First week at Durham University


As to be expected, the first week at university in a foreign country is going to be interesting, to say the least. While I’m already into my second week, There are a few things I’ve learned so far.

  1. Scheduling is weird
    1. Lectures
      Unlike universities in the States, we take six classes at a time, each called a module. Each module has a lecture once a week for an hour. For me, personally, or at least for the students of Durham, there is a break in the middle of the week. No lecture is scheduled on Wednesday because it’s sports day. Also, the last module finishes by 6 p.m.
    2. Tutorials
      Each module has a tutorial. Each department organises their tutorials differently. For example, I’m in two different departments because I’m taking a combined honors of English and philosophy.
      The Philosophy department allows you a selection of tutorial groups with different times and locations, so you can essentially pick your own schedule. But, that being said, you have to be responsible for the location, and knowing how long it’s going to take you to get from building to building. What’s more, it’s first come, first serve. It’s best to know approximately what tutorial groups you want to sign up for before the day to sign up for them. Each tutorial for each of my philosophy modules meets every other week. This is nice because it’s somewhat regular.
      The English department, on the other hand, schedules it for you. It’s easier, but you’re at the mercy of the scheduler. What’s more, each module meets about once a month. Sometimes the dates fall so that there are two in a month, though I think that’s only happened once with two of my modules. There is definitely irregularity here.
  2. The campus is broken
    1. Aesthetics 
      This campus just ain’t pretty. I might very well be spoiled, given that I come from a town with a technical college, a community college, and a university–the community college and university designed with the surrounding woods and natural habitat in mind. It’s damn beautiful.
      Despite the beauty of Durham City itself and the surrounding county, the campus is just not nice. The library building is nice to look at, but that’s literally the only compliment I can give it.
    2. Location
      The buildings for the whole university are all over the city. This is nice because it gets you out to kind of see what’s around, but it’s also difficult when you’re planning your schedule, or trying to find parking. The college I’m supposed to be in is a mile up the hill from the main university campus, the majority of the classes I’m in are down the hill a mile from the main university campus, and the English department building and the philosophy department building, which is where my tutorials are, are about half a mile from the campus.
      I know, there’s always the risk of gaining weight during studies, and this is a great way of preventing that. I am pretty pleased with that. I”m also pleased that as of yet, the weather has been pretty mild, and at times, downright nice. But there will be days when the pavement is covered in ice, the rain is pummeling horizontally, and I’m walkin a mile to my lecture because I can afford parking by the university but not near the town center.
    3. Functionality
      I’ve recently discovered the student union. It’s right next to the lecture buildings I need to go to, and has really cheap Starbucks lattes and food. But I have a few problems with it.

      1. It’s ugly.
        No joke, really ugly. You walk in and it feels like you’re going to visit your relative in prison kind of ugly.
        In all fairness, once you get in the main kind of lunch room area, it’s not too bad. Lots of light, different styles of tables, televisions everywhere playing music videos, and a nice view of the river. But outside the commons, the ceilings are low, grey and very poorly lit. They remind me a little of the abandoned Holywell hosptal my partner and I explored a few months ago.


        Lluesty Hospital, Holywell, North Wales

      2. It’s broken.
        Seriously. I’ve come across so many lights that are flickering, and in the bathrooms there was a toilet that just wouldn’t flush, and I have yet to come across a soap dispenser or hand dryer that works in any of the bathrooms associated with Durham University.
  3. The Tutorials and Lectures
    They say that the Lectures aren’t mandatory, however, the tutorials are. The latter is where they see how well you’re understanding the material, and what questions you have. This is where you get your participation points. This is where you get into the theory of everything, which is what I personally enjoy. Your tutor is generally pretty down to earth, understands what it’s like being a freshman because it wasn’t long ago that they were there themselves.
    The Lectures are interesting. By this I mean that it depends on the lecturer as to what kind of hour you’re going to have. This might seem obviously, but there seems to be a different lecturer each week. I love my philosophy lectures, and all of my lectures during the first week. I was hungry for the year to come. However, this week, I’ve had a few different ones from the first week, two of which just read their lecture straight off the paper, which I found very difficult to focus on. The good news is that I’ll probably have someone different next week with a different approach.
  4. Reading
    Given that I’m taking two reading-intensive courses, I have been very prepared to buckle down and power through everything. BUt so far it hasn’t been that bad. When I took my literature classes at the community college before coming here, I was looking at reading 10-30 poems in two days, a quarter of a novel as well, and four-five chapters of whatever else text in a week. The worst I’ve experienced so far is having to read Everyman and The Second Shepherd’s Play in a week, which are both fairly short, though very difficult to read because my brain doesn’t translate 15th century literature very well.
    This might change, of course, but for now, it’s certainly manageable.
  5. Workshops
    Durham brags a very high employability rate straight out of university–and I believe it. My email is bombarded with offers for workshops every day. They’re all free, and very helpful. Everything from speed reading, to developing your business idea, to how to use programs, and how to cope with perfectionism and imposter syndrome. I’ve signed up for as many of these as I can in an effort to get as much as I can for my [mom’s] money.

This sounds like a fairly bleak entry and review of my first week. But honestly, I do love it. I cannot say how happy I am to be a student, and be in this atmosphere. Being so much older than everyone is taking some getting used to. But thankfully, they serve wine on campus, so that helps.

Newest Flash Fiction Piece

This is a quick entry to sort of self promote. Part of my new website is pieces of Flash Fiction, which I put up every Friday. It’s great, for me, any way. It forces me to write so that I fulfill a promise to my readership (which is a laugh, if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time at all!), but it also makes me write as a result, and write fiction. Really, that’s where my heart is.

So I have a variety of genres. I did a fantasy piece last week, about a little dragon girl, I have a science fiction bit, a contemporary piece about a man alone on a couch (but seriously, you should really read that one!!!), though recently I’ve been centering around horror a bit. I think that’s because of my recent writing gig with Carpe Nocturne.

This week is horror. I’m starting a series. I’m thinking it’ll be once a month, perhaps a bonus episode every so often? I haven’t quite got the gist of how I’m going to go about releasing it all yet. Either way! Allow the direct promotion of this episode to ensue!

In this piece, Eve is driving with her partner, and sees that familiar, yet still chilling woman walking down the side of the road. Eve remembers the haunting story she was told by a few hitchhikers weeks before hand, about that very woman. And from there, you will just have to read on!

The Walker: Episode 1
A story from Snowdonia National Forest
to you, dear reader.

Road to Trawsfynydd 2

Sudden Stop with a Sudden Drop


As per usual for the end of quarters, or even during the mid terms – There was a lot of frantic rushing to get things done. I spent 15 hours in one day working on my final essay for my British Literature class, which turned out to be 14 pages of pure rubbish (Well, I consider it rubbish – I didn’t get a lot of my ideas that I wanted into it. At the end of the day though, it was only supposed to be 3 pages so….who knows), spent a great many hours studying for my math Final (the worry of which you can read about here), as well as verbal rehearsal for my French Final. The last few days have been all go and all adrenaline, and then when it was over…It was over.

My last final was French, which finished at 10:30 in the morning, and afterwhich I was free. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I told myself I had all these goals and yet, I couldn’t focus on any one of them. For a while, I opted for writing, though only got 300 words in before I realized I really didn’t know what I was writing about. I went home for a good long nap – very much needed after the 8 hours of sleep spread out through three days.

After…I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I had adjusted to the level of stress. I had adjusted to the luxury of lounging since I knew I had to take it when I could due to the amount of to-do on my plate. I am so used to having tasks to do, ready at hand, that I can pick from any one of them, and then last night, I had nothing. Today, I have nothing.

Just over 24 hours out of the quarter and I’m already bored! How can that be???

So, to treat myself, I went to breakfast at my favorite place in Bellingham, the Old Town Cafe, where I could have vegetarian biscuits and gravy with a side of tofu (so beautiful), then meandered to visit my friend at the Stone Moon, an occult/pagan shop, and ended up staying there for a couple hours.

Then I headed back to the college.

I know how it sounds. But it’s not like that…not entirely like that. I went because I could finally sell back my math book (that’s a good sign, it means I still some how managed to get an A in that class, a rant I will rant about later). I’ve had that book for three quarters – I’m not going to lie, I’m a little attached to it. It functioned as my math 97, 98 and 99 book, which was lovely, and now It’s gone. I never used the activation code in there that allowed me to get to the videos, so that should have worked towards its return value. However, I got $23 for it. There’s not a whole lot of money in returned math books. I probably should have sold it online.

So now I sit, in the library at the college, writing, wondering just what on earth to do with myself. It’s so peaceful, so quiet. I really do enjoy this library. It’s funny, when I was a Running Start Student, the library here intimidated the hell out of me. I don’t know why, but it did. I think it’s because I thought that all books were only allowed in the library, and you couldn’t check any out for more than a couple hours. Though that only pertains to text books.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do for the next five weeks. I’m kind of nervous to be honest.

Procrastination Part II

Alright, lesson learned: stick to the routine.

My usual routine is as follows:

  • Go to bed at 9pm
  • Get up between 5 and 6 am
  • Get on the bus at 7:55
  • Arrive at school at 9:10
  • Review math
  • Math class at 9:30
  • Finish math at 10:20
  • Do math homework
  • Go to Journalism at 11/English at 11:30, depending on the day
  • Finish Journalism at 1:30/English at 1, depending on the day
  • Finish any remaining homework from any of the classes
  • Go home
  • Do home stuff
  • Go to bed.

However, this week I have found myself deviating from the routine. First it was putting off my English and journalism homework for the sun and out of sheer fed-up-arm-flap. Then in a desperate need to catch up, I neglected my math homework to study for a vocabulary test in my journalism class.

I couldn’t continue with my math after class because I still had to play catch-up and quickly read a chapter from a book in the student library that I was supposed to get done two days ago before dashing off to do an interview assignment that I should have had done two days ago.

By the time the interview was done, it was time to catch the bus and do home things, which entirely distracted me from the necessities of doing my math homework and studying for the quiz today (have you met Lily the Sunflower?).

In an effort to force myself to be responsible, I skipped making dinner for my boy imageboyfriend and myself and stare at the pages with sentences of numbers that were fairly insistent that Aliens do not in fact wear hats, and that whether or not they have heads as we would recognize them is entirely debatable. At 10 I gave up and said “Screw it! I’m going to bed!”

Of course that didn’t happen either. I needed to get some more work done on the posters for the Galaxy Far Away Fest. I spent 45 minutes making some minor changes before finally calling it a night.

The night may have been a wash, but Friday was a whole new day, and I would rise bright and shiny and be ready to review all my math over the last week and a half and finish my homework all in one foul swoop.

Did I mention that the house we’re living in has only had us as occupants since September? It’s true, which means we’ve only really experienced the freezing cold of the winter. The last couple of days here have been hot! Mid to high 70’s hot. What we failed to realize is that the heat would rise in our house, thus making our bedroom extremely hot.

Did you also know that most of our windows are painted shut? This is something we plan on remedying, but we want to make sure our landlord will allow it first.

So I laid there, sweltering in the heat of the room, tossing and turning, trying to find the cool side of the pillow which kept disappearing as soon as I thought I had it.

At long last I found myself asleep, and the only reason I knew I had been asleep was because I was waking up to my very intrusive alarm. Though I was pretty sure I was doing my homework in my sleep, and I thought it quite rude for my alarm to correct me.

I couldn’t get myself out of bed before 7. It just wasn’t happening. What is it that’s being said? Straight from the land of Nope?

So, here I am, at school, ten minutes before my math class, having scribbled some homework down on the bus ride north, having failed to touch my homework – which, by the way, I understood perfectly in class yesterday though couldn’t make heads nor tails of this morning.

What did we learn?

Stick to the routine. It works, I learn things better, nothing is a mad dash, and it works.

Fermented Friday – Gin and Juice and Spring

After a rough day that I’ll get into later, a gin is the way to top it off.


Gin and limeade with frozen strawberries and cucumbers. The only thing missing is a sprig of mint.