Classes and America

[This is an exact excerpt from my other blog, “The Life and Times of Odd Girl”. If you liked this post check out the rest of the site here.]

As I am currently a study abroad student, I do have to go to classes every now and again. Not to say that I love having to plan exciting trips to Barcelona and the Moors around classes, but I do also need to get good grades so I can eventually pay off all the debt I will be incurring on these trips. So I guess its a necessary evil. But honestly, some of my favorite stories to tell my friends and family back home are stories I got from my classes. If you are willing to look around and listen, it is very easy to find interesting things to talk about later.

First though, let me explain, loosely, how classes work here differently than in America. At my home school (and I believe a lot of others) you have class three times a week (Mon, Wed, and Fri) for about an hour or an hour and a half, or twice a week (Tues and Thurs) for two hours. Well, here you might have class twice a week but both sessions for that class are usually on the same day. And one of them is a lecture, while the other session is a ‘seminar’, or a period for more in depth discussion and to help people grasp topics. The classes can range from one hour to three depending on how long the teacher thinks it needs to be. And because of this, I am taking four classes but I only have class Tues and Wed of the week (and technically only spend six hours in a classroom a week).

This may sound nice, but they hardly ever give out tests, projects, homework, etc. It is a lot more independent here so, for instance, I have a class where the final exam is worth 100% of my grade and another where it is 80% and a short paper we write is only 20%. In America there are usually a lot more stepping stones to help you get better grades if you are not good at taking tests or have difficulty with the material, but not so much here. Although, to be fair, some classes here do not have any exams, it is just 100% from coursework during the semester or from a project or paper. In America though, you almost always have to have an ‘exam’, even if the students are just sitting in the room watching a movie during the time period.

Now on to some silly stories from my classes:

(But just to give a warning, just because one person, or a small few, did/said something listed below, does not mean that all British people will do that.)

One of my teachers said if we do not understand the material, but are too nervous/shy to raise our hand and say so, to use our eyebrows to signal that to him. Basically we raise and lower our eyebrows really fast, he will see them, and repeat what we are talking about to try and help you understand without revealing who you are.

Most of my classes seem obsessed with America, like it is some very elite country/tribal civilization who are just idiots. (I realize those are completely different, but the teachers seem to feel both about it at the same time.) For instance, we were discussing if our current President really counted as “black” since some people only consider descendent of American slaves to be black, which he is not. And then we just got into a long debate about American politics, and I was trying to figure out how anyone knew anything about our politics.

People also like to come up to Americans and tell them all about their favorite TV shows (usually CSI), movies (usually Dark Knight), and food (usually Goldfish) that they think is from America. I am not sure why since whenever I see a British person I don’t have an urge to ask them about Sherlock Holmes.

In one of my classes we broke up into small groups to discuss some articles and in my group their was a British man. So, whenever I was passed some paper I would say “Thank You”. But this British man (speaking after me) would say “Thank You” and then mumble “Cheers” afterwards. Because of this, I tried not saying anything one time and he responded with only “Cheers” to getting his paper, but continued the trend when I started saying “Thank You” again. (I am guessing he was just hearing me and accidentally saying “Thank You”, but felt impolite if he didn’t also say “Cheers”.)

In all my classes almost no one has their laptop out. In my class of nearly 90 students, two people brought their laptops to the last lecture. I am sure they all have them, but they just don’t bring them. And of those two people, I could only see the screen of one, but they were actually taking notes and not online.

Attendance is not taking at my classes, probably because they are so large it would take too long. But because of this people probably think it is OK to skip more often since they will not be noticed as missing, although there are only 11 classes before the exam so you really have almost no classes to learn everything in. I was listening in on a conversation in one of my classes, which I do a lot when bored, and it went a bit like this:

“How’s it?”
“Tired. I didn’t go to my Sociology class this morning.”
“Yeah, that was me yesterday. When will it be over?” [Keep in mind this is the second week of classes]
“I dunno, but I’m done with it.”
*cough* “I’m coughing.”
“Everyone is coughing.”
“Yeah, everyone in our flat is.”
“Fresher’s Flu part 2.”

I know, not too exciting. I just wanted to post a conversation I overheard really.

[This is an exact excerpt from my other blog, “The Life and Times of Odd Girl”. If you liked this post check out the rest of the site here.]

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” -John Muir

Stir and Fry

Hello Readers!

Since the last yesterday, not much as happened. We visited a few stores to pick up groceries and ended up singing a few country songs throughout the day, but overall it was rather uneventful.

As, you might remember, Monday is Austin’s day to cook for our flat, and she chose to make Stirfry for everyone. We had some frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, and carrots) in the freezer, so she used those and some leftover eggplant, as well as some mushrooms she had bought at the store to make it. We also had some rice and soy sauce in the cabinets, so there was really not much for her to purchase. It probably would have come to about five pounds if she had bought all the ingredients that day.

First you boil some water in a pot and put the rice in, to start cooking it. Although, be sure to read your specific rice package, as the directions might be slightly different.

Next, you put some oil in a skillet, to make it non-stick and to get it ready for the vegetables. Put the stove to about level 4 or 5, but not to high or it might burn the veggies. Then, once the skillet is hot, take all the vegetables you want to use and put them in the skillet. They will hiss as the water in them evaporates, so don’t be worried if that happens. (Be sure to move the vegetables around as they cook to get a more even fry amongst them.) This step can take some time if they are frozen, so be patient. (Meanwhile be sure to be watching the rice.)

Once cooked enough, put some soy sauce in the pan with the vegetables to add flavor and let it cook for another minute or two. Once that is done, as well as the rice, it is ready to serve! And it is very tasty!

Also, tomorrow I start classes! So, wish me good luck!

I hope your travels lead you where you need to go and that you have a terrific day wherever you are!

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -JRR Tolkien

Cake and Recap

Hello Mates!

Yesterday, we all went to Wheatley, one of the other campuses, to see where Austin and Libby would have classes during the week. Amy has one on Harcourt Hill, the opposite direction campus, but our liaison had already taken us over there the week before to look around. I would have made this a separate post since technically it is a separate day, but three sentences did not seem good enough for an entire post. Sorry if this upsets you. Feel free to comment about the emotional damage I have put you through because of it.

We really did not do anything today, besides me making dinner. It was rainy and yucky outside, so we stayed in and I made us Eggplant Parmesan. It was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. We would have headed over to our teacher’s flat to watch Downton Abbey later, but we were not feeling well and Libby had hurt her foot, so we watched a Very potter Musical instead. We also made mugs of single-servin coffee cake. You can find the recipe here.

To make eggplant parmesan, you need eggplants (or aubergines in England), breading, eggs, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, vegetable oil, and flour if you do not have a lot of breading. Also, be sure you have paper towels to soak up the oil later.

First, two hours before cooking you should slice the eggplant into disks and lay them out (one layer) on a plate and paper towel. Sprinkle them with salt and then layer a paper towel over them. Then place plates on top to squeeze out the excess water in them. (Be sure to do this, because apparently it helps get the bitterness out before you start cooking it.)

Once that is done, heat the skillet up to level 3.5 to 4 with oil in it. Make sure the skillet does not get too hot or the eggplant will not be properly cooked! Next, put the breading and some flour (if not enough breading) in a plastic bag. Put two eggs in a bowl and whisk them, and take the eggplant out from its juicing station.

Take a slice at a time, and dip it in the egg so it is fully covered, then put it in the breading bag. Use your hand to hold the hole in the bag closed and shake it around so the breading covers the eggplant slice. (I usually do three to four slices in the bag at a time, but do whatever you are comfortable with.) Then put the covered slice into the skillet and let it fry. Once the one side is golden-brown, you can flip it over. Once the second side is also golden, take it off the skillet and put it on a plate with paper towels to try and adsorb the oil. Repeat with all/as many slices as you want/can.

While doing this, start to boil water for the pasta and put the sauce on to heat it up. Once the water is boiled, add the noodles and cook until they taste good. (Careful, may be hot.) Then strain pasta and add butter. And once everything is done cooking/frying, you are done! What a tasty and nutritious meal!

I hope you had fun reading this post and have some delicious food as well!

“To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.” -Charles Horton Cooley