I’m not even sure what all happened during my second week. I’m looking at my calendar, and most of it seems a blur. I know I was pretty busy, but I didn’t put all my events into my calendar so it looks like I wasn’t doing all that much.
I worked hard during the first part of the week to get more of a routine down. I went to bed early-ish so that I had enough time to go to the gym on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings. Sadly that devolved the rest of the week and I didn’t make it in on Thursday or Friday. Since I can only access the gym from 7am-1pm, and I have classes typically from 9 or 10am onwards, that means 7-9am may be the only time I can go to the gym. That means waking up super early to go to the gym, and thus going to bed early.
However, a lot happens during the evenings. As you can imagine, this is a university campus, so students easily stay up past midnight. However, it’s also a cultural thing. After work Londoners go to the pub to unwind, so it’s not unusual to be out until 1am as a working individual. I can’t do the typical London evening *and* wake up early for the gym. I need 7-9 hours of sleep, but to really feel right, it’s more like 8-9 hours. I haven’t gotten my priorities straight yet.
So far the gym has been a “when I can make it” thing, since I am walking enough to get good exercise. But there have been times when I haven’t been getting enough sleep either, and that’s a problem.
On Tuesday at any rate, I had my Community and Culture course at the IFSA-Butler Office in Notting Hill. Afterwards I wanted to walk around Oxford Circus and get some work done for my Management of Design Module.
By the way, I may use the term module, but it’s the same term as “course” or “class”. For that module we’re split into groups and need to create a business plan and prototype for a toy that targets Key Stage 2 children (ages 7-11) and inspires them to study a STEMs field. We learned on Monday about the different types of research we need to do, including visiting toy stores.
Aww drats. I have to visit toy stores and make observations about how products are placed, how kids interact with the different toys, and different prices? It’s not like I do that already….(I totally do that already). I wanted to get some lunch first, and I was craving the Roast Chicken sandwich Michael had gotten me during my week of Inductions. I spent a fair amount of time trying to find where the Greggs bakery was that sells it. It wasn’t on the main road of Oxford Circus, or even on the major side roads. I had to walk into Whole Foods, steal their wifi, and use google maps to finally find it.
Yay for a 2.50 pound lunch! I ate my lunch in a park across the street, then wandered over to Hammley’s, which is one of the main toy stores in London. It’s I think 7 floors tall (so the top floor is floor 5 since there’s a Ground floor and -1 Floor). I went straight to the Barbie and Disney doll toy area and brought out my notepad, writing down observations and prices.
A worker came over and asked if I needed help. I realized that I looked really out of place with my long jacket tied around my waist, water bottle, cross body purse, smart phone picture taking, and notebook. At first I tried to get him to not pay attention to me by saying I was just looking around, but later on I realized it would just be easier to explain that I’m a study doing research for a business project.
It’s nice how receptive everyone is to students. This simple phrase is the perfect excuse for breaking social norms: “It’s a school project”. It’s an explanation for why an individual would be acting against the unspoken unwritten rules that we all follow as human beings in our different cultures. Every time someone breaks one of these rules, we first look for some sort of explanation. “Oh, the person who shoved by me on the tube wasn’t looking well. That must be the reason for their lapse in manners”. For example, a moody woman can claim it’s her period and suddenly everyone, begrudgingly, understands.
It’s really cool how my classes’ topics are bleeding into one another. Social norms is a topic covered in my Human Interaction Design class, which studies how humans interact with one another. But both my Human Interaction Design and normal Interaction Design classes cover ethnographic studies. In fact my first courseworks (homework) for both are ethnographic studies.
Oh, I should also explain what that means. An ethnographic study is when you observe how people interact with their environment, but you pretend that every single action is foreign to you. You make note of the fact that someone enters their credit card into a machine, and then removes it before cash is dispensed by the machine, instead of disregarding this as a trivial task. In fact, the order of that action is very important. If you were not required to remove your card before receiving your cash at an ATM, you would likely forget your card in the machine. That’s what old machines did, and after ethnographic studies designers modified the ATM.
Now back to the toy store. I got into a conversation with the worker, Hayden, who was willing to get me in touch with his manager so I could ask more detailed questions like how much it costs to rent shelf space, and how the price differs based on the location of the shelf and such. I spent about an hour in the store trying to discreetly observe how children interacted with the products, and also figuring out how the products were arranged in the different departments. It was vastly interesting.
Unfortunately I was too tired to go to the Disney Store or any other toy shops in Oxford Circus, so I returned home.
That night James made dinner again: his amazing Vegetable Lasagna. It’s to die for. It was a full house at the dinner table.
Gabriella came to visit Jamie and Michael was there too. We all died inside from happiness. I might be wrong, maybe that wasn’t Wednesday….it was sometime this week.
At some point in the week I finally cooked my salmon and had a delicious mango spinach salad with brown rice and a lemon vinaigrette. Wednesday afternoon I felt a little behind on my readings and such, so I worked really hard after my classes. However, Harry Potter Society had our first Slug Club, which is basically when we just get together and hang out. I forced myself to go because I knew I should be social, but I was still really in a working mood writing up my observations from the Hammley’s visit the day before, so I brought my computer with me. Christianne was there and we ended up chatting together and doing our own thing on our computers for part of the night.
At the Slug Club there was “Potions Class” aka making cocktails and mock-tails. There was also a potion competition where each house tried to make the best tasting beverage. I was too engrossed in my work to join them. Instead I watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone out of the corner of my eye while I worked. I left after an hour because I knew I had ballroom later that evening.
I did go to ballroom and helped out with class again despite not really knowing what I was doing when it came to waltz and such, but at least when they started Rumba and Cha cha I knew what I was doing. However, I didn’t go out to Wetherspoon’s with everyone afterwards. I was too tired. I went home instead.
Thursday was filled with crazy logistics. I spent the first couple hours trying to get the correct paperwork so that I could register at the British Library for one of my classes. I also had to turn in a module registration form with the study abroad office, and tried to pick up my arduino lab kit a day early since unfortunately my Friday lab conflicts with one of my lectures, so I have less time for my labs.
I was excited to start working on Arduino, but for the life of me I couldn’t get it working. I spent over an hour debugging and researching drivers on the internet to no avail. I discovered on Friday that my Arduino was in fact broken.
Later that afternoon I met with my Management of Design team again, and then met with one of my professors to ask questions about Interaction Design. It’s awesome having professors who are in fields that are directly connected to what I ultimately want to do with my life. I’m going to use the resources I have here while I’ve got them. I could use a mentor here to go to for job/grad school advice.
I hung out with Michael a little bit in the afternoon as a break, but wasn’t able to go with him to ballroom class as I had too much reading and pre-lab work to do before Friday. I was really stressed out on Thursday.
Friday counts as the weekend, right? Cause this post is getting too long.