Confessions of a drinker student abroad

Saturday, October 30, 2010


So, this morning I had a realization. Some of you reading may already know what that was, some of you can figure it out pretty quick. Maybe watching too much Scrubs has made me really think about life and love, maybe I've realized that if I'm willing enough to hurl myself bodily into people twice my size just so I can get back up and do it again, then I should fight for something that means even more. Then came the realization that all I want to do is spend every dime I have (which is zero, all I have are 20p coins) on a plane ticket back.

Love isn't something that you approach statistically, it's not something you just do if you 'feel' it. Love is that thing that happens when you realize you have grown up, and the thing you really want is already in your life. Suddenly all the potential future adventures pale in comparison to that need. All my dreams were exactly that, dreams, but now I realize that the thing I want has been staring me in the face. Sadly, some piece of logic deep down inside has insisted I stick this year out, get the piece of paper, but in reality, for the possibility of this one thing happening, I would live forever in a hovel like the one I'm in now, and eat spaghettios and grilled cheese, if only I could come home at night to a smile from her.

So, if you're in Wales and wondering why I failed to continue my streak of drinking and socializing with anyone and everyone this week, now you know the answer. Some things in this life are worth fighting for, waiting for, and working for. If a jersey with my name on it is worth the battering I take every week (and it totally is) then for damn sure this is worth going to the ends of the earth.

Now all that's left is to work and pray that my road leads me home as swiftly as possible. Now time for a shoddy poem.

A Home near the corn

As the skies turn gray and rain falls down
I can never tell if Wales is welcoming me or not
These rolling hills where ancient men lived
These forests where the deer ran proud
These rivers and bays, the cool clear springs
These are not for me

Give me a home in the fields that lie gold in the sun
And a shed by the brook where the rabbits run
A garden out back and a house on the hill
Give me snows in the winter, make me cold and forlorn
But for the sake of this angel
Give me a home near the corn

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fair play and lashing

Not really much of a descriptive title, but those are some of my new favorite expressions over here. Fair play lines up with 'Fair enough' and other such murmurs of lack of disapproval. Lashing however, well, it's less a word, and more an experience, it is an ethereal idea, one of those rare concepts that can drag mankind up from the dusty hovels in which he dwells to contemplate the universe and the meaning of life...yeah, is pretty much means getting schwasty-faced and running around shenanigizing.

I'm not going to go back and recap the weekend, cause let's face it, most of my time was spent away at camp, or out with the team. We did have a birthday party for Sagarika :) over at Uni Kitchen, sadly I was so knackered from camp all week that I was essentially worthless...except for baiting the posh NY girl...I do love irritating people who feel superior but are in fact superfluous. That's right ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it's Big Word Night...maybe it's cause I've been smacked in the head more than a rented ginger donkey, or maybe it's lack of sleep, either way, fair play.

So, Wednesday night was social night with the Cobras and Cheerleaders. I went as the obligatory cowboy...I mean, since I own 90% of the costume anyway. So pre-lash was at Matt's house...or at least one of them was. It was only me, Danny and Matt, so we pounded a pint or two, then went up to the Woodville, there we ran into about half the crew. Woodville was really expensive though, and kind of snobby about serving a bunch of guys in drag and random costumes, so we bailed and went down to the Mackintosh, one pint, then juked to Gassy jacks before cutting back to Vulcan. That's where we ran into the cheerleaders...and all the trouble/fun started. We then commenced to lash about, then headed up to Solus for a proper party. Here is where the story stops, what happens at the Lash stays at the Lash, but in all fairness, I did not get arrested, or in generally do anything terrible. I actually turned down a girl who offered to trade me her friend for my cowboy hat...stupid slag.

Today was nice, just an easy lazy day. Well, up until training. Both our fullbacks were missing, so Ryan took TE and I took FB, and we pounded ourselves...or rather, we just ran and the defense took care of pummeling us. I've been kicked, stomped, punched, slammed on the ground, and headbutted. My toe is bleeding, my nose bled, my arms are so sore I can't lean on anything, my hands ache and I had a brilliant time, despite my tactical chunder during scrimmage. Sadly I forgot to dragon. (brief explanation of terms, a tactical chunder should be self-explanatory, but to dragon is to wrest victory from the very jaws of defeat by flapping one's arms and roaring mid spew, leading to a legendary compilation of pain and awesome.)

Now though I've had a shower, and some sweet chicken nuggets...woot. Time for a brief chat, then off to bed. Bristol in a week and a half...gonna be ledge. Hopefully soon I'll have more deep thoughts to share. Cheers.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The International House

There is a sadness embedded over here
It creeps in between the steel and stone
While we may sit at dinner together
Hearts and minds drowned out by chatter
At night we lie alone

Far from our countries, far from our homes
Broken hearts hung on poster-board walls
With pictures and phrases and bits of a tune
We all sit and pretend that we aren't in our rooms
The pubs and the clubs keep our feet here
Even while our minds wander the paths we know
But when the music fades and dancing stops
After friendly goodbyes and quiet walks
At night we lie alone

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stars and Boulevards

Finally friday, whew! It's been a long week, what with classes and football. Last night we trained pretty hard, my performance was abysmal, couldn't catch, couldn't hit, then got a hip sprain in the first scrimmage play. Oh well, what doesn't kill you and all that jazz.

Pretty good day today though, classes were boring, but hanging out with people in between classes is fun. Talking politics with Scott and Alex, then sports and girls with Kieran and Decklan. We've also assembled a little group for the walks back to Talybont. Arna, Alex, Tanvir and I all live here, and Karl lives nearby, so it certainly lightens the walk when you have people to chat with. We started with Russian Literature today, and ended up with bear fighting....which is about how every conversation should end ever.

No particularly deep thoughts so far today, just resting, thinking of how bad my arm hurts. Tonight we're going out to meet the guys from Imperial before camp starts tomorrow. Don't worry if I don't contact you on Saturday...or Sunday until the evening. I'll be out hitting people 8 hours a day two days in a row, sounds like a classic weekend.

At least last night we got some free entertainment. It was smurf night as some student club in Cardiff, so that means there were more scantily clad blue women than James Cameron could have imagined.

Other than that not much has happened, classes go on, I get it more and more every day which I reckon is a good thing. That's about all for now, time to catch a nap before heading down to walkabout. Cheers.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

quick clays and quicker plays

Well, wearily waiting for the waning of the light, I hereby warn the world of the approaching wraith...thursday. That's right, it's Wednesday night and I wrote a 300 word essay in about 20 minutes...quite a decent one I might add, I was able to get on a track with it and just run.

Geology today was interesting, we examined quick clays today, which is actually a pretty fascinating material. Essentially it's standard clay, but once it's disturbed it turns into a liquid in a matter of seconds. It's complicated electrochemistry, but essentially it's now mostly water, but if you add salt it turns back into clay. It's pretty cool.

We had a tutor was pretty pointless. I said hi to my tutor, she said hi back...that was it. The free food was nice though, never turn down free food. I got to hang out with Arna more today, she's cool. We had an impromptu geography quiz on the map Alex has in his binder, I think everyone was shocked I get them all right.

Alex and I have been walking back together, he lives down in house 21, and we're usually sitting together anyway. Usually we talk about politics, or history, or some such crap. It's fun, and makes it less miserable walking back after a long day.

Tonight I went for a first lift, as much weight as I've lost, I think a lot of it was in my muscles. I couldn't throw up 80 kilo like I used to. It felt good though, getting back into it. Time to get stronger and hit people harder.

This weekend we have a camp with ICL, I get to pay those guys back for not letting me into their school, woot. crazy weekend though, meet up Friday night at Walkabout, crash early, practice all day saturday, bar hopping with the guys that night, practice all day sunday, Sagarika's birthday party at night. Should be a lot of fun.

This year is going to take forever, but hopefully with school and football I can focus on one week at a time. Not like it's tough, so much DE to relearn, so much new concrete and geology. Oh well, nothing like a fun busy schedule to make me forget where I am.

Well, it's time for me to pass out, have to get up early and print of a paper for management. So long world, good night moon.


Monday, October 18, 2010


Oh, if only Dickens could see what South Park did with Great Expectations. It is so unbelievably awesome. Like, Robot Monkeys awesome, genesis devices awesome, so completely better than the original. Danny just finished showing me a card trick, he's a nice guy.

Tonight's pretty good, just chilling, had nachos...yeah, pointless stuff, but it's a pretty pointless day. So, now I'm watching South Park...gotta kill a few braincells after today, I actually understood the steel design lecture, I had to explain it to a few people, it was especially surprising since I fell asleep five minutes in and understood nothing, when I woke up 10 minutes later it all made sense. Woo for fresh starts. Kind of miss Rose though, I already feel the pressure of exams coming, and it's four months away.

I miss home today, quite a bit. Although it might be less home I miss, and more her. The home has become a concept to me. I'm not sure where my home will be, but it's not here. Music helps. All the music I used to listen to but haven't lately, all my good American Music. A&A, Blink, Anberlin, it all carries me back across the ocean. Usually it's associated with driving. Terre Haute in winter, Dashboard, TH in spring, Anberlin, TH in fall and the road to Chicago Angels and Airwaves. I guess in some ways that became my home for the past four years. I miss the lake and the woods, the fields and the creek, the fact that we were miles away from anything.

I guess that's one reason I love football, for 2 hours three days a week I'm not in the UK anymore. I'm home, bashing someone as hard as I can. Enough about football for now. For the past three nights we've been going up to the Social Centre just to have a drink or two and relax. I've met Kirsten (dating a 1st squad player from the English National Rugby team) Sophie, current attachment unknown, and that's about it. Paul (one of the student wardens) is usually up there doing a crossword or something and we talk about everything. Two nights ago it was politics, boxing and everything in between. I like talking politics and such with the Brits, they're nice, can carry on a rational discussion that isn't filled with party slander, and they understand that a 2 party system stinks.

Don't get the impression that life over here is bad, it's beautiful, but it's not my kind of beauty. It's some place I'm enjoying visiting. But I want to see home, I want my mountains again, the tall limbless pines, kudzu. Maybe my road doesn't lead there just yet though. Maybe it's to Accra, Delhi, Shanghai, or Aubergne. Here's hoping it's a beautiful trip back. Cheers.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting well

Well, four days later, as Decklan put it, I look like death warmed over, but I feel pretty good. My eye also looks sweet, as apparently the sinus pressure forced a blood vessel to burst, woot.

On the bright side I managed to sit through all lectures today without skipping. Mostly boring stuff, Structural Mechanics was all about buckling...and big surprise so was Steel Design. So we spent two hours doing the exact same thing but with different variables, which confused a lot of people. For lunch I sat in the lounge with our resident old timer, he's doing the course part time after working in industry for a while, nice guy.

The past few days have been different. I've made a realization, that to me seems pretty grand, and it was relatively simple, just wait and see instead of rushing ahead to read the end. On the even brighter side, my pants don't fit me anymore. Even cinching up the belt tight just makes it look weird, I think I've dropped about 6 kilo since I've been here, (bout 1 stone), and now that my money is in I can join the gym and start hitting people harder. Woot!

The days are getting colder, the mornings are later, but all the time I'm thinking of home. I was whistling Yankee Doodle today while walking down the street before I realized it. I caught a girl smiling at me when I was talking to Tom and referred to a guy as faster than lightning on a greased plate, so I might have slipped the drawl on to utter a phrase like that, and I'm sure it sounded funny. All the girls here have such elfin features, it's weird, I feel like I should have a bow and latent homosexual feelings to be around chicks like that, but rather I feel more like Gimli, probably cause I'm short, love beer, have a sweet beard, and love smashing things up...dude, Gimli was awesome. Maybe I can have that be the name on my jersey. That would be sweet! I feel like going out and knocking heads together...probably not the best idea, I think instead we'll go have a quiet pint and get to bed early. Haha, who am I kidding, we won't have a pint. Pretty soon I'll have to write up a dissertation proposal for the department...I wonder how probable it is that they'll let me do the nanomechanics of carbon nanotube reinforced concrete, perhaps with graphene sheathing for weather protection if we get time....yeah, that'll never happen. Enjoy the rest of your day western world.


Thursday, October 14, 2010


Love is patient but it makes us blind
Love is not saying you are mine
Love is saying if you hold my hand
We'll take on the world, together we'll stand

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Endings

The past few days have been relatively quiet. You know, apart from catching a cold and feeling absolutely miserable, still going to training while feeling like that, and putting two veteran linebackers on the ground...(okay, so I got put down several times first).

Right now it's early morning, I'm lying in bed because I don't want to go back to sleep, and I don't actually have to be up for another hour or so. It's odd how sometimes the most eventful weekends are the ones with the fewest stories that arise. On friday we went to the Euro 2012 qualifier (yeah, be jealous) between Wales and Bulgaria (okay, the match was terrible, but I was close enough to have spit on the goalie).

It was a great experience though, granted, I wish I'd been able to get us all tickets up with the Bulgarians, they were in their own secluded corner of the stadium with a police escort, and they looked to be having fun.

On the walk back we had to stop to pick up Debjani, I'm not sure why but something lit a fire in me (unrelated to initial clause other than timing) so I took off. At first I was running to catch up to Sagarika so she wasn't walking by herself along the dark street, but then I couldn't stop. Yard after yard my feet stretched along the pavement under the streetlamps. My lungs burned and my legs ached after training but there was a path before me that was calling me to run.

Over the weekend events transpired that led to a powerful lesson, the tale is not mine to tell, but the moral remains with me. When you are with someone, if you don't know if it's love, try to imagine life without them. If there's a hole there, a lack of breath, and impossibility to wrap your head around (I'm not talking kiddy Twilight BS, I mean literally) then it just might be love. Minor imperfections are not what define us ("oh he only hits me when he drinks" or "She only sleeps around when I work" are not minor imperfections; ditch 'em) What defines us is whether or not we are willing to truly put our own pride aside for another. Man is by nature proud, some pride is good, the pride in a job well done, the pride of convictions; but what truly makes a man is when he is able to willingly cast aside his pride for the sake of someone else, whether that someone else be dear, or merely a friend, or even a stranger.

Not much else has happened lately. Yesterday Dan, and myself and two girls whose names I tragically do not remember had coffee in the cafe before Steel Design. Dan is Kazakh, one of the girls was also, and the other was Nepalese. We represented one of the most interesting groups, we had Hindu, Christian and Muslim all sitting at the same table. Maybe it's a trait of postgraduates, or maybe it's that the people that come all the way to the UK to study are a bit more open than others, but we were able to have an interesting, respectful discussion of each other's cultures based both on religion and also on Nationality. The Kazakh's have one of the most awesome traditions ever, although trying to transfer it to America would be bad. If a guy and a girl are in love, and the girl's parents refuse consent, then all they have to do is conspire together and the guy kidnaps the girl for seven days. After that point the parents must give consent. The thought of someone doing that in the States made me laugh so hard I almost snorted Coke out my nose. Sadly I had to dash the illusion that in America there is an underground dance scene where gangs compete for street supremacy in back alleys during special effects thunderstorms. That's when I realized that as much as Hollywood messes with our perceptions of other countries, it does the same to them about us. Maybe before we ever go to war over cultural differences, all political leaders will be forced to sit together in a bar and drink. Seems to me like that would either clear up the conflict, or they could get in a barfight and kill each other, saving all of us the trouble of dying.

Now I'm off to shower and get to Eng Management...woo...yeah...peace.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Drive

So, this post just kind of came about. Not much happened yesterday, calm day, but we went out for pizza at the Uni Kitchen as a group, and that was a lot of fun, I never knew you could order chicken curry pizza, woot!

After that we walked up to the Social Centre to play some pool, but everyone was really tired, so after two games we decided to leave. On the way out the door however I fell into conversation...okay, so I chatted them up, with two girls. Lisa and Mari, both first year Medicine students, both not slags, nor dressed as slags. Probably because Lisa was 25, so she's gotten over the immaturity of the 18 year olds. We talked for a bit, about the ridiculousness of that skirt over there...or the total lack of pants on that girl over there (sidenote, stockings and hotpants are not a valid combination to go clubbing in) then about music. We probably talked about music since the TV's were playing MTV Dance, and it was terrible. She and I share a similar music taste, both love guitar music...and she is totally not over her ex-boyfriend. Sweet girl, but I think she mentioned him 5 times in 1 20 minute chat. Sadly, I was not in a position to probe, or ask if she needed someone to talk to about it. Then last call came, we left, they left, and Patty and I walked back.

Today we had to sit through the most boring management lecture. In case the guy didn't know, the point of an organizational flow chart is to rapidly communicate concepts, without the need to go into great detail for 10 minutes...which is totally what we did.

Later in the day, after buying my rugby boots (16 quid, team colors, flipping sweet), we were all sitting around in the Eng Lounge waiting for Hydro. 'We all' being myself, Tanvir (Bangladesh), Alex (Latvia, even though he said Russia at first, when I found out he was from Latvia I was like, "That's not Russia" and he was shocked an American knew the difference). It was a fun class though, met a new Kazakh girl, new Russian girl, Welsh guys, of course all the Chinese kids still aren't talking to us, but it's okay, we make an entertaining group by ourselves.

After class Carl, Tanvir and I went up to the Union to shoot some pool while I waited for the football team to get there. When we did meet, there weren't enough cars, so we had to ferry people out to Llanrumney, which is like a 20 minute drive one way. Once we all got over there it was a rush to get dressed and kit up. I ran into the RB coach and asked if he wanted me to work with them today. He said definitely, so I got to kit up. After stretching, we worked on blocking and taking handoffs, then the fun part started. We set up a V of cones, with the base towards the running backs. Basically, we ran through the start, then chose a direction. They put a barrier in the middle so we couldn't veer off and switch. Then, at the top of the V stood a linebacker. The goal of the drill was to teach them to tackle us, and teach us to make them regret trying. Allegedly this is one that the LB's love, and the RB's hate. Not sure where that stereotype came from, but we changed it.

Brew went first, he trucked his guy. I was up against a veteran, but I got lower than him so we stood each other up and I still got a yard or two. Second round came, and I did even better. It was a rookie LB, and I got a bit outside of him, knocked him to his back, then went on. Third round I was up against Ollie, Ollie doesn't believe in mercy for rookies. He got a pretty good hit on the side of my helmet which rattled me, so I skipped the fourth round, but everyone was really cool about it. The Running Backs are a really tight group, we're all around the same height, some heavier than others, and we love to run through people.

After that, we did Winners drill. It's where the offense lines up against the defense in a variety of drills, one point is awarded to whichever side wins the drill. First side to 7 wins. Winner gets to cheer on the losing side while they run sprints at the end of practice. First winner drill is one fullback, one halfback, and a D Lineman. It's essentially an Oklahoma. Defense tries to knock down the ball carrier or force him out of the square. Offense tries to score. Charlie's running at halfback behind me, and we power through. By the time we switch to the secondary drills the Offense is up 4-1. The DB's cream the Receivers in a foot race, so we go back to the RB drills with the Defense ahead 6-5. First Brew, then Chris sneak through, so we're up 7-6. If Charlie and I fail we go back to the foot race with the Defense tied, and they'll win that one. Coach says go quietly, so I get a two step start on the D-lineman, and he doesn't stand a chance. Charlie blows by us on the left and the offense lets out a cheer.

After that we did a light drill to learn the holes and play calls before we tried it life with O-line and defense. Then we line up against the big boys. D-line and LB's against O-line and two little running backs. Brew and Chris pound it through for a 6 yard gain, then it's up to me and Charlie again. The O-line has the two linemen, so I end up taking a pounding from a linebacker who snuck around the side. After that Coach Tranter pulls me aside to work on my stance. Next chance I get it's Chris and I teamed up. We go left, I buried my helmet in the chest plate of one lineman, arm around another, and force the whole group forward. Granted, they had lined up the smaller guys on that side, but I still felt beastly.

We had to stand around for a while after practice to catch rides back, but when we got back Sagarika made us Rice with custard, and it was awesome. Then after chatting with everyone for a bit, it was time for a long hot shower and to relax. So here I am, sitting around, my wrist is bruised, my hand is bruised, there's a welt on my left tricep, and every muscle in my body aches, but I am completely happy.

It's been so long since I've had to push myself, so long since i had to keep going through a difficulty to achieve something I want. I don't just want to play this game for the next year, I need to. I need to test myself and see how much I can really do, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. I need to see that I can get back up after getting knocked around, again and again. It won't always be pleasant, and a lot of mornings I'm going to feel like I've been beaten with a bat, but inside I am on fire and so intensely happy to have pushed through. Don't worry about me. I will get hurt, hopefully not injured, but I will get beaten up, but isn't that what we all need sometimes? We need to be knocked down, we need to feed that fire inside us that pushes us onward and upward, if we let it go too long we may lose it. I'm not saying you should all go play football, I'm just saying remember, when life kicks you, physically or otherwise, get up, and make it regret it. Cheers!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A farewell to drinking

Whew, wow. Sorry for no update in so long. It's been a crazy rush. So, Freshers Ball, it was terrible...well, sort of. Loads of first years (as expected) and they were up to the usual crap. Some saucy tart threw a chip with mayo on it and hit me in the back of the head...on purpose, got it all over my jacket. I turned around and told her what I thought of her. Then she got like, embarrassed and offended and ran off. I asked someone and no, that isn't a chat-up line over here. I don't know what she expected me to do, but I certainly didn't want to make her acquaintance.

Then I fell in with some lads, apparently I had hung out in their flat last week. They found out I was Murrican and they started asking me how I felt about arabs...I wasn't sure how to respond. Turns out their with the EDL, when the rest of the group came out the fat one said something about 'pakis' so I just looked at him, said they were my friends, and told him he could jog on. I guess I wasn't racist enough for them, sorry chavs.

The night was wearing on, I was exhausted, and frightfully sober. Debjani said she was tired, so I offered to walk her back. That was nice though, she's a nice quiet girl. All the girls were dressed up and looking quite pretty, but Debjani's eyes had that extra sparkle to them. I escorted her to the doorstep, and bid her goodnight. She's a good kid, the kind of girl I would be interested in if I were different, or more sure of where life is leading me, sometimes it's nice though to have a brief taste of normality, even if it's just walking a lovely girl home safely, as a friend.

Monday was pretty uneventful, I slept it, cleaned up, went to the bank (my account opened finally, yaaay!), then down to the loan office to get my monies. Steel and Timber was pretty boring, it was just an intro class, but it looks like it might be fun, the professor said it's all qualitative analysis, very minimal calculations.

After a long walk back we had some beans, then I got dressed up for the social with the Cobras. I was the first one to the union, and i wasn't sure where we were going, so I stood around nervously. Then Brew and Scott showed up, and after Charlie and Matt got there we walked down to Lloyds, since there was a 15 minute wait for a cab, and the walk was 10 minutes.

At Lloyd's we had some beers, apparently over here it's okay for the guys to drink chick beer, but Tyler and I stuck to beer. We all walked down to Tiger Tiger after about an hour and got into our private room. They had free pitchers of vodka-redbull for us, so we all had some. I got into a bit of trouble, since they didn't have beer, and mixed drinks were cheap. They had a double shot of vodka with a half can of monster for only 2 quid, and some of us rookies got a bit carried away. Eventually Danny came over and asked if I needed a cab home, I most certainly did, so he helped me out, hailed a cab and deposited me in it.

Fortunately class today didn't start till 1, and Phil saved me by making some veg curry for lunch and making sure I drank water. My hangover set in around 1:30, right in the middle of advanced structural mechanics. We had that class for 4 hours today, since our concrete professor was sick. It's not actually that bad, most of the stuff I did in Structures 2. Also, since most of the class is Chinese the professor is going slow and explaining everything well.

After class we split up, Omar to get a railcard, Carl to cycle back and eat before training tonight. Me, I just walked back, stopped in to say hi to everyone on floor 1. Then I came up, dropped my bag and hoodie and headed over to the SC for chalkroom. That was pretty basic, just going over basics, most of which I know. Then we went out to the 3G pitch. We were split up after warmups into our groups. I went with the receivers again. We worked on starts and stances. Simon (our receiver coach) told us for each false start we do 5 pressups, which really isn't that bad.

Then we teamed up with the QB's and went over to run routes against the DB's. The QB that we got paired with recognized my voice from class this afternoon, turns out we're both MSc Civils so I'm not the only postgrad on the team. Woo! Sadly I didn't do well to start. I have to work on running through a well led ball. Then I bobbled one that I should have grabbed cleanly. Third time though I started to catch on, hehe, get it? We then went on a 5 completion streak, where 3 of them were me. Slot guy gets a lot of short balls and outs. I had to go up for one that was ahead of me, and Carl hit me while I was in the air. So there's actually 3 of us who are civil postgrads. Anyway, I spun round and landed on my shoulder, but I hung on to the ball.

Then we scrimmaged (just 2 hand touch) so we could get used to lining up and calling plays. I think I'm going to like playing slot, it's fun to run into people. And we get to kit up on Thursday and do it for real.

When I got back Sagarika had saved some Dahl and rice for me, but my stomach is cramping from all the running so I could only eat about half of it, it was really good though. Then I came upstairs, took a nice hot shower, which felt amaaaaazing. Then we hung out in Phil's room for a bit, then watched some Big Bang theory. That brings us to now, I'm laying down, resting and trying not to think of how much my legs ache. Now it's time for sleep though, big day tomorrow...not really, but hopefully I get money so I can get boots for Thursday. Happy Wednesday all you people round the world. Cheers.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feasts and Football

Whew, what a hectic 24 hours.

Well, yesterday I was a complete bum, didn't go out for jack, except to buy more booze. We cooked yesterday, and it was the most multinational meal I've ever had. Since a lot of people were coming we all made something. I made Beans and Rice, but had to use English sausage, then Xiao made fish with peppers and onions to go on it as well, while Sagarika made fried cauliflower in a chili sauce. Everyone got a big bowl of beans and rice, then topped it all off with everything else. It was ledge.

Post that we stepped out for a final night busting 1st year chops before our classes start. Everyone's feeling pretty out of it from the week and a half of partying. Most people go into bed, but a few of us stay out to finish our bottles. It doesn't end up being a bad night, John comes over and has a cigarette with us. We have discovered a new chat up line that has amazing success. Simply ask the girls if they want to come over and meet an American. Most of them squeal and ask me where I'm from while babbling the bits and pieces they've heard. Most of it is pretty funny, although one snotty wench got mad at me for not thinking of Vale Colorado off the top of my head instead of Aspen. I politely informed her that it was farther from my house to Vale than it was from here to anywhere else on this island. She got snippy, said she'd been to GA too and that she knew Atlanta. I congratulated her for knowing the capital city, then asked if London was around here somewhere. She didn't like the sarcasm, so she left in a huff. She came back later, turns out she'd actually been trying to tell me her name, Vale, in a cool way. I accepted her apology and we had a nice chat. Shortly after she left we all went in and called it a night.

This morning we woke up early and went to church. Sagarika tagged along to see the place, we had a nice breakfast, although my stomach is too uneasy to do anything more than drink tea. Mass was nice, they used Schubert's Mass in G for the Kyrie and Agnus. The choir there is quite good.

When we left it was bloody cold, and windy, so we walked up to the cafe and took a break, stopped in for some more tea. Nice folks that run it, wouldn't mind having a Sunday tradition there.

We walked Anita and Suja back to their flat, then the three of us made the long journey back to Taly South.

Once we got back I had to hurry and change for Rookie Day today. I walked over to the Social Centre, and felt a bit out of place. That went away pretty soon as we all grabbed kit and headed down to the fields. To get there you just go down the Taff to the south and cross the sketchy footbridge. Once we're there and everyone is ready we play some ultimate football as a warmup and greeting thing. It's basically Ultimate frisbee...but, you know...with a football. I pushed pretty hard, making some catches and knockaways I shouldn't have.

Once everyone else gets there it's getting sunny, and after a warmup jog and stretch we break down into groups. My group goes to the first station, lineman work. I'm paired off with Aledd, a local welsh guy. We both have fun, take it a bit farther than the other guys with the shoving, but we're in kit, pads and helmet, so it's all fun.

After around 10 minutes of lineman drills we go to the running back station, which consists of a lot of running, not much else. After that we went to DB's, practiced backpedaling, watching the quarterback, and picks. Then comes receiver training. The receiver coach asked if we had any quarterbacks, I raised my hand, cause I can throw better than most of the guys here, but he pushes me back and told me, "No, you're too good for that." So we run some routes, make some catches, I even had a tipup catch. Next is linebackers, kind of lame, then rest station, where they get our contact info and ask where we want to go for the competitive section. I told the coach I wasn't really sure, I just liked running into people. When everyone else is in, the receiver coach came over and told me I was coming back to work with them, then going over to the RB coach to do fullback work. The RB coach agreed that I needed to play fullback too, but they weren't doing any drills for that today, so I just went with the receivers. We did just some basic routes first, I dropped one but caught the next two. Then we swap with the other group of WR and get to face off against the defensive backs. Very first play I run a slant across the field, and the kid from North Carolina feeds me a nice one, a bit high and behind, so I have to jump and turn, which leads my side open to Aledd, who I'm faced off against again. He hits me in the ribs as I get the ball, after a bit of a fall the ground catches me and I come up with the ball. I get a cheer from all the sidelines, the coach reminds Aledd that he can't hit me till I get the ball, but it's all good fun.

The rest of the day passes without incident, but Brew told us that there's a social tomorrow at Tiger Tiger with all the cheerleaders, so that should be fun. I gotta run though for now, we're all getting ready for the Freshers Ball, despite being completely exhausted. Oh well, I can sleep in tomorrow before Steel&Timber.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kebabs and Fisticuffs

Well, yesterday was interesting. I left for my welcome session and to go to the bank. When I was a quarter mile from my house it started to rain. Since it has done that every day for about 10 minutes I figured I'd walk on through it. So, whistling Dixie and other assorted tunes I strode off to the bank. When I got there I met up with Ali. We stood in the queue for about thirty minutes, not that it was a bad experience, Rebecca, or Becky, stood behind us, and some Med student whose name I didn't catch and we chatted about various things.

One of the things I love about that bank, is they have all their posters in two versions, one in English, one in Welsh. That's not the funny part. The funny part is that it's the same picture of the same girl on both posters, but on the one in Welsh there is a noticeable effect put on the picture to make her hair redder and skin as well. Either that or for the English one they blonded her up.

Since I was talking it wasn't hard to spot me for what I was, and Becky asked what part of the states I was from, since she lived for a few years in Texas. Eventually we reached the teller, and surprise surprise, my account still isn't open. Not exactly sure what's going on, but that means I have to start being stingy.

So Ali and I walk back up to the Union to go to the Societies fair. Less because we're interested, more because we both have things to do in the afternoon down that way and neither wants to walk back to Taly. After the societies fair we grab lunch, 45p for a pack of crisps and eat them while watching the rain, hoping it will slow down soon. It doesn't, so I bite the bullet and start the long walk down to the Queens buildings. I get to the street door, but it's locked, so I have to go all the way round to the Parade entrance (another 1/4 mile in the rain). By the time I get in I'm soaked to the bone, and they have the building chilled.

Professor Rees tells us in no uncertain terms that we should really avoid screwing up, we have one shot, that's it. So with the proper fear put in us, I'm ready to spend all my free time between classes in the library studying, which was probably the point.

Afterwards, Omar and I discussed what we want to do for our dissertations, since we have to write up a proposal with the professor in the next few weeks if we want it to be on the list of options. We walked into City Centre after that, but neither of us had the money for anything so we walked back.

It's amazing how much better dry clothes can make you fell when you're completely soaked. Sagarika and I had to go to the Tesco's to get food for beans and rice today. I'm going to attempt Cajun cooking in a foreign country, this might be an epic failure.

When we got back she had forgotten her key, so we went over to the social centre to meet up with Phil and Patty, then AJ came too, so we shot pool, played ping pong for a bit. I'm getting better at pool, I can now make the ball do what I want about 1/3 times.

Last night there was a postgrad pub crawl, we should have known what it would be like, given that it's postgrads, but we gave it a shot. 13 of us walked down to the Union. On the way there we crossed the street, but the guy behind us fell down and almost got hit by a car. When Patty and I stepped out to help him he swore at us and took a swing. He was terribly drunk, so the swing just made him fall down. Since we couldn't get close enough to help him Abhirup and I stopped traffic until he could wander off the street on his own. Once he reached the sidewalk he started abusing us and trying to fight...given that he picked Patty as a first opponent I don't think he was quite bright, since Patty is the biggest guy in our group.

We pushed on past him, towards the Union. When we got there we went upstairs. All the tables were taken, all the groups were closed, some of them had a token foreigner, but most of them were pure British. So we set up in a corner at the last table and had some drinks. We all had a good laugh just talking, but we weren't sure how the crawl was going to turn out. When the girl running it told the fourth group to follow the guy in the Ochre shirt we all laughed, and Patty shouted out, "Primary Colors, love!" One cheeky wench at the next table made a face and said she hoped they didn't have to walk with us. Sadly, they nursed their drinks, and we were late getting in, so we were supposed to leave together. We all got up and went out for a smoke while those damn brits wrinkled their noses at us, we asked for a copy of the map so we could get a feel for where we were going, even though we were supposed to follow 'Edward'.

I ducked back in to memorize the map, since it was the last one and we had to give it to Edward. The girl running it came over and asked if we would wait to leave for the other group. I told her that they didn't want to walk with us, we'd heard them say so. Naturally she was all "Oh they wouldn't say that, noooo..." I looked her dead in the eyes and told her I'd bet her a pound that they had, and we didn't want to walk with people like that...although I might have called them something else.

We ended up leaving together anyway, but at the next pub we stood outside, then slipped off once everyone had grabbed a quick drink. One useful engineering skill, map memorization, we made it to the Vulcan without any mishaps. Once there some of us were standing outside, when we saw a place for Kebabs across the street. So we ran over there to get some late night food. Ali had found 10 quid in the street, so it was essentially a free meal. While we were standing there though a bunch of guys came to the door, one of them was recording while another stepped up and said he had a message for the manager. He was drunk, arrogant, and there was just the girl behind the counter. The message came from the Pensomething Boys, so I grabbed him by the arm and suggested he leave. He told me no, so I turned him round, and said to get out. Maybe it was that he was drunk, maybe it was that I still had my hand on his collar and was obviously sober and ready to break his head, but he made a good choice. Called me a nasty name, then said he was leaving of his own volition. I told him it was a good plan, and that he had a set amount of time to leave. They left...quite quickly. Stupid 16 year olds.

In other news the Kebab was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I guess the whole incident rattled me and pissed me off simultaneously. I was scared that there were more of them outside than I thought and I'd end up getting whupped, but I've grown sick and tired of these snotty kids abusing foreigners. (I saw a girl take a picture through one of our house windows the other night, then run away bragging she had a photo of the 'dirty chinese'. I don't recall ever before telling a girl she was a bitch to her face, but boy was that fun to see her expression. None of the guys in her group stood forth to defend her, but had plenty of things to say about me.) I still wish those chavs had wished to go further into the matter, but it's probably good they didn't. I hope they enjoy that video in days to come.

The whole incident left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and somewhat angry. You know you have good friends though when they can all tell, and are all worried about you. Well, one person in our group didn't notice, but my opinion of them isn't nearly as high as that of my friends.

The rest of the night was uneventful, just a long walk home. With every day that goes by I realize how much this house means to me. Any other house and I'd have quit already, but we're pretty much family here in 24. I'm a man with brothers and sisters, but no countrymen, which bothered me at first, but I realize now, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not white, I'm a pigmentally challenged Indian.