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Monday, January 23, 2012

STORAGE!

Ok, fun little fact:

I went to Morrisons (the British equivalent of Albertsons, Smiths, Tom Thumb, take your pick) with Antonia and James (two of my flatmates) and we're talking about getting a house together next year. James asked Antonia (the mastermind behind our house) if she'd like one with a garage. First, garage is pronounced "gare-edge", not how us Americans pronounce it. Second, Antonia asked, "What would I use a garage for?" James said a car, and I said storage.


Obviously that was not the correct answer. Ha, they looked at me like I was insane. It was pretty funny. It's the little things like that between cultures that really make studying abroad the best thing ever. By the way, I love That 70's Show.

Just wanted to share that fun quirk. Hope y'all are having a great day!
Bore da!

Guess What.

I've been accepted to Bangor University! That's right, ladies and gents. I don't have to go back to Austin, TX ever again!!! But of course I will, because I love a couple of people I left there.

So, my advice? Don't go into study abroad with the intention of transferring. Study abroad isn't about tasting a different life and then subscribing to it; study abroad is about living outside of your box and experiencing something new. After you get that experience, share it! I am not a good example with what I've just said, but you can believe I try to share my experiences when I am back in the states. First thing I did when my mom and brothers picked me up at the airport? Put in some Biffy Clyro.
Ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Behold the Scottish wonder.

Amazing, right? Well pretty much everyone here loves these guys. Including yours truly.
Naturally my family wasn't keen on them, but that's ok. I still love them! Seriously, though, share the culture. That's the main point in going abroad, in my opinion. 

Well, I don't really have much to say other than that. Although, ok, let me de-stress for a little bit.

So, I'm really freaking out about this upcoming semester. I go through this all the time, though. I've never considered myself smart, and I'm always freaking out about not being good enough. I saw Black Swan on the airplane home for Christmas, and I freaked out a bit because I could see myself in Natalie Portman's character. The perfectionism, it does kill. Consider this, if you will: I graduated second in my class, the whole time considering myself borderline moron. I never once looked at myself and thought, "Dang girl, you've got some brains!" I always thought things like, "I studied the right material" or "I'm only at the top because the smart people don't do the work". I still believe that. Being second in my class had nothing to do with intelligence, but rather it had everything to do with dedication to my schoolwork. If anything it cements the thought into true fact that I'm a moron because I spent so much time concentrating on grades and none of it actually enjoying myself. I also, when I entered university, felt that there was no way I would ever succeed. I figured if I wasn't smart enough to graduate first in my class, what made me smart enough to succeed at the University of Texas-Austin? Ugh, and don't even get me started on body image! Bottom line: perfectionism is a serious problem. I go through depressive states, and I think every single one has been caused by my constant need to be perfect. When I don't hit my expectations, I just bring myself down even further. It's a vicious cycle. I've tried going about not being perfect, because I absolutely hate it when people compare me and my brothers. In the end I ended up going back to my perfectionism because that's who I am. I hated myself for not being me. Then again I hate myself for being me. Gahhh. 
Anyway, after that horrid tangent (sorry!!) let me get back to this semester. I'm taking Biomechanics, Issues in Sport, Exercise, & Outdoor Activities, Physiological Assessment (super excited for this!!), Sport Nutrition, and Motor Control & Learning. I'm freaking out. I'm freaking about everything except Issues in Sport, Exercise, & Outdoor Activities. It comes back down to the fact that I don't feel like I'm smart enough. I just hear the name "biomechanics" and fear shoots down my spine. I'll get through it, though. No worries! I've kind of been dreading this semester anyway. Last year I went home for Christmas, and when I came back I felt like everything had changed. Around the first weekend in February, the people I thought were my friends went out sledding (the one and only time I will ever see snow/ice in Austin, TX), didn't send me any invites, and posted pictures on facebook. A few days later I get asked by another friend if I went sledding with them all. I had no idea what to say. I just said, "No, I didn't get the invite." One of the girls who was in the group of "friends" was like, "Oh, Chandrie, I'm so sorry. I was supposed to send you a text, but I kind of forgot."
Wow. Really? So, when everyone (there's about 7 of us in a group) got together, no one thought, "Where's Chandrie?" No one asked why I couldn't come? No one noticed that I wasn't there? I go home for break, and everyone just forgets that I exist. Then the whole semester I'm having a hard time excelling in Anatomy, so I've got this perfectionism driving me down, feeling totally ignored, sent into this huge depression, and no one noticed. No one said anything to me. I was terrified of that happening this year as well. Terrified. I nearly didn't want to come back after Christmas. Thankfully, I've been dead wrong! I have the best friends in the world here. I'm still a bit nervous because of some recent developments in my friend circle, but it'll pull through. I love it here. I don't want to ever go back to Austin.
I'm still freaking out about classes, though! 

Alrighty, sorry about that. I shouldn't blog at night... I desperately needed to get that anxiety off my chest though. It's pretty much been sitting there since early December. Anyway, since I'm aiming my blog at potential study abroaders, y'all can completely understand my smarts anxiety! Right? Future study abroaders and potential study abroaders, don't let smarts anxiety keep you from going to wherever you please! If you study enough and put in the work, you can do well in your classes. The experience is worth it. Just be sure you keep on top of your studies; do not let it pile up until exam time. Also, do your reading and pay attention. They do ask questions specifically pertaining to the reading material.

*Sigh*. Well, my entry isn't nearly as, uh, unusual as the last one. I'm feeling a bit weighed down lately, just from that mounting anxiety. I haven't had exams to make me loopy for about a week... one more week off before modules start up! I do miss the loopiness it sends me through though! Ah well, plenty of that to come. Haha.

Oh! Fun fact before I leave you with this oh so cheery post: If you say, "I have 4 finals... 3 down and one to go! Did you finish your finals?" your British companions will look upon you in utter confusion. They do not say finals, they just say exams. 

Ok, well I'm going to head to bed I suppose. My flatmates are drunk and I'm heading to the gym first thing in the morning! Adios!

...

Nos da!

Friday, January 13, 2012

You'd Think Killing People Would Make Them Like You...

... but it doesn't. It just makes them dead.

Any guesses at to the source of the quote?? Ha, it's really nerdy, I'll give you that as a hint!

Alrighty, well, methinks it's time for an update! A real one, not a George Harrisonesque update, no matter how fine that man may have been.
I'm now back in the lovely Bangor! Fun fact: I originally put "I'm not back in the lovely Bangor!" How false that is, my friends. I'm back, and somewhat loving it! Not going to lie, having exams does put a dent in being back. I wouldn't have it any other way, though. Well, if I could have it sans exams I'd have it that way.
I flew out of the tropical Salt Lake City on January 7th? I think? Oh, just kidding. I flew out the 6th and got into the U.K. on the 7th. What was great about flying in this time is I knew exactly what I was doing, where I was going, and how I was getting there. Once you get used to the tube and trains (THE TUBE CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT!) travel is a piece of cake, chocolate or vanilla, take your pick! Or we could say German chocolate cake since I'm trying to be abroad. Sorry, I'm in a funky mood (will explain momentarily).
Ok, focus Cook. So, I flew in and caught the tube to Waterloo and from there caught a train to Salisbury.

What? Salisbury? 'Why Salisbury', you ask? Simple explanation. My friend, Dan, lives down in Salisbury, so my other friend, Carla, and I caught trains to Salisbury and carpooled up to Bangor with Dan. 'Twas fun, but man, I was exhausted. I'd gotten up around 5.50am on January 6th in Utah to catch my flight to London, my flight arrived in London around 6.45am on the 7th, and then I didn't get to sleep until 9.30 that night, about 2.30pm in Utah. I'm pretty proud that I never fell asleep! My sleep deprivation skills are becoming quite impressive, if I do say so myself. Although it does put me in the weirdest of moods. No, that's not the explanation for my current mood. Fun story, I met this cool guy studying abroad in London on the tube. It was nice having a travel companion while I was on the tube. That's the cool thing about studying abroad: you get out of your shell (if you have a pretty thick one, like me), you talk more, and you meet some really cool people from all over the world. While in Prague, one of the girls who ended up in my room was from Germany. She was quite nice, but liked to smoke pot at 4 in the morning. Sorry if I've mentioned this in a past entry!

Alright, so back in Bangor! A hint for those traveling from the west to the east: don't go to sleep once you arrive. Just get on your feet and keep going. It's the easiest way to adjust to the time change. Some people advise changing your clocks/watches once you get on the plane to adjust to the time zone you'll be entering and then acting as if you're there already. They then say don't take sleeping pills because it screws up your internal (or circadian) rhythm. I think it's a grand idea, but if you're like me, you won't get to sleep if you're not tired. You'll just sit there and think. For ages. I did that just this morning. 2 hours of thinking... at 4 am... that was crap. No, that's not the reason for my funky mood. Nearly there! Anyway, my advise? Try to sleep, if you can't, busy yourself and keep going until bedtime that night. It'll be tough, but you're in for the best sleep of your life. I slept 12 hours on Sunday night. That was the most magnificent thing EVER. Another hint: don't plan on flying in the day before an exam. It will mess you up. I didn't, and I am so glad. Having a couple of buffer days allows you to get back on schedule and get back to normal. It also gives you extra study time!

Ok, I've arrived at the explanation for my funky mood:
EXAMS.


Oh gosh. I swear, exams are horrid. Psychologically, physically, emotionally... it drains you in more than one way. Now, I'm preaching to the choir, I realize that. However, differences!


In the States there's always the chance of final exemptions. Not a chance here. At least not a chance from what I've seen. The exams are a bit more chill, I've noticed. Well, not for me because I'm an anal anxiety-ridden mess of a student (always have been!), but for most people I'm surrounded by they're pretty chill. The general mood I've come across is, "If I fail, I'll just sit the class again. No big deal." Magnificent! Why can't I be chill like that?! That's definitely not the general idea in the States. In the States it's, "If I don't pass this class, I'll fail, my GPA will die, I'll never get my degree, my parents will cut me off, I'll go to clown school, and I'll be a failure the rest of my life!"


Your future.

Just kidding. Kind of. Anyway, the chill mood is a huge difference. Then when you go into the exam room, they're not as anal about checking for cheaters and phones. They're really trustworthy. Not that I tried cheating! I promise you, I did not. I feel bad just lying about taking a piece of my brother's gum. 

... you stole my gum...?

Yeahhh, that's one of my baby brothers! Ain't he cute?? Ha, sorry. Exams. They're killer. Anyway, oh! I love this about exams here! So, instead of the classic bubble sheet and bluebook, they have this white piece of paper for the multiple choice where you put an X in the box instead of filling in a circle. Plus you can use blue ink, black ink, or a pencil. I like having options. Then for the short answer questions they actually provide the exam booklet for you. How cool is that?! I think it's brill! I always forget to buy a bluebook until the last minute. Those are the only differences I can think of at the moment. Good grief, I've done so much studying this week. My brain is a pile of poo at the moment.

I had two exams on Tuesday, one for Sport & Exercise Physiology and then another for Introduction to Sports Science for Coaches. The Sport & Exercise Physiology exam was going to kill me, I thought. That's pretty much the only exam I studied for over Christmas break (yeah, there's another difference... one that sucks...) and I studied so much on Monday for it. That class has frustrated me to no end. I study for it, I do the readings, I spend hours on my lab reports, and yet I managed 2 C+s on the reports and one C. I did everything I could. I did so much research and reading. Each report took at least 5 hours of my time. At least. I got an 85 on the multiple choice exam I had to take while I was in Prague. That was good, but I'm still scared to death I failed. That exam was tough, and I'm really worried about my first short answer. The second one I know I annihilated, but that first one... ugh, I don't want to talk about it anymore.

So! Introduction to Sports Science for Coaches! That was probably the funnest exam I have ever had, and I would take it again in a heartbeat! Just for fun! Yeah... I am that nerdy. What did it consist of? Let me explain. The exam was pre-released, and we had all Christmas break to plan our answer. It didn't take me long, to be honest. There were two questions, and we just had to answer one. We could either devise a nutrition plan for a specific sport or create a training plan for a specific sport. You had to include references and back up your reasons with scientific logic, and not just 'Well, it works for me'. Originally I was going to do basketball because I had a group presentation to do for a considerably large portion of my grade (87-did alright!) about the most important psychological aspects of the sport, but in the end I went with my true passion: running.

That's me and my momo! I'm on the left. The one with her mouth wide open. I obviously talk a lot.

Nerd confession: I read about marathon training for fun. I also research running forums, research articles, and magazine articles for fun. Given how much I've done already, putting together a plan really was a cinch, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just had to track down specific sources (I never note where I find information from, I just note if it's credible) and I was good to go. I'd just like to say that Hal Higdon is my hero, and I adore him. Love you, Hal! He'll probably never see that, but that's ok. 

Anyway, two exams down and two more to go! Until today! This morning I had the exam for Psychology of Sport Performance. I felt pretty confident in my ability to pass (until the end, but that's how it always goes), but it was brutal. There were three sections. Section A was short answer, and I think there were about 5 questions in it. I was able to answer all but one (the information was right there, I could nearly see it in my brain!). The one I couldn't answer was only 2 marks out of 20, so I wasn't too terribly disheartened. Then section B was multiple choice, no big deal. Or so I thought. Some of those questions were really quite difficult. That section was worth 35 marks. I was feeling a bit worried at the end of this. Section C was a case study about a guy named AB who was a nervous wreck. He'd recently been moved up from the reserve team to the firsts team, but his cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety had increased whereas his self-confidence had decreased. According to Marten et al.'s multidimensional anxiety theory this would result in a decrease in performance. Poor ol' AB also was experiencing twitching, intra-sender communication problems from the team manager, and lack Group Integration-task and Attraction to Group-task. Ha, sorry, I'm proud of myself for remembering! Anyway, that was where it got really brutal. 14 questions, and most of those were short answer! Moving on from there, I nearly didn't finish in time! 5 minutes to spare, ladies and gents. I probably completely missed the last question, but I wrote the crap out of the rest of them. Fingers crossed I passed!

So that was this morning. I've pretty much been studying ever since. Want to know what I'll look like come Monday afternoon?

This will be me.

I look forward to this. Just kidding, but I do absolutely love this picture. Gets a giggle out of me anytime! This will be me.




Ok, I couldn't help myself. I absolutely love this video! Back to serious.
Anyway, ugh, I've been studying all day, and I'll be studying all day tomorrow as well. I know, right? I studied all day after a brutal exam? Intense and impressive. Just kidding. The last exam is for Physical Activity for Health, and it is on Monday morning at 9am. I'm quite stressed about this one as well, to be honest. I've gotten either 90s or 95s on the two multiple choice exams we had in there on week 7 and week 12, but the final is worth 70%. It wouldn't be so bad, but it's multiple choice and short answer. The only way to get top marks is to include sources in the short answer. I hate that. I do read the resources, and I remember most of the information, but I have a bugger of a time remembering the authors and the years. I really hope I do well... I've studied a lot for it, and I'm thinking I'll do alright. I just have to pass (the classes transfer for credit), but I still freak about this stuff. Who has two thumbs and constant high anxiety? This girl!

Well folks, that's another difference you need to be aware of when studying abroad in the United Kingdom: know your resources! Lovely fact about Bangor, though? Once I finish exams I should have about two weeks before the next semester starts up. That'll be nice.

Oh, also, sad update about my New Years resolutions. Yeah... the one about not dropping an electronic device in the toilet? That kind of happened... on New Years day... at 10.20am... I was brushing my teeth and my phone flew into the toilet. It was quite sad. It works, though! Happy days. I'm still bummed that the resolution died so young in the year. My camera still turns on from its swim in the toilet on December 30th, but the screen is all black, and when it takes pictures all it sees is darkness. Not going to lie, I'm really depressed about my camera dying. 

Ugh. Ah well, it is just a camera. I'll get another one some day. There is one thing I want to touch on though before I part. Integration. Once you study abroad, the place you go leaves a bit of it in you, and there's a good chance it'll make you feel out of place once you return to your home country. I don't really know how to describe it, but once I was in Utah for the break I felt a bit out of place. I got over it alright, but there was still this background feeling. I don't know where it came from or anything, and I may just be an oddball. Then when I got back to the U.K. it was weird, because I'm not British. It's like the African American population after the Civil War. One idea was to take the ex-slaves and ship them back to Africa, which was tried. However, African Americans weren't African, they were American. They didn't fit in in Africa. At that moment in history, they didn't fit in in the United States either. They were out of place, not really having a country to call home. I'm not at all saying that I'm just like those poor folks. Heavens, no. What I'm saying is that I feel a bit separate from my fellow Americans (not entirely), and I do feel a bit separate from my British homies (hey now, y'all say trousers... they're pants!), but I consider Bangor my home, at least for now. I love it here! This first week back was rough because I felt really out of place, I desperately need my loan to come in, I haven't heard if I've been accepted, and I have exams that are killing me, but I love it here. Y'all have got a snowball's chance in Hell of convincing me to go back to Austin! Anyway, hope y'all are doing well! I need to do some more revision... fingers crossed on my exams, yeah?

Nos da!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Random Thought...

If I saw a guy dressed like this:


I would be his forever.

Why is this on my blog? Well, folks, George Harrison is British! I'm studying abroad in Great Britain! It all links together.


Side note, though, for consistent readers-
It doesn't take much to win my heart. Point out a toilet when my bladder is about to burst, dress like Mr. Harrison, and I am yours forever.

FOREVER.

Nos da!