Despite the fact that I technically rested for most of the weekend, I hadn’t gotten a good night of sleep. So I slept in on Monday morning and unfortunately didn’t get much done before my two lectures. I did run back to my room at 3pm for a snack and to get some readings done before my lecture at 4pm.
We had a special guest doing a Project Management lecture in our Management of Design class. He wasn’t very good. I mean the material itself was interesting, but it wasn’t organized or taught well. He read everything on the slides and didn’t add much himself with the presentation. Also, it was just explaining different project management techniques, in the sense of whether you use flow charts or Gantt charts. So the majority of the talk was a detailed look into Gantt charts and how to use them, going through specific examples of creating a Gantt chart. The examples were way too specific. They’d be useful if I was actually about to sit down with my team and create a Gantt chart for our project, but he should be discussing a wider variety of project management techniques, not just software and such.
He finished his talk in 50 minutes. The lecture is supposed to be 2 hours long. Yes, I was tired and glad to get out early, but we’re paying for the full 2 hours of quality material, and we didn’t get either of those. I much preferred my Project Management class in the spring semester with Prof. Gokli. It was the first time he ever taught the course, and he way surpassed this guy who has given his project management talk many times.
On the bright side I got to chat with Rebecca, one of my teammates, after lecture and we discussed a wide variety of topics. I shared how diverse Queen Mary is, but how it’s a different cultural mix than back in California, which is an interesting experience. In general I feel that Queen Mary’s diversity is how all environments should be: school, work, neighborhood, etc. Everyone is a different ethnicity, race, from a different culture, so it becomes almost a non-issue. You just become more interested in learning each others’ backgrounds and cultures and a collaborative sense.
Anyway, Monday evening I went to a ballroom dance class with Michael in exchange for him agreeing to go West Coast Swing dancing with me next Monday. The class was in a church hall east of Queen Mary. We were supposed to meet up at Mile End Station at 7:30, but we ran late, and so we didn’t end up making it to the venue until about 8:25. We fast walked to get there, which was quite a challenge for me considering Michael has very long legs and can walk way faster than I can. I was very nervous about showing up to the class partway through, especially since Michael is familiar with the teachers and such, but I’m new, an outsider, and American.
Luckily when we walked in all the students were still just warming up. I guess for the first half hour a bunch of different songs are played so students can practice all the dances. It was a huge range of ages, but heavily weighted towards 30+ with quite a few 50+. Another interesting aspect is that you come with your partner, and you don’t switch partners throughout. So it really is an opportunity to learn technique with one individual. That’s a problem with Michael and I . Though I may enjoy taking advantage of the fact that he knows standard and I don’t, he’s too tall. I mean, I have no issue with it, but because of the height difference, resting my left arm on his right arm in ballroom posture happens at a weird angle that aggravates his hurt shoulder. So he was in almost constant pain. Yay.
The teacher came over and introduced himself and Michael introduced me. He asked if I had any experience and I emphasized I know Latin, not Standard. So when the teacher gathered the group together to ask what dance they wanted to work on that evening and Michael kept yelling, “Standard! Waltz!” the instructor responded, “Well, his partner wants Latin”. They did choose waltz, a routine that they had taught over the summer. So not only do I technically not know waltz (well, a little, and at least I’m a good follow), but it’s also a routine I don’t know. It was an interesting class. Michael kept trying to give me feedback, which was helpful, except for the fact that I was trying to watch and listen to the instructors at the same time, so when he spoke I then couldn’t understand the instructors or what the next moves were. It was a little stressful, but I got it down later on which was nice. I didn’t have the technique by any means, cause I’ve never been taught waltz technique, but the footwork wasn’t hideous.
After class Michael spent half an hour asking the instructor questions and trying to get him to come teach a class for the ballroom society at some point during the semester. Afterwards we went to Mo’s apartment (he also helps teach the ballroom classes, and happens to live really close to the ballroom venue we were just at). Mo’s a really cool guy, and we got to listen to some voice work he had been doing for advertisements for BMW and such. His voice is deep, British, and svelte. He also fed us fresh bread and meat from the fridge. We were both very happy. Then we went home and I promptly collapsed. Yay collapsing!
Tuesday was a marathon. I left the flat at 9:10, and didn’t get back until 8:45pm. It was a longggg day. Of course the morning was filled with my Community and Culture course. I decided to stay at the IFSA Butler offices after it finished since their living room, where the course takes place, has lots of comfy sofas and free wifi. I knew I needed to do more career/job search, as unfun as it is. So I chained myself to my computer for two hours and researched companies in London that I might be interested in working at.
The whole process was very stressful. I’m interested in interactive experiences and sensor development, in a start-up company environment (like a Google, Dropbox, Yelp environment). That’s very specific. There are engineering jobs, I’m just so picky and afraid of choosing a position I wouldn’t enjoy, would fail at, and wouldn’t provide good career development considering the fact that I want to eventually go into R&D at Imagineering. To add stress, I realized that I can’t really consider start-ups, since I need a company that can possibly sponsor me so that I can get a work visa. Omg the complexities.
I wasn’t feeling the best that day. I started to fall ill Monday evening and my sinuses were giving me a headache while I worked. I ate my packed lunch and then headed over to the British Library. My original plan was to start my ethnographic study for Interaction Design at King’s Cross Station, but I was simply too tired. I also walked around a bit exploring the station and I couldn’t find any benches or good locations for me to observe individuals interacting with each other and ticket machines or other National Rail related material.
So I headed straight for the British Library, where I was going to be meeting up with Rebecca later on to do business and marketing research for our Management of Design project. I needed extra time since I had to actually get my Reader’s Pass. The British Library is not like a regular library. It is an amazing resource with access to expensive business reports both in digital and hard copy format, and anything else you could ever need for all different sorts of subjects. It also acts as a museum, hosting a large collection of rare books on display, like one of the original copies of Guttenberg’s Bibles. They have a café, souvenir/bookstore, and then reading rooms. I think you can check out some books from the library, but I was dealing with the resource section, which I think is the main part of the library. You have to apply for a Reading Pass, which you can only get if you live in the UK, and have to bring proof of residence and an ID card showing your signature. So access is limited to people who legitimately need access to the material, like students, researchers (profs) or industrial professionals. You can also do individual research, but you need to tell them what you’re looking for and why. It took about 40 minutes to get my pass approved, as I’d luckily already done preregistration.
Then I headed into the Business section. Oh, I had to put stuff in a locker as you can’t have pens, backpacks, etc. with you. The department was AMAZING! I was worried about how to even approach researching market research for toys, but when I went up to the desk they asked if I’d seen the guide to the toy industry. I’m like, what guide? So they gave me a handout that ended up listing a gazillion useful market research studies etc. guiding me through the toy industry. IT WAS SO COOL! I started looking up resources online and I got hooked. It was so much fun reading through all the materials.
I took a break right before Rebecca came to get a little dinner. I settled for a mushroom and cheddar croissant from Starbuck’s, and then rushed back to the library. We stayed there until they closed at 8pm, then we headed back home. Where I collapsed.
Wednesday was yet another marathon. I had my first Interaction Design lab from 9-11. I had no idea what this entailed, but it turns out it’s 2 hours in a room filled with teacher’s assistants who will answer any questions about course material and help you as you write up your report from your ethnographic study (the first coursework). I was floored by the support we were being given. Thank you Dr. Purver for being AWESOME!
Directly after I had Dr. Purver’s Interaction Design lecture, and then had to fast walk back to the flat to have lunch in 20 minutes (leftover chickpea stew) before running to a Community and Culture field trip.
I had 40 minutes to fast walk to Shoreditch High Street station, which is located very close to Brick Lane (a famous East End market). I mistakingly thought that the walk was estimated at 35 minutes, but when I Google Mapped it again, it said 45 minutes, which would get me there 5 minutes late. So I walked my butt off and actually arrived just on time.
We proceeded to try and find the Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane. It’s a hipster café that offers up bowls of cereal for 2.50 quid, which is a lot, especially
considering the fact that the East End is the poorest district in London. So the Café isn’t really helping or adding to the community since it is economically infeasible for the locals. There’s been a lot of complaints about the café. It took forever for us to find it. I accidentally led us in the wrong direction for a while, and then we kept walking back and forth and failing. Finally we found it. I just stayed outside, and waited until we headed to the 24/7 Beigel shop. I know it’s spelled weird, but those are just Bagels. They sell bagels for 25p each. That’s amazingly cheap.
Anna, our instructor, treated us to fresh bagels. Christianne and I asked the owner if he could warm up our bagels in the oven, since they didn’t have a toaster and just sold the bagels pre-made since the place is really popular. The owner was the sweetest old man. I’m glad I asked for it warmed, because mine was filled with Nutella, and warm Nutella is the bestttt!
Then we walked to the Jack the Ripper Museum, which was publicly funded and originally supposed to be a museum focusing on the female victims of Jack the Ripper. Until the owners decided to disregard that and use the funding for their own purposes. Plus it would cost 12 pounds to walk through. Yeah right. I don’t approve of what you did with your money, and don’t approve of the cost, so we didn’t go in.
Christianne and I left right after we arrived as a group at the museum, since we had both signed up for the BBC broadcasting house tour that the Queen Mary
Study Abroad Department was hosting. Since we were already west of Queen Mary, we decided to go straight to Oxford Circus instead of back tracking to meet in front of the Study Abroad Office with the rest of the students. We got there early, so we walked around Regent Street, which was near BBC. We found a cute tea shop and tried some samples before taking fun touristy photos in a red telephone booth.
When we got to BBC, the rest of the group wasn’t there. We freaked out a little bit since the group had the tickets, and we didn’t know if we were meeting in the correct place, but we were definitely in the check in location and the security guards hadn’t seen the rest of our group. So we took advantage of the life-size Tardis and Dalek, and took photos with them while we waited. The group got there almost late, but the tour still went on as planned.
The highlights of the tour were getting to go into a green screen studio, where two of our students pretended to be newscasters, reading the prompter while everyone sitting down got to see the “broadcasted” version too. The girl doing the weather had to ad-lib the whole thing, as all the weatherpeople are meteorologists who are literally delivering
their own research and weather reports, so they don’t need a script. We also got to see the radio stages where they host musicians giving live covers, and we went to the radio theater studio. Christianne and I volunteered to participate in our own fake radio drama. A few other students did too. It was all about a “spooky” dinner party. The two tour guide did the sound effects in the background while we read the lines. Then they played back the recording, to our dismay. We were supposed to scream in terror at one point, but it was the most pathetic “ah” you’ve ever heard.
I was so exhausted after the tour, as I’d been out all day. So I didn’t end up going to ballroom, but took it easy that evening.
Sadly Thursday I was feeling quite ill. I woke up late and made it to my Management of Design meeting in the library a bit late too. I was able to stay for an hour and a half, but I was just too sick to do any more, so I headed back to my room and napped for a couple hours, then just vegged out. I really wanted to go to the IFSA Butler Wales trip the next day, but I had gotten no sleep Wednesday night because my sinuses were so painful and clogged, and I started to feel nauseous in the evening. So Thursday was all about forcing myself to pack and otherwise taking it easy. Why did I have to get sick right before the trip?
At least I got a really good meal. Nicola pulled out all the stops, making a full 3 course meal. We had roasted veggies, veggie sausages, and even Cappuccino cupcakes for dessert. We were all in heaven!