+ Some editing works and fictional elements added
Text messages between two postgraduate students living at the same university hall
Me: What are you up to today? Anything fun?
S1: I'm Walsh
Me: You mean you're in Wales?
S1: Yeah. How's it going?
Me: Bored. Thought I wouldn't work at all this week, but I might go to the library already. You know, it's my routine. I feel at home at library and there's no place like home.
S1: Oh poor baby
Me: I think there's a reason why I'm meant to be an academic. :(
A conversation on Facebook
S2: (on status) My feet will land where my heart still stands.
Me: Where's that? My heart is lost btw.
S3: Houghton Street!
Me: In the heart of City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom. Amen.
Photographs picturing Houghton Street
This has been the second term of this academic year (2011-12). On Saturday, the first day of this break, I had a date with a guy from NYC, whom I met at a free online dating website, recommended by another overseas student who had no clue where to meet people (that is, guys) just like I didn't either. He asked what I liked most in London. I replied, "Well, to be honest with you, everything was just so fun in the beginning. But now it has become a routine for me, so, nothing exciting really, anymore." Later, he told me about what he felt at the moment; "I thought, 'This girl is depressing me! She's boring!'" We laughed and thought we made good friends. Yes, there's a reason why I'm meant to be a 'single' academic, this time. Still, to make an excuse, as a professor told us at a class - which means 'seminar' not 'lecture' here by the way; half of my classmates including me learned this by not appearing at the first week's lecture in Lent term, when we were supposed to have no seminar, only the seminar, that week - fieldwork is boring most of the time.
He wrote in his profile that one quote changed his ways of seeing the world last year. As I remember it, it was something like this; "Do whatever makes your life a better story." Hence is my random fieldnote, to make something out from the daily routine of mine, of an overseas postgraduate student, rather than of a graduate student. He enjoys adventures, he told me, and at Brick Lane, he ran into someone whom he once met in Peru a while ago. He seemed to be just amazed and excited (to borrow his expression, "Man, are you shitting me? This can't be true!!!"). Plus, after looking around Camden Town, he began to like London, at last. While walking alongside Brick Lane, tasting the famous Brick Lane beigal, we looked at people hanging around together on the street. Cigarett bums are scattered everywhere with empty beer bottles, and some women are wearing fishnet (tights) and a fake fir jacket with a short skirt. As a fresh New Yorker who had moved in there from LA a few months ago, he thought the people in NYC knew a bit more about bagel. After looking up an online review at home afterwords, I learned that the point of NYC bagel was that one sandwich covers all the variety of ingredients and there are a lot more kinds of bagels (cf. Korean people need to learn that they should say it 'sandwich' as opposed to 'meal', and also, 'meal' instead of 'set', when they are ordering at McDonald's for example. This is one of those expressions which native English speakers can teach in Korea to earn money by giving examples of 'English in practice' there.).
I felt it was like pizza in a sense, and it happens to be that I prefer 'Italian' pizza and Brick Lane 'beigal'. As a matter of fact, I had to run to the beigal place again to grab one more bite later on. "You are addicted!" "Yeah I think so. This is the best bite in London so far, at least for me. Now I finally got a place where I can get something I do enjoy to eat." But it seems that my American friends here need their moms to sent them Skippy as they effectively don't have peanut butter in London. But since the NYC guy and I were both more or less 'outsiders' here, we agreed on the point that in London there seems to be no middle-way in between the busy English pubs and where you can have a full afternoon tea. But we were lucky enough to find out a right place at Soho - music not too loud, with tables and chairs, spacy enough so that noise is not too big and people can talk to each other there, etc; personally, I've never been to latter type of places yet.)
British food is known to be terrible. It's an interesting coincidence that any big dinner event in the department is booked up for an Indian restaurant. Some students complain that the canteen on the fourth floor, in Old Academic Building, where the department of anthropology resides, must be a joke; there's a corner where one is supposed to get a different dish everyday, in terms of its ethnic origin and recipe. Yet, according to what students say, all the dishes taste exactly the same. No intention at all to offend anyone, but a French student is said to have mentioned one day, "Brits have their taste buds on their ass." (FYI, he's not an anthro student.) On the Facebook page of "quick meme", someone posted a meme saying "Make Ginger Jokes All Year - Suddenly Irish This Week", and I guess it's probably due to St Patricks day we had that weekend. So there seem to be ongoing wars everywhere, concerning this battle over the most creative mockery ever made so far.
Actually it's somewhat funny how British people here tend to respond to some accents I use; when I ask for 'water', they get my words right away, but they tend to ask me back to be assured; "Do you mean that you need water?" I suppose I'm in a better situation though. A Finnish friend once told me that she was one day talking to a group of British people (lucky, though, because sometimes it's so hard to have a chance to talk to a 'group' of British people for overseas students like us) about a story on mermaid, and they didn't get it when she said 'water' until they listened the word for three times more. The thing is, still, British accent is the hardest to get for me, as opposed to North American, Indian, Italian, French, and so on and on... accents. But now I can use the expression 'bloody' every once in a while when I need it. A Canadian friend, after listening to it, told me that now I was officially British and I would be able to get a British passport. What makes me less confident is that it was only a couple of days ago when I learned I can't use the expression 'asshole' to refer to girls. Yet, I realise that I'm still used to put 'Oxford commas' even when writing this post and at the same time using 's' rather than 'z' in 'realise'. When I read a word like 'favorite' or 'program' I feel hollow, since there's a bit more hope for me as I think I'm better at speaking "Would you like to have a cup of tea?", compared to a Canadian classmate who sweared he would surely try this at least once when he's back in Canada; "Would you have some tea?" But I'm no native in English. One day I presented a little moment of pleasure to my hall mates by saying 'things' instead of 'stuffs' while I was talking to a friend who was leaving to her home the day after "If your things are not too big I can keep them in my room for you, so no worries." (It was a female student though. Thus plural made it even better.)
Certainly, there's, so to say, a 'cultural difference' in every situation, which makes me, as a person spent her whole life in S Korea before coming to London, embarrassed from time to time. For instance, this cartoon flown from America via underseas internet lines describes what I felt at first about some American and British people I bumped into here and there and was talking to them. Certainly it's not about accents only, and there's quite a huge diversity in British accents alone, not to mention Irish or Scottish. I assume my such feelings were due to my limited experience in both cultures. (More to follow later on - this entry has been long enough alreay)
(Cartoon taken from The Oatmeal)