Monday, February 22, 2010

Lazy Monday

Another update! I keep telling myself everyday that I am going to post something, and I almost did the other day, but my computer randomly shut off. Regardless, I've been lazy (again) so here is some more update! Last week was great. We went to our first Football (Soccer) game here in Aberdeen. There is a pro Football Club here that plays in the Scottish Premier League, and we played the Raith Rovers. We're still not really sure what the mascot is. I believe it is the Reds, but there was a bull named Angus in a Jersey that walked around at the beginning and we never saw again.
It was really crazy, and lots of fun! It was very similar to an American Football game. There was a lot of yelling, especially by old Scottish men. Luckily we couldn't really understand them, but I'm sure there were some expletives thrown out there frequently, because we lost. It was really sad, and close. The opposing team's fans were absolutely crazy, I guess there are a lot of them that live around Aberdeen or are students here. Here's a video of the game, nothing crazy goes on, but I just want you to hear the opposing fans:
video
They even had a fence between our fans and theirs, and at the end of the game they had a ton of security guys there to keep them from charging the field I guess. So I guess the fashion for fans here is to wear a scarf with your team name/colors on it, instead of shirts, hoodies, etc. There are jerseys, but they only sell them at the stadium and they're quite expensive. Regardless, here is my awesome scarf, it was super warm!
This weekend we went to Loch Ness with the International Society from the University. Surprisingly there wasn't a lot to do there, I was sure that it was going to be really touristy, but it wasn't. We went to Urquhart Castle, which is right on the Loch.
Here is the view of the castle from a boat ride on the Loch that we took after the castle. It was a gorgeous day, even though weather.com (who I pretty much never trust anyway) said it would snow all day, which was a complete lie. It was a great day. We got off the boat and went to a gift shop on the other side, then got back on our bus and drove to a "soup village" where we got to try good soup and eat giant/delicious pancakes. Here is the ghetto statue thing of Nessie they had at the end of the boat ride, and my giant pancake from Baxter's soup.

Friday, February 19, 2010

CLAM #7: Photog= Photo+ Blog

I love taking pictures! I took two semesters of film photography in highschool, and it's one of my dreams to have a dark room in my house when I grow up. I also work in the camera department at Best Buy. Being surrounded by cool cameras all the time at work plus an employee discount pretty much guaranteed that I would spend too much money on a camera. So I got a Nikon D60 a little over a year ago, and I love it! Here are some photos that I took with it, some while here and some while home:
When I take pictures I think that lighting is so important. I really don't like to use flash, so a lot of the time I turn the flash off on my camera. At night, I am usually forced to use my flash because I usually don't want to set up a tripod or anything. Below is an example of that, and also the Rule of Thirds; it is a tree frog on the glass door of my house in Myrtle Beach.

Here is another example for lighting: we went on our hike to Dunnottar Castle a couple of weeks ago and it was fairly overcast, which I think is the perfect weather for good contrast-y photos (yes I know I am using quite technical terms, I hope you can understand them). But there were a ton of ducks under this bridge as we walked along the coast of the North Sea. This is one of my favorites, I do love natural lighting the best!

Here is another example of lighting, and also of horizontal versus vertical. I took this in my room here in Aberdeen, with the help of my desk lamp pointed at the shoes. My poor TOMS, I keep trying to pretend that they are suitable for wear in the rain and/or snow. They'll live though:

Here is my final example, and it is horizontal versus vertical: I took a picture of the same subject, one vertical and one horizontal. It snowed like crazy today, so I was kind of terrified to get my camera wet. But this is a statue on our campus:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

CLAM #6: McCLAM

I have to, and hate to, admit that I ate at the McDonald's here on one of my first days. It was the first day of classes, and I had a 3 hour break between classes. I figured that I would have enough time to wander downtown, get some quick food, and make my way back to Forresterhill (the medical school campus of University of Aberdeen that all of my classes are at). It took me almost 2 hours to get downtown, I had just kind of headed downhill and towards any tall buildings. So by that time I was starving, lost, and a little bit frazzled. McDonald's was the only restaurant in sight, besides KFC and Pizza Hut, so I caved. I usually don't go to McDonald's at home either, unless I'm driving for hours and need food, or I just need that quick [slightly gross] meal. I just had chicken nuggets and fries, and they weren't that different from the McDonald's at home. A little less flavor, but I expect that's probably less grease. The McDonald's here in Aberdeen is really nice. As you can see below, it's realllly crowded all the time. Actually, a lot of stuff here is crowded here at unexpected times. We were told that people in the UK love to shop, and it is so true! I'll walk around downtown between or after classes (I figured out the bus routes), and tons of people are out shopping in the middle of the day. Does no one work? Why aren't these children in school? Those are just a couple questions that run through my mind at times like these, haha. But anyway, back to McDonalds:
It's very crowded inside, with nice, modern decor. The whole atmosphere is comfy, where at the McDonald's at home, it's a lot of fluorescent lighting and monotonous tiling. The chairs all look comfortable, not plastic-y
In the way of the Scots, there is a cemetery right across the street. When I ate here, I actually sat at a bar on the 2nd floor (yes, there are two floors) and did some hard-core people watching while I ate. It was actually a nice experience, which isn't usually something people associate with McDonald's. At home McDonald's usually gets the job done, and is satisfactory, but the workers here were all very polite and helpful, everything was clean, the service was fast, and it was a positive experience.
Now on to the food: I have deduced that not much is different. They have McNuggets, McChicken, McFish (or some derivative of that), McFlurries with Scottish candy bits, and Big Macs. They also add some more Scottish/British items, like Bacon Rolls, the Big Tasty, a better selection of deli sandwiches, the "Chicken Tikka Snack Wrap," and more. There seems to be a pretty big demand for organic and fair trade food here. I read on the McDonald's UK website that they are trying to find an organic milk supplier for their McFlurries and milkshakes. Someone in our housing complex said something recently about a law that bans certain chemicals in food, so I'm sure that affects the food in McDonalds.
As far as the website goes, the UK website was a little bit simpler, more pleasing colors (to me at least), where the US one was busier, and more aimed at younger people, I think. Both websites advertised Wi-Fi becoming available in their restaurants soon, which reflects how computer-oriented both cultures are. Comparing the two websites, there aren't too many differences overall.

There was only one ad that I have seen a lot around here that I could find online. It was for Diet Irn-Bru, which is a orange-y soda, with kind of a bubble-gum taste to it too. The adds pretty much state that the only difference between Irn-Bru and Diet Irn-Bru is that the diet version is sugar free. The ads make me laugh, and there are like 4 other versions that I've seen around town so far, there's pretty much one at every bus stop that I go to.
And sorry that the picture is so small, but it's the only one I could find. My only beef with this ad is that there isn't just one difference between the pictures, there's obviously a shark in the second one. I could appreciate it so much more if there was a shark fin in the first photo too. The other ads are a giraffe who's spots change in the second picture to say "Sugar Free," and a cat that in the second picture has a bag with the words "Sugar Free" on it. You can see Irn-Bru's favorite ads here; they usually have some good puns involved. Slightly dirty puns, but funny nonetheless!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Catchup Blog

Okay so it has been wayyy too long since I have posted something about my actual experiences in Aberdeen. The last 2 weeks have gone by so fast, but I still feel like I have been here for so much longer than that! Everything has been great so far, I'm gonna give you the highlights of my time here so far! Sorry, this is going to be really long.
Classes: I am only taking 2 classes here, a microbiology class and a biochemistry class. They are both worth 30 "credit points" here, and 60 is a full course load (even though as of right now it is only counting as 7 hours total at Clemson, which I am hoping to change). The lectures are an hour each, so I'll only have two hours of lecture a day at most, which is great. But, the labs are crazy long. My shortest one so far has been 2 hours, and the longest is 7. That seems normal here though. I've already noticed a huge difference in the school system. First of all, college in Scotland is free for Scottish residents. Sweet, right? The government will pay for your first degree and one year of a graduate or other degree. I'm sure this creates a lot of competition for acceptance to schools here, but I think it's overall a great thing.
Also, once students here choose their major, all of their classes are pretty much chosen for them for the next 4 years. I was talking to some people in my microbiology class and they were really excited about getting to choose between an immunology class and a genetics class this semester. They do learn a lot and retain it, but I know I would yearn for the diversity of education that we get at home. If I think I might be interested in another area of study, I just take an introductory class in that subject. I worry that students here might not get the chance to change their minds or try new things that they might love. Every semester they take 2-4 classes, all in the same subject area, and those classes are threaded together so it is pretty much impossible to fit a different course in your schedule (this created issues for me when I was figuring out my schedule).
Culture: so far most of our cultural experiences here have been from the nightlife. Aberdeen gets pretty crazy at night. We went to this club called The Priory last weekend that one of the clubs here that is free to get into. It's an old church converted into a club (there's a lot of that here). It was very loud, with lots of lights and music and people. Not really my thing, but it was a fun experience. We've been to some cool pubs around town so far too.
The best cultural thing we've done so far was go to a Ceilidh last week (it's pronounced kay-lee). It's a traditional Scottish dance/social event. The university's Whiskey Society (yes it's real) had whiskey to try, there was a great celidh band, and traditional Scottish food. I do a similar dance called Contra dancing a lot at home, so I understood the dances a lot better than most of the others there (here's a video of Contra dancing at River Falls Lodge near clemson. It was a lot of international students, but also a lot of people from the Student Association here, too. I definitely plan on going to more. Here's a video of the Ceilidh that I took- it's not a great dance, but I was dancing during the exciting ones. Try to watch the inside of the circle-that's where the better dancers would go because there was more room. There's one guy with a kilt on in there that was really good! Here's another video, because I'm on a roll, of a more legit Ceilidh that I found on YouTube.
Castle: this past Sunday we went to see Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland. It was a 45 minute bus ride, and about a 2 mile walk. It was gorgeous and cheap (4.80 pounds for roundtrip bus fare, and it was going to be 5 pounds to get into the caslte). The scenery was breathtaking, there were a bunch of awesome dogs that we saw along the way-I think I'm becoming obsessed with all of the dogs here, they're great- and we had a great time overall. Here are some photos!
The North Sea in Stonehaven-this is where our hike started.
This is our little group of American students. From the left is: Katie from Wisconsin, Connie and Colleen from Illinois, Liz from Washington, Heather from Clemson, Suzanne from Illinois, and me!
A view of the castle and the sea during our hike
It was really sad, but they had just locked the doors 15 minutes before we got there, when we still thought we had 2 more hours until they closed. We did learn the lesson to not go anywhere in Scotland on a Sunday, because it will most likely be closed!
A view of the castle while we explored around it, but sadly not inside of it.
This is a WWI/WWII memorial that we went to on the walk back.
That's about it for now that I can think of. Again I apologize for the length, but I just had to knock this out in one big chunk. I'll be sure to start posting more frequently with shorter blogs, to avoid this in the future, haha! I'm also not sure what happened to the color of this post too, something funky no doubt.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

CLAM #5: New Media, New Literacies

I could definitely relate to the articles for this week's assignments. As I read "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" I found myself distracted, and it actually took me a while to focus on the article and actually just sit down and read it, which is exactly what the article was talking about. I think I agreed with article much more in general. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Google. I use Google Chrome (although the internet here seems to hate it and only Internet Explorer is working), gmail, and iGoogle. It's easy-to-use and you can find practically anything on it. But reading about the creators' visions of artificial intelligence really creeped me out. Is Google taking over? And why can't we just be satisfied with the huge amount of progress we've made already? I know that it's our nature to constantly improve things, but I've seen enough Sci-Fi movies to know that creating a machine that is more intelligent than a human brain is a bad idea.
That's all I have to say about Google taking over, so now on to the actual prompt. In Carr's article, he mentions how a friend of Nietzsche's commented on the differences in his writing style when he changed his medium from hand-writing to typewriting. I think this is true. For example, with my blogs, they turn into a stream-of-thought process, because I can type fast enough to [almost] keep up with my thoughts. When I am hand-writing something, there is more of a planning process- I usually do some kind of outline, organize my thoughts more, get into a "zone" and get to work. When I'm on a computer, I just kind of go with it, and I can always go back and change things before I publish them. The internet, and computers in general, have made how we organize our thoughts more of a short-term process, than a plan-and then do- process. This makes for a much different end result.