh, yes. Can't forget HAGGIS and black pudding
Sunday, November 20, 2005
We had the opportunity to do some hiking yesterday. We took advantage of an international students' trip to Loch Lomond in the Trossachs. It was a very cold day. If we couldn't feel it on our noses, it was proved by the patches of ice we had to step gingerly on as we were climbing.
While most of the students chose to browse the tiny town are walk around the loch, we wanted to get higher for a great view. We decided to take part of the West Highlandway
Unfortunately, it was very foggy during our entire climb, and the pictures show even less of what we were able to see. There were beautiful mountains on the horizon surrounding the loch. Despite the fog and cold, it was very beautiful and a great experience. Something we would definately enjoy doing again.
There are more pictures on the flickr site.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Friday, November 11, 2005
Last week Josh and I walked around the city a little. I took these pictures as we were walking through the Meadows. The first one shows the undulation I talked about in an earlier post. This is from the 10,000 plague victims buried here. The second picture is a view of Arthur's Seat.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Well, they are still not my vlasic or claussen, but they can satisfy the craving. I have found that some things I cannot find in a regular supermarket may be available at the healthfood store (I was looking for black beans). This healthfood store seems to be the mother of healthfood stores here in Edinburgh. I stumbled across some pickles labled 'dill cucumbers' so I thought I would try them. They are still a little sweet and taste a bit like bread and butter pickles, but I haven't even had any pickles in months, so I probably can't tell the difference anymore!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
Thank you for the birthday wishes. We didn't do anything special, but we celebrated my birthday all weekend. Josh and I just hung out together and walked around the city on Saturday. We wanted to go to the botanical garden, but typically, it was nice and sunny when we woke up, turned dark and rainy when we went out (so we decided to stick closer to home), then when we were too tired to walk more it got bright and sunny again. Josh had a small gift for me everyday from Friday to Monday. It was fun to open a present every day.
I am getting used to work now. I had a hard time for a couple of weeks because I was not confident enough to do my job without always asking for help. I am learning the ropes now and I am even starting to learn the regular customers. Some of them think it's great that I'm American and ask me how I am finding the weather. Sometimes it suprises me when people ask me where I am from because I forget that I sound different. I have noticed that I am picking up a little of their words and intonation. I find myself saying, "should I do a wee bus?" and asking "will this be sit in or take away?" by dropping my tone at the end of a sentence rather than raising it. I have some new words that I am learning, too. I will post them soon.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I can't figure out the fashion here, but the one thing that really boggles my mind is the boots. It appears to be 'the bigger (and hairier) the better.' I was shocked to see women wearing mini skirts, tights, and HUGE boots! Some, I promise you, look as though they were stolen from the abominable snow man. Hee, hee. I don't mean to make fun, and maybe this has become the fashion in the States as well. I just can't get into it.
HURRAY FOR JOSH!!
I just wanted to give props to my husband. He has been working hard on a paper on Origen for the end of the semester. He got it all put together yesterday and now he will be spending the next four weeks finalizing it.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
We decided to explore our city a little today. We finally journeyed up Carlton Hill, opposite Arthur's Seat. It provided lovely panoramic views of the city and the Firth of Forth. Though it was bright and sunny when we woke up, it became very overcast for most of the rest of the day, so pictures wouldn't do the views justice. I did post more pictures on flickr, so be sure to check them out!
We then descended the hill and headed over to the River Leith Walk, which we stumbled upon one day when I was showing Josh where I work. It was a nice escape from the hussle and bussle of the city as the walk was mostly away from the busy roads. At about midpoint we found the Royal Botanic Gardens and lingered there for a while. It is a free attraction and we plan to visit again when the flowers are in bloom. It did provide a nice place to view some pretty fall colors.
Friday, October 28, 2005
We just recieved a piece of mail threatening that if we didn't pay for our TV license we would be slapped with a £1,000 fee. They threatened that there would be an investigation and we would get a visit from one of their officers and WARNING: we can detect within 20 seconds if you are using a TV. Funny. We don't even have a TV. Anyone who owns a Telly here has to pay for a TV license for each TV (£125 per year) which pays for the 5 BBC stations that you get to watch. When you buy a TV you are registered, and if you do not pay for the license "they" come after you. I think what we recieved was just something they send to any address that has not bought a license. Good thing English is our first language because the letter was very threatening and I can see that it could cause some people a fright!
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I started to get sad yesterday as I was looking through my dearly missed cookbook and I arrived at the holiday cookie section. It was already enought that the holiday season was going to be different this year. No Christmas shopping, no snow, no Christkindlemarkt, no tree, no family, no friends, no hot spiced cider. Then I realized that I wont even be able to do my usually baking! I don't have the equipment and ingredients, and baking is difficult enough having to weigh everything (and I don't even have a scale!). This probably sounds incredibly silly to some of you. I love to bake and I guess I thought when the wind is blowing and the rain is pouring and friends and family are thousands of miles away, as least I can warm our flat while the oven is baking delicious desserts and scenting the air with familiar smells of Christmas. I know all these things don't make Christmas and we can celebrate our Messiah's birth anywhere in the world we choose to live. The American Expats talk about the 6 month slump, where the excitement has worn off and one gets tired of learning new things, being the outsider. It will only be 4 months by Christmas, but I have a feeling that may be my slump.
I realized that I forgot to answer a question of Andrea's a while back. She asked if we usually stick around campus. The University's buildings are scattered all over the city. New College is not very large with it's 2 buildings. We live in student housing about 100 feet down the street which is not New College's housing, but post-grads. That is the campus around us, so no, we (at least I) do not stick to campus. Unless I am going to a class or lecture with Josh, I am off campus grocery shopping or running other errands.
I had questions about our housekeeper, as well. For those who don't know, the building we got in includs housekeeping. We have been very pleased to have Kate here every week. I am usually here while she cleans so we chat and she tells me where I can find things. Our housekeepers clean the toilet (bathroom) and kitchen and hoover (vacuum) the living area. Kate has even offered to hoover our bedroom and wash our dishes, but I told her I can't make her do more than she has to. Our part is to just have things picked up from the cleaning area so she doesn't have to move too much around, which I am finding is not really that bad. I love how clean our flat feels after she has been here.
I just learned on Sunday as I was talking to my Aussie friend that when Daylight Savings ends they will go forward and hour! This is probably not new to many of you, but I found this interesting. I did not know that the southern hemisphere changes time opposite of how we in the norther hemisphere do. So, she said the time difference between her and her family will not be 9 hours, but 11! This whole conversation came about as she was trying to figure out which way the time will change this weekend and I said, "Fall back, spring forward." She thought it was very cleaver and I was suprised that she had not heard that before. Just thought I'd share. See, I may not be learning about philosophers and creeds, but I am learning the way the world works. :)
Sunday, October 23, 2005
It was nice to see another part of Scotland, even though it was cold and rainy. For those of you not familiar with St. Andrew's, the city if famous for it's university (which Prince William graduated from this last June) and it's Royal and Ancient Golf Club where golf was first played around 1400. There were also some ruins of a castle and cathedral. Pictured above is St. Andrew's Cathedral which was started in 1160 and plundered by supporters of John Knox during the Reformation in 1559.
I wanted to thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We were able to arrive safely with very little hassle. We were able to get settled and adjusted with reletively very little headache. I was able to find a job quickly where I already have an aquaintance! I don't think we feel that our relationship was strained because of the challenge of the move and beginning a new life. Many of you were able to give generously to help us get settled in our new flat. We are very greatful for your monetary gifts and your prayers and the other ways you helped out while we were still in the process of moving. We could not have done it without you.
ways you can pray now:
Josh is asking for prayer for competency and speed in putting a paper together.
Pray that we can form a community here where we can find support.
The winter months are quickly coming upon us and many people get depressed from the dark and cold. They are predicting a particularly bad winter this year. yeah
Friday, October 21, 2005
I was especially thrilled to finally be able to look through my scrapbooks of friends and family from home. I am having fun posting pictures of our own adventures, but we would love to see what you are doing, too. Let us know if you have a website or e-mail us some of your pictures.
I added a bunch of pictures to our photos link, so have a browse. You can click on the photos on the left of the flickr site to see the groups of pictures. You can then enlarge the pictures in the group by clicking on it.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I worked on the till (register) for the first time on Tuesday. It is a little confusing because before I do anything I have to find out if it will be 'sit in or take away' but usually they start rattling off this crazy long drink before I can do anything. I also have to learn a new way of counting out change (glad I already studied the change a couple weeks ago). There are so many denominations of coins, too! They have 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, 1pound, and 2pound.
They have an interesting machine that I would love to take home with me just because of the novelty of it. You put your money on it, it weighs it and tells you how much money you have! It has to be all the same coins and bills, but I thought it was grand and saves so much time.
Monday, October 17, 2005
We had an anniversary last week. Our fourth! We celebrated by going to a little ristorante. It was very romantic! Our first chance to get out to a real restaurant. (Ikea doesn't count!)
Saturday we hiked Arthur's Seat again. It was such a lovely day and not nearly as much wind as our first try. Before the hike I went to the local farmer's market for the first time. They did not have nearly as much fruit and veg at the markets at home would have. It was focused more on meats. There were some interesting meats: veal, venison, ostrich, wild boar. I am interested in trying the ostrich burgers sometime. They had a pig on a spit that they were carving away at. There were duck and quail eggs. It was a good time of exploring.
Yesterday the minister of the church we have been attending invited us and the other students who have started attending recently out to a small cafe for lunch. There were also a few other regular attenders. We were quite relieved to finally get to know some of the regulars as Scottish people, while they are very polite and friendly, do keep to themselves and do not want to "intrude."
I am finding I get different reactions from people when I say I work at Starbucks. From Americans I get, "Wow" "How fun" "Ooh, free coffee." From UKers I get a slight raise of the eyebrows and a polite "oh." It seems that the big, international corporations are bad and rather they like to support the small time companies, especially when they use free trade products whenever possible.
One thing I just have to mention that I always laugh at is outdoor dining here. There are many, many restaurants that have outdoor seating. It amazes me that people sit out in 55 degrees and eat their meals, chatting away wearing their gloves and scarves like it is nothing. They even dine out in light rain! I just laugh everytime I see this. I guess since the weather doesn't stay warm for long they like to enjoy it as long as possible. Only once when we had heavy rain for 2 straight days did I notice the tables and chairs were taken in.
Well, here are a couple of photos from Arthur's Seat. I will also be posting more photos on Our Photos link, so be sure to check that out. It will also include photos from our sea walk a couple of weekends ago.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
These are some pictures of Carberry Tower in Musselburgh where our Divinity School retreat was hosted last weekend. It's a 16th century family home that was donated to the Church of Scotland in 1961. It is historically significant because it is the location where Mary, Queen of Scots surrendered to Protestants in 1567.
The retreat was relaxing and entertaining. Most of my professors came and embarrassed themselves through silly games and performances. We also enjoyed the company of Micheal O'Siadhail and his live poetry readings throughout the weekend. Other activities included a sea-walk with some wonderful views of the grassy hilly coast of Scotland, a professional puppet show, and a Ceilidh dance .
Somehow folks found out it was my birthday and presented a cake and a card for me after Sunday lunch. It was a wonderful time and we really enjoyed the company of our fellow students.
For dinner, De suprised me with pizza (a luxury for us here) as well as scouring the city to find ingredients to make a batch of chocolate no-bake cookies (my favorite!). So thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes; and for the record, I'm 28. Cheers!
Monday, October 10, 2005
I don't know what time the sun rises in Chicagoland these days, but I imagine it is nearly the same here. This is the first job I have had where I had to treck to work in the dark. I was greatful when my manager asked me what kind of coffee I wanted. Yeah! Peppermint mocha. MMM. I don't think I have had so much coffee in one day (unless you count that all-nighter I pulled in college). First the mocha, then a caramel macchiato (I don't know how to make them or spell them yet), then a mocha frap with my lunch. I desired something to keep me company on the way home, but I restrained myself from coffee...Raspberry frappaccino! Oh yes, and I got to bring home my first of the weekly bags of coffee (I was sad to hear that I can't take tea or chai).
Today was the first of four days of training. Paperwork, setting up and fetching pastries, reading about health and safety, steaming milk, bussing, grinding coffee, making Americanos. Just a little of everything. Nothing too exciting. When I was reading about the dress code I had to ask what a jumper is. My manager laughed and said it is a sweater.
I don't know if it was being there for 8 hours or just the familiarity of Starbucks, but I almost felt shocked as I walked out of the store and realized I was in Scotland.
Friday, October 07, 2005
So, I will begin next Monday and start off with 2 8-hour shifts a week and I guess sometimes I will pick up a third day here and there. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. It is really liberating to finally have a job (sort of ironic, huh?). And best of all....I finally got my mocha! :)
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I felt rather overwhelmed at this meeting. It was the kick-off meeting of the year, so it was geared towards new members with tours and sign-up tables. The overwhelming part of it was how extremely SCOTTISH is was. We have not been totally submerged in anything where we were totally surrounded by Scottish folk (there are other international students at church and New College is mostly international students). It is not that it is bad to be surrounded by Scottish folk, but it sort of gave me that shocked feeling of when someone splashes a bucket of ice water in your face. I felt like I stuck out like a soar thumb, even though I look just like everyone else and I purposely didn't speak to anyone so as not to uncover my identity (though I am sure that I had a big sticker on my forehead that had "AMERICAN" written on it).
Another aspect of the overwhelming feeling is that I have not truly done photography for photography's sake in well over a year and here I am forcing myself to do it and expose myself to criticism. And if you didn't notice the from the previous post, cost of film is high, so I have to make every snap shot count!
I feel that this could easily be something that I would love to do, but feel too scared and inept to pursue it without forcing myself to feel a little discomfort for a while. I do like what they have to offer. They have a darkroom and a studio which are both available to members 24/7. They have a digital en suite where you can play around with their software and print your photos out (you supply your own paper and pay 1 pound to cover ink). There are competitions where you can have your work critiqued (which scared me, but was also one of the draws). They have a small library where they supply various photography magazines and books.
Just another new thing in a new country.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
chicken - about $2/breast
Starbucks - $5 for a tall mocha
Payless sort of shoes - $30
small candy bar - $1
lunch at a casual restaurant - starting @ $20/plate
"budget" soup and sandwich - $10
film - $10
film processing - $.40/print
dollar store towels - $10
cd - $25
books - very expensive
laundry - $2 for wash, $2 for 30 minutes in dryer (which hardly dries the clothes)
Needless to say I have not had a Starbucks since we got here. I could really go for a mocha!
Fortunately, I have been able to find some things very cheap. I pay about $.50 for a loaf of bread (but we go through bread like lightening now!). We have been living mainly on some of the staples I can get a good deal on. I managed to keep our food budget at or below what we were spending in the States, although I am now becoming more familiar with what is available and have been doing a little more cooking. :)
Sunday, October 02, 2005
We made a little treck today up to Arthur's Seat. Just about one mile down the street from us, next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a beautiful park with some hiking opportunities. We decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and take the hike we had been wanting to do since we arrived.
We persevered the wind and the rough terrain (though we found a much easier path on our way down) and took in some beautiful views of the city and mountains on one side, and the Sea on the other
side. We were huffing and puffing on the way up, but eventually we will be able to skip right up like several others who jogged past us. :) Take a look at more pictures by clicking on the photos link.
I also wanted to share something the minister said today that I chuckled at. He was talking about our young congregation in the old city of Edinburgh, then he said, "After all, we are only 200 years old." Can't say that in the States! Today he brought out a book that was made as a gift for the church 100 years ago when they moved into their new building. The book was remeniscent of the Book of Kells in Ireland with the ornate designs and the calligraphy and gold leaf accenting the pages. It was very beautiful and worn. It seemed like something that should be in a glass case rather than letting us parishoners handle it.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
We finally made our long-awaited trip to Costco! Oh, yeah. IKEA was right next door, so we stopped by there as well. Can you imagine?
IKEA was a bit more familar as they had similar things to our stores in the States. It was a little smaller and a LOT more confusing! I think they try to get you lost on purpose. Costco was pretty familiar, but definately British. I couldn't deny it when I saw the guy carrying a huge jar of hard boiled eggs, and the haggis and the mincemeat pies...
Well, the familiarity began with the prices. Our brains first thought, "This is a little more like it," but then we realized we had not done the conversions yet! :) They had the same trail mix that Josh likes for about $20 (only about $8 in the States). We managed to get out of Costco only purchasing potato scones and baguettes.
We also had our first experience on the bus. Having used public transportation in Chicago, we kind of had an idea of how things worked. We looked at a map, figured out the fare, and headed out to the stop. The stops within the city have a little ticker telling you how long until your bus should arrive (and they are on time!). We were used to being able to get on a bus within just a few minutes of arriving at the stop. We looked at when the bus would be coming. 34 minutes! And it was cold and we were underdressed. But we endured. Fortunately I asked the lady waiting with us which bus we needed for Ikea just to make sure. She told us she was taking the same bus and that she was getting off at the stop before we should get off, so to just watch for her. After a few minutes on the bus we realized that they do not call the stops! I don't know how you are supposesd to know where to get off if you are unfamiliar with the area. From what I can tell it doesn't seem that you get any free transfers, either, but you can get a day pass for little more than 2 rides. Well, I guess it will take a little trial and error.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Since you asked for it, I will give it and you can do what you want with it.
Jr. Mints or York peppermint patties
chili cheese fritos
cheetos (not cheese puffs)
instant chocolate pudding
cocoa powder (for baking)
beef jerky (not beef sticks)
grated parmasian cheese
pizza dough mix
homemade chocolate chip cookies! (I guess you would have to send that air mail)
film (400 speed)
fabric scraps for quilting
This is all I can think of for now. I will update it as I think of things and you can check here later. Some of these things are available here, but they are rather expensive, so if you would like to know which items are just not available you can e-mail me.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Andrea requested a post about our everyday lives. Not much exciting there. It is pretty predictable right now. I will talk about our meals first, because that is the easiest and most predictable.
For breakfast we have porridge and toast with tea. Sometimes we have OJ. For lunch we have sandwiches and an apple or orange. We toast the bread for a little variety. Living on the edge, I know! For dinner we usually have soup. Since we don't have much room in the fridge for leftovers or ingredients awaiting to be cooked up, I usually cook 2-3 dinners per week, buying the ingredients that day. The other days we finish up the leftovers.
Simple. I am not kidding about how predictable it is. We go through bread like lightening! Good thing I can get it cheap. About $1 for a loaf of brown bread.
Josh only has one 9:00 class, but he still keeps to a 9-5 schedule. He usually spends his time in the library, but sometimes he reads in our flat. It was challenging for me to learn not to disturb him every time some crazy thought popped into my head. We live close enough to the library that Josh can come home for lunch.
I have been spending my days grocery shopping (which occures nearly everyday) and looking for a job. I usually have plenty of time to explore the city, too. Josh was suprised at how well I knew my way around. I have already given tourists directions on 3 separate occassions! I have to spend a little time going through my recipes to find something I can make with the ingredients I know are available. I am not used to the selection yet. I am greatful for those of you who sent me some recipes. I just have a small selection right now as I am waiting for our boxes of books.
Our evenings are pretty low key. We talk and read. We had been spending a lot of time in the computer lab getting business done, but now we are fully hooked up in our flat, praise God! Once in a while we might venture out into the city, but Josh is still recovering from his cold and the temperatures in the morning have only been in the 50s.
We had a little spice added to our schedule this week as New College is hosting a series of lectures on Biblical criticism. Dr. Barton from Oxford has been invited to give the lectures. The lectures are just read and a resident professor is asked to give a rebuttle after the lecture. I kind of laugh at that because it just doesn't seem very inviting to ask someone to come give a lecture, then rubuttle it. Maybe that's how they do it here. It is a great environment for open discussion.
Our pace of life has definately been brought down a few notches. Of course we don't really have friends and other committments right now, but it is nice to sort of take it easy right now.
Monday, September 26, 2005
I think I like it here. This is my first experience studying at a British university and I appreciate the leisurely approach to learning. The standards for scholarship are first rate, but I don't miss the rush and stress of the American university. Even though my programme is taught rather than research, I still have an incredible amount of freedom to direct my studies how I wish. I suspect I will learn all too soon the subtle differences between the British essay and the American term paper.
This semester I only have three classes which meet once a week for intervals of two hours each. The reading is about two entire books each week for each class. My classes are small and personal. Several of the doctoral students have sort of taken me under their wings to get me aquainted with New College and how to proceed with my studies. I've really appreciated their encouragement and fellowship. They have mostly given me positive feedback on their experiences here and I sense very little cynicism. Refreshing to say the least.
Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and support leading up to our move. I think we rode that as a wave crest through all the stress and details of moving from one state to another, then moving across the Atlantic. I've become keenly aware as to how much an overseas move really is a community effort. So thanks again. Please post or email from time to time!
Sunday, September 25, 2005
We were able to take advantage of one of the trips sponsored by the International Student's Center (it still feels strange to be called an international student). We journeyed to a little fishing village/resort town called North Berwick (pronounced bear-ick). It was only about 1 hour out of Edinburgh. We stopped by come castle ruins before entering the town. Oliver Cromwell tried his best to completely demolish the castle. He did a pretty good job! It was in a beautiful location though. We then went into the city where Josh and I were not too attracted to the restaurants and touristy shops so we spent most of our time on the shore. We were bundled up in coats and gloves but the natives were out there in short and t-shirts. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw mum allowing their kids to be out there in shorts and shirt-less! I saw a dad with a young baby - just shirt and trousers with no hat or blanket. They certainly don't bundle kids up like we are used to.
It was so peaceful by the Sea and the water was so calm. We sat on some rocks and watched the tide come in.
Near the end of our stay we spotted a family hunting crabs. They just turn over rocks in the water pools to look for something moving. We decided we'd give it a try. We couldn't figure out at first what to look for. One of the boys came by to show us his collection. He probably had 10-15 little crabs in his small container. Finally we flipped over a rock to find a tiny crab about the size of my pinky finger.
I mentioned last week that we visited a church called St. Augustine. We visited again this week to learn more about the church. It does feel rather odd that we are nearly the only "youngsters" there, but we like the idea of going to a local church and we like the effort they make toward unity. I think I mentioned that we talked with a social worker from Australia. We had decided to invite her over for lunch after service. She accepted our invitation (despite having to buy us bread as we were completely out and had forgotten to bring money with us!). It was a lovely visit with Emma and the day actually went too fast. We chatted around a cuppa and before we knew it it was already 5:00. We laughed about the differences we have found here and Scotland and she gave us some insight into some of our queries. I think we have found a friend in Emma.
I really, really would like to get some pictures up soon! They are all on our computer and I am NOT on our computer. Whenever we get this internet situation figured out...I promise!
Friday, September 23, 2005
So, here I am again stuck in the computer lab...
I am just going to do a quick list of some of the differences I have seen so far in the language. Yes, they do speak English here, though sometimes it is hard to tell!!
bathroom.......................................toilet or WC (water closet)
vaccum......................................hoover (would you like me to hoover your room)
garbage...................................rubbish ("please bin your rubbish")
vegetables....................................veg (fruits and veg)
ground beef.................................mince meat
sharp cheddar................................mature cheddar
thank you.....................................sometimes 'cheers' or 'alright'
college.........................................University or Uni (NEVER school)
write a paper.................................write an essay
nursery (church).............................creche (pronounced cresh)
line............................................queue ("are you in the queue?")
thrift store....................................charity shop
resume.........................................CV (curriculum vitae)
greasy spoon..................................chipper (fish and chips)
underwear.....................................pants (don't confuse the two!)
"Are you hiring?"............................"Have you got any vacancies?"
(Be careful saying that at the hotel!)
I kept this list over the last couple of days as I thought of things. I wanted to share it with you before the list got lost or too long.
I will try to get pics on here soon!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Sunday, September 18, 2005
After church we were invited to have tea, coffee, and biscits with them. They people were very friendly and we ended up chatting with various people until well after the church doors were locked. One of the elderly ladies took it upon herself to introduce us to the other Uni students whom she had just met herself. We spoke for a while with a young lady from Australia who is not a student right now but a social worker. We found common ground on this subject and compared how social work is done here to how it is done in Australia and in the States.
After expanding my social life to that outside of the Uni, I am finding myself rather out of place as far as education. All of the women I have met (other than the undergrads and post-grads) already have their Master's and many are working towards their PhD. Now I find that this is the case not only within the Uni society, but also without. It is almost assumed that I am a student as well. When I say that I am just working I almost feel ashamed that I don't have a particular line of work that I am looking in. People are highly educated here, and the system makes it easy for them to be. The cost of tuition at any UK Uni is subsidised for UK residents.
Now, about my title. Before we arrived we had heard statistics that the church in Scotland is disappearing. One congregation a week folds and at that rate they predict the church will be gone by the year 2042. We definately saw evidence of that as we walked the streets our first couple of days here. It seems that on nearly every street there is an old, massive church building that has been converted into a theater, hostle, or restaurant. We would find this also in Chicago, but nothing like this. The church we visited today I think is a case in point. The church is "literally" dying. There are the elderly faithful, but only a few from the generation after my parents' and younger. It is a sad thing to see in such a "Christian" nation.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Josh has finally registered for his classes today. He has 3 classes and one of his profs gave him an introductory Latin book in the event he should choose to pick up Latin. Hmmm...I just might pick that book up myself! Well, it may not sound like a heavy load, but I saw the syllibus for his core class Counsels, Creeds, and Controversies. Most if his time will be spent reading. He already has reading to do for his first class on Tuesday (Monday is a University holiday).
We have already consumed loads of tea, usually with breakfast and sometime before or after dinner (which is actually called tea here) at which time we have tea and bisquies or digestives (cookies). They are really big on cookies here, which is great because it is a cheap dessert, but I am already dying for some other kind of dessert. I would like to bake something, but I have not brought myself to buy pans yet or figured out what I can make with ingredients that are available to me (and affordable).
We have learned (rather the hard way) that pedestrians do not have the right of way at intersections. A few times we have tried to cross while no cars are waiting in the intersection, only to be nearly run over by a little car turning. We have learned to look 4 ways! I think we have also gotten it down to look to the right first when crossing a road.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
We may have arrived pretty smoothly (except the one hour of straight turbulence on the plane!), but it has been a week of headache. We found out on Monday when Josh tried to matriculate that he was not even in the system! Apparently there has been a "hiccup" in the system, which caused all files of those who applied at New College in 2004 to simply remain there rather than getting into the central registration computers or whatever. To save you the long story of it, Josh was sent to a number of different buildings all over the city and was finally able to matriculate today (Thursday). Without being able to matriculate we basically couldnot to anything (no internet, no attendance to certain buildings...). This caused a bit of panic for Josh as they said he could not sign up for classes until Friday! He did, however find out that they changed the first day of classes from Thursday to next Tuesday (funny that they can just change a thing like that!).
So, Josh is finally matriculated, but everything takes about 48 hours to "take" here. He still cannot get into certain buildings and we cannot register for ResNet (the intranet system). I am dying to tell you all about our other experiences, but time is short for now.
I will say that we are adjusting well in our tiny flat (and tiny fridge!). We have a nice view from our 8th floor flat of the city as well as a Loch and some mountains (if you look past the courtyard buildings). I have been grocery shopping everyday and cooked my first real meal last night! Vegetarian chili. I found that vegetarian will serve us better as meat is so expensive.
We went to a ceildigh dance (pronouced kay-lee, gaelic for fellowship or gathering). It was quite fun. We did not have to feel stupid as there were many other Americans tripping over one another. Though I did not know it at the time, I turned down Dr. Ferguson for a dance (though everyone dances together, you still have a partner). I guess Dr. Ferguson is like the D.A. Carson of New College. :) Oh, well.
For now, you can pray that Josh is well for classes beginning Tuesday. He is coming down with a cold. He already has a bunch of reading for his first class. You can also pray for my job search. I have my resume ready, but I cannot get it onto paper without Josh being fully registered (we have to use the printer in the lab). People I have spoken with are confident that I can find a job as I am not looking for something specific.
Thank you for all of your e-mails. It was really encouraging once I could finally get on-line. I will try to reply to you once our computer is hooked up.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
When we reserved our truck they allow you to choose a time and place to pick up your truck. They do state that it is not guaranteed, but if the reservation is accepted, you would get the impression that you can get a truck pretty close to your preferrences, right? Well, we chose to pick up the truck just west of the city at 9am. We had friends ready to help us move our things. We got a call the night before saying that there were no trucks available, but they would find one. Ok, we are a little nervous, but we figured we will have to get a truck a little later.
The day of our move we call and they say nothing is available until 4pm. Oh, and we have to go to a far northwest suburb. WHAT?!? Our reservation was accepted! We have friends waiting! Are we going to have to move all this stuff on our own? We broke our backs and stayed up late getting things packed to be ready to move!
We call our friends and find that they can be flexible. What a relief! Now we have to wait...
We leave to pick up our truck at 3:00. Traffic was terrible! U-Haul said they would call when the truck is available. They never called so we are going on faith that the truck will be returned by the time we get there. I call U-Haul on the road to see if the truck arrived. "Oh, yea. It's here." So was the truck there at 12:00 and they just never called us?
We finally left with the truck at about 5:00 and I had to call our friends to tell them we will be late. Traffic is still terrible. We arrive at our apartment at 6:30. The bright spot in our day was the friends from our church that helped us. We could not have done it without them. Thank you Helen and Hobin, Joe, Amy and Howard, and Alex. We were left with light hearts seeing them show love to us in this way.
The morals of this story are...never, never, never use U-Haul unless you can be very, very, very flexible and moving is not fun, and helping a brother or sister move goes a long way.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Just yesterday we said good-bye to Rose. She is a young lady from our church who will be serving as a missionary in China. It was a time of saddness to see her leave, but celebration to see our first "home grown" (as Pastor Nathan calls her) missionary leaving for the field. Please pray for her.
About a month ago we said good-bye to JT, Grace, and Anna. They moved to Urbana so Grace could do her residency. I think they are all excited to have more space and less travel time getting places. It was good to see them again at Rose's commissioning.
So in less than a month will be our good-bye. Our apartment is ransacked right now with boxes and items strewn about waiting to be packed. I don't know where everything came from that I already packed because our shelves and closets don't really look too bare yet! We have 2 suitcases of clothes already packed and waiting to go to Scotland.
Good news! We got our visas on Friday. It was a pretty hectic day. We got up and took the el to get downtown at 8:00 for our 9:00 appointment because we didn't know if the Consulate would have heavy security and long line. Well, there was no one there yet and we were told to come back 10 minutes before our appointment. We were second on the list and got in and out in about 20 minutes. Not too difficult. Then we hopped back on the el to go back up north for a wedding at 11:00. Josh's co-worker got married. Lovely wedding. The reception was down the street at Ann Sather. We probably didn't start eating until about 1:30 and we had to leave at 2 to go back downtown to pick up our visas at 2:30. Well, right when it was time to leave someone discovered that they had put their famous cinnamon rolls out on the buffet, but they had already been depleted. We waited around a little longer (they're Ann Sather cinnamon rolls!) but thought we should probably just leave. At that moment one of our tablemates rushed in with a basket which contained the last 3 cinnamon rolls! James saved the day! So, getting back to the visas, we got back on the el to pick up our passports with the little sticker on it that says we can live in Scotland until Jan. 31, 2007. I can work, but Josh has to get approved for work.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
I got another piece of news I was excited about. I had been thinking of trying to find a job with a photographer in order to learn more about photography. Well, I found out that there are photography clubs and one meets about 1.5 miles from where we will be! I am thrilled at the prospect of networking with other photographers and even having my photos judged in their monthly contests.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
We are still waiting to hear about our loans. It has been two weeks now since they said we should know. I guess things are getting a little mixed up as things are kind of backwards when applying for loans to go to a UK University. Hopefully that will come through soon so we can apply for private loans.
By the way, let me fill you in. Josh was accepted to the University of Edinburgh, so we will be moving to Scotland mid-August/early September. It is Josh's job to do all of the loans/school type stuff, I am doing everything else. Well, I'm researching and finding information to help us in our move.
I have found a wonderful website that I will be eternally indebted to: americanexpats.co.uk. I am getting loads of information from other Americans who have made a move similar to what we will be doing. Before I even subscribed I found someone from this website who is in a VERY similar situation as us. Her husband is studying at the same school Josh will be at, and they are also from Chicago (well, north of Chicago). She has been very helpful in answering questions about Edinburgh and the school.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
It is still exciting, though. Right now we are in the process of getting student loans. AAAARRRGGHH! It is so confusing. We are requesting info from the U of Ed but they are saying we are supposed to send them info first, which we don't even have! We need to get this done soon, too, so we can try to secure student housing.
It is funny all the little questions that pop into my head from day to day about the move: "Should I bring shampoo or should we try to use up what we have?" "Will there be a good cooking magazine I can get?" "Should I bring my slow cooker?" Well, I am glad that I found my American Expats forum. I have already had many questions answered (though sometimes it brings more questions!).
I am hoping I will be able to find a venue to sell my cards. It would be nice for a little extra income. I just don't know if I will be able to find my materials as easily as I do here.
Well, this was pretty vague for a first post. Maybe holes will be filled in later.