Institute for Study Abroad - Butler University

It's a sunny day in Norwich today! I can't believe it.

I feel like the colors are restricting my impressions of this marvelous city. So I'm just going to write whatever comes to mind. This will probably result in a very disorganized, scattered, random jumble of bizarre things I've picked up on while I'm here. Then again, at least I'm writing this post in the morning, rather than like 3 am or something, so there's some hope for sanity. Anyways enough buildup...let's talk about Norwich.

Norwich is a pretty traditional English town. It's small, quiet, and does a lot of things on paper. Bikeriders are common, dog walkers, horse feeders, old people with fishing poles. There's a man-made lake behind campus (I'll take a picture!) and there's maybe 5 guys I see pretty regularly with their tents and dogs and fishing poles just camping out for the day. Also there's little docks and benches everywhere for people to just sit and think on. I don't think we have nearly as many random sitting places in America. I'm thinking of Hopkins and Baltimore mainly, and have decided this is because 1. No one has enough time to just sit and think about...anything 2. It's too dangerous
3. It's not cool to sit by yourself on a bench in the middle of the city. These ideas don't exist in Norwich. I see kids sitting, reading, strumming guitars on the dock outside my window pretty often.

This only happens when it's not raining, though. It rains here almost every day for at least a half hour or so, I'd say. It's weird though, because it doesn't really rain super hard. So I'm never quite sure if I should open my umbrella or not. Because really, the wind is so much worse that I spend the majority of the time fighting the wind with my umbrella rather than staying dry. So usually I just put up my emormous hood, keep my head down, and brave the water like a good English person would.

Oh...English people. They're a unique breed, for sure. Especially in Norwich, where most people have lived in/near the town for the majority of their lives. The Norwich locals I've met so far have been pretty nice and are a little more surprised at my American accent than the shopkeepers/waitresses we talked to in London or St.Alban's. I get asked a lot why I chose Norwich to come to, instead of London or Cambridge or Manchester. I also get asked if I drink a lot of Jack Daniels, if Tennesse borders Texas, if I'm racist, and if Maryland is a city in New York. They also ask if I eat a lot of meat, and once I got asked if I own slaves. Mira, I've gotten a lot better at saying no! Haha.

No, but really, apart from their sometimes offensive questions, the English are a nice bunch. They're defnitely not as approachable or immediately friendly like Americans (especially when they're not drunk). I don't know, sometimes I think they're really reserved, sometimes I think they're really abnoxious. I think what I've concluded is that you just can't generalize a whole country's people with specific characterizations. I mean, there are a few things that I feel pretty comfortable saying about all English people. But then again, some of my classmates and English friends might be reading this, so I better keep my mouth shut or I'll say something that's not true. For example, I would say that everyone drinks tea, but my flatmate Cameron would read this and tell me that he doesn't. And then I'd be in big trouble.

My flatmates! I have 6 at the moment (there used to be 8 of us, but one of our flatmates dropped out last week and has moved) and they're just a lovely (as the English say) bunch. They're all 18 or 19, and it's their first year out of home, so there's kind of an age/stage of life gap between us. But it's fun, still, experimenting with our microwave/convection oven. We don't have an actual oven, but we have this insane microwave and this huge open toaster thing. UEA is full of impractical luxuries like this toaster of ours. Like the library has this super high-tech machine where you can place a stack of books in a big slot and it scans and checks them all out for you at once. But to get into the library, you have to swipe your UEA card and go through an old-school theme park turnstile that locks half the time. And there's only 2 of them for the whole library, so there's usually a small line. You see? It's like, some things are super fast, and these are usually the things you don't even use that much. Or also, like, they have a vending machine that disposes ramen noodles, plays oriental songs, and has a dragon tell you your fortune while it adds hot water and cooks your noodles. But they don't have an ice dispenser with the fountain drink stand in the cafeteria. But anyways.

So yeah, the living conditions are alright. Food hasn't been the best experience over here. They eat a lot of mayonnaise, a lot of potatoes, a lot of beef and ham wrapped in pastries. But mainly I've just been eating stuff I get from the grocery store down the road, since going out is so expensive. Once a week my flatmates have pizza night (this week's is today! yaaay!) where we all splurge and spend about 5 pounds on Papa John's pizza. Papa John's and Domino's is really expensive over here! But it's always a good time. A few weeks ago I taught everyone how to play spoons and they LOVED it. Really! I left to go out for a bit with Ellie, and came back like 2 hours later and they were STILL playing! We actaully ended up breaking 2 spoons, but luckily all their parents sent them over here with complete kitchen sets so there's plenty more.

Speaking more about food (I'm obviously looking forward to pizza tonight), Ellie and I attempted to host an 'American Breakfast' for a few of our friends and flatmates the other day. It was a fun morning, but our pancakes were a total disaster. I think the flour over here is different or something? Our pancakes were'nt fluffy or soft at all :(. Instead they were just these egg-y dense rubbery things. But we made some french toast and eggs and drenched it all in syrup so it was good. We also couldn't find American-like bacon or sausage, and ended up eating mini cocktail sausages (like the kind you take camping or wrap in croissants for little appetizers). Anyways, it was still a good time...it's the thought that counts, right?

The other night one of the guys on the volleyball team had a party at his house. It was really nice to go to a house for once, instead of a bar or club or dorm room. Anyways, my COACH was there! Drinking with us! His name is Tomasz, and he's maybe 35? or so, and from Poland. I don't know, it was just crazy but actually kind of cool. I talked to him and told him I was half Czech, and we talked about pierogies and halushki (sp?) and other random things I sort of remember. Anyhow, it was a fun party and from the looks of my coach at the end, I don't think he'll remember our talk. But that's alright, we only practice once a week so he'll have time to recover.

Actually volleyball has taken up a lot more of my time than I expected. We had a tournament that lasted like allllll day the other Sunday, and I can't say I didn't feel like I was at some dinky club beginning-of-the-season playday, sitting around in my sweats and waiting to linejudge. The worst, though, was that there was no team of parents setting up food tables and buying us frappacinos in between games! haha. But still, it was a good day to get to know the girls and see some intense volleyball, for sure. We lost all of our games (by the way, we were playing women aged 30ish-50...there are no other schools in our region to play with, so we're in the women's league! It was so crazy). We really focused on perfecting our cheers, though, and having fun!

Well I hope y'all enjoyed this one. My life is pretty settled, and I've described most of Norwich in general by now, so I'll just keep writing about these unexpected failure/successes like pancakes and volleyball. I miss everyone a lot and can't wait to talk to/see/hear from you guys! "Love ya's all..."

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Comment by FRD on October 27, 2008 at 10:09am
Your VB Equip is on the way there Mary, thanks to Mom. Big Titans home game tonite for Mon Nite FB, and the town is in Code Blue mode for the big game vs. Indy and Payton. We had dinner at F&J on Sat and their place is shaping up nicely, and yesterday we put a faucet in the garage so I think FPD can wash cars and stuff. Anyway, good to hear more about the town and your roomies...talk to ya soon. Luv, Dad

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