Casa’s Blog

A Life Abroad

I’ve paid my dues. Time after time. I’ve done my sentence, But committed no crime…

Yesterday marked an achievement for me.  Yesterday I had my last lecture as a student at University of Leeds.  It was the last lecture for Crime Prevention and Community Safety and besides wrapping up the coursework he also gave me some MUCH needed insight in to what awaits me come the May 22nd Exam.  I now know the structure of the exam as well as some handy hints about the general themes of the course which I am sure will be beneficial! I also spent a fair bit of yesterday, as well as today, practising my presentation…I am determined not to suck 😛 haha  To break up the monotony of University work we did go to the pub, our beloved Eldon, to watch the Champions League game last night and will do the same tonight.

It is really strange how close the finish line is.  Although there are many important things still to come, such as my presentation, the exam, two assignments and most importantly we have planned a celebratory action packed week to end our time in Leeds in style.  I won’t be doing the full week as I have my exam to study for…but I’ll be making sure to get my fair share of fun in 😉

I’ve also started watching a new movie series over the last day or two. Spurred on by the reccomendation of  Brent and Josh and with the help of youtube I have started re-watching the Mighty Ducks.  Just like how I have been re-watching Narnia with Ben over my time in Leeds, it is awesome fun to re-live your childhood.  Especially as these movies as SO clearly significantly better than kids films of today.  Okay, the fashion and effects date significantly and there are some extremely heavy moments of cheese (D2 in particularly is amazing how they make a “local pee-wee hockey team” become THE American team and within all this jingoistic pride, you are led to believe that people CARE about the Junior goodwill games :P)..but they are truly great films.

Anyway I am off to practice my presentation again…or play Ice-Hockey 😉 haha

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Far! We’ve been travelling far. Without a home, But not without a star…

So there is not much to report.  Last night we went out to dinner and then drinks in a bar and eventually ended up at Puro for 80s night.  There were strong political discussions, there were less intellectual discussions and there was basically just a fun night.  Today I have slept in (for the first time in a while) until I was woken up by a pneumatic drill 😦 , read over a draft future scene for work (which took longer than it would usually do for me to analyse as it has been a while since I had to use any of that part of my brain) and practiced my Comparative European Legal Systems presentation for Thursday.  My presentation should be okay, although I am a little worried that I have to pronounce some french…which I can’t do, but at least I get to discuss Mabo which should be a lot easier.
I also find myself in the position of having booked all my travel from May 23rd when I leave Leeds for the last time until June 24th.  So to fill in those I haven’t told, and also to hopefully make a few people jealous haha, here is the Itinerary for the first month of my travels.

May 23 – Leave Leeds at 5:00, Bus to London, Drop laptop and unwanted stuff with family in London, 7pm catch an Ezyjet flight to Copenhagen.

May 23 to May 26 – Copenhagen!

May 27 – Fly SAS early in the Morning to Brussels, 1 hour train to Bruges.

May 28 – Bruges

May 29 – Take a 7:30pm flight from Brussels back to London on British Airways and crash the night with Joey in London

May 30 – Fly to Washington with Joey on American Airlines with a stop over in New York

May 31 – June 1  – Washington (Yay for my political nerd side 😉 )

June 2 – Train to New York arriving at about 11am

June 3 – June 6 – New York!

June 7 – Morning train to Boston

June 8 – Boston

June 9 –  Late night train to Niagara Falls with a stop over in New York.

June 10 – Arrive Niagara Falls at about 4pm

June 11 – Leave Niagara Falls at 6pm on a short train trip to Toronto

June 12 – Toronto

June 13 – Fly back to London from Toronto, again via JFK, on American Airlines.  Leaving at 8pm

June 14-  Get in to London 11am, say goodbye to Joey and fly British Airways to Prague at 3pm

June 15 – June 24 – Prague, staying with Justin

Phew…thats it.  Sounds like a hectic, yet awesome month to me.  I’m just personally proud that I have been able to organise such a month.  Whether it is well organised we will see, but its an achievement in organisation nonetheless I feel.

Now I just have the task of booking trains, planes and accommodation for Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Cardiff, Paris and finally back to London for Lords!

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

With every year, that came to pass, more clouds appeared, ‘Til the sky went black, and there was no sunlight…

England has lulled me in to a false sense of security and has decided its time to wake me up to reality.  Yep, that’s right, after weeks of great weather and sun…it is raining again.  Wonderful 😦  I do know why the weather has turned again and it is my fault.  Last night I made a comment to couple of my English friends that “Yeah, surprisingly I think I could live here long term.”  England just had to give me the wake up call that the fine days are the exception and not the rule over on this rainy little rock.  Oh well, I still love it here.  I just wish it wasn’t raining!

I was watching some tv last night after my long day of assignment writing and presentation preparation and  I had a thought.  I have realised that after these 7 months away, I will have a greater connection to a lot more places.  Firstly there are about 30 cities (I’ll do a proper count eventually) that I will have been to.  So whenever there is a TV show set in Manchester or a travel advertisement about Belfast I will sit back and go “oh I’ve been there”.  Whenever somewhat start talking about Europe, the UK, North America or travelling any of these places I will be able to give my 2 cents.  Finally, after living in Leeds for 6 months I think there will always be a somewhat “homely” feel about the place to me.  I read newspapers and whenever Leeds or South Yorkshire is mentioned I read it as avidly as if it was talking about Melbourne.  It is even something that has extended to my relatives who lovingly informed me that “Songs of Praise” was in Leeds a few weeks back.  I think I wil end these 7 months with a greater feeling of understanding of more than just our not so little isolated country.

Finally, I have finally realised the one thing that defines my family.  A connection that proves that we are all related.  I was wandering around the shop today looking for a snack and ended up leaving with a variety of cheeses and I thought…I don’t know anyone in my family who hates cheese.  In fact we are all generally way too addicted to the stuff haha

April 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Some day you will find me, Caught beneath the landslide, In a champagne supernova in the sky…

To start off I have some good news.  MY INTERNET IS BACK! 😀 What a horrible 24 hours it was without it at home, but I think I survived….just haha.

As a result of yesterday I spent most of my day in the Library, which was packed as many other students were in the same boat as me, doing my essay and procrastinating my essay.  Well thankfully I ended yesterday with only 800 words to go.  800 words that I have now finished up today so barring cleaning up these essays and my oral presentation on Thursday afternoon, I am done with the non-exam assessment 🙂  So now I can get back to the fun side of Leeds.  The going out.  The hanging with friends.  The planning of my travelling adventures.  I hate the underlying stress that you get from having work “to do.”

As my internet was lovingly restored to me this yesterday afternoon, I was able to wake up this morning bright and early and be depressed my watching the footy.  Brisbane losing to Geelong by 93 points isn’t surprising, but hell it isn’t fun either.  What is even worse is that I have somehow managed to be as depressed by the result if I was in Australia.  It seems that distance can not dull the impact of a sporting loss.  I noticed the same thing when I was in China in Year 11 when Brisbane lost to Port Adelaide in the Grand Final.  It seems that passion for your team always burns strong.

Also, I think I have discovered the greatest radio show line up of all time. On Talksport radio over here, there was a show with Russell Brand and Noel Gallagher.  Yes its an unlikely line up.  Especially as it is a football talk show, but its great!  Surprisingly they are able to do it without swearing (Yes an Oasis brother can go three hours without swearing :o) but both are great personalities and much like the kind of guys you would like to chat to about football with in a pub.  Now I just need to find out how to podcast it when I am back in Australia if it continues. It is too good to miss…

April 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’

Okay, sometimes my posts can tend to be slightly rant-ish. Well today is definitely going to be one of those days. At about 3:10pm yesterday, the internet at my accommodation cut out. Bugger I thought, can’t be too bad though. After checking out all the connections/my laptop and rebooting it all a few times I realised the connection fault was not at my end. Eventually I went and asked the site office and yep, the entire University of Leeds server was done and as a result we had no internet.

It was at this point I realised 1) how tiny and REALLY boring my dorm room is and 2) how much I am addicted to the internet. I have adjusted too much to being able to just check facebook, cricket scores, chat to friends, etc, etc whenever I feel like it. As soon as that was cut off I had no idea what to do. Eventually I just went out with Josh and Brent for dinner, beers before we caught up with some other people and went out finally ending up at Halo. I had to do something as there was NOTHING to do at home.

Unfortunately though when I got home early this morning and when I woke up later this morning, the problem still wasn’t fixed. Luckily there is still internet available at the University Library Clusters although the fact that I have a powerpoint assignment to submit on Monday morning and if the server is down, the University portal is down and thus I can’t submit it has me a little worried. Also, on the serious side of the effects of no internet it means that I have to come in to uni to do my cybercrime essay…which is just a bother. However, at least I have access to internet here so that I can at least DO my assignment. Its good because I want it down ASAP even though it isn’t due for about 10 days, but also as I have nothing else to do…it gives me something to do.

So thats my rant. It may seem less rant-ish as I have seriously edited out the swearing and abusive messages towards the university IT staff from the first draft but still, I am REALLY annoyed!

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When we laugh indoors, the blissful tones bounce off the walls and fall to the ground.

Last night we mixed it up a bit.  After initially planning to see a movie we ended up going to The Library (of the pub variety) for their comedy night.  6 pounds entrance, 1.25 pints and a few laughs.  A pretty good way to spend a few hours.  The night was set up with a compere and two main acts.  Personally I thought the compere guy was the best, able to get the audience laughing as well as probably being best suited to the audience of all university students.  The first act, although really funny at times, had a few bits that just died and the second act although very good at his job seemed to have had material that would have killed if the audience were all in their mid 30s…but we an audience who, at our oldest, wouldn’t have been much more than 22.  Was well worth the price of admission though!

I also had my second last Seminar for Crime Prevention and Community Safety today.  It was about ASBOs, something that isn’t really important for this discussion, but it is funny how in a class of predominately  “criminology students” with a few of us law folk dotted around the room you can so clearly tell the difference between the two.  Firstly, the crim students tend to be more inclined to left wing (some being left enough to make me look right wing haha) and thus were quite opposed to ASBOs which can be seen to restrict civil liberties.  Also though there seemed to be a clear difference in the debate we were made to have about “Whether ASBOs are good?”  Criminology students in the room were arguing against them in a passionate, emotive but not fully coherent way while law students who were either for, against or indifferent were able to argue paassionately, emotively and coherently with facts and figures skewed adequately to their arguments.  By the end I could only chuckle as our minority of future lawyers had been able to convince the room (except the teacher of course) that ASBO were great and neccessary, when really we all had differing opinions on whether they actually were good.  THAT is why I want to be a lawyer, or is that have to be , the ability to argue a case effectively is just too rewarding haha

Things have also been developing well for my travel plans.  I have booked al my flights and most of my accommodation for Copenhagen and Bruges (my first two stops in Europe before I head to America) and together with Joey by the end of today we will have booked all flights, trains and accommodation for North America except Washington and Boston.  We are still trying to find a good place in those two places. However, the one thing that all this progress has done is lead to me being able to formulate a budget of sorts for my 8 weeks away….and its a scary thought.  I will definitely be in debt when I get back and will have to find a “proper job” to work a couple of days a week to ensure I don’t have to sell myself for scientific research haha.  However, I am lucky enough to have plenty of ‘family banks’ willing to short term lend me the money and I just have to do it all.  I am not doing my travels expensively, I am doing them on a budget so the money I am spending just ‘has to’ be spent for me to have the wonderful time I will have.

It would be awesome if things were cheaper than they are though haha

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hey diddle diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon…

Not much to report.  I had another of those boring, yet productive days.  After forcing myself out of bed to go hand in my first cybercrime assignment I got straight in to typing away at my second cybercrime paper.  Well sort of straight away.  My procrastination skills are amazing.  I had all the good intentions of working solidly from 10am…but come 1pm and I had only really just started.  Oh well, in the end I did manage to get 1000 words and 27 footnotes on paper.  I am a little concerned that I only have 1500 left to write when this paper needs to be 3000 in total.  However, I am sure I will be able to come up with something.

As I procrastinated this morning though, in between skype and facebook, I did realise something quite scary about how I live when “by myself”.  I had decided to take the easy option and get a “kitchen pack” when I arrived in Leeds.  One box, 30 pounds and all the kitchen essentials one would need.  Now as storage in my room is low I still use the box to store my cuttlery, plates, bowls, pots and pans. Well I have realised that I have hardly used any of these items.

Okay both of the glasses have been used  – but that was only because I was too lazy to wash one and decided having two would be easier.  However, they haven’t been used in months as they are so thin they are impossible to clean without a brush and I can’t be bothered buying one.  So I have settled with my one mug.  On the bowls I have eaten I think 5 times out of the two of them combined.  Again I only opened the second one to avoid washing. One of the plates has been used once to reheat a sausage roll.  The frying pan was used once.  The Saucepan is regularly used for pasta…and it more than occasionally acts as my pasta bowl.  Finally I have used my two teaspoons multiple times a day, one fork I use for pasta and the knife I used once to open the can opener.  The rest of the box remains untouched.  I even realised that there were candies in the bottom of the box as a welcome gift that I never noticed.

So in short, my realisation was am I SO male that I could quite comfortably live with pretty much just a mug, a teaspoon, a fork and a saucepan for 6 months?  I think the answers a yes as long as I only drank twist top/canned beers 😛 haha

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So I’m moving to New York cos I’ve got issues with my sleep, Looks like Christmas came early, Christmas came early for me.

So a wise woman once told me “you can never have enough toilet paper” and I think I may have laughed.  Now this wasn’t the kind of wise woman you row down the amazon and hike through rainforrest to find – more the kind you go through the gate in the fence to find, so maybe that is why I was doubtful of the words of wisdom. However, especially since toilet paper has taken to additional role of napkins and tissues for my lazy ass-self in Leeds, I hearby retract any previous laughter.  As I found myself hiking to the all night supermarket at 3am last night after a night out…I couldn’t help but think “you can never have enough toilet paper!”

Toilet paper aside it has been a hectic 24 hours for me.  Firstly I went out last night with what seemed to be all of Leeds, or at least every international student.  It was a big night as it was our first night out since we were all back in Leeds.  Rob – now with fire engine red hair that made him easy to spot in the crowd, Johnno, Brent, Josh, Charles, Rhys, Claire, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc were all there. Although the habit of Eldon then Tiger Tiger did kick in again unfortunately so we were once again a brilliantly fun, yet predictable group.  I should also note that the 4-4 draw between Arsenal and Liverpool last night was almost the best game of football I have ever seen.  Truly amazing and Arshavin…you are a star son!

After recovering this morning, thinking that “I’m too old for this shit” to quote Lethal Weapon and contemplating copying How I Met Your Mother and writing my own Murtagh list, I met up with Joey.  It was a big day…as today we booked our tickets to America 😀 After smoothies and highly un-neccessary trip to STA Travel (450 quid for flights…umm yeah we can do A LOT better on our own thanks) we went back to my dorm and booked our flights for 360 pound each.  Well I booked the flights and Joey made incredible ground on my Rubik’s cube – impressive work.

We fly in to Washington at 3pm on the 30th of May on American Airlines flight 115.  We fly out of Toronto and back to London on American Airlines flight 116.  Stopping over in New York both times, which is interesting as we actually will be spendind the 2nd through 7th in New York before heading to Boston, Niagra Falls and Toronto.   It seems a little bit like we are flying the long way around, but trust me…its a well planned trip 🙂  Direct flights would’ve been nice but not 100 pounds nicer.
Joey and I then went to Borders as we sat, drank coffee and made “to do lists” for each city from the travel books.  I even couldnt help myself and bought the book on New York.  It was 6 pounds…thats just too cheap!!!  I won’t go through our plans, you’ll be able to see it as I do it but it sounds like a brilliant trip and I can’t wait to go.  Actually I just can’t wait to start travelling, I can’t wait to get home and I am not ready to leave Leeds yet at all, its sad that those three feelings are all contradictory with each other :/

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

This is a toast to all the people listening. I hope it gets stuck in your head. So tap your feet and click, click, click your fingers. Let’s make the rest of the world care.

Anyone who has been in to my bedroom back in Oz may have noticed that I am somewhat of a pillow addict.  At one stage I remember having about 8 pillows on my bed, although I have been able to cut back to about 4 or 5 if I remember correctly.  However, since I have been in Leeds things have changed.  With my crappy tiny little bed I have been having to put up with the 100% synthetic sheets and Doona (although say Doona to a pom and you get a weird look, its a duvet ;)) and worst of all, ONE thin pillow.

Well last night things got worse.  I have been rolling up my pillow and doing everything I can to try and get comfortable but it hasn’t felt right for the last week.  On investigation it turns out I have managed to destroy the pillow so that half of the stuffing was sitting in the pillow case and half stuffed into a corner of the pillow…how did I manage that?  Well I decided I would put up with it, but after waking up this morning with my back killing me I decided I couldn’t live with just one dodgy pillow so bought myself another, still cheap and crappy, but at least whole pillow.  How does someone break a pillow in lest than 3 months of sleeping on it? :S

Besides bed issues today I managed to provisionally finish my Gender and the Law essay. It needs to be revised, re-written and cleaned up but there are 3000 (or actually 2880) words on the paper! That means that I now have one essay, one exam and one oral to perform on top of just 6 hours of class until my experience as a University of Leeds Student comes to an end.  I can’t believe it has come around so quickly.  I will just have to make the most of my time in Leeds then.  Go out as much as I can.  See as many people as I can.  In short, make the most of every minute 🙂
So as part of that mission I am off to Josh’s shortly for predrinks, then off to the Eldon (our tuesday night hangout) and then somewhere else…maybe Space seeing as we have found ourselves on touching the surface of the many good pubs and clubs that are around in Leeds.  I can’t come to Leeds and just go out to 2 of the over 20 clubs can I? 😛

Anyway I am off!

April 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

If there is anyone who is in the sun, Will you help me to understand ’cause I’ve been caught in between all I wish for and all I need…

Another great sunny day in Leeds, where not only was the sun out but it almost hit 20 degrees :O  I was even walking around the streets seeing almost everyone “jumperless” and even a few guys with their shirts off.  I wouldn’t go that far, but it is great to have weather that leaves you with a smile instead of making you feel suicidal haha

With such great weather it would have been brilliant to sit in the sun, relax, drink a few beers and maybe kick a footy.  So what happens now that we have such great weather?  Back to class fellas.  University started for me once again, even though I must admit that I only have about 8 hours of lectures/seminars over the next three weeks…so it is not that bad 😛  To make it even better I submitted two of my six assignments.  Another one has also been submitted online but I ran out of printer ink…so I will have to buy some more tomorrow before I submit my first cybercrime essay in hardcopy form.  To make it even worse though I spent a good three hours stuck inside writing more of my gender and the law assignment, its coming along nicely though 🙂

As I made my way on to the University campus though I encountered an interesting experience though.  Religious societies have been having numerous information meetings, ‘weeks’, charity drives, etc since I arrived in January.  From rough memory we have had the Christian, Muslim,  Buddhist and Jewish societies at the very least running events but odds are that I have missed some as well. So who had the tent up today?  Well it was the athiests turn. The whole idea of an athiest society running events does interest me a little.

When I first arrived in London it was right in the middle of the athiest campaign on London buses where “There is probably no god” was put up on a relatively small minority of the iconic red London buses.  I even noticed a few of the reactionary pro-religion posters that started popping up as well. When I was in Ireland of course religion was an interesting topic of debate and there were generally posters for the local church up at the train station.  Also, as you may have noticed, I have visited a fair few churches and cathedrals so far in my travels so religion just keeps popping up.

Now, for the record I have never been a regular church person.  I think I have legitimately been to a church service a maximum of 5 times if you exclude school chapel services and one of those was my baptism.  I did though do all the RE that was available in both primary and secondary school, own a few copies of the bible,  read/watched children versions of the bible stories as a kid and have tried to learn as much as I could about all the respective religions in my more ‘adult’ years. I am however unable to classify myself as Athiest, Agnostic or any other term just because none of them fit well with me.  If anything I could probably be considered “scientific”.

I have a rather complex view of religion, too much for me to put here, but one thing I have never really liked was the “converting” idea that is at the heart of a lot of religions.  Personally, I think faith is a personal thing and you can believe what ever you want to be (even if I wholeheartedly disagree) as long as it does not affect me.  I will keep my nose out of your business if you keep your’s out of mine.  For example, I could care less about Tony Abbott’s religious beliefs but as soon as he started imposing his religious beliefs on the Australian public with his initial rejection of RU486 thats when I got annoyed.  I also don’t like the whole doorknocking thing.

So the whole idea of athiest activism is a weird concept for me.  I don’t want people coming up to me with a religious pamphlet telling me what to believe regardless of what is in the pamphlet.  A lot of the university religious society’s appear to be focused on giving out information to the general population of the campus and that is great.  The more knowledge the better as at least then you can make an informed choice.  However, there is a difference between discussion/debate/information and recruitment  and a few of the tactics I saw at campus today definitely fell in the latter category.  Part of me wonders if one day, South Park will be scarily accurate, and we will end up with conflicting groups of Athiests at the heart of most moral arguments instead of conflicting groups of religions.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments