27 January 2011

January's almost over?

Craziness, I tell you. January has, for the most part, been a blur. The first half consisted of being home, flying back, getting acclimated, turning essays in, and gearing up for a new term. The second half has been full of lots of reading, researching for my dissertation, (STILL) trying to get on a semi-normal sleep schedule, and has been interspersed with a little bit of fun here and there.

Last weekend, on Friday specifically, the group headed out to Shoreditch to the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. Sound familiar? Well, that's where we went on the night of my birthday back in November. It's a really cool place, has a fun dance floor (albeit a little too much house music for my taste), reasonably priced drinks, and is in an interesting part of town. Most importantly, it is NOT the bars at UCLU (my uni's union), which seems to be our go-to hangout spot when we don't have concrete plans to go elsewhere. It's fine (read: the drinks are cheap, and it's super close to my place), but it's much more fun to get out to different neighborhoods in London.

The occasion this time was our friend Sergio's birthday. A good time was had by all, and as far as I know, there weren't any too outrageous moments or outbreaks, good or bad.

Katelyn was a little too busy dancing to look at the camera for this picture. Jean-Baptiste is clearly thrilled and having a great time though!

So yes, overall it was a fun night. I'm proud to state that I: 1) did not drink too much (three drinks to be precise), and 2) was home by 12:30! Go me.

What else am I up to? Well, Charlotte and I have been going to some movies lately. We saw 'Love and Other Drugs' last week. Jake Gyllenhaal - you really can't go wrong there. Yesterday we saw 'Blue Valentine', which I surprisingly was not crazy about, despite the fact that I love both Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. I thought Michelle Williams was very good in her role, and she deserved the Oscar nomination for best actress, but the storyline itself in the movie didn't grab me. I still have a few movies to see from the Best Picture category, so Charlotte and I are both working on that. Right now, I'm considering going to see '127 Hours' with James Franco later this afternoon.

In other news, my ring finally got here. I can't remember if I posted about that whole fiasco here or not, but long story short: Zales screwed up. Fight ensued between Mama Bear and Zales. Zales admitted defeat and shipped ring to me, free of cost. Ring got here last week.

It's so purty, huh? Thank you again, mom and dad! I love it...which I'm sure doesn't surprise you, since I emailed you the link to the exact one I wanted. :)

As far as classes go, I'm absolutely loving my Terrorism course. I really like the professor, who will also likely end up being my dissertation supervisor. The content of the course is so fascinating and I really enjoy the readings and going to class. My other module this term, Conflict Resolution and Post-War Development, isn't as exciting to me. I'm not thrilled with this particular professor, although the course material is quite interesting. I guess it's just not grabbing me as much as I anticipated it would. And finally, I have another term of Research Methods, which is basically the exact same course that I took in undergrad, dealing with statistical math use in political science. It's...fine. I don't love the program they're having us use, which is STATA; as opposed to SPSS which is what I used in undergrad, and is preferred by most in the academic world as well as most employers. I'll deal.

Crazy to think I'm already 3/10 of the way done with this final term of classes.

So, that's my update on my life. Hopefully it gets a little more exciting in the weeks to come so I'll have more to share with you! Lots of love from London!

18 January 2011

Busy week and a half!

I apologize for my lack of a presence on here lately. I've just been extremely, extremely busy ever since I landed back in London.

I arrived back here on the 8th, and had essays due for International Organization and International Peace and Security on the 10th and 13th, respectively. So from the time I got to my place on Saturday (the 8th), I worked like a maniac on my IO essay until Monday, turned that in, then turned my craziness on to my IPS essay until Thursday, and then turned that in.

I wish I could say that I then went out on Friday and Saturday nights and went wild! But unfortunately, that was not the case.

This week, everyone in the School of Public Policy has to meet with their personal tutors and discuss their proposals for their dissertations. My meeting was today at noon. So, I basically locked myself in my room from Thursday night until this morning working on my proposal. It was about as much fun as it sounds.

But, I can say that I am relieved that I don't have to worry too much about it for a few weeks. I had a good meeting with my tutor, and we refined my topic/question and talked about different methodologies to go about conducting my research.

For the rest of this week, I just need to finish my reading for my last class on Thursday - Terrorism, but aside from that I'm going to take it easy on the schoolwork. I feel a little burnt out on it, since I haven't really been able to do anything aside from it for the entire time that I've been back in London.

Oh! My friend Charlotte and I are going to see 'Love and Other Drugs' tomorrow. :) A little Jake Gyllenhaal action should do us wonders!

11 January 2011

No trousers on the tube??!?

(Trousers=pants to all you American folk.)

Well, I can't say that I'm disappointed I didn't participate in this. On Sunday, over 100 people took part in the second annual No Trousers on the London Underground event. Umm...ew?

Interesting people, these Londoners.

09 January 2011

Back in Ol' Blighty!

After three busy and wonderful weeks back home in Michigan, I find myself back in my current adoptive home. London doesn't seemed to have changed too much in the time that I've been away, but I'm sure we'll spend some time catching up regardless.

My trip home was just what I needed. I spent time with my amazing family and friends, snuggled with my doggies as much as I wanted, ate at all of my favorite places (the Vintage, Quay St., Coney Island, Electric Cheetah, Rose's, Daybreak, Fishbones, Astoria Bakery...yes, I am fat, move along), cooked on my own a lot, went to four Red Wings games, had a beautifully white Christmas, spent a night at Greektown (where I ended the night up $15, holler), watched Jersey Shore and more episodes of the Office with my siblings than I care to share publicly, and did a million other things that I like doing when I'm home. I think my trip made me realize how much I may take for granted. I really do love being home and with my family and friends. I'm so incredibly lucky and blessed to be able to be here in London, and to have such wonderful friends here as well - but it was nice to be home and be a part of that life again.

Ok, enough sentimental stuff. I flew home Friday night and arrived yesterday morning. Remarkably, I slept the entire way on the plane! I couldn't believe it. I generally have a hard time sleeping on planes.

However, on a less stellar note, there were security alerts going on in London travel hubs yesterday - mainly for the airports and railways, due to a letter from Al Qaeda warning of a possible attack. Police were said to be trained on how to deal with a Mumbai-style attack (from the 1998 attack in the Indian city). I was obviously flying home, and from the airport, I planned to take the tube to Russell Square. Due to the threats, I promised my mom I'd take the Heathrow Express (upon which you must be coming from the terminals at Heathrow) to Paddington, and then a cab to my place. It was more expensive, but it made her feel better so I did it.

Needless to say, I made it back here without incident. Yesterday was spent mostly writing my essays and napping - yes, I'm extremely jet-lagged even though I managed to sleep on the flight. I'm also still getting over the cold from hell that my brother gave to me towards the end of my trip.

Today has been much of the same - though less napping and more paper writing! I have finished my essay for my International Organization class that is due tomorrow, and now just have to finish up my essay for International Peace and Security, though that shouldn't be too much of a problem. I have until Thursday to do that, and then from there my every thought will consist of my dissertation. I have to meet with my personal tutor next Tuesday to go over a dissertation proposal, and I'm still not even positive what I want to write about yet! So, busy busy busy I am.

Term 2 starts tomorrow, at the crack of 11:00. :) I only have one early morning (if you consider 9:00 early morning!) class this term, on Thursdays. This could be a very good thing, if I choose to use these free mornings I have to do productive things like work out and study; or this could be a very bad thing, for obvious reasons.

For now, I'm off to work on that essay. And possibly watch The Office, since I just so happen to have season 6 on my laptop. And definitely eat. Oh, student life!