I was thinking about how going to another western country can actually be more shocking than going, to say, China. Because you obviously expect everything to be completely different, whereas it’s the little tiny differences that really take you by surprise. Such as the buses for example; I was totally worried about how I would get off the bus – there were no stop buttons anywhere! And I was watching people to see how they did it, but they did nothing. It was as if they alerted the bus driver telepathically when they wanted to get off. I did notice that there were yellow cables going across the windows on either side of the bus, but imagined pulling one would result in the bus coming to a grinding halt akin to a train facing impending doom. Luckily someone always wanted to get off when I did, so I could always get off when I needed too. After a few more bus trips I did eventually observe people pulling on the yellow cord associated with a ting sound and came to the conclusion that if I did ever need to ring the bell myself I could pull on the very same cord and it would not result in the bus crashing to a halt and everyone glaring at me.
Other things I have noticed include the underground tunnels around campus so that you can keep sheltered when the weather comes as well as the campus police who don’t really seem to do that much policing.
It also turns out that there is a mayor here, akin to Boris Johnson except that everyone hates him. He was addressing the freshers and he told them that, “Your school president is going to tell you to work hard, but I say that’s bullshit. If you’re in trouble, call the police. But if you’re having fun, call me, ’cause I wanna join.” Ahem.
There’s a Pow Wow Festival this weekend celebrating aboriginal art, music and culture. I hope I can find some time to go and check it out. I’m already getting the jitters – there’s a couple of positions needing filled at PASA, the physics and astronomy society and I am trying so hard to resist. Some of you will know just how hard this is for me to do. It’s like having a pile of Ferrero Roches staring at you in the face saying eat me, but if you do the universe will implode. However, they need bakers, I think I can justify doing some baking every now and then.
On Thursday I hosted a BBQ, despite everyone arriving about 2 hours late, it went really well. I made a potato salad which everyone seemed to enjoy much more than my baba ghanouj much to my dismay… I guess it’s an acquired taste. Afterwards we were invited to take a ride on a party bus which sounded irresistible to be honest. I felt like I was in Hollywood – the bus was filled with leather couches, a pole, and blaring music. The only thing lacking was the champagne which we received on arrival, along with free beer for the rest of the night. Totally insane.
Since noticing how Canadians find cigarettes repulsive, instead they find cannabis completely acceptable and it’s everywhere. Odd.
Also, on top of the overly friendliness of people, they’re so friendly with their lecturers even. One guy said to one of my physics lecturers that he was like House since he needed a cane to help him to walk…
I had an awesome thing called a seminar which we are clearly missing out on back in Scotland. It’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th students all put together to listen to a very eclectic range of talks and there will be a conference next year sometime when all the students can give a talk if they so wish. I’d love to talk about cool Scottish physics people.
I find it astounding that my astronomy lecturer can’t understand me. I have a pretty bog standard British accent which everyone has always understood all over the world, particularly when they point out that I don’t have a Scottish accent despite my claims that I am Scottish.
I can safely say that my little experiment in calling myself Suzanne has been a great success. My housemates and all the international students call me it, despite me usually slipping and getting my name confuddled, including the ones from St Andrews who used to call me Hannah. It’s actually quite a strange sensation when someone calls you something different, very unlike a nickname which feels homely and personal. But I’m getting used to it.