Nine

Greetings World! I’ve been in London over a month now. I’m picking up the lingo and learning my way around. Everyday is still an adventure but I’m becoming more and more familiar. Honestly me experience is getting better by the day.

There a a few places where no adjustment was necessary. Some I was surprised to see … others I was not. Take a look:

The Colonel made it all the way to London

 

The King is here too

 

My old employer Foot Locker and the all American Apparel
Who would have thought?! Sally's!

Of course McDonald’s is present on every corner, unfortunately most aren’t 24-hours.  I haven’t ran into a WalMart yet but I’m sure it is only a matter of time. ADT Securities are present here also T.G.I.Fridays! I’ll keep you updated on the familiar names.

Exhale. My new Life in London.

This week was pretty strenuous but I’m willing to admit I brought it on myself. But … It was well worth it! I took the 45 minute journey to Central London three times this week and it’s Saturday night so I’m getting ready to make the move again!

Tuesday the initial plan was to go to a museum in London with a group of friends…. but literally everyone canceled on me (while I was waiting for them on campus) so I made my decision to go regardless. It can be so discouraging doing things in groups. Group projects, group outings, things always become suspect when you have to depend on other people. For this reason I’ve come to a personal conclusion: Im not waiting for anyone else to do the things I want to do. I may never live in London again, I’m not going to look back and say “I wish I …” or “I should have…” I refuse! Jay-Z said, “Only one who can stop me is me” and I really feel that way. I recommend you make the same decision for yourself in your life because if you wait on others you get less done.

I ended up at an art exhibit titled ‘Art By Offenders’ which showcased art by prisoners and people in the United Kingdom’s mental institutions. I came to the conclusion that caged creativity is intensified. I found the art to be extremely intricate and at times depressingly dramatic. These artists have a lot of time to apply to their crafts.

So after visiting ‘Art By Offenders’ I made my way to Ten Critical Challenges for writers class, its week five. This week we focused on intertextuality. This fancy word is pretty much used to discuss the influential factors inside any text. Picture it like this, if we were talking about music it would be song remakes or samples. Get it? The influences of the outside world on a work. In my module we have come to the collective conclusion that everything comes from something else. I’m pretty sure you will agree, so the study of these influences in literature we call intertextuality. These influences can come from pretty much anything religious texts, poems, laws, what ever it is that influences you. I think I’ll give you a sample in my next post. Enjoy your day, I’ll be back soon. I will leave you with this song… PEACE! Raashan Ahmad

 

 

Four

Welcome back! So now I’ll provide you with a little more information about my neighbourhood. One of my flatmates described it perfectly as, “a mini Woodstock.” We are enclosed by a blue gate. At this point I’m not sure if the gate keeps the crazy in or the normal out, but Seething Wells seems to be the place to be. Students are always outside on “the yard” playing games, chatting about whatever, doing school work, and soooooo much more. Every morning pieces of the previous night still linger all over the yard, and after an unusually warm weekend the yard was trashed.

Chillin on the yard continues to birth surprises. I met three awesome girls that answered all my immediate random questions about life in the United Kingdom. It cracks me up to be referred to as, “The American Girl.” Its crazy how I continue to feel more American in other countries than I do at home. I can truthfully say I don’t miss home yet, but I do miss the food. An In-N-Out Burger or a Cookout tray would be amazing at this point.

From meeting and talking candidly with my European schoolmates it seems like America is the big brother that moved away from home, wears all the cool clothes, knows all the hot new songs ect.. It cracks me up because America essentially came from here in the UK, yet we are where its at! I took a moment to think like a colonist coming from England in the late 1600’s. Colonization went a little something like this…

Settler John: Hey guys this place is getting old lets go search for a new life and new ways to get money. Rumor has it we can find gold, fur, tobacco, and more in the Americas! Its going to be a long trip though and there are not guarantees of prosperity or survival.

Settler James: Oh let’s do it!

Settler John: It’s not going to be easy, and if you don’t work you don’t eat. It’s a whole new world.

Settler James: Well we need to find some people to do the work. I don’t want to work too hard but we need labor, I’m all about the Benjamin’s babe! (I know Ben Franklin wasn’t born yet but bare with me as I paint a picture for you).

Settler Jan: I’m down. I just want to practice my religion without having people all up in my business about it.

Settler John: Ok …I feel you both. James maybe we can bring some indentured servants with us, if that doesn’t work we can just cop some slaves. Jan it’s your world home girl you can practice whatever religion you want to in the new world!

So this is how America became the place to be, a few people setup shop ‘new world.’ Loads of students were NBA and NFL paraphernalia here! I’ve seen so many Yankee fitted hats that sometimes I forget I’m in London…. until I go to the market (nobody says grocery store). I came across a couple in the market we were both looking to buy some eggs. Of course her man reaches for the cheaper crate and she says, “No! Get the free range eggs.” I had to ask what the difference was. She showed me, “These are free range eggs, they are about 80 pence more than the caged eggs.” Just the thought of eating eggs that came from such a hostile environment forced me to choose the more expensive free range eggs. I’ll invest in the happiness of my food any day.

Things were progressing wonderfully. But every bubble gets burst. This week I had to deal with the one aspect of life that I dread regardless of where I am located in the world …wildlife. It began on Saturday night I was strait chillin, enjoying the evening festivities with a few new friends. I spotted something lingering in the distance but I thought it was just me. My mental plan was to wait until somebody else noticed it I didn’t want to seem paranoid. That didn’t last long because I immediately identified the creature. I have never seen a fox before in my life, but when I saw it I knew EXACTLY what it was. So as I began to gather my belongings and break for the room my schoolmates began to giggle commenting, “Its just a fox, he is more scared of you than you should be of it.” I felt like this statement was some bull because the creature kept coming closer. I was not about to be a victim. This is where the story ends I went directly back to my flat.

The next interaction was with a spider. He was no Daddy Long Leg, his body was about two inches in diameter. He was larger than the Wolf spider that I discovered in Wilton, California this summer. I found him on the kitchen floor after one of my flatmates left the window open. I immediately sought out help. The alpha dog in our flat (the only male) of course was nowhere to be found. He is currently working hard to earn back his role as pack leader but honestly it doesn’t look good. Whenever we need him he is gone. Fortunately my flatmate Ashley was there to save the day. I am not sure if she set him free or killed him (I think my preference is clear) but he was gone and I was able to enter the kitchen.

My relief was extremely short lived because the following evening terror overtook our flat in the form of maggots! That’s right you read correctly MAGGOTS! I hate even typing the word but the story must be told. Since we arrived in the residence halls this random brown plastic box has sat under our trash can. Honestly I had no idea what it was but it wasn’t bothering me so I never inquired about it or used it. Apparently the other American students were in a similar blissful ignorance so they didn’t employ or question the box either. Well Sunday afternoon while enjoying the action on the yard the box came to life.

I was watching young Englishmen play hacky sac when my phone started to ring. It was my flatmate and she sound extremely worried and kept talking about worms. She was asking when I was coming back but at that point I didn’t know if I would ever return. I knew immediately NOTHING I could do would help so I sought out additional help. The security center in the front of our residence hall is 24-hours. At the desk I found Toby, he was a nice young lad and after I explained the phone call he replied, “Oh yes mate! Your flatmates were just here. I gave them some spray you should be alright.” This response was not adequate, because the phone call I received was quite frantic. I asked him would he come with me and he reluctantly agreed.

So to make a long dramatic/traumatic story short, we learned the brown box is for food scraps. It was supposed to be taken out with the trash. Since the American who was responsible for trash that week didn’t know what the box was for maggots grew on the inside. When one of my European flatmates went to open the box maggots erupted and so did this nasty odor. Since the alpha dog was of course nowhere to be found, Toby cleaned up the mess (with his bare hands). After we explained that in America we don’t use scrap boxes he kept saying, “You poor young ladies” with a slight smirk. It was clear that he found the situation slightly comical but I didn’t care as long as he cleaned it up! So now we are back in the kitchen free of the wild life.

The biscuit versus cookie debate has resurfaced. My concept of a biscuit is foreign here. Every time someone offers me one I get excited on the inside. The thought of bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiched between to fluffy pieces of bread will always be my biscuit. Not a freakin cookie.

Three

Well … the first week of classes just concluded. I made it through in one piece. Strange discovery about graduate school in England: I’ve been instructed to call all of my professors or ‘tutors’ by their first names. This is a foreign concept to me but I’m in a foreign country so, it is what it is. My classes are actually pretty superb so far. On Tuesday evenings Ten Critical Challenges for Creative Writers, each week we are covering one of the challenges. This class starts out with an hour lecture followed by an hour seminar in a breakout module of ten people. My tutor is Andrea. She seems pretty awesome. Thursday evenings I have a two hour Writers Workshop. We are required to bring up to 2,000 words in whatever genre we would like. Every three weeks I email my sample to the class and they are required read and critique it. I hope I don’t have to go upside anybodies head, keep in mind I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my…. well you know.

So in a larger reference to school this is my personal conclusion: middle school is a struggle (especially math), high school is fun junior and senior year especially (this might be because I attended Southeast Raleigh, and ‘you’ll never beat the pride of a Bulldog’), college is what you make it (I made it magnificent), but graduate school is special. You get to choose exactly what you want to study and focus in on it. I like writing. This Master of Arts in Creative Writing calls for a whole lot of it, so that’s cool. So s just know if you do what you are suppose to do in school early you can choose what you want to study later. Make a plan.

I must say thank God for J. Cole dropping Cole World – The Sideline Story this week (this is a subtle shout out to  North Carolina). I’m actually bumpin the track ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ featuring Missy Elliot right now I ‘Can’t Get Enough.’ This album really gave me life and helped me survive in these mean streets of Kingston upon Thames. Just kidding, these streets are far from mean. A guy that lives on the path I walk to school drives a Maserati, things stay pretty peaceful around here. Kingston is a college town next to a river, technically were protected on one side by the water making it that much safer.

I had a violent run in with a Royal Mail truck driver. I hope he reads this because I am about to air him alllll the way out. He was dead wrong. As my flatmate and I were preparing to cross the street IN THE CROSSWALK he came flying around the corner going at least 80mph! It was almost a wrap for me early in the game, week one! Luckily I’m still here and I lived to tell the tale. Keep in mind here in England everyone is driving on the right side of the road. My whole life I have been told to look right then left then right again before crossing the street. But here in the cars and buses seem to come from every direction. So now I look left right left then up and down and repeat at least twice, I have to be ready for anything.

I’ve made a couple of friends so far. I have six flatmates three of us are American, and then we have representation from Canada, Taiwan, and Norway by way of Pakistan. Everybody is cool… so far. We share a kitchen and a mailbox. I know many of you are curious about my living situation. Well, I have the smallest room in the flat. I would describe my room as a medium size closet. I can sit on my bed, at my desk, and reach in my wardrobe all at the same time.

I do have an en suite bathroom, if you choose to call it a bathroom. Water closet is a more appropriate term. It is about a foot wider than your average porter potty, and that foot is the space provided for the shower. When we moved in they informed us to keep the door closed when we exit and enter the shower because the steam from the small room can set off the smoke detectors. I took having a bathtub for granted all these years.

You guys might think I’m exaggerating, but there are no lies in these paragraphs. There might be some slight embellishments here and there but it’s my opinion, read at your own risk. Consider this your warning.

So in lighter and more reckless news some of my sorority sisters and friends were asking about the gentlemen in my area. As far as the young men go the chickens are NOT clucking around here! I will keep my eyes open for you all, but lets just say I won’t have a hard time focusing on my work since there are no distractions.

This week a few dedicated readers that often comment will be getting gifts in the mail! Leave a comment maybe you’ll get a present too. Until we meet again …