Monday, October 24, 2005

a little bit of coffee and a bloody lot of froth

17:20(ish), monday 24th october.
hello bloggers of the world, if you are there and interested in my, er, "adventures". a lot has happened in the last few weeks of my life, more than normal, probably due to the fact that i have left my boring old hometown for pastures new. (very green, rolling pastures, just like traditional images of england).
just before going to uni, i went to italy with my parents for a couple of days, to visit some friends and family. i would have loved it except that i was SOOOO incredibly tired (and ill)! italy is as beautiful as ever, and we visited a family who are all friends of ours in one of the nicest seaside towns i have ever seen - much better than the one my cousins live in, which is a bit crap (the italian equivalent of my town, perhaps?) but we always had to go to in the past - but i will not give away its location as i don't want it to be overrun by tourists and generally ruined. their dad has a cool record collection too - it includes original smiths and led zep vinyls!
one problem i found over in italia which made my exhaustion-induced depression even worse was how perfect everyone seemed - i felt far less than perfect in comparison. girls were all thin, pretty, confident and dressed in designer clothes, whether on the streets, in shops, in adverts, on TV... and i felt about as slim and stylish as a teletubby!
the pressure to be thin and perfect was, as ever, exaggerated by the berlusconi-buggered media, featuring "miss italia" on EVERY news programme (while events of more global importance were relatively ignored... tabloid media, get your priorities sorted, please!), not to mention tv adverts for fitness equipment that reminded me slightly of the "gizmo" ads on the fast show's "channel 9" (only with scantily lycra-clad hunks and babes flexing their muscles). to nick a phrase (which i believe was used to describe new labour) from adrian mole: the cappucino years, the italian mainstream media is "a little bit of coffee and a bloody lot of froth".

talking of froth, i have to confess a growing love of neighbours. excitement about everybody's favourite feelgood australian soap opera has increased recently with its 20th anniversary. literally dozens of people cram into the communal TV room to watch it every day, especially when there are particularly dramatic episodes. friday episodes often seem to be the best, presumably to tide you over the weekend and to provide enough "cliffhanger" feeling to make sure you remember to watch the next instalment on monday. until recently, my new life as a student has been relatively frothy and empty, but now it's week 4 of term (not counting freshers week) and the work is piling on - scary! yesterday i bought a laptop (with some help from my mum) to help. i've got stuff to type up, internet resources to look up, that sort of thing... there are public pcs here but it's just so much easier if you've got your own... but i can't do much at the mo as i haven't had my internet connection sorted out yet. loads of my programs won't work until i register them on the net, which really restricts what i can do! so far it's only been lectures but they're bringing in other teaching methods too: from next week we get workshops (like tutorials/seminars) and we've already got coursework to do, which will count towards the mark for the first year. last week we had a team-building day, and we've got various group projects to do with our teams. we got to work on them last week, and visited an employment tribunal for one of them (we have to write a report on what happened and give a presentation on it to the class). i would be typing up my notes on that (and probably making one of those powerpoint presentations that never work and everyone dreads!) right now but microsoft office won't work until i've registered it on the internet. that's why i'm doing the less-constructive activity of blogging instead. (damn you microsoft! if our presentation sucks i can blame it on you!) i'm just typing it up in notepad (a program that thankfully needs no internet registration) and i will post it on my blog when i get online. i have to go now, it's 17:30, meaning it's nearly time for neighbours! (it starts at 17:35, same as it always has done. it's nice how some things in life are always so constant.)

19:00 (exactly. how odd.) back again after dinner - i'm in catered halls and it's not bad, plus they give you tons of food, although you can't go back for seconds. (you don't really need to, though, as they give you so much in the first place.) some people have found a way of cheating the system: they have dinner at 5:15, go to watch neighbours, then go back at 6 to have another dinner! anyway, had 1 lecture today (at 9am... groan... have to wake up early!) and then went to watch an employment tribunal with my group. there was a panel of 3 people, with a chairwoman in charge who seemed very strict and stern during the tribunal, but turned out to be very nice, charming, helpful and friendly afterwards, and stayed to answer our questions. we got tons of notes so hopefully we've got enough to last the 5-minute presentation. there's 11 of us so we won't have to do much talking: only a few seconds each! so it shouldn't be too daunting, i hope. i really like my team, they're all very friendly, and our leader (of sorts) is a fun welsh guy with the coollest accent! (his fave band is the jam, making him even cooller in my eyes.) this group is mostly, but not totally, the same as my tutor group. i prefer my group/team to my tutor group, cos a few of the people who are in my tutor group (but not in my group) are really posh and a tad stuck-up - the type who were rejected by oxbridge and aren't happy to go anywhere lower, and who live in holland hall (the posh new halls with rooms that look like posh hotel rooms instead of traditional student rooms), except for one who is so posh that she won't live in halls of residence! i have heard one of these people saying, "oh, you live in dirty-yard!" yes, good ol' duryard IS known as dirty-yard (and we don't mind), but i didn't like the way she said it! actually i'm loving it here in duryard, i'm glad i got here actually, it's really not as bad as people say it is.
my room is massive - roughly the size of mine at home (altho it seems bigger than my home room, probably cos theres less junk all over my floor here...) - and its cleaned every fortnight, and the communal areas (bathrooms, corridors etc.) are cleaned all the time. there is a real sense of community spirit too. i often feel more welcome than at my last school, which boasted of its "community spirit". i think it was difficult to feel part of the school community unless you'd always been there, or youd been there a long time, or youd always been to private school. exeter uni is something like 70-80% state school kids and the rest private school kids, so it's more like a normal environment. my first 2 schools were state so when i started my 3rd school (which was private), some people judged me on that and i got called scum, poor, common, homeless, etc. which was just stupid as a lot of the REAL scum were richer than me - their attitude to others was what made them scum. money has nothing to do with it. some of the chavviest people i've ever met have quite a bit of money - it's a myth that they all live on council estates. in a way, you can almost understand poor people who live on council estates becoming chavs - it's the only life they know, and if they mug you it's probably cos they need the money. but i can't stand well-off kids who become chavs and annoy/beat up/mug/happy-slap other people for fun - they are the true scum!
anyway, rant over, back to duryard. some people here think i'm a bit posh, which is unusual, as people at my 3rd school called me common, poor, etc., but i think that was more due to money (my lack of, and their excess of it) than actual "class" or "poshness". maybe it's my accent, education, slight "campness" (yes, you do get camp ladies!), the school i went to, the fact we had to do posh subjects like latin there (why latin? who speaks it nowadays?), or the large amounts of tea i drink (mmm... tea) that makes people think i'm posh. i don't think of myself as posh, i think i'm quite ordinary really, but it makes a pleasant change from being looked down on. this term my parents have been covering all my fees (tuition fees and accommodation charges) but for the next two terms i'll probably have to pay them myself (out of my student loan). this will mean a serious lack of cash next year! i'll have to cut down on my little luxuries (sob)... first thing to diminish will be coffee (my beloved beans!). i'll have to stop buying fancy coffees (with froth, marshmallows, chocolate, etc.) or proper filter coffee while i'm on campus and rely on the instant coffee granules i stocked up on before leaving. caffeine connoiseurs (including me) may argue that it's just not the same thing, but it will save me money. it's very easy to spend money on little things like coffees between lectures, because they're not big things so you buy them all the time and don't notice the costs mounting up... we had a budgeting workshop during freshers week and they pointed out that you will spend a surprising amount of dosh on little things like coffee and snacks. if i need to save even more, i may have to slow down my spending on another of my favourite things: music. i already save money on CDs by borrowing them from friends or libraries and copying them onto my computer or blank CDs (i hope it's legal...) and have done for years. i tend to do it for CDs that i want but not particularly want, like if i like a few tracks but not many, or for easy-to-find/big hit CDs that the libraries are bound to stock cos they've actually heard of them. i'll just have to do this more and buy fewer. or i can buy them second-hand (thank you ebay, amazon, charity shops, etc...) and i'll try and spend less on gigs (shame really, as i wanted to use uni as an opportunity to go to as many gigs as possible - i go to hardly any at home, partly cos i was hardly ever allowed and partly because there weren't many in my hometown. actually "there weren't many" is a bit of an understatement: a good year for gigs in worthing means one rawk tribute band per year... as opposed to none.) better keep my eyes open for free gigs then.
when i was in london a couple of months ago, i went to the tin pan alley festival, which was totally free, to publicise the charity shelter, a bit like how live 8 was for raising awareness of world poverty and the G8 summit (although, if you're being cynical, live 8 was for raising awareness of rock stars in need of some publicity...). anyway, tin pan alley rocked, the only disappointment being buzzcocks guitarist steve diggle. i love the buzzcocks but his performance was nothing special and his solo songs were really disappointing. he only played one buzzcocks song, "harmony in my head", and that was at the beginning. it would have been great if he ended his set with another one, it would have ended on a high then, plus that would have got the audience singing and dancing too (does ANYONE know any of his solo songs? i doubt it. but everyone loves the buzzcocks!). he also seemed one of the more self-publicising ones (as opposed to the selfless ones who (a) actually rocked and (b) seemed like they were doing something to help charity, instead of just helping their record sales.), with adverts for his new solo album all over the stage. the subways seemed to be either (a) really self-publicising too, or (b) surrounded by an army of over-zealous fans keen to publicise them. im not exaggerating, there were literally fanzines and freebees flying everywhere!still, there were some amazing bands there - the metro riots, do me bad things, art brut... great stuff! i think i might get art brut's album, people are saying it's brilliant. i got the new idlewild album "warnings/promises" yesterday and i love it, i still can't get over the first track ("love will steal us from loneliness"... a beautiful song), ive got to listen to the whole album!

around midnight:
sorted my internet connection out! no more blog-drafting in notepad for me now, i can put it online! it's getting late and i've got to wake up at 8:30 tomorrow (first lecture at 10am - a relatively late start for me as 3 of my lectures per week are at 9am!) so i'll probably go to bed soon after this post. when i get time i'll post more.
nighty night from studentland. helen ;-)


Blogger Tom Kerswill said...

"but i will not give away its location as i don't want it to be overrun by tourists and generally ruined."

True, you don't want millions of blog readers descending on a small Italian village. That would be carnage!

10:24 am  

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