Posted by: boulderific | October 6, 2010

Just fell a little more in love with Colorado

So, you know how the other day I was saying I couldn’t find a microwavable curry anywhere?

Ta daaaa!

yes, my friends, I have discovered somewhere that actually sells microwavable chicken tikka masala. My life is now complete.

The name of this wonderful establishment is Whole Foods. I had a mosey round the rest of the store while I was there and it’s pretty much your conventional deli-slash-fresh grocery place.

*drools*

Look. Just look at it. Bask in the glory that is the first CTM I’ve been able to find in this wonderful, backwards little place. And, okay, so there isn’t very much of it, and it was nowhere near as good as the stuff you can get in England, but man, did it taste good!

Best thing about this Whole Foods place? It’s about a ten minute walk from my dorm. Score!

In other news, I finally got fed up of the fish looking bored (did I mention we have fish? We have fish) so I went to PetCo and bought them some little plants to brighten up their tiny little tank.

Oooooh. Aahhhhh.

I am slightly worried that it’s drastically smallified the amount of swim space they have though. But I am planning on getting my own tank for Scod (my fish, the one on the right of the pic) so that Nora and her fish Bedor can have this tank all to themselves. It’d give them more space to swim and also stop them perpetually flaring their fins at each other through the barrier as I’m not sure it does them much good. We’ll see. It’ll have to wait until I have a bit more cash for it.

Posted by: boulderific | October 3, 2010

Colorado <3

I love Colorado. I don’t know if this has come across in my previous blog posts or not, but today really reiterated for me that I. Love. Colorado.

So today me and my Boulder Friends of International Students (BFIS) buddies Chuck and Eileen, and their other BFIS kid Emmi, went up to the Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike.

I am 100% sure that this is the most beautiful place on earth.

In fact, I’m not even going to say anything else. I’m just going to post photos and let you see for yourself how utterly amazing this place is.

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Afterwards, we drove to a place near the National Park called Lyons, and had dinner in a restaurant called Oskar Blues. It was all pretty cool. And one of the best days of my life.

(I took over 250 photos, by the way. You’re getting a select viewing of my favourite)

Posted by: boulderific | September 26, 2010

Some observations

Things America does better than England:

Tofu: Actually, I’m not sure about this one, as I never tried tofu before I came to America. But it’s good stuff and ‘m mildly addicted to it.

Buses: Buses here seem to actually run ON TIME, which is a rarity/luxury for anyone English, especially anyone who’s ever been at the mercy of the bus system in Norwich.

Chinese food: Yum. Just, yum. That’s all I have to say.

Bookstores: Oh, wow, do I love the bookstores here! Borders (which I sorely miss in England), Barnes&Noble, as well as a cool little bookstore in downtown Boulder called, as it happens, the Boulder Bookstore. And it seems like every bookstore has a cafe attached. And not a Costa or a Starbucks like they inevitably are in England. I think I’m in love.

Bedding: I’m oddly attached to my American comforter. It’s so much simpler than the whole duvet/duvet cover thing we’ve got going on in England. Chances of me being able to take my comforter home with me, however, are very slim. Alas, alas.

School Spirit: I’m actually quite enjoying the shameless capitalism surrounding this concept. It makes for TONS of University of Colorado-related souvineers to take back to England with me. Including this little guy:

Yup, I caved and bought a buffalo ‘plushie’. It’s super cute though. It has a gold ribbon round its neck that says ‘Colorado’ in black (black and gold being the CU colours). Currently it lives on the shelf above my dest, smiling at me dementedly. Awesome. I also have a CU pennant, cloth patch, pin badge, keyring, team spirit beads and, for some reason, shot glass. I’m planning on buying tons more stuff before I leave though.

Things England does better than America

Curry: Oh GOD, do I miss curry! Okay, so occasionally the dining hall here will do some kind of Asianised curry (they did a great coconut fish one a couple of weeks ago, and they do a good lamb rogan josh) but I cannot find a decent chicken tikka masala for love nor money. Or even an indecent one. Even Target don’t seem to have microwavable curry. There is something wrong with a country if you can’t even get microwavable curry. Gawd.

Sushi: The sushi in the dining hall isn’t bad, per se, but you’re only allowed two pieces of it. I miss Yo!sushi and their fantastic conveyor belt dining experience.And especially their pumpkin korroke.

Royal Mail: Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d miss Royal Mail, but there you go. It’s quicker, simpler, and easier to get hold of someone to yell at when they make a mistake than the United States Postal Service.

Deodorant: Might seem weird, but it is SO difficult to get hold of aerosol deodorant here. Target only do one kind, and luckily I’m not allergic to it so it’s all fine. But everyone here uses roll on or stick deodorants which I despise.

Tropical fruit juice: I got some Minute Maid fruit punch yesterday. Just… no.

I’ll add more as and when I think of them. If anyone else has any suggestions, let me know.

Posted by: boulderific | September 23, 2010

One month on

So, as I’ve been in Boulder for just over a month, I figured it was probably about time for a proper update. Forgive me for not having done one so far, but you’ll soon see why when I tell you how uber busy I’ve been. So here, I’m goign to recount my first couple of days in America. I’ll catch up on other stuff I’ve done in later posts.

Okay, so flying? Flying ROCKS. I love it so much, but I HATE landing. Landing really sucks. It feels like your knees are going up through your ears. You know, in a non-painful way. I loved take-off though. That feeling of speeding off to lands unknown… unbeatable.

My first flight was actually kind of boring. It was 9 hours from London to Minneapolis, about 7.5 of which I spent watching various films and TV programmes and playing games on the touch-screen in the back of the chair in front of me. The rest of the time was spend variously sneaking to the escape door to try and see out of the puny coin-sized hole they called a window, and eating. My GOD, the food was nice. After all the horror stories I’d heard about airline food, I was pleasantly surprised by my Cajun chicken, rice, and yummy yellow stuff main course, and even happier with the ice cream and mini pizzas the hostesses brought round 30 minutes before landing (though I only had the ice cream).

Minneapolis was brief. I barely had time to think ‘OMG I’m in America!’ before I was pulled through the arrivals gate by the rest of the plane’s passengers and ushered into the dreaded immigration area. This was actually more boring than anything else, as it involved queuing for a long time and then speaking to a guy who, after asking me where I was ultimately headed, proceeded to spend five minutes telling me, in a curiously robotic-monotone voice, that COLORADO IS BEAUTIFUL AND THE MOUNTAINS ARE LOVELY AND YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A GREAT TIME THERE. Yeah. Thanks for that.

Luckily he let me into the country. He said ‘Enjoy your stay’, but not ‘Welcome to the US’ which I was really, really hoping for.

Actually, Minneapolis wasn’t all that exciting anyway. I stared out of the windows along the tunnel from the plane to the immigration thingy, and the only thought going through my head was a rather disappointed, ‘This looks just like Heathrow…’ but I didn’t have time to dwell, as I had to get through immigration and then find my gate for my connecting flight to Denver (after, of course, buying a postcard of Minneapolis to commemorate my journey.)

I don’t know what it is with me and luggage carousels, but I had issues with them at both airports. I’m about 56% certain that this isn’t my fault, though. I think they just put my luggage on the wrong carousels to spite me or something. Kind of a, ‘Hey, welcome to America. Try and find your luggage. WE DARE YOU.’

Eventually, though, I did manage to find it, and had a lovely 3-minute reunion with it which was spent lugging both bags over to the trolleys and hoisting them onto one whilst three airport staff members watched me. Can’t have been a pleasant sight: a short English girl, just come off a 9 hour flight, dragging two suitcases and a flight bag across the baggage hall with pained ‘Urrrrr! Urrrrr!’ sounds. Once I did manage to get them onto the trolley they were rewarded with a furrowed-eyed gaze that read, ‘Thanks so much for your help, guys…’. I hope. It could have read, ‘I’m so tired and if you keep staring at me I’m going to take bites out of your shins’, for all I know. Baggage halls aren’t known for having mirrors you can check your withering gazes in.

So I threw my bags onto a random conveyor belt which I was only about 50% sure was the right one (it had no signs!) but by that point I didn’t really care. I had to queue for ages to go through the security scanners (and, by the way, do they not know how inconvenient it is to have to take your shoes off, whilst also taking your laptop and plastic bag of cosmetics out of your hand luggage? Especially when you’re standing in a queue of about 100 other people and you only have about a foot and a half gap to maneuver in? Eventually though, I managed to get through the security with no problems and ended up standing, in a mirror image to Heathrow, in a departure lounge, slightly unkept hair plastered to my forehead, my heavy flight bag straining at one shoulder. The only difference was that this one was full of Americans. i had about an hour left before my next flight, so I checked the board for the gate and decided to amble slowly over there, stopping on my way at a gift shop to pick up a Minneapolis postcard (I would have got a better souvineer but at that point my brain couldn’t think of how much things cost and a 50 cent postcard was the maximum of mathematics my brain could do.)

I couldn’t be bothered to explore that departure lounge. Apart from everything being in dollars it wasn’t much different to Heathrow. So I sat by my gate and just waited to be let on the flight- only to remember that I hadn’t actually been assigned a seat yet and didn’t know when I was supposed to board. As they began calling people I hesitantly approached the desk and asked about my seat. The woman smiled and said it wasn’t a problem, and printed me out a little ticket that said ’10A’ on it. I traipsed down to the plane and climbed aboard, realising this was a much smaller plane than the one I’d been on earlier. I glanced around looking for 10A, and noticed it was right at the front of the cheap seats section, just behind the divide between us slobs and the first classers. There were two seats, 10A and 10B, and there was a Chinese woman sitting in the aisle one. I stared at the empty one.

Me: *pointing* is that 10A?

Chinese woman: Yes, that’s 10A.

Me: But… but… that’s a window seat!!!!!
Oh yes, I got a window seat! I was so ridiculously happy (I think that the Chinese woman spent at least 5 minutes giggling at my overexcitement as I strapped myself into my seat muttering, ‘this is so COOL!’ under my breath). And then the plane started taxiing towards the runway and I had my face glued to the window. When we got out onto the runway and suddenly accelerated and were racing down and then suddenly taking off- I saw it all. The sudden increase in speed, the ground suddely dropping away…. my heart was racing and I LOVED it. I took a million photos outside of the window, even though you couldn’t see much, and spent the whole 2 hour journey to Denver looking out at America.

By the time we landed in Denver, it was dark, and I wasn’t able to see any of the mountains, though I really wanted to. After finding my way from the gate to the train that went to the terminal (after asking the help of the Chinese woman, who was very nice to me) I managed to find my bags (wrong luggage carousel again, grr) and eventually managed to find my roommate Nora, who had made a welcome sign for me🙂 We spent ten minutes wandering around the airport trying to find the way out and eventually made it to Nora’s car, whereby she asked me if I wanted to go up to the university or to her Grandparents’ place. We decided on the latter. So she drove me to a small Denver suburb (couldn’t see anything on the way as it was pitch black by this point, and anyway, I was too busy being frightened by oncoming traffic to take much in at that point) and we arrived at a small cottagey-looking place that was so American it hurt slightly. I stepped out of the car and my ears were immediately shattered by the noise of a million crickets all chirping at once. As I cowered slightly under the noise, Nora’s grandmother came out of the house and ushered us inside. They showed me to a small bedroom in the basement (and WHAT a basement! American basements are awesome. It was like a little gentlemen’s club down there) and I basically fell into bed and asleep (but was woken up several times during the night by the dog coming into the room for hugs. I didn’t mind this, but it made me miss my cats terribly).

In the morning I got up and showered, then Nora’s grandmother gave me some bedding, which was awesome because the university doesn’t provide it and I was otherwise going to have to buy some. But American hospitality is awesome. We loaded my bags and some of Nora’s stuff into her grandparents’ HUGE car, and went for a drive around to get me a phone and also have a look in Goodwill, where Nora and I cobbled together a very strange lamp for our dorm room. Then they drove me up to Boulder, and I saw the mountains (!) and we moved my feeble amount of stuff into my room. Then they took me for lunch at Chipotle, and I had my first burrito, which was delicious but HUGE (everything’s HUGE in America) I ate about half of it then wrapped the rest up for dinner later.

Nora and her grandparents then dropped me back off at my dorm and I spent an hour or so unpacking my feeble amount of belongings and decided to settle in for the rest of the afternoon, as I was exhausted. But then the bathroom door burst open and my other roommate Dani walked in, surprised to find me there! (I have three roommates- two double bedrooms connected by a shared bathroom.) Dani was just moving her stuff in, as the American students weren’t properly moving in until a couple of days later, so I offered to help her and her dad. We moved all her stuff in (and she had about 6 times the amount of stuff I did), then they offered to take me out for dinner. We went to P.F.Changs, an awesome ‘Americanised’ Chinese restaurant, where I had the most delicious crispy honey chicken. Afterwards we got fortune cookies. I’ve collected the fortunes from fortune cookies for years and was pleased to have some American ones to add to my collection back home. Mine said, ‘Your talents will be recognised and suitably rewarded’. Given that I had entred a story into a competition back home the month before, I took this as a good sign.

Dani and her dad dropped me back at uni, and I made my bed and fell into it (well… sort of. This is difficult because it’s quite high off the ground, though it isn’t lofted.) And that was pretty much the end of my first couple of days in America.

Since then, I’ve been so busy. I’ve had various international student meetings, as well as meetings to try and sort various registration problems out, classes and shopping trips, and even a hike up Chautauqua with Nora a couple of weeks ago. I’m really settling into life here and I am having a great time (except at the moment, cos I have a bug and am feeling all icky and a bit homesick thanks to that).

Before I go, though, here’s a few photos from various things I’ve seen and done. I’ll put some more up very soon.

Enjoy!

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Posted by: boulderific | September 18, 2010

……………………………….

So, it’s 2am. 20 minutes ago I was asleep. 10 minutes ago I was standing around with a bunch of my hallmates (those not out partying, it being a friday night) waiting for the fire trucks to show. Why?

The curse of hall living: the EFFING 2AM FIRE ALARM.

Yes, that curse has finally struck me here at CU. After a bad 3 nights of sleep, having had my roommate’s sister here sleeping on the floor, I was looking forward to two nights of blissful sleep whilst said roommate is away for the weekend. And what do I get?

EFFING 2AM FIRE ALARM.

It’s not even a normal-sounding alarm. What it is is a very loud BEEEEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEEP! repeated over and over, with a shrill EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE in the background, overshot with a stern American voice informing us (sternly) ATTENTION! ATTENTION! AN EMERGENCY HAS BEEN REPORTED!PLEASE LEAVE BY YOUR NEAREST FIRE EXIT!

Thanks for that. The one thing missing from my life was being woken up at 2am by a stern disembodied American telling me to GTFO. EFFING 2AM FIRE ALARM!!!!!

Actually, it was kind of worse given that all three roommates are away and I was this close to leaving without my room key. Oops. Luckily they have master cards for exactly that reason- it’s pretty much the only thing the front desk people (which is manned 24/7) have to remember to bring with them when they evacuate.

Still don’t know why it went off. Police arrived first, followed by a single fire truck (after about 10 minutes, I might add, very nice to know if there ever actually was a fire) and the RAs running around like headless chickens whilst we stood there in our PJs gossiping, spreading rumours and, in my case (and, thanks to me, the case of the Chinese student who lives down the hall) panicking about the fact we’d left our passports inside. Eventually though, they did let us back in, leading me to deduce that it was probably pulled as a dare or some drunken prank- but, my God, heads will roll if I ever find out who woke me up.

Heads.

Will.

Roll.

P.S. If there’s any typos in this post, I reiterate- EFFING 2AM FIRE ALARM!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: boulderific | September 14, 2010

Fans….?

So, apparantly, I have fans. Which is weird. And I’ve been told many, many times that I need to update this blog properly, and I promise I will. I’ve had a busy and stressful couple of weeks, and I’ll get round to updating properly when I have the time.

See? I promised. In writing and everything. I wonder if it’s possible to get web pages notarised?

Posted by: boulderific | September 6, 2010

What is UP with the cashiers in the CU bookstore?!

Remember the ADD conversation I had a couple of weeks ago? Well, this beats that.

Cashier: Hey, have you seen Amadeus?

Me: Uh… yeah

Cashier: What did you think?

Me: Uh…. it was pretty good.

Cashier (turns to fellow cashier): See? Normal people like it!

Hum. Anyway, for those of you who read this (and apparantly there are more of you than I realised…) I promise I’ll do a proper update soon, I’ve just been really busy. So keep an eye out for a proper post in the near future.

Posted by: boulderific | August 31, 2010

Update

Boulderific is down for maintenance. This is because the blogger’s head has exploded from stress. She needs to take a little time out to, to paraphrase Humpty Dumpty, put herself back together again. In the meantime, here’s a picture of a cute cat you can ogle.

Posted by: boulderific | August 25, 2010

what happened when I went to buy a drink in the CU bookstore

Cashier: Wow, what’s with all the goodies? [because it obviously didn’t turn out to be just a drink. I got some American ‘candy’ too]

Me: Well, I’m English. We don’t have this stuff back home. I’m experiementing.

Cashier: You’re experimenting? With candy? You know that’s how ADD started, right?

Me: i wasn’t planning on eating them all at once.

Wut.

Posted by: boulderific | August 25, 2010

*melts*

I think I’m not alone in thinking that this picture sums up my idea of what Colorado is like:

This was what I had planned to do my my arrival in Colorado.

See the snow? See the snow-capped mountains and the trees with frost clinging to them? See the little children trussed up in thick winter clothing and the little fire and the marshmallows on sticks? See it?

Okay, now look at this.

Wha....?!

Where’s the snow? Where are the white peaks? Where are the winter clothes and the marshmallows. WHERE ARE THE MARSHMALLOWS?!!

Okay, maybe it’s hard to tell with that picture, but it was like 88 degrees (which, to normal people, is about 30 degrees) which, sure, may not be as hot as in Arizona or Louisiana or something, but it’s still pretty effing hot. And we’re in the mountains so we’re *technically* closer to the sun anyway. But even if it’s not as hot as some places in the states, it’s still far, far too hot for snow. South Park has given me total misconceptions about Colorado weather. Seriously.

But it is SO cool here. Boulder is such a laid back, beautiful little town and there is nothing better than sitting with a ‘froyo’ (passionfruit flavour with blueberries- YUM!), watching a bunch of kids play in a street fountain on a hot day. Paradise.

Unfortunately, classes have to start at some point *laugh* and for me, that point was yesterday. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it does kind of put a damper on the whole lazing-about-with-froyo thing. But it must be remembered that this is a study year, not a holiday (or ‘vacation’ as these people call it) and if you don’t study they will almost certainly kick you out of the country. And no one wants that, do they?

I certainly don’t. Okay, so every now and then I feel a pang when someone mentions Britain, or asks me where I’m from or what it’s like back home, or if I’m explaining how we do something differently at home (they seem in awe of the drinking age here, whereas I’m in awe of the driving age here) and I did have a major homesickness attack over last thursday and friday, when altitude sickness was starting to set in and my registration was in trouble and I had no idea what I was doing- but it’s just something you have to work through, and not give in to. That doesn’t mean it’s not okay to have a cry, or do as I did and go to the international students office at your host university and deeply alarm them by bursting into tears and telling them in sobbing tones ‘everything’s gone wroooooong!’ (they really are helpful and lovely, even if you do feel somewhat embarrased the next day when you run into the woman you cried to in an exchange meeting and she asks you, in those special tones reserved for ‘special’ people, how you are doing today). It is okay. That is, after all, what they are there for.

And if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, then find yourself a niche group of internationals like yourself who you can complain to when you’re starting to feel a bit sick of the way things are run in America. I found some English and Australian exchange students and they’re all fantastic people to chat to.

Oh dear. This is turning into more of a ‘tips’ post than I wanted it to. But if I went into everything I’ve done in the week since I’ve been here (has it already been a week? Blimey) then it would take far too long to write and even longer to read. Plus I’m tired and I have some reading to do for class tomorrow. So all I’ll say is this:

Americanised Chinese food is the BEST! P.F. Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps are the best invention in the world. True story.

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