Thursday, 19 April 2018

Brief Trip to NL

Dear Reader,
As some of you might know, I was able to go back to the Netherlands for a few weeks due to the fact that I had four weeks off for Easter break. I flew back home on the 26th of March, and flew back on the 16th of April. So that's quite some time to visit my family and friends. Things I hadn't taken into account before I left? I'm an anxious flyer and I hadn't flown by myself since I went to Australia (about 5 years ago, which was the first time I flew by myself). It's not that I have issues with flying itself. It's merely the hassle of going to the airport and getting through security and all (potentially being late and missing my flight if my bus is delayed or whatever). But it's also landing. I don't know why, but going down makes me anxious. Especially right before touch down. I woke up nauseous (that's what stress does to my body) and it didn't go away until I was safely on the ground again (after flying).

The first day was so nice. Fabian picked me up at the airport and we couldn't stop hugging, kissing, and just looking at each other. Just holding his hand while walking to the train, was something I'd missed so much. As soon as we got to his place, I insisted that we'd go to the supermarket. It's not that I have anything against English supermarkets, but there's just a lot of stuff they don't sell, or sell in a different manner (for the life of me, I do not understand why they wrap everything, even the vegetables and fruit, in (layers of) plastic). Being able to purchase groceries in a manner I'm used to was a lovely experience. At night my youngest brother came over and we watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix and just talked and laughed. It was easy, and normal, but very pleasant.

Visiting my parents was also very pleasant. I never realised how expensive the train is. What usually doesn't cost so much, now cost me €36 to see them. It was worth it though. Afterwards, from Thursday till Monday, I was away on Easter Camp with my brothers, boyfriend and some of my closest friends. It was so much fun, even if it wasn't my intention, initially, to go this year. I said my goodbyes last year as it is a learning-experience, we're not really supposed to stay on for such a long time (I've been a counsellor for 7 years now). It was easy and we had a lot of fun, especially because I could mostly be found behind the scenes. Which means I was still able to finish Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson and help with the meal preparations.

Most of the time after that was spent meeting up with friends, celebrating birthdays, spending a lot of time with Fabian, going to party's. All of that. Fabian turned 23 over Easter, so we celebrated that on the 8th. My grandfather turned 80, so we celebrated that on the 15th. My twin cousins turned six so we celebrated that on the 14th. It was amazing to see them again, and hold them, and hug my family. But I think three weeks was too long. I had grown accustomed to being home again, which made leaving very hard. Especially when Fabian dropped me off at the airport. I don't know why but I didn't want to go. I was crying while we hugged and kissed goodbye, even though I knew I was going to see him again in two weeks (when I go back home for a family reunion to see my Australian relatives).  But I just didn't want to go. However, as soon as I got back to my place in Norwich, I was oké again. It didn't necessarily feel like coming home, but it felt familiar and safe.

See you soon!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

TV Shows I Gave Up On

Over the years, we all know, I've binged a lot of TV shows, much like Riverdale of late. And though I'm usually easily entertained when it comes to films and shows (I don't have particularly high expectations, when they don't need to be), that doesn't mean I'll accept everything. Far from it. So while I've given all of the shows listed below a fair chance, I was unable to finish or continue watching them. Even if some of them are really popular among other viewers. Were there any shows you couldn't get in to? That you gave up on? Let me know!

Firstly, I'd like to address Pretty Little Liars. I was inclined to give it a chance due to its popularity; however, I decided to drop it after the first two season. I stopped somewhere in season 3. Why? I couldn't deal with the drama. Every step they take, they are always 10 steps behind "A". Every win turns into a major setback. And while that keeps the show going, it was a bit too much for me. It's not that its that unlike other shows I've enjoyed in that, or other, areas. It is just that the characters and plot twists made it less enjoyable to me. It's just my personal preference. I did not want to spent my time on this particular show and all its seasons. That being said, I really like some characters, among which Aria and Caleb.

Next up, A Series of Unfortunate Events. I mentioned that I was going to watch this in a previous update. And I gave it a chance, I watched the first four episodes. I was really excited about it due to the cast, and my experience with the film years ago (which I loved). But boy, this show was really boring and cringe-worthy if you ask me. I really hoped Patrick Harris would be able to pull it off, but it's just annoying, which might explain why we haven't heard anything about a second season. It was just really tough to sit through, so I decided to stop wasting my time on it.

Which brings me to Revenge. I don't remember if I wrote about this show before, but in the beginning I was a faithful watcher. I even, at one point, got Fabian to watch it with me. But the problem I faced with Pretty Little Liars was also an issue I had with Revenge. It just went on and on, the same issue never finding a conclusion. For example, with Riverdale, they deal with a murder in the first season and move on to other issues in the second season. In Revenge, we have the same issue until the very end of he show. A daughter seeking vengeance, as her father was framed and murdered. My issue is that it goes on for four seasons and there aren't an awful lot of 'wins' or resolutions. In the end, I just read the wiki page for the summary of the last season because I couldn't be bothered to watch it all. And I'm happy that I didn't waste more time on it than I already did. That's not to say that the plot wasn't promising and cool in the first season or so, it just dragged on for longer than I could stomach.

Scream Queens is one of those shows that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's meant to be comedic, and over the top, which it certainly is. It reminded me a lot of the Scream movies (which was kinda the idea I think). I enjoyed the first season, it wasn't my favourite, but it was enjoyable. The premise was interesting in the first season, but I think I would have liked it more if it hadn't been as comedic as it was. I liked the drama of it, just not the extreme exaggeration of it. I expected a bit more with the cast, as it features a few well-known actors. So it was a tat disappointing when it didn't go where I hoped it would. I finished the first season, because I needed to know (as I said, I liked the plot), but after that I was done with it. I watched the first two episodes of the second season and left it at that. It was just a tat too much.

Next up is American Horror Story. While I enjoyed the first season (Murder House), I heard the second season wasn't as good. But that's not the reason I didn't watch it. I watched the first episode of Asylum, but it is just a tat too freaky for me. I moved on to the third season, Coven, which I also have some difficulty with, for different reasons. I haven't quite given up on it yet, but I think I might have expected a tat too much of this show. I expected more drama, but it also has a slight exaggerated undertone. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it is not what I was expecting or hoping for. I will finish Coven and probably move on to Hotel (because I really want to see Lady Gaga in the role she won a golden globe for), but thus far I'm not impressed. Might also be due to the fact that people kept telling me how great the show is. Maybe I'm just missing what they saw.

For years I was a big fan of The Vampire Diaries. And while I struggled with the last few seasons, I did enjoy and finish it. When they announced they were going to do a spin-off on The Originals, I wasn't too excited. I'm not sure why, as I loved some of the characters. Yet I didn't quite give it a chance when it first came out. I gave it a chance, however, once TVD concluded. But, much like I expected, I wasn't impressed by it. I think that TVD was enough, especially as I struggled with the last few seasons. At some point, you gotta quit while you're ahead. I think TVD waited too long, dragged on for too long. I didn't feel the need to continue watching The Originals, regardless of the characters.

Now, The Office is a special case. I haven't really met anyone who didn't like the office (other than Fabian, but we watched it together so that doesn't really count). Which caused me to be very hopeful, and I might have had high expectations because of it. Nevertheless, we did not enjoy it. I don't know if it's just not my kind of humour, but I just couldn't get into it. We got bored watching the episodes, waiting for it to have impact, waiting for some kind of spark. But that didn't happen. So we ended up deciding to give up. We much rather watch something else. I was really sad about it at first because of my high expectations, but sometimes things just aren't for me. And this was one of those situations. We gave it a good go, but it just didn't click. Ah well. That's it for today!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Riverdale Review: Season 1

So, what have I been up to the last 24 hours? I might have binged the first season of Riverdale ... I'd apologise, but then I'd be lying as I'm not really sorry. I've been toying with the idea of watching the show for a while, but the trailer kinda made me hesitant to give it a shot. It reminded me too much of Scream Queens, Pretty Little Liars or The Vampire Diaries, and though I loved The Vampire Diaries (and the first season of Scream Queens), I wasn't really interested in more high school drama, where people fight 24/7 and they never catch a break. Too much drama, unrealistic drama. At this point in my life, I'm more interested in shows that might somewhat show humanity. Something that's real. I know what you're thinking: isn't Young Adult your fav book genre? And while that may be true, that does not take away from the real connections I'm looking for. Especially as I usually prefer YA fantasy novels, in which High School doesn't necessarily exist. I just do not connect with the gossiping, manipulation, mind-games, and the like in teenagers in High School. That's not humanity. Just a head's up, this post might contain minor spoilers.

Now. Riverdale is not that, but it's not exactly what I expected either. The drama is intense, honestly. BUT it's not high school drama like I thought it would be. It is however, very typically, the teens who take responsibility. And the parents who are crazy, dishonest, weird. All that. It's very typical in that sense, rebelling against the figures of authority, against the system. That's what it feels like.When parents don't act like parents. But it's not as annoying as it was in Scream Queens, or Pretty Little Liars (both of which I never finished because I couldn't be bothered, got annoyed by the characters always bitching each other like they've made mistakes themselves). I like the dynamic between the characters (and actors). Maybe also because the group of friends, Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, stick together. There's not an awful lot of drama between them. And I like that. Because you've got to stick together.

Similarly, unlike other YA shows I've watched before, the mystery isn't as dramatic. Evidence doesn't mysteriously go missing (like it sometimes does in other shows). Some times things turn out ok, and it that sense it's more realistic, but it also makes me more inclined to continue watching. Because drama on drama on drama, gets boring when it's too staged. In this case, a popular kid in high school goes missing and it eventually turns out he was killed. It's a big mystery and the show tries to push you in different directions by providing the audience with information the characters aren't necessarily aware off. But what I always hated about other shows is how people don't talk to each other, especially those close to each other, and how that creates friction between them. Or creates a problematic environment because they all have pieces to the puzzle, but no one has access to the whole picture because they don't talk (like in Stranger Things). The teens are a lot more mature and don't necessarily expect to be included in everything. There's forgiveness for mistakes. The same cannot be said about the feud between the different parents or between kids and their parents. But it's a start.

I've been told it's based on comics I've never read or even heard of, but that's its really different. They didn't necessarily adapt the plot, just the characters and their relationships. Which is another thing I can appreciate. Creating their own story rather than trying to transform plot to TV. I'm not going to tell you that it's worth watching, because it's just one of those shows. It's not that special. I just really enjoy the relationships between characters, the kindness and the loyalty. Something that other popular shows often lack. That's what relates to me. Particularly the character of Jughead. The underdog, but then that's kinda my type. Not to mention he's the writer, and well, that's just really sexy. I just hope he doesn't make any stupid choices in season two ... but I'm sure he will. End of my rant, on to season two. Cheers.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Liselotte in Norwich

Dear Reader,
Another joyous update on my life in Norwich. Unfortunately, I'll have to start it off with a bit of bad news. The strike still hasn't stopped, which means I won't have classes again until after Easter break. In other words, I hope to have classes again in the week of April 16th. Yes, I realise that's in about a month, and by that time I'll only have attended one class in 8 weeks. It sucks, to say the least. But I'm keeping myself busy. I'm just reading books (I've already read 35 books in 2018, so far), working on the assignments that are due in May, meeting with classmates to discuss our assignments, and most of all just chilling with my housemates and going to Disney Society meetings.

On a happier note: Liselotte came to visit me in Norwich! We had a lot of fun, even if the weekend didn't quite go as we had planned or anticipated. She arrived here on Friday afternoon and we immediately started off by walking through town (as you have to walk through town to get from the station to my house). We had lunch in a café I've been excited to visit since I got here, called Bistro Britannia, which is located in the centre of town, next to the market. A beautiful spot. But that's not the reason I wanted to go to this particular cafe. As mentioned on the website, the cafe "is staffed by category D low risk prisoners, most of whom have limited catering experience but have volunteered to learn new skills, improve their lives and make a fresh start." To be honest, you would never know from walking into the cafe and having coffee or lunch there. It's absolutely lovely.

In the evening we made brownies, because why not, and food. After which we just chilled in the kitchen until some people came over to have a chill night in. But when I say chill night in, I mean that originally some of us were going clubbing, but they ended up just coming to our house and having drinks there. Like most of the time, we started with beer pong, but it eventually progressed to other games. It was a lot of fun, especially because Lies really started to connect with my friends here as well, especially during beer pong (though Niall might disagree hehe). It was nice to be able to share this experience with her. It was a lot of fun. I'm not entirely sure when we decided to go to bed, but it was pretty late.

On Saturday we explored the city some more, she already saw some things the day before, but we took more time on Saturday to explore. We had a much needed brunch in a typical English pub (one I hadn't been to before either) near the market, went into some thrift stores, and what not. I ended up with candles and Lush products (as often happens when I walk passed a Lush store, for which I completely blame Lea). We watched two guys put on a show in front of the Primark, they got a lot of attention and it was pretty interesting. With a drum set, a few buckets and some background music. It was an act that took quite a while. In the end two young boys decided to interact with the performers by dancing to their music.

In the evening, as promised, we made typical Dutch pancakes for my friends here (or at least a few of them). This was also absolutely lovely, mainly because watching Lies as she was busy with, very smoothly, making pancakes, reminded me of home, and Easter (this might not make sense, but I promise it's a lovely memory). Fabian brought over Dutch cheese last time he visited because the cheese here isn't ... well, let's just say it makes me appreciate the variety of cheese we have back home. So we made pancakes witch cheese, bacon, and just natural ones with sugar and syrup (though these weren't Dutch). And they loved it! We sat around the table with six people just eating and appreciating Dutch pancakes for different reasons. 

Afterwards we went to a place called Funkys, for disco roller-skating. It was quite obvious from the start that Lies was excellent, while the rest of us were struggling a bit. However, we all fell so I guess that makes it better. We had a lot of fun, especially because they make it interesting at the rink. There was racing, games, changing direction (yes backwards as well), and a lot of other things. We might go again some time on a 18+ night, because it is quite demotivating and depressing to see 4 year old skate like it's a second nature while you're struggling to stay upright. Who knows.

Sunday was mostly just chilling for us. We initially planned to go to another town near the beach but we decided against it as we both needed to get in some work for uni, and because it would take us about 1,5 to get there. We did, however, go out for breakfast to a cute little waffle place. It's quite popular as it always has a queue that often even starts outside. In the evening, we joined Heather, Niall (roommates), Conor and Arielle for a pub quiz in the SU bar (on campus). This was the first time I attended, but it was also the first time I ever went into the bar on campus. It's gigantic. Some parts of the quiz were a tat uninteresting, as I'm not that schooled in Irish towns, names of famous ships, Religious Easter celebrations, and stuff. But, that was all forgotten once we got to the last round: the Musical round. Boy, were we excited (or, most of us). Singing along and what not. All in all, it was a lovely weekend. It was really nice to see Liselotte again, spend time together, show her around, spend time with my friends. And it was especially lovely because they seemed to like each other (Lies and the people here). It was weird to say goodbye, but I'll see her again soon!

Until next time 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Cruel Prince Review

For the past year, I've often bought a monthly book box, called Fairyloot, filled with book related goodies and a newly released novel. The items are secret and often have an overlapping theme, such as Twisted Tales (last month's theme). I've come to really appreciate this monthly surprise, not only because it supplies me with new novels I wouldn't necessarily hear about otherwise, but also because they often include gorgeous art work surrounding some of my favourite stories (such as A Court of Thorns and Roses, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, Fairy Tales, and other fantasy novels. I was gifted The Cruel Prince in January's book box, which theme was "Talk Faerie To Me", written by Holly Black. Usually it takes me a while to get around to reading the books, simply because there's a lot I have to read for uni; however, Holly Black is coming to Waterstones in Norwich, so I decided to read the novel so I could attend the reading. Here's the synopsis (just because I'm hesitant to summarising it myself for fear of spoiling things). 
Illustration byMerwild. Photo by myself.
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

I have to say that the synopsis (as provided on the cover as well as on Goodreads) is quite deceiving. The way it's presented it seems as if the whole novel surrounds Jude and her deception of Cardan, but really that's not even close to the truth. It's also deceiving in the sense that this synopsis gave me the impression that Jude might be the eldest and her two sister her junior. This is not the case. Instead Jude has a twin, Taryn, and a sister who is two years their senior, Vivi or Vivienne, who is part fey, part human. I expected Vivi to be the main focus of the tale as she is the reason they are taken to the land of the fey, but this is not the case. I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I was engaged from the first page, as it starts so brutally, but mainly due to the choice of protagonist and narrator. 

Some elements of the tale were quite predictable, while others were completely unexpected (though, I do have to say, I should have known better by now). I am not entirely sure if I particularly like or trust any of the characters (not even Jude), but that they are relatable in their situations. I feel like Holly Black tried to make a strong case for the fact that fey (and by extension those who wish to be like or among them) often engage in inhuman activities. I finished the novel within a day as I quite enjoyed reading it and didn't feel the need to stop reading. It's engaging and the writing style kept me on the edge of my seat. But I really enjoy YA novels, strong willed female characters, and (lets be honest) attractive Fae, or fey in this case. However, these are not the kind of Fae I'm used to. The ones I've come to adore in Sarah J Maas' world are good and kind (or at least, most of them). These more closely resemble Cassandra Clare's faeries, which partially explains the dedication of The Cruel Prince (as it is dedicated to Clare). 

Some elements were very predictable, while others were unexpected (though I should have known better). Nevertheless, I finished the novel within a day and I quite enjoyed doing so. It's engaging, and the writing style kept me on the edge of my seat. But then I really enjoy YA novels, strong female characters, and Fae, though these aren't the good kind of Fae like Sarah J Maas' her characters, no they are rather like Clare's faeries (which partially explains the dedication of the book). 

Monday, 5 March 2018

'Extreme' Weather in Norwich

Dear Reader,
It's been a few weeks since I wrote something on my blog, mostly because going to classes and reading books isn't too eventful, but I have something to share again so here we are. Since I came back from Hull, it has been rather quiet around the house and otherwise. The strike is still going on so I'm currently filling my time with reading books, binging Netflix and watching a lot of films (specifically, Oscar nominations, which is done now as of now). On the 23rd of Feb I walked across town with Heather and Conor to got to a pet store (for fun) and to do groceries at Aldi. It was an experience, to say the least. I don't know why, but UK Aldi feels to need to put the English flag on almost every single product, PLUS on the side of the store as well as on a wall behind the registers (the same counts for the Aldi in Hull). As if I'm going to forget I'm in England.. That Saturday we also went to a gigantic pub in town, which is part of the Spoons chain. It was a nice experience. Especially as you can order your drinks and food via an app and don't necessarily have to talk to anyone (other than the people you are with) which was nice.

On the 25th, Fabian arrived at the busstation in town <3 He stayed until Wednesday afternoon. Unlike last time, we actually did some thing other than watch movies and cuddle. On Monday we went out for dinner, after which we saw Black Panther in the Vue. We really enjoyed Black Panther, especially the music used for the different characters, very clever. At that point England was facing a lot of snow, or what UEA personnel refers to as 'extreme weather' (more on that later), which made the walk home very enjoyable. Especially as Fabian cannot help himself but play with the snow, no matter the temperature. It was nice to be together and enjoy the snow and each other, a very romantic date night.

On Tuesday we didn't really do much, we slept in (I won't mention when we got up because it is ridiculous). We just cuddled and talked for a long time during the day. At night we went to campus to go to a Disney society viewing 0f Zootropolis. I assumed they meant Zootopia, but apparently it is named differently in certain countries. I hadn't seen it since we viewed it in the cinema when it came out and boy, did I miss out on a lot of small references. For example, in Frozen there's a duke from Weselton, but the other characters always mispronounce it (sometimes on purpose) as Weaselton (especially as the character can be described as a weasel). In Zootopia, it is the other way around. There's a weasel referred to as Weselton, and he corrects them by saying it's Weaselton. Genius. Love it.

Fabian's snow-angel
On the walk back home it was once again snowing, quite heavily. As soon as we got to my street (it's a 30 min walk), we looked like Snowmen, which motivated for Fabian to make to best of it and create a snow-angel. The funny thing about that is that a little while later one of my housemates came home and told us she about this cool snow-angel she saw on her way, she put it on snapchat. Really funny how that turned out. Last time he visited, Fabian had to leave while I was in class. Luckily, that was not the case this time. That didn't make it any easier though. It hurts every time he has to leave. It's just so comfortable and effortless to have him next to me. It took me a few days to adjust to it again, especially as it was extremely cold and I no longer had his warmth next to me.

UEA campus
In terms of the snow, I've come to realise that England really does not know how to handle it. They knew it was going to snow, quit heavily as well, but they did not take the necessary precautions like people do back home in NL. Where Dutch streets and sidewalks are prepared with salt, here they do not take similar measures. Which means it got really dangerous on the streets. The snow froze over and it became extremely slippery. It's not necessarily the weather that made it extreme, but rather how it was handled (or not handled). This meant that the bins weren't emptied, which is problamatic; food deliveries were halted in stores, so the stores looked like we were living in the apocalypse; the few classes that were still going ahead despite the strike, were now cancelled as well; and everyone (UEA personnel as well as police) advised us to stay indoors. It was an interesting situation, especially as I was flooded with Dutchies on ice on social media. It made me a tat homesick, especially as I missed out on ice-skating on the canals (in both Utrecht and Amsterdam). It made me appreciate the Netherlands a lot, especially because we still always complain about the weather, regardless of the preparations.

Until next time,

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

To Hull & The Strike

Dear Reader, 
Made by my fluffy unicorn
I'm going to start with fun stuff, because that's a nice place to start. I'm really starting to enjoy living in England. My housemates are really cool and it's becoming a lot easier to talk to them when we meet in the kitchen or something. I was a bit hesitant as they had been living together for a while already, but now I feel like I belong (I might already have said this earlier, but well). On a different note, books are really cheap on Amazon UK... sooo I'm really going into extending my book collection (though I know many might not necessarily consider that as a good thing, it certainly is to me). I've started purchasing the W.I.T.C.H comics again, in English this time, in collectors editions (which were recently published by the Walt Disney Company), really excited about those (especially as they are also quite cheap). 

I also went to visit my dear friend Lea this weekend, who's in Hull for this whole year (our last year of our BA). It took me 9 hours (!!!) to get there on Friday, but luckily that was followed by a free complimentary dinner in the Lawns (where she lives, part of Hull's campus) cafeteria. On Saturday we went into Hull (after a typical English brunch with one of Lea's friends) and Lea showed me all the good stuff in Hull, which is apparently not a very good representation of what Hull is actually like. We began by going to a few thrift shops and buying ridiculously cheap books, followed by a cup of coffee in one of the cutest café's I've ever been to (though I do not remember the name..). We then went into Hull itself and visited a few sights and shops as well. Luckily, by then it had cleared up. It was sunny, but cold.

We went to a free museum in the art gallery in the centre and visited a new exhibition, which was really awesome. The art was a bit all over the place, but that's what made it interesting, some pieces were really good, while other's weren't to my taste; however, some pieces, that were clearly part of a series, weren't put together. We also visited the marina. Super beautiful, especially at that time of day.

If we would have had more time, we probably (though not necessarily) would have visited the Deep (an aquarium in the marina) or the Dinosaur Exhibition. We had the chance to do so, but honestly, we we're having too much fun doing the things we are good in (and by that I mean.. reading and talking). We might also have visited a cat-cafe, or the waffle place she kept talking about, but again. We were too busy doing the things we always do when we are together. Nevertheless, we did go out on Saturday night, to drink cocktails with her exchange buddy, Veerle. We went to three different places and I was introduced to the party culture of Britain. I don't know why, but nobody brings coats when they go out! It's just girls walking around nearly naked, in ridiculously short dresses, heels most of the time, without anything else! And I'm not talking about in the club, or in the pubs. No no, on the *insert swearword* street. Just, when they are going from place to place. They do not bring a coat when they leave the house! I'm so confused by it.. honestly. It's cold outside man! (Sorry, that's the end of my rant)

On Sunday I met a few more of Lea her friends in Hull and it was honestly a lovely experience, they were all really nice. The whole weekend was exactly what I needed and looked forward to: just a lovely, normal weekend with my friend. Unfortunately, Monday was not as great.. We got up at 6:15 to prepare for her class and to get ready to get me on a bus back to Norwich. But for some reason, the busses decided not to show up, and eventually came really late.. So I missed my bus at Hull Interchange by 5 minutes (still frustrates me) and it was the last bus that day that would be able to take me to Peterborough (at 9:10 AM). Luckily I was able to purchase a last minute train ticket to my layover to be albe to get on my second pre-booked bus there. This also was not without difficulty, but I got there in the end and that's all that matters.

Love, Rosie
So, since I got back (yesterday around 17:15), I've watched Call Me By Your Name, Wonder Stuck in Love (which I have decided is one of my favourites), Dear John and Love, Rosie, with sleep and some bathroom breaks in between. I don't know what I'll do for the remainder of tonight, but I'm probably gonna read a bit (finish Milk and Honey) as I don't have any classes this week and most of my housemates are away.

Now, in terms of the strike. So.. there's a big thing going on around the pension of university staff, all around England. I'm not entirely sure about the details of it, but it basically means (I think) that all uni staff will lose 40% of their pension. Needless to say, they are not happy about it and do not intend to take it, so there's going to be a strike for however long it takes. This might mean I won't have classes for a rather long time. As it is now, the strike is set to start on Thursday, I hope to have more information then, but it looks like I won't have classes next week. I sincerely hope that it will end soon, because this is not what I came to the UK for, but I understand the situation. It is what it is, and I'll keep you posted. Hope you have a good week!

P.S. For more pictures you can look at my polarsteps.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Catching up: From Rick & Morty to The Crown.

Over the past few months, I've been albe to catch up on some series and binge a few new ones. Most of this was done right before going to England, and the first few weeks in Norwich. Below I will list the series that are worth mentioning. Some of them I watched together with my boyfriend (which meant very close communication once I arrived in England, but it made him feel closer to me). I also watched Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and Blue Planet with him while in Norwich, but I cannot really add anything on plot. The images are amazing and definitely worth watching!

Firstly, I'd like to mention fourth season of Black Mirror. Though it would be difficult to summarise the quality of show, due to the diversity of the episodes. So I'll try to be swift while discussing some of the episode, individually. The first episode, USS Callister, dictates a situation in which a man creates his own digital universe while using other people's DNA. The real people remain unaware; however, the DNA samples become their own people who are under the impression that they are real due to their memories and feelings. It is quite cruel and disturbing, and raises a lot of ethical questions.

Arkangel, the second episode, raises different ethical questions in terms of parental supervision, in this case by the use of a camera installed within the child's brain which can also restrict what the child sees (I definitely recommend this episode). In the fourth episode, Hang the DJ, which is about a dating program designed to find you true love. Very interesting and oddly realistic (though you wouldn't expect this when watching the episode, initially). The last episode of the season, Black Museum, is very well developed structurally, however I feel like it might have been a bit more enjoyable had they spend more time on the plot and how it is put together (still really disturbing!). 

Secondly, I would like to discuss Skins, somewhat less recently developed. Years ago, my brother advised/asked me to watch this show as he felt I would probably enjoy it; however, I never got around to it, until now. It takes part in Bristol and surrounds teens in college (which is a education system between high school and uni in England, apparently). It has seven season, and deals with three different generations of teens. The first two generations are wild, depressing, intense and captures the general feeling of adolescence (though over-dramatised). I have been told that it does not correctly represent British youth, but it nevertheless is very grabbing and interesting. Season 5/6 are not as good as the rest. This particular generation lacks well developed characters and the vibe that I associated with Skins (in the first two generations). The last season reunites the viewer with some of the characters from the first two generations, and introduce us to their lives years after the events of the first few seasons. They have the same vibe: dramatised reality that comes across as depressing. I understand why my brother recommended it to me, though I am happy that I did not watch it as a teen.

Fabian and I also watched Rick and Morty together. Previously, I'd already seen the first episodes about three times, but was never interested in watching the rest of the show due to the general feeling of "what the fuck is going on!" After having watched the first three seasons, I have to say that this is still my most prominent reaction to this show, but then it is part of it as well. Often it is really funny, interesting, disturbing and philosophical. However, some of my opinions have changed as the series progressed. In the beginning I preceived Rick as an annoying character, and I was unable to look beyond his alcoholism, arrogance and selfishness, yet there is more to him than that. He keeps broadening the edge of "caring" which keeps the viewer interested. Or at least, that's what its like for me. Also, I really enjoy the use of different dimensions and how these interact. I don't necessarily think it lives up to the my expectation due to its popularity, but I did enjoy watching it.

After having finished Downton Abbey last year, I decided to watch The Crown as it is recommended (on netflix) as resembling Downton (though also partially because I love Matt Smith). The show picks up not too long after the war, as Elizabeth's father is slowly falling ill dies prematurely, which causes Elizabeth to become Queen earlier than she hoped and imagined. She feels somewhat unprepared and it has a strain on her marriage to Philip and her relationship with her sister. When watching the show I realised, though a few decades had passed, it is still relatively similar to Downton Abbey in terms of decorum and how the court functions (marriage, rules, divorce, etc). It is both unsettling as it is fascinating. Hard to imagine now, and it surely made me wonder about affairs surrounding Diana. Even now, with the new engagement in the royal family. I also wonder if it resembles Dutch traditions. Nevertheless, a captivating show, very realistic (of course I don't know how close it is to the truth as I do not know enough about the Queen, but it comes across as very real).

War & Peace is another show that was recommended to me due to similarities with both Downton and The Crown, though in my opinion it more closely resembles Downton than it does The Crown, due to the inclusion of Russian revolutions and royals who have fled to Britain. Funnily enough, it is Lily James' character in Downton, who familiarises herself with the Russians, while she portrays one of the main characters in War & Peace. Nevertheless, the time difference spans about a century between those two series. War & Peace dictates a tale of a couple of rich families in the time of Napoleon's advances in Europe and against Russia. As it is a mini-series, it moves along quite quickly; however, there is a lot of great detail in it and it is told in a very fascinating manner. It somewhat reminded me of Les Misérables (without the singing). Also the acting is impeccable (which could be expected do to the (well-known) cast)! I keep wondering if I'll ever come across a film (or such) in which Lily James does not manage to captivate me. I was a tat surprised by the power structures in this film, which made me wonder whether it is the same in the novel. It seems as though women have a lot of power in these novels (at least certain women), especially in higher circles. Especially as it is set in a time in Europe around Austen's time, I found myself quite taken aback by their vocal manner towards man of high standing. But it remains a work of fiction and, as I said, I haven't read the book. Still, I highly recommend the show, and as it's only 6 episodes it doesn't take an awful lot of time to get through.

Now, as I was looking for something else to watch, and I am a tat limited to what is available on Netflix, I decided to start with A Series of Unfortunate Events (the series with Neil Patrick Harris). I've only watched the first two episodes so far, but thus far I'm not that impressed by it. My brothers and I saw the film that came out years ago. I remember enjoying it but even then I wasn't that impressed. I have to say though, boy do they two actresses look alike! Anyways, the first two episodes felt a tat repetitive, and I'm already quite annoyed by the show due to it's stressing over and over and over again how unfortunate these kids are and that it's not getting any better. I get it, just let the show play, you don't have to keep telling me! Let me see for myself. I am quite impressed by the cast, as there are a few rather famous actors in the show and they probably had loads of fun with filming it. But I'm not too hopeful for this show and how I'll like it.

I'm also currently watching The Leftovers (as recommended to me by my friend Sam). Created by the co-creator of Lost, and it certainly has that vibe to it in some elements. For example, the viewer is given pieces of information as we go along, enough to keep them interested, but not enough for them to actually know what's going on. Much like Lost, also, I cannot binge this show. It is very heavy in the themes it addresses and the way in which it is told (as illustrated by the image I've included). It's only three seasons and I'm almost at the end of season 1. Sam has informed me that the ending isn't like Lost, so that's comforting. The synopsis is as follows: "Three years after the disappearance of 2% of the global population, a group of people from New York struggle to continue their lives, while they cope with the tragedy of the unexplained nature of the event." However, this doesn't even begin to cover the scope of the show. A lot is happening all at once, but it is not too dramatic or chaotic. Just a tat confusing. Every answer, provides a series of new questions.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

First Month Abroad

Can't believe it's been more than a month already! I still don't feel like I've settled in completely, but a lot has happened since I came here and I do feel more at home. Classes are still amazing, but I am not going to talk about those today, as that wouldn't be that interesting. I've gotten to know my house-mates a bit since I've moved here, and they're all really nice and understanding. Last week, for my birthday, they spend the whole evening with me. First we just sat around and home, had a few drinks, played drinking games, just generally got to know each other a bit better. But they also bought cake for me, lighted candles and sung Happy Birthday to me. I had expected to feel homesick on my birthday but that didn't happen because they were so awesome about it.

Afterwards we went into the city and had a few awesome experiences in two different clubs, both gay-bars (I think). We did karaoke, sang Abba & Queen, until two people from our group got kicked out of the club for reasons still unfamiliar to us. The second bar was loads of fun as well, they had a strip-pole and we had alcohol in our systems, so obviously we danced a lot and had fun. But mostly it was just a nice experience and they were generally really having fun with me as well. It didn't feel forced or weird at all! It didn't feel like I wasn't part of the group and that was nice.

I didn't do much the day after, on my actual birthday, as we came home around three in the morning and it took a while for me to be able to fall asleep. The day afterwards I went to London to meet up with Lea there. We firstly went to the Disney store on Oxford street and I treated myself to a gorgeous Beauty and the Beast plate (I already have about three mugs so I wanted something new). We went to Charing Cross Rd. and initially planned on visiting about 4 second-hand bookshops; however, one of us found a lot of good books in the second store so we decided to leave it there. We checked into our hostel, changed into fancy dresses, and went to a really cute vegan place for dinner (it was really really good, especially the mac and cheese) and raced to the Apollo Victoria Theatre to see Wicked!

It was really busy, but luckily I expected it to be and thus had been smart enough to just print the tickets at home rather than collect them on the spot. We treated ourselves to a bottle of wine and walked to our seats. Now, we were lucky enough to find two seats pretty close to the stage when I purchased the tickets months ago. But we didn't realise how close these seats were to the stage until we got there. And boy, they were really, really close to. It was absolutely perfect! I didn't really know what to expect in terms of the plot of Wicked, other than it involved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But it was like walking into my thesis, only then with the Wicked Witch of the West. Absolutely beautiful. Really excited about it. Also, I was already familiar with one song (due to Glee) but by no means was it the best song. Most were really good, especially as the two leading women were both powerhouses (I wasn't envious at all ..). So of course I bought Wicked socks (boy are they comfy) and postcards to hang on my wall. 

After Wicked we went back to the hostel and decided to have a few drinks in the bar below the hostel. We talked for a long time, because Lea and I hadn't seen each other for way too long. It was really nice to have this experience with her. The next day, once we woke up, Fabian was already in the hostel, waiting for us downstairs. It was a weird experience for me. I was oddly nervous to see him, even though I had seen him only little over three weeks ago. But I just really missed him. So it was very nice to be reunited. We left the hostel, had some breakfast and went to the British Library for the Harry Potter expo that is currently (til the end of February) in the library. I was a bit hesitant as I feared it might resemble the travelling Harry Potter exhibition, but it was nothing like that at all, not focussed on the films per se, but rather on the novels (which makes sense as it was located in a library). It was a combination of the history of the novels and general history. Really informative. Afterwards we had some lunch and then Lea had to catch her train.

Fabian and I didn't do much while he was here. We mostly watch TV shows and films together while cuddling. We did go into the city to explore a bit and buy some stuff and I am absolutely ashamed to say that it was the first time, since my parents dropped me off, that I went into the city centre.  Uni is located out of town and my house is right between uni and the city centre, so I don't really have a lot of reasons to go into the city, other than to buy stuff. But as there's a Waterstones on campus (where you can have books delivered) there is really no reason whatsoever. But it was nice to walk down with Fabian. He left on Wednesday while I was in class, and while it wasn't weird or hard to leave and have class. It was really weird to come back home and find my room empty. But he'll be back soon.

This week was a bit different than expected. I didn't have class on Thursday as my teacher was ill, which meant that my weekend started on Wednesday when I came back from uni. While I don't mind reading books and being at home, it can get a bit boring. Luckily for me we did have a bit of fun in the house on Friday (they were playing beer pong with truth or dare, I was merely watching as I joined a bit later). And yesterday, again completely unplanned, I just talked in the kitchen with two of my house-mates, until about 2:30 AM, which was lovely, but really random (in terms of the conversation topics). I'll write again soon, but this is it for now. Love!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

UEA: First week of classes

It's a bit confusing to get used to the new system. Similarly to the University of Utrecht, UEA uses blackboard; however, they also use eVision, which was completely new to me as UU uses osiris. It's been a hassle to make sure all my courses are on blackboard. Though they are all presented as my modules on eVision, the same was not the case for blackboard. And several people were telling me different things on how to fix it, so it took a while. But it's all sorted now.

My first impression of the uni? The buildings are modern, build out of blocks of concrete. Very static and cold. Nothing at all like the buildings I'm used to in the city centre of Utrecht. Though it reminds me of the Uithof a little bit (only less glass and more concrete). There's a Waterstones on campus which sells classics and school books. There are a few bars, haven't been to those yet. BUT, they have gender neutral toilets all over campus, in the bars and some of the buildings. I think that's pretty awesome. Apparently, they are very LGTBQ+ friendly. That's the first positive thing I noticed about campus. The floors and rooms are confusing. The ground floor is in the middle of the building (so for dutchies it would be the second floor). Then one up is floor 1, but one down is floor 01. It's really confusing, especially because you can enter the building on several levels. And that's just the building where my classes are located. Though the library is a really ugly building, it is really big, but the equipment there is new and fast, which is pleasant.

In terms of my classes. "Writing Life: Biography and Non-Fiction" was a pleasant experience. The teacher is really friendly and open to the students, their thoughts and input. The class consists of 15 people, a few exchange students, but mostly UEA students, most of which are English, some of which are international students. So a pretty diverse group of people talking about non-fiction topics. This week we discussed Sylvia Plath, her suicide, biographical works about her and the ethics around it. Most students in my class are really talkative, which creates a good atmosphere for lively discussions. Also, I get to write a 5000 word non-fiction piece as final project! Which is really cool if you ask me. It's gonna be tough (especially as it cannot be autobiographical, but we'll see what happens).

It turns out that "New Worlds: Science Fiction and Beyond" is not a creative writing course. I completely misinterpreted the course description. Not to fear, it's still a really interesting course and as I have two other creative writing courses, I don't mind having one course that solely focuses on literature, especially as I am the only exchange student in a class of 15 people. We discussed a few novels, films and series that could be considered as "hard" and "soft" science-fiction (I didn't even know there was a division). The teacher told us that the reason for creating the course (with a colleague) was merely because they asked themselves "what is a topic we would really like to teach?" And that's how this course was created, because the teacher is really passionate about Doctor Who. Doesn't that sound awesome? I'm really excited. I'll be able to write a 4000 word paper on something I consider to be sci-fi and relate it to one of the primary texts discussed during the course (and I already have a few ideas).
"The Art of Emotion: Literature, Writing and Feeling" is exactly what I hoped for. Some of you might find it very typical of me that I'm taking this course, as it focuses on emotion, what the word means, what we associate with it, and where it fits in literature and writing. Again, we are with about 15 people and I'm the only exchange student. We had lively discussions (in which I actively participated) about emotion, the way we express it and what things could mean. Our teacher is really young, cheery and kind. She seriously seems like someone I'd be friends with in my personal life. We won't have to read much literature for this course, most of it will be discussions and extracts from texts and films (which is a welcome surprise as I need to read a book per week for my other two courses). It is not entirely clear yet what it is we are expected to do for the assessment. There are two moment projects, one in week 9 (2000 words) and one in week 15 (5000 words), which can be creative writing assignments, but we are free to do what we want. The earlier paper is meant to be an experiment. To see if we can do what we want and get a sufficient end-result. Also, something I was really surprised about, is the fact that we will have to think of the way our works will be graded. So, as a class, we have to determine what it is we want to get graded on, what is important and what isn't. Really interesting. All in all, I'm really happy with my courses and really excited about it all.