Category Archives: Go Global

A Day in English London

One of the most attractive parts of the International Study Centre (ISC) Herstmonceux packages is the travelling. Field studies are an integral part of courses; classes run from Monday to Thursday as the weekends are dedicated to field trips.

Take, for example, my modernist British poetry and drama class yesterday. We went to London bright and early in the morning to go on a walking tour of Oscar Wilde’s London. One of my favourite authors for less conventional reasons, it was pretty exciting to go around seeing the sites of the hotels that he stayed at, the exact place where he bought his green carnations and his cigarettes, and so on and so forth. Fortunately for lazy girls like me, there was never very far to walk — Oscar Wilde was much lazier and never seemed to go anywhere unless in a hansom carriage.

And, of course, we did a bus tour of London itself as part of cultural studies — optional field trips (unlike class ones) which are included in the school fee anyway, so why not? After all, when you get to do certain wonderful things like watching Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the reconstructed Globe Theatre where it would’ve been performed before, it seems silly to throw up that opportunity!

Yup, that’s right: we got Standing Yard tickets to one of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedies (and one I studied before, adding to my joy)! Standing Yard tickets are exactly what they mean: we stood in the central yard for the full three hours, minus the fifteen-minute intermission where we sank gratefully to the floor, probably like people would’ve done in the past, except I think maybe we weren’t as crowded as they would’ve been. After all, these days it would be known as a safety hazard. But it was an excellent performance and I enjoyed it so much, as did most other people, it seems. I’m not sure if it’s easier to understand Shakespearean English when it’s performed live, or if I’ve just got better at grasping it through prolonged staring at it — I really didn’t fancy Shakespeare at all before — but at any rate, I actually understood most of it and was therefore very happy.

English literature makes me happy in general. I’m very glad to study it and also quite proud when other people recognise how cool it is too. For example, I was telling a friend about the Mexican-American war which I never knew about until we did All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. (Frankly, I know very little about American history prior to the Cold War.) He was impressed by the maps I was showing him to explain my point. “You learned that in English?”

Oh, yes, and not just that, but I also learned that the most significant factor in a child’s mental development and wiring of the brain from a neuroscientific (or at least biological; I don’t know if it’s neuroscientific) perspective is just love. Love, more than listening to Mozart or speaking to a baby in Shakespeare, is what helps a child’s development. An absence of love actually means the brain will be wired differently. At least, that’s what I understood my prof to be saying — I haven’t personally read the research into that, but if I’ve got it correct, then that is a pretty awesome fact. I mean, it’s something you probably guessed just by thinking about it, but it’s cool to have the research to back it up. It feeds into one of my most important philosophies about life, which makes me doubly happy.

In fact, most of what I learn outside of school comes from fiction: for example, that toys talk at night and faeries come to visit them. It’s funny how children can work out what is factually true and what’s imagined. It also means my knowledge is rather patchy and random at best, but I have so much fun, it really doesn’t matter. As you can see, I’m an advocate of doing what you love. The risk is that I have no clue what I’m going to do with it practically, but I personally find following my interests worth the risk. I believe in things working out eventually.

And I honestly believe that there is value in every academic and non-academic discipline (within reason: harming others or yourself as a consequence of your professed “study” is not cool by me), so I really enjoy listening to other people talk about their studies. Since every subject is important and since everyone has different interests, I think it is amazing when people do what they want and we all come together to talk about them. I may not take to organic chem like a duck to water, but I’m very pleased when people make an effort to explain things from their perspective without glossing over it. English lit floats my boat, but everything together moves our world.

Herstmonceux Textbooks

For those people who talk to me through more than one avenue (i.e. beyond this blog), I pity you for listening to this for the millionth time, but I am just so ecstatic about it!

So if we take the conversion rate to be about $2 to £1, you can do some simple maths for yourself:

Original price of my economics textbook: ~£47.80 (I forget the amount of pence)
Second-hand price: £5.00

It’s not even marked; the only sign of it being a second-hand book is that its cover is creased in several places but it is still flat. Now I wish the UBC Bookstore gave deals like that!

Besides raving about the Castle here, the other fun thing to do over summer is to plan out what kinds of activities I want to get involved with next year, now that I have my perfect schedule sorted out. (I’ll be very surprised if I get into all the classes I want, but am hoping so regardless and am refreshing my SSC page crossly to find out my registration date!)

Unfortunately, I can’t share the exact details of what I’m going to do as my plans involve world domination on a microcosmic scale. In coded form, they look like this:

– Go about learning the tricks of the trade in order to prepare self for position of authority.
– Introduce preliminary reforms to ready the populace for later, more drastic ones.
– Create a marketable image, gain people’s trust, be voted into power and then take the rest for myself.
– Be the grey blur who delivers results and works her way up into power.

Okay, poli sci and history buffs, you should enjoy working out which point corresponds to which infamous dictator, particularly the last one. It is the unfortunate truth that all my knowledge about government revolves around one-party states and I am ignorant of any other methods regarding political opposition.

In and Out of Rez and Canada

Last Sunday saw my departure from Tec de Monterrey and into my new home off-campus. To my incredulity, my brother’s friend (who kindly came along with my brother to help me move) said that I didn’t have a lot of stuff. I beg to differ: for such a tiny person, you wouldn’t think I’d fill up two cars with suitcases and moving boxes. I didn’t sleep very much on Saturday night since I was busy packing.

When I think about that statement, however — that tiny people shouldn’t have as much stuff — there isn’t really a good reason to think so. Small people wear as many clothes as tall people, though tall people’s shirts and trousers may be longer… Vacuum cleaners, ironing boards and drying racks don’t come in different sizes for different heights: it’s all the same. So the amount of stuff people have has absolutely nothing to do with height. I should stop being heightist against myself. Yet I look at other people my size and wonder why I have so much stuff anyway.

My neighbour is a very nice lady who dropped by to leave a pot of lavender and a card to welcome us to the neighbourhood. We weren’t home at the time and when I went to pay back the visit, she wasn’t home, so I left a thank-you note. It’s so touching to be welcomed into a new place! I’ve put my lavender plant and Celestia (my orange flowers that don’t smell) outside in the garden in their respective plastic pots while I’m away. Hopefully they will not die but the rain is the only watering they’ll get in the next six weeks.

Because I’m here in the UK! Most people have gone off to the pub so I need to run and grab a shower before they come back. I arrived in the early afternoon and it was a two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Heathrow to Herstmonceux, but here I am, and the castle looks just like it does in the pictures, no Photoshop required. I’m not living in it — I live in the residence a few minutes’ walk down the road — but I do take meals in the Great Hall (which does not, unfortunately, look like Harry Potter because the tables are round or short and square instead of long and rectangular wooden ones) and I will have my classes there. Did you know that this was where the original Chronicles of Narnia was filmed? I bet you didn’t. I didn’t.

To top it off, I applied for a single room (with the possibility of having extra charge) but lucked out and now have a double room to myself at no extra cost. How exciting! I’m hoping very much to visit friends and/or be visited, but it’s hard to tell.

Class schedules are from Monday to Thursday. My classes begin at 10 am earliest and finish 10:30 pm latest. Kind of ruins my beautiful plan to sleep at 9:30 pm but I guess I’ll just push back waking time. At least, I hope I can, because my body is obnoxious and insists on waking at 7 am most days. Fridays are free because of planned field trips and so on over the weekends. Whenever I don’t have a trip, I want to be travelling or exploring the surrounding area. Not that there seems to be much — we are pretty much in the middle of nowhere and there are many fat ducks who aren’t scared of us at all, and many many rabbits!

And with all that ramble, I’ll end with two brand-new tags. I should also make a note of the time of writing as I don’t know how to change my settings for timing here just yet: 9:32 PM.