Friday, September 30, 2005

North Berwick

A Wish List

A few of you have asked if we have a wish list for things from America. I must give the disclaimer that it is rather expensive to mail things here. Because of this I feel a little funny listing off silly things that we miss from America. You can take a look at the USPS website to get an idea of how much you package will cost.

Since you asked for it, I will give it and you can do what you want with it.

Oreo cookies
Jr. Mints or York peppermint patties
chili cheese fritos
cheetos (not cheese puffs)
hot chocolate
instant chocolate pudding
chocolate chips
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)
fun yarn
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

The Simple Life or A Day in the Life

We have been sort of forced to live a pretty simple life here. You have probably already heard of some of the costs here (in case you haven't I plan to post some). It is actually freeing in some respects. All of the standards we have been expected (or thought we were expected) to live up to have been stripped away. It is common for most people to shop at charity shops and dollar-type stores. I never have to worry that our housekeeper could get envious of our nice things because we shop at the same stores! I'm sure there is a different standard of living in New Town where there seems to be more wealth. We are learning that things we once thought were necessity (like a bag of chips or lots of meat) are really luxuries and get creative and even more healthy about snack foods and meals. We now munch on apples rather than chips and I am going to make granola for the first time!

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

First week of a British education

Hello, friends!

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!



Yeah! We recieved our first pieces of mail today! I was so excited when I opened the mail box and there was actually something inside! Thanks Mom and Sarah. I was also never so excited to see American food. Wow, instant pudding and Skittles and hot chocolate. I am in heaven!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Crab hunting!

North Berwick

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.

St. Augustine

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

Exciting differences in language.

Well, we were excited for a while because Josh was able to register to use the wireless services at New College. Since we are so close to the buildings we can pick up their signal in our room. The last 2 days the signal has been so weak we could not even get on the internet. Supposedly, though, we are finally set up to connect to the intranet. Ummm...That hasn't really happened yet.

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!!

American British

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)
french fries..................................chips
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)
baby carriage.................................pram
line............................................queue ("are you in the queue?")
thrift 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

Who's there?

We are interested in seeing who is visiting us here on the blog. Click on comment to leave a little comment.

Do you have any questions? What would you like to here about? Let us know...

New Tagboard

After many frustrations I finally figured out how to put this tagboard in. It's a real easy way to put quick comments on here and a little way we can sort of "chat." I know Derick is always good at off-the-wall remarks...I mean encouraging comments. :) We miss your humor.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Case of the Disappearing Churches

We visited a church today called Augustine United Reformed Church. From the looks on the outside we expected large cathedral type church, but we walked in to something very small with only about 40 people seated inside. We could not help but notice that the church comprised mostly of elderly, with a few children and older parents, and a few University aged adults.

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

Great view

The sun is setting and I have a wonderful view just past my monitor in the computer lab. First there is the city that reaches out to the Firth of Forth (and inlet of the North Sea), then past that are mountains (part of the Highlands?). Over the city is a dark cloud, but beyond that are light, fluffy clouds, pink and blue and orange. It's Friday night and things are calming down after a busy week, yet gearing up for the nightlife here in Edinburgh. Josh and I will be staying in as Josh is nursing a cold. I don't even know what to buy him as I am unfamiliar with the medications and brands here. I think I need to get him something called suspension...

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


I have finally gotten hold of a computer with internet, but I am not sure how much time I will have. We are in the computer lab in our group of buildings.

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

U-Haul Nightmare!

It has been a week now since we moved, but I must share our nightmare...

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.