Friday, September 30

30 Sept 2005

So I forgot I had thought about setting up a Blog before I left the states, thanks to by old boss at Trudeau, I've remembered it and will try to keep it up to date. Of course now with classes starting on Monday I probably will have little to no free time, but I will try to at least write once a week - it will be a nice study excuse :)
Everyone wants photos, but at the moment I can't find the cord I need to go from my computer to camera to connect them - probably can buy one here in London will have to look into that this coming week.

I do have some photos from this summer, this first one is of Jackie, Alina and me at some bar in New Haven, one week before I left.

Here are Jackie and Alina - I sure miss chatting with them - I mean entereing data with them ;)

This next one is of Matt & me camping Labor Day weekend on Sable Island, before the HUGE downpour of rain :)

This is a photo from Labor Day weekend as well - I can tell you this is one thing I definitely do miss - London is great, but my window view doesn't look like this any more.

Well I think this is enough for the first day - maybe I will be able to post my old emails and sort of back date them - will have to look into that.

Thursday, September 29

meet your tutor

You might find today's "journal entry" a little boring compared to the rest of this week, but here goes . . . slept in until 9.00, had breakfast, showered and rode the tube to school around 12.30. All 15 students in the MBID (remember that's mol. bio. of inf. dis.) program were having "meet your tutors over lunch" at 12.45. The school provided sandwiches, fresh fruit, orange juice, and water (still & sparkling). The course organizer, Graham Clark explained that most of our tutors would be joining us but some where unavailable but he would talk to individually if that was the case. My tutor is Isabel Mauricio, here is her website at the school, . Turned out she was on holiday this week so I sent her an email asking to meet sometime next week. Graham explained that he set us up together not b/c of her research background being similar to anything I've done, but more b/c my undergrad degree was not in molecular, micro, immuno, biochem, or parasitology and most of the other students have that "theory" background where I have lots of "practical" background and he felt I'd have no problems in the laboratory, but might need a little extra help with the lectures and she is the teaching unit organizer for molecular biology, so that sounds like a good match to me.
After lunch, I was able to get to the bank with all my needed papers & IDs (all spellings of my name the same, finally). HSBC said I will have a card in about 1 week :) That of course does not help me with paying my rent on 1 Oct, but I've worked that little kink out thanks to a friend here in London who can get me the pounds in cash since nobody wants my US$ checks.
On the way to the tube I found a "paypoint" so I could pay my BT (phone) bill since, once again I have no way of paying by check.
After that I hopped on the High Barnett branch of the Northern line and was home in 17 minutes! Dropped off my school backpack, filled my purse with letters and off to the post office I went. Mailed off my application for a student travel discount card, will save me 30% on bus, tube, and train fares - this will be key in saving money on a monthly travel pass!
After the post office I walked down Kentish Town Road a little bit further and found another supermarket, walked around to check it out and bought some cashews (for my wonderful 5 grain breakfast, which I brought over from Nori's in SL - I'm addicted to it now, will have to restock at Christmas!!)
Around 6.15pm I got back on the tube and met my friend Katie (from LP) at London Bridge and we took a little walk around before finding a carvery dinner deal for 7#s. It was so good!! Turkey, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, boiled potatoes, brussel sprouts, cheesy cauliflower, cranberry sauce, ratatouille, and gravy - YUM!
After that we tried to go to a really cool wine bar, called Gordon's but it was PACKED to the gills, so we walked over to LSE's bar. LSE is a much larger school than LSHTM, LSE's biggest int'l population is Americans (not sure how many) but I do know they have 400 Chinese students where LSHTM has about 700 post grad students in total. Their bar was packed as well but the prices were too good to pass up - 2 drinks for 3#s, unheard of anywhere else in London!
So that was my day, how was yours?

later that day

So it's been an exhausting afternoon . . . lots of accomplishments :)
My friend Louise (from Scotland) who's been living on a friend's couch finally found a flat to live in. I went with her yesterday to see a place just so she didn't have to go alone. At that place she would have been living with a family and just had a bedroom - neither of us fancied that idea! But tonight we went to a place were there will be 3 other students letting bedrooms - 1 Italian girl, 1 Chinese boy, 1 Japanese girl. She really liked it and it was much less expensive than the place we saw last night. BONUS for me is that it's about a 5 minutes walk from my flat to hers and since we're in the same course - I'll have someone to pal around with on the tube and we can study together at the library or at our 2 flats!
I'm tired from all the walking we did today - after finding the computer lab and sending the past email I tried to getting my name changed so it would match my passport (which is what I need to get a bank account), so I went to the registry and tried to change the spelling but since I didn't have my passport with me they couldn't do it, so still no bank account :( I did however get my school ID card name changed - the receptionist took my word that it was spelled without an h.
Then Louise and I set off to find a post office without a long que and it was darn near impossible! We started out walked from school over to a little cafe we like for tea and cakes. When that was done we walked over to Great Portland St. down that road for a few, then back towards school on Oxford St and down Charing Cross to Leicester Sq only finding 1 post office with an outrageous que which we could not imagine waiting for. The reason we walked towards L.Sq. was that I'd made plans to meet up with Emily (waitress I met from TX) for dinner. Since Louise and I arrived sort of early, we walked over to Picadilly Circus, down to Trafalgar Sq and then back up to Leicester Sq. Along the way we took a quick look at menus and prices. We found a place that gave us a 3 course dinner for only 6#s and it was really good. We three will try to get together this coming weekend if our schedules work out.
That's it for me for tonight . . . we get to meet our tutors tomorrow for lunch, so I think I'm going to get to bed early and see if I can get in the post office que early in the morning and see if that is better!
Good Night :)

Wednesday, September 28

talking with MBID grad

So I'm sitting in the school computer lab since we were required to "sign" on before Monday since some of our classes will need the computer and they want to make sure we can log-in, before the first day of classes.
My classmates and I were talking to a girl who graduated from our course last year and she was telling us that if we're smart we will apologize now to our family and friends b/c this will be a very tough year. She said that we (students, esp. int'l students) are likely to be tired, short tempered, and cranky at times & since most people have a tendency to "take things out" on the ones we are closest to we should warn them all now just in case we "lash out" by accident. She apparently had some problems along these lines during the year since she is from Vancouver & between the time differences, school stress, lack of having local family support it was very trying and she hopes that it won't happen for us, but she thought we might like to keep it in mind. It was nice of her to say that so that we are aware and try to deal with the stress before we go and call home and saying something we shouldn't.
Off to try to get my bank account settled, change the registry's misspelling of my name (they put an "H" on my student ID card which throws people off when they look at my passport!), and go to the post office.
Hope all is well with you!

Tuesday, September 27

bus tour with JoAnn

Another BEAUTIFUL day here in London, I don't know why everyone says it's always cloudy and rainy here, so far it's rained on 2 days out of 2 weeks and even then it wasn't all day long.
Today all the molecular biology of infectious disease (MBID) students met together and found out the "nitty gritty" of the year. Graham Clark started out by telling us that last year one student didn't get his/her MSc due to failing grades and none of the students received "distinction". I think he saw all of our faces get very worried b/c then he tried to tell us it wouldn't be that bad, just very intense, but he asked us not to worry.
There are only 14 MBID students maybe one more but she just found out that her student loan application was rejected, so she's going to try to get other funding by Friday - not sure how successful she will be with that.
We will be able to pick up our ID cards tomorrow which is sort of exciting :) I'm sure it's a horrible photo, but it will let us into the different parts of the building (sort of like the fobs at Trudeau).
The meeting was over around noon, so 5 of us decided to go down to the refractory and check out the quality of the food - I liked my meal and it was only 1.90# (no pound sign since I'm using my US laptop). After that meal was done we decided to have a cup of tea at the cafe we went to yesterday to talk about housing and classes.
Around 2:15pm, I met my new friend JoAnn (not related to LSHTM) in Leicester Sq and we were going to take the touristy bus to get the "lay of the land" but it was 18#s so we decided to just grab a regular bus, sit in on the second level and pull our our A-Z map and explore on our own. We had a good time following the route of the 24 bus. First it went down to Pimlico and then it turned north again and took us up to Hampstead Heath. We got off and were going to walk around in the park, but it got a little cloudy so we just walked around the neighborhood back to the tube station and went home. Not exactly a fancy guided tour, but we drove up Tottenham Court Road and she pointed out where her office was and I pointed out which street to turn for my school and then we went up through Mornington Crescent & Camden Town - we got to see the Camden Lock from up high :) It was a good afternoon, though I think the bus driver thought we were really really lost or just crazy.
Well I've gotta run b/c at half eight (that's the way we say 8:30) a girl from my MBID course is going to look at a flat here in Kentish Town and she didn't want to go alone so we're meeting at the tube around 8:10, plus I have to cook dinner and straighten up all these papers I've gotten over the past two days. Good thing I don't have a roommate they'd have nowhere to put anything :)
Anything exciting going on in the states?!?!?!

Monday, September 26

Registration begins

Well today was our first "big" day for registration. Compared to the US and what I'm use to the UK is much more laid back! For example here is my weekly schedule:

9:30-10am "Welcome to LSH&TM" - Prof. Sir Andy Haines
10:30-11am "Welcome to the Dept of Infectious & Tropical Diseases" - Mr. Chris Murley & Prof. Hazel Dockrell
3:30-4pm register for school - show passport & proof that your tuition has been paid

9:30-11:30 "Welcome to MBID (Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases"

9:30-11 "Life & Work at LSHTM
11:30-12:15 "Library services"
12:30-1pm "Computer facilities"

12:45-2pm "MBID Tutor lunch"

5pm "Director's Party"

Now of course I've never done any masters work in the states, but in undergrad all these meetings would have taken place in 1-2 days plus registering for your classes. It is interesting to see these differences. I spoke with a friend who went to London School of Economics and she said it was the same way for her last year, so it's not just LSHTM.
I did finally get to meet 4 other people in MBID. They are all from the UK and just finished their undergrad work this past summer - their actual graduation hasn't even occurred. One of them, Allan, will be turning 21 in November. When they found out I was 27 they said, "oh that's old" making me feel old - lol. I told them they might have to refresh my memory on how to study, since I've been working for the past 4 years, my brain is probably a little rusty. They all seem really cool - we went to get some tea after the morning session was done. We then searched around to find a place to get passport photos for our discounted travel cards and since that took so long we ended up grabbing some lunch together before our 3:30 registration session.
Okay, gotta run, meeting a friend's friend from the states who's just moved to London as well.
Hope all is well with you!

Sunday, September 25

walking tour with LSHTM

Hello again from London,
I had my HTM (nick name for London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) walking tour today of London - it was okay. There were about 120 students and only 1 leader who was short and soft spoken, which doesn't work so well on a busy city street for trying to hear her historical information. The tour ended in Covent Garden - lots of cool shops, street performers, and a valley festival going on as well.
My "cousin" Danielle called while I was watching a man juggle "VERY sharp knives" (as he told us multiple times). We decided to met up for lunch and a little window shopping & some how it turned into actual purchasing.
But I'm safely home now and my sister is calling so I'm going to get going.
Will write more tomorrow after I have registered for classes.

Saturday, September 24

day with Christina

Well it's been an exciting & exhausting day for me here in London :)
I met my friend Christina (from Lebanon) at Kings Cross station - which is quite a chore, considering she was in the train station section and I was in the underground section - she didn't know the difference, so that took about 30 minutes to straighten out - I was very confused b/c she said she was in the tube station waiting for me and I'd searched all entrances and exits and couldn't find her anywhere. Luckily thanks to our mobiles & a Burger King sign we were able to find each other.
From there we walked down Euston Rd. to Great Portland Street to check out the International Student House (ISH). They have a gym, internet cafe, bar, cinema (with a free movie for students on Sunday nights), travel club, and dorms.
After that we continued our adventure on Marylebone Rd (Euston's name changes) to Baker Street where we grabbed some waters and cut through Portman Sq. onto Portman St. and down onto Oxford St. a place I will not return to on a Saturday afternoon (WAY too busy) we headed towards Marble Arch and finally onto Edgeware Rd. (our destination for lunch).
Christina and I walked up & down the road twice before she decided on a place where we could stop for a bite to eat, being Lebanese, she wanted to find a nice but not expensive. Don't ask me what we eat b/c I can barley pronounce them, let alone try to spell them out - it was all wonderful!! I also learned about "hubbly-bubbly" (in Arabic it sounds like, Shaka, or something like that) looked to me like the whole place was taking bong hits, but apparently it's just fruit flavored tobacco - I didn't ask much more but these things were all over in the restaurants on the road.
A friend of hers met us there. She's in England studying at Oxford Uni. They met working for the Red Cross in Iran 3 years ago. The friend's name I've now forgotten, but she was very nice & offered us a tour of Oxford anytime. Christina & I agreed we'd take her up on it one weekend.
Around 6:30pm Christina wanted to learn how to take a bus, so I showed her my little map and then we went to a bus station to explain it in more detail. I think it was overwhelming to her b/c she said, "well it's not far walk, no?" and I reassured her we could walk it before it got too dark. So we headed home on Marylebone Rd. When we got to Tottenham Court Rd, I asked if I could jump on the Northern line and head home instead of going all the way back to Kings Cross. She had no problem, so we gave a quick check of the map to make sure she knew how to get back to her place & I hopped on the first train home.
Okay, I'm off to make some dinner now and get a good night's sleep b/c tomorrow is our 2 hour walking tour of London with the school.
Hope all is well in the states, the weather here is perfect! Jeans & short sleeves during the day with a sweater at night :)

Thursday, September 22

beginning of orientation

Orientation went well so far, I've met lots of people from Canada & Kenya. There were a few from India & the US (Texas & Wisconson). I haven't met anyone in my program yet, but the room was FULL of students and I only met a handful of them. Everyone I met today was part of the Public Health & Policy program or Public Health in Developing Countries. I did meet a girl from Cape Town, South Africa who worked at the Cape Town Uni. and knew lots of people at the hospital that I went to with work, so that was interesting!
I've registered for the National Health Services and still waiting to open a bank account until I have a student ID. You'd think since HSBC is "the world's local bank" this would be easier, but they don't recognize the HSBC in the US.
My good friend Katie from Lake Placid is back in London so she's coming over around 4:30pm to check out my flat and we're going to have dinner and chat until she has to be home (she lives with her boyfriend on the other side of the city).
I'm sitting next to a guy who is from Turkey I think, who is writing a letter to the UK about getting his VISA extended and I'm reading over his shoulder, which I know I shouldn't be doing, but it's so comical to read. Here's what I've read so far, and this took him 20 minutes to write . . . "I would like only one qurstion to the Home Office in this letter which is Why did the Turkish Authorities (!) extending my VISA for 6 monds (!) Please make that not clearly I do believe in Human Rights. If when get caught without visa depart me fast with no way to clearly contact family"
Okay back to my email, where was I, oh yeah orientation. So far so good. We meet again tomorrow morning to learn about the University of London Union. On Sunday we have a 2 hour walking tour of London. I'm going to all the events even though I think I know my way around pretty well but I think this way I'll meet more of the students.
Ok, running out of time

Wednesday, September 21

not much to report

Not much exciting to report today - orientation starts tomorrow & classes start on Monday - I'm sure I'll have more to talk about then. Friday night I'm going to dinner with a girl from TX who I met the other night in the west end. That's it from here - just another sunny day full of organizing my flat and settling into my surroundings

Monday, September 19

library & Giraffe

Hello from sunny London :)
All is going well, I've gotten my membership to the local Kentish Town library so until I have broadband hooked up in my flat, I can use the computers here for free for 1 hour a day instead of paying £0.50 (1 US dollar) for 40 minutes across the street.
The key boards over here are different than in the US - they have the @ sign next to the enter key instead of on the shit 2 - making it difficult to send emails since I keep hitting shift 2 and getting " instead of an @ sign.
Can't remember when I last wrote . . . Saturday evening we went to see "We Will Rock You" musical with Queen's music - it was very good, not what I expected, but good none the less.
Yesterday morning Dad and I headed into the West End (or as I like to call it "into town") to see some of London's Open House - we only made it to the Foreign & Commonwealth Offices, but that was quite the tour - marble staircases and beautiful painting on all the walls - many walls were painted with vivid colors and gold!! After that tour we had a quick drink at the Sherlock Holmes Pub then over the Thames to see the "Thames Festival" excitement - lots of street vendors & music. We walked around there for a bit watching one group practice for the parade later that evening.
Then dad and I went to a restaurant called "Giraffe" and our waitress was an American girl from TX - she seems cool - she came here on a work VISA for 6 months after finishing her bachelors. She's here until December then going back to the states, so we exchanged numbers. After that dad and walked over to see the parade with lots of drum bands and dancers w/ feathers and sparkling beads. For the finale of this weekend we got to see the fireworks from the Waterloo bridge at 9:30pm.
Today has been mainly household chores, hammering a few nails to keep the floor boards from squeaking, sweeping, moping, and putting all my clothes into the closets.
Well that's the latest from London :)

Friday, September 16

16 Sept, afternoon sometime

Hi from Kentish Town 6pm my time,
So I survived my first night alone and met the BT (phone) man this morning and now my land line is working - I just have to wait until Monday to get broadband so I won't have to leave my flat to check email, but I did discover today that across the road is a cheaper Internet place :) so I've got an extra 10 minutes for 50p (1 US dollar).
Met dad in central London today to visit the British Museum - dad wanted to see the Pantheon display since he was just in Greece. The original reason for meeting at the London Eye was to see the boats tour down the Thames River that 200 years ago brought in some man's body for burial (I forget his name, he died at the battle of Waterloo, maybe his name was Nathan?!?!?) Apparently the US didn't teach British history so well ;)
so I'm getting my bearings as to where things are in relation to my school and my flat which is nice. my "cousin" Danielle and I had dinner last night at a French rest. in her neck of the city, Islington - which I found on the tube map all by myself and managed the transfer at Euston station without asking for directions (first for me) and she seems really cool - she's been living in Tokyo for the past 5 years and has been here 5 months so we're both sorta new to this London stuff. I think we'll be hanging out more in the future.
Tomorrow my mission is to get an Oyster card (weekly or monthly tube/bus pass) and get into central London around 10am to buy tickets to a show for Dad and me that night. He in the mean time will be riding the tube from Stretham to Kentish Town with a few more free blankets from his friend. We will meet at my flat around lunch time and go from there based on what show I got tickets to and where in the city the theatre (that's the English way to spell it) is.
Okay, I'm running out of minutes, will write more either over the weekend or early next week. Once I get broadband working I will send photos of my flat, sorry it's taking so long!

Tuesday, September 13

arrived safely in London

Hello from Camden Town :) so far so good. I arrived safely and with all my luggage (a little late, we sat on the runway for 1 hour in Philly) this morning - dad met me at Gatwick and brought me to my flat in Kentish Town - it's very nice. I just met my landlord and set up my land line phone, but will have to wait 24 hours to have that set up - will send that number when I get it. Till then you can use my cell 011-44-79-29-59-56-46.
I'm at an internet cafe, dad's eating while I type and then we'll switch.
After this we're off to the Post Office to mail our school taxes to the USA and then off to do some shopping . . . broom, microwave, forks, spoons, bowls, mattress pad etc.
I will try to get my computer up and running asap so I can send you photos of my flat.
I do know my address is 310B Kentish Town Road (one block away from the Tube and National Rail and two tube stops from school). Will find out the postal code later today as well and send that.
Well I better let dad on here before our minutes run out, plus I'm starting to get a little hungry.
Hope to hear from all of you soon!!

Monday, September 12

on my way

HI from Logan Airport in Boston - just waiting to board my first plane.
Matthew got me safely here and brought my bags to the check in then walked me to security and off he went to visit his sister, Barbara :) Will write more when I get to Kentish Town