Paddlington 2012- “I should have just stayed home”

If you have been keeping up with me, you will know that I upon arriving to SOAS, I attended a “Freshers Fayre” Freshman club fair basically… while I was there I was wondering around and these really exciting, funny men convinced me that joining a sport in kayaks while playing water polo was a good idea.

I then started showing up to some practices, which was really fun… and then they said “Hey we are going camping, at the end of October and playing polo, you should come”

Of course, I said yes. I love camping. This is probably the moment of my errors. I really should have just stayed home.

Paddlington 2012 was the weekend of ” I should have stayed home” Just like Arnold on the Magic School Bus field trips.

So on the weekend of October 26th, my adventures began as I prepared for my first canoe polo tournament. I think in order to really understand the weekend, we have to start at the Thursday before. My friend who has been playing for a year offered to take me a and a few other newbies out to go buy what we would need for the weekend. It seemed simple enough. The store was not too far away, just an easy tube ride.

Of course, we decided to take the over ground and therefore had to wait hours for the overground to arrive. Well not exactly hours but definitely at least 15-20 minutes for each train. By the time we got to the store it had probably taken an hour. We found what we needed, which was much cheaper than I was expecting. ( always a positive for a study abroad student.)

After that exciting little trip, my friend convinced me that I had to try out this chicken place called Nando’s.   It is basically a fancy fast food restaurant. It was delicious and awesome, at this point we had have a bit of a ridiculous shopping experience, lots of a food and maybe too much fun. Its now probably about 10 pm, but we had to go to Hackney to pick up her tent for the weekend.

This is a picture of a possible route we took to hackney. Just so you know, in London if you have to go thirty minutes on public transit. Its really quite far.

After we arrived in Hackney, there were lots of funny things going on, amusing posters, signs on the walls, and other interesting things. We were having a ball. Finally we got to the place where we went to go buy a pop up tent. Pop up tents aren’t really something we are accustomed to in the states, but we should be. It pops out of a bag and bam you have a tent. It was really cool, so naturally right away we wanted to make sure the tent worked and that it pops out of the tent. BAM! It did. The only problem was that now its about 11 pm, we are a ways away from home, and we just set up a tent. We couldn’t figure out how to put the tent down. It took, two phone calls, and an hour to finally understand how to put the tent down. Eventually it made sense, but that was after lots of tries. Of course if anyone asks, we were able to manage quite quickly with no issues. This story is not being told to the public at all. The most embarrassing part: a random man who sold the tent to us took a picture of our struggles… but didn’t offer to help.

After all of that, we ended up having to go home on the bus and it was a long bus ride. I feel as if this has appropriately set the stage for what my weekend would hold in all, lots of silly mistakes.

Life at Paddlington the tournament:
It was cold. It was wet. and the idea of warmth didn’t even work. But it was awesome. I believe the weather was about 40 degrees. So that was probably strike one of freezing, lets play in really cold windy water, when its really cold outside too. Sounds like a blast right? Well when there is never enough coffee and tea, you can hardly sleep and it is hailing outside everything is so much more fun. But actually, being able to play the sport for the first time was so exciting, and exhilarating that it wouldn’t have mattered how awful the conditions were, it would still be fun. It reminded me of my freshman year on Clark Women’s Rowing when we started rowing on the lake again in April only to break the ice knowing on the off chance that if we capsized I would have less than two minutes before hypothermia set in with the chance of death. Lovely, right?

I think the funniest part of Paddlington that I will always remember were the first year team names. We had two freshman teams ( in the picture below is during our final match we were playing each other) one team was named the Paddington Bears, obviously makes sense, and then my team was the Wombles. Which is only really funny because I can’t pronounce the word correctly, but they are these creepy little ant eater like things, I think our team was being made fun extremely for this.  Admittedly, they are pretty cute in this photo:

Creepy little guys

Here are some snaps from the tournament, I have more photos of me playing, but the lack of my knowledge on the pitch is too embarrassing to post on here, even knowing if was the first time I ever played. Thank you for reading my rant on my life in London, and when someone tells you its going be cold, always believe them. And like Arnold from Ms. Frizzles class remember that while you probably should have stayed home, we can’t stay home all of our lives- we must adventure.

The freshman I played with at the tournament

Everyone that attended Paddlington 2012.

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First Week of Classes, New Friends and a New Groove

I have successfully compliment my first week in London, as well as my first day of classes! ( Well two days actually.)

Week One Tons of Fun

Here are some of the friends I made while at Freshers week. One of my friends is a study abroad student at Smith, another at Bard and two others at Vasser. Clark is slightly out numbered but per usual what we lack in numbers we gain in spirit. Welcome Week was full of exciting meetings as a way to get to know the department, student activities to make new friends, and an important time to find and learn about the city we are living in. My friend Chelsea and I spent most of the week exploring London. I feel confident in my abilities to use the bus and tube as well as walking around Central London! One week can really mean the world of a difference when it comes to getting settled in.

Classes!

Here at SOAS I am having amazing educational opportunities that I would not get to benefit from if I was still at Clark political science for all of my international politics class. Here I am able to take classes that are directly focused on my area of study- Africa. In fact there are so many exciting classes that I found myself at a loss for what to take- I wanted to take it all. I even toyed with the idea of taking lots of South Asia classes and a course in Hindi. Unfortunately, I am not focusing on any parts of Asia so it is irrelevant for my major to take those classes. Here I will be taking Nationalism, Ethnicity and State in Asia and Africa. ( I feel in love with this course which is what got my on Asia studies kick) I will also be taking The State and Politics in Africa, European Human Rights Law/ EU Law- I choose this because of my background with French, if I want to go into diplomacy I should really keep in mind the positive influence that understanding more about Europe and their politics could assist in the long run. Finally I am taking an African history course, called Society and Culture in 20th Century Africa. That class met this morning and I am very excited for the readings and even the lectures. The class is based on understanding how Africa is a complex continent. The professor seems very good as well

Social Life

I feel like I am always running around! There are areas of London to explore, grocery shopping to be done, friends to be made you name it! I am loving the life style, the get and go. I could use a little less rain though. Other than that, we have been going out at night and exploring some of London’s night life, getting coffees together and general wonderings. I am consider joining the University of London Canoe Polo team, which is essentially water polo in kayaks. Its mixing my two favorite sports in a way- rowing and water polo. I will check the team out tomorrow and see how that goes!

 

Other than that, I am just trying to do well in school and keep up the fun life! Stay tuned for my top ten London culture shocks soon!!!

Here I am with my new friends, that is me in green. The girl from Smith, Bard, two Vassar Boys, a girl from Wesley, a girl from Vassar and two of our own lovely British friends. ( excuse me English friends) This was an event at one of the local hang outs run by the University of London, we were headed to a Welcome Week Dance!

Pond Jumping

University of London SOAS

I will embark on the ultimate flight- my own Olympic adventure in London. I won’t be going for gold, or silver or even a bronze. Which is good because I am a few months too late. Instead I am heading to London to pursue a dream. This adventure, is coming up closer than I ever expected it to. I will be leaving San Jose, leaving Clark and leaving America on September 22nd.

Four years ago I decided I wanted to become a diplomat. I choose to attend Clark University so that I would be able to pursue a degree in political science- international relations. The goal for this degree is a future in foreign policy. A future that might become possible thanks to the ability to study at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. At this school I will have the opportunity to study under Professors who have lived and worked in the areas that they are teaching. This opportunity will open the door to help make dreams become realities. Something that I not only just hope for, but I have wished for.

More than just conquering my dreams, I will be in the heart of London. Able to walk in the footsteps of my heros, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliff- and of course J.K. Rowling. 🙂 (But seriously. This is probably the best part! ) I will be able to understand what classical literary authors have been writing about for years, try my chance at winning the Princes heart, running into runaway Shakespeare characters. If you can imagine it- I plan to make it happen! But most importantly there will be some fabulous shopping- from window shopping in expensive stores- to searching for Camden Market, and trying some bargain buys. I am sure to come back with two suitcases and only leave with one.

Please stick with me as I plow across the pond towards a semester of success and excitement.