On the note of money, I've been surprised that most of the students attending summer school seem to have loads of money to throw around - and I have no clue where it's coming from. They take trips every weekend on the eurostar or go to expensive theatre productions with dinner in fancy restaurants, not to mention spending ridiculous amounts of money on alcohol, beer, and going out to clubs every other night
. I remember overhearing one student saying she had to start budgeting her money better because there was only a month left and when asked how much she had left I think the reply was to the tune of $3-4,000! Heaven save all those poor students who can only budget $1,000 toward getting drunk and puking in the entrance to the residence hall. Don't get me wrong, who wouldn't love to have thousands of dollars (well, okay I guess it's only 500 pounds... But that's still a lot of pounds) laying comfortably at their disposal? Then again, maybe they earned it. Maybe they started saving up money for a long time prior to coming here. I could've learned from that myself, I suppose.
This week has been fun, though. On Monday I went to the East Slope bar on campus where the RA's band, Shenanigans, was playing. Shenanigans is an Irish folk band and they handed out pamphlets with all the lyrics to their songs beforehand. I grabbed a cheap pint and plopped in the middle of the crowd. Not more than five minutes later the whole crowd was staring at their pamphlets trying to sing along. Within twenty minutes, practically everyone in the bar (which was packed with students and older-folk alike) was swaying back and forth singing loudly and drunkenly, just like a real Irish pub, I imagine. Everyone was laughing and smiling, and practically everyone was singing off-key, but it didn't diminish at all from the experience
. I saw some old friends from first session and met some new ones, and it was an all-around good time. I talked pretty extensively with this girl, Mary, after the show. It was nice to find someone I could sit and have a really good conversation with.
I had my first day of class on Tuesday and it turned out to be really gratifying. I was a little worried that the work load would be so much higher than last session because it's a creative writing class, but all of the work we do in that class is fun! We only meet twice a week for three hour sessions. During that time we work on creative exercises and on the first day generally got to know one-another. We take a "break" and go down to the coffee shop together (including our instructor, Richard), and we sit around a coffee table drinking tea. The shop has a really good deal where you can get a big mug of tea and a scone for cheap, which I usually have. There are only nine total students in this class, and I really enjoy the smaller group feeling.
For homework the first night we were to take a fairy tale and tell it in 200 words, without using any adjectives, and only using mono-syllabic words. At first daunting, this task turned into something of a game for me which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was like a puzzle, and you had to watch every step you took and word you placed
. As another assignment that night, we were to re-tell the same fairy-tale from a special perspective without any of the prior word restrictions. I chose the tale of King Midas for these, and wrote the second assignment from the perspective of the King's water pitcher. I think my creative writing has improved already from just a few classes.
Thursday I decided to take a little hike through the surrounding hills. West of Sussex Uni. is Stanmer Park, a rather large wildlife preserve that includes a quaint town called Stanmer Village. It's comprised of rolling fields, meadows, some small but dense forests, and pastures. I went to the grocer first and bought some fruit, olives, bread and salami to take as a lunch. The hike was beautiful. The green hills seem to go on forever, and you always find yourself wondering what's over the next one. The grass changes from lush green to wavy gold dotted with patches of yellow and purple wildflowers and lined different types of trees along the border. I walked for three hours before finally stumbling onto a road which took me to Stanmer Village. After that, I was just one hill from home. Combined with the pictures I took of the hills behind Sussex on Tuesday, you can kind of get an idea for the landscape surrounding me here.
Later Thursday I gathered with other students in front of York House for the second summer pub crawl
. I signed up with some people I knew, but the majority were strangers to me. I had a great time and only two drinks. It was the first time I'd ever had Sex on the Beach, and I found myself sharing it with a lot of the girls there. After a while, though, I left the crawl and met up with Shannon and Melissa, my two dear friends from first session who had been away for a week in Ireland. They were in Brighton to pick up their luggage stowed in my room and were staying in a hostel before heading back to the States on Friday. They bought me the most delicious gourmet burger and we sat inside the bar of their hostel laughing and looking at the pictures from their most recent adventure. The hostel was beach-side and we walked down to the shore at about midnight. We sat on the pebble beach, seeing how far we could throw rocks into the dark and ebbing water. The wind and water were cool but not cold, and it felt how a summer night on the beach should feel. The stars were out, but paled in comparison to the view from Crater Lake or even my home in Grants Pass. Melissa, being from New York City, hadn't ever really seen a ton of stars. I was surprised to find out that Shannon, like me, had first wanted to be an astronomer when she was a little girl. Though our academic choices have changed, I've never met anyone other than myself who's first dream job was an astronomer. We walked down the beach, passing by the energizing clubs who open their doors and close their windows at night. It was quite a transformed scene from what you see in the daytime
. From calliope music, carousels, cotton candy, beach chairs and bikinis to smoke, mirrors, lights, more-or-less bikinis, and throbbing bass that can be felt through the pavement. We found a little snack shack and got some picture-perfect vanilla soft-serve. I couldn't resist paying the extra 10 pence for the Cadbury chocolate Flake. There's much more to say, but all in all it was one of those perfect nights that you wouldn't go back and change for anything. We returned to their hostel around 3:30 and talked until the sun started coming up. We didn't really want to say goodbye and walked around Brighton in the twilight of a new day. There was more garbage than people on the streets and sidewalks as we enterered the usually-busy downtown area. After getting breakfast at the only place open at 6:30 (McDonalds...) they walked me to the bus so I could go back to the university. The twenty minutes we spent waiting for that bus seemed to go by a million times faster than we'd have wished, and it was a bit of a tear-fest when the last goodbyes were said and I walked up the stairs of the double-decker bus.
Shannon and Melissa are two of those people who you can tell are good people with good hearts, and I can't wait to see them both again someday.
I haven't written in a while, which is odd because I've had more free time than is the norm. Things are definitely a lot slower than they were last term. This may be because of less friends and less money factoring into my daily life. I've been trying to find less expensive things to occupy my time so I can have some money leftover for traveling at the end of the term. Today I was really wanting to go to the British Museum and see the special Hadrian exhibit, but the travel cost alone was 16 pounds, not to mention 12 pounds for entry to the exhibit. That comes out to over sixty American dollars! Instead I'll probably go into Brighton for a while and walk around some of the streets I haven't frequented since I still have my bus pass.