Monthly Archives: February 2017

The ultimate football experience in Manchester – and my personal one in Bangor

Welcome back,

This time I am writing about my trip to Manchester – which was a kind of football trip – and about my football experience here in Bangor – football passive and active so to say. 😉  To be more precise about the Manchester trip, I will share my experiences at Old Trafford and the Old Trafford Museum as well as the National Football Museum, but also some things I have seen in Manchester.

To me, Manchester is inextricably linked to football. The reason I did not want to go to Manchester for my exchange semester was simply the fact that I would have spent all my savings within a week or less. Just joking, I went to Bangor because I wanted to go there, only there – for academic reasons, to learn about cognitive linguistics mainly. But you know that anyway. By the way – if you were wondering why I use the term ‘football’ here instead of ‘soccer’ – since I usually use American spelling – I just think using ‘soccer’ would not really fit, especially if the museum is called football museum. 😉 Back to Manchester: After arriving in Manchester, I was very happy to hear that it takes only 15 minutes by bus to get to Old Trafford from the city center. Soon we arrived at the stadium and I saw the hugest stadium I have ever seen in my life, it is even bigger than the Ernst-Happel stadium and the Emirates Stadium (Arsenal’s ground).

After visiting the megastore we went to the Old Trafford Museum, which displays Manchester United’s history. It was a rather small museum but there was still a lot to see. The collection of objects ranges from individual player’s items such as Ronaldo’s boots, Ibrahimovićs jersey to a wide range of different trophies. Apart from Ronaldo’s stuff I was very happy to even find Shinji Kagawa’s jersey – one of my favorite players – among the objects on display.

A particular interesting but also sad part exhibition is the part in which the Munich air disaster is shown. The Munich air disaster was a plane crash on the 6th of February in 1958, which took 20 people’s lives, among them many Manchester United players.

The very intersting exhibiton finished with a wall showing the names of all Manchester United players.

manumuseum11

After visiting the museum, we took a guided tour through the Old Trafford stadium. I have learned many fascinating things about the stadium and the club, such as that you have to pay a fine of 5000 pounds if you touch the football field, which the tour guided us of with a rather serious expression on his face. We saw the stadium from various different places, it has more than 75,000 seats, and with 55,000 season-ticket holders I assume it is not that easy to get a ticket for a game.

stadium4

Inside the stadium there is a huge area for buying food and drinks and – of course – the player’s dressing rooms. I was very lucky to be the second in the dressing room of ManU– ok to be serious I went as one of the first on purpose because I knew what was coming – and the tour guide said we can take place anywhere we want, on our favorite’s player’s seat if we want. I immediately ran to Paul Pogba’s place and the French people (probably from St.Etienne because ManU played against them a few days before) were noticeably disappointed – what a pity for them.

In the away team’s dressing room we could see a number of jersey of players who have played at Old Trafford on the away side, such as Ryan Giggs with Wales, Ronaldo with Real Madrid and Abby Wambach for the US in the Olympics.

After going through the player’s tunnel we came very close to the football field. If you were wondering why those constructions are on the field, it is because there is not a lot of sun and the grass is provided with light instead.

After the tour we visited the shop once again and I was astonished again about the variety of products they sell – I just bought a cap in the end, otherwise my credit card would have started to cry (and it was already close to crying when I arrived in Bangor). As a good owner, I have to care about my credit card.

We continued our Manchester football experience at the National Football Museum in Manchester city center. The way to the museum entrance already offered something for the football nerd: a series of floor plates of famous players, have a look at the photos below.

The National Football Museum offers three floors of exhibitions, entertainment and learning. At the very beginning on the ground floor of the museum we could take a photo with two trophies, which I will not show here since I am on it and I do not like myself on photos 98% of the time. 😉

There were really sooo many things to see, I do not know where to start and where to end. I will try to summarize what the museum shows and what I found particularly fascinating. It features the history of the English football national team, history of the Premier League, World Cups, Champions League, the Wembley Stadium and many artistic representations of football.

One of those artistic representations are a series of painting of famous coaches as superheroes: Guardiola as Batman, Mourinho as Superman and Klopp as…yeah weeeell…I do not know what he is. I assume it is Iron Man, guess with me. But I think it is ok if we say Klopp as Klopp.

Another one is the photo below, which shows a number of famous players in a very particular way. Cultural Studies people out there, please analyze it in terms of the Circuit of Culture – especially representation and identity – and use it for teaching, isn’t it awesome?

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After visiting the National Football Museum we had a bit less than two hours left, so we went through the city and saw a very crowded Market Street with a bunny I had to shoot a photo of – see below – another Chinatown with a giant arch and a restaurant where people had to wait in front of the restaurant because it was so full – I have never seen this before, ok maybe once in Austria, I just don’t get it why people wait so long if they are hungry? – and a very impressive Manchester City Council and Albert Memorial. A very exciting day in Manchester ended at 6pm when we got on the bus home to Bangor. I believe it could not have been a better day in Manchester, at least to me.

I want to conclude this blog post with a brief paragraph on my football experience in Bangor. The university has a women’s team and I am very glad that I can participate in the trainings of the team, which are the best in their league. Training takes place every Monday in the evening and I have been there two times so far. We play outside on the football field, which is synthetic grass. As you can imagine it was a bit difficult for me at the beginning to get used to it, I have never played on synthetic grass, I have never played on such a huge field, I have never played outside and I have never experienced playing after a leg injury – all of it as an adult of course. And – I have never played against people who have maybe in average about 10 years more experience than me. I therefore have to be realistic about my expectations, I don’t have any problems with respect to stamina and running – which I am hugely surprised about – but I can’t expect to score five goals every week. I continue trying to do the best I can and learn as much as I can, I enjoy playing a lot – even with the given weather conditions – and I am sure I can develop a lot if I keep being confident and motivated. 🙂 And to be honest, I have to play, otherwise I will return to Austria as a not so very thin person – yes that was euphemism – because of the many different kinds of sweets and food they sell here. 😉

I hope you liked this blog entry – I did my best to convey my passive and active football experience in Bangor and Manchester. The trip to Manchester was a real pleasure – I want to return soon, especially to discover the many shops they have there – and playing football every week is one too. Not many Austrians can say they play(ed) football in the United Kingdom. I can. 😀

Best wishes,

Alexandra

 

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Roman Camp, Chinese New Year and Beaumaris Castle

Welcome back!

In this blog entry I will tell you about my visit to Roman Camp – a quite special place in Bangor – as well as the Chinese New Year celebration in Bangor and my trip to Beaumaris Castle, which includes a story about a very particular seagull! 🙂 I hope you enjoy reading it!

Roman Camp

On a Sunday we went to a place called Roman Camp (thanks July for sending me there!!), which is not far away from the University and not that difficult to find. By the way, I have no idea why it is called Roman Camp, if I find it out one day I let you know 😉 . We simply had to walk a rather steep way up and we were there, in the middle of a huge area full of grass with a little hill in the middle. The view was amazing, one can see on the one side the Bangor pier and the island of Anglesey, on the other side even the snowy mountains of Snowdonia. Have a look at the photos I took there below to get an impression of that place.

Chinese New Year celebration

There is one thing I am quite sure about, namely that there are more speakers of Mandarin Chinese in Bangor than speakers of RP. Bangor has a remarkably large community of Chinese people, there is a Confucius Institute and I assume that is the reason why  a Chinese New Year is held every year in the middle of the town. At first a bunch of people in Chinese clothes went in a parade around the cathedral and then through the town playing music instruments or carrying a dragon. The smaller children were particularly cute, I think most of them didn’t know where they were, what they are doing and why they are doing it. Have a look at the photos I took, there were several performances such as Kung Fu, traditional Chinese music and a show with awesome-looking dragons. All in all, it was a very colorful event giving me a fascinating insight into this part of Bangor’s community.

Beaumaris castle

This time we went to another World Heritage Site – Beaumaris Castle. It is located in a town called Beaumaris (well of course) which is on the other side of the Menai Strait on Anglesey island. The castle was a bit (I just wanted to write ‘bit’ and ‘small’ and wrote bittle’ – why brain are you doing this?) smaller than Caernarfon and I feel far less transformed into a tourist attraction. There are only a few interactive elements such as the opportunity to build a small castle or a harp one can play on, one could really see that it is ‘the greatest castle never built’ – as it is called. King Edward I. did not finish the castle because the money for building it was needed elsewhere.

There is not that much that I can tell you about the castle itself, but certainly what happened there on the exact day I went there. But beware: It is a story of immense brutality, manhunt and French vocabulary. Read the story of ‘le goéland terrible’ (the terrible seagull).

Le goéland terrible

Once upon a time there was a seagull, it was very…..well, actually the story does not start with the seagull but now I have the obligatory ‘once upon a time’ as the beginning of my story, so it is a proper story. So this is the real beginning of the story: When I was checking out one of the towers of Beaumaris Castle, I heard someone shouting and all of sudden two friends from France came running towards the tower I was in, being chased by a seagull. Later they told me that they were running almost from the other side of the castle to this particular tower, the seagull behind them. I could only see them entering the tower, safely but surprised by the mischievous attack. But what had happened? One of the two had taken out something to eat from her backpack and the seagull wanted this particular item and chased her to grab a bite. Still in shock because of the unexpected attack we went into the tower to discover it and we talked about the incident. My friend from France ensured us that the French seagulls are not that mischievous (she is from Finistère, which is at the coast, and therefore knows about those animals) and that there are two terms for seagull – le goéland and la mouette. The goélands have a yellow beak as far as I understood. This particular one was a goéland and I named it ‘le goéland terrible’ after the incident.

But this is not the end of the story: When we were about to leave the tower someone was waiting for us at the exact same place as before: Le goéland terrible! Have a look at the photo below to see two friends with le goéland terrible, waiting there all the time while we were discovering the tower so that it can steal our food once we come out. One by one we went past it, everyone fearing another attack. In the end my friend from France – the original victim – shhhhd le goéland terrible away and we felt it was finally over. We were so wrong. Le goéland terrible continued to follow us to the entrance but eventually let us leave the castle unharmed. I have learned a lot from this incident: Never eat in the presence of seagulls, the two French words for seagull and I am now able to distinguish the two of them, isn’t that cool? All thanks to le goéland terrible.

goeland

Le goéland terrible

After visiting Beaumaris Castle we went to a few shops in Beaumaris and to the beach, and then we ended up in a cute café in the center of the town – see photos below. In the late afternoon we took the bus home, seeing a lot of sheep and giggling because of the driver’s rather fast style of driving.

Another exciting week has passed, I hope you liked this blog entry and look already forward to my next one about playing football in the UK and my trip to Manchester. 🙂

Best wishes,

Alexandra

 

Academic life, bilingualism and Caernarfon Castle

Welcome back!

This time I’m going to tell you a little bit about the Academic life at Bangor University, the role of bilingualism in Bangor (or rather Wales) and my trip to Caernarfon – with lots of photos of its magnificent castle.  😉

Academic life at Bangor University

I certainly cannot share everything there is to say about the academic life here, I will therefore focus on things I find particularly interesting, especially because they are so different compared to how things work in Vienna.  (Please forgive me if some parts are hard to follow for someone who is not familiar with the University of Vienna system and/or linguistics, just skip those sentences or passages 😉 ).

One huge difference can be found in the course registration system: In Vienna we are all familiar with univis /u:space, e.g. online course registration. Here in Bangor that is also possible, but only in certain Schools. (Schools are like our departments in Vienna, so my school is for example the School of Linguistics & English Language). We had a great welcome meeting during our first week, where we were given a pink sheet. The pink sheet is used to note down all your courses, then you need to get a signature from a certain member of your school and hand it back to the International Office – then you will get registered. It was not that complicated but a lot of running from one place to another, in Vienna this kind of registration would certainly cause a mess – so everyone be glad we have univis / u:space 😉

The course system is also very different, while we have individual courses in Vienna, here in Bangor it is only possible to take modules, which consist of one course but this course might consist of more than one class. You couldn’t follow me? No problem! I’ll give you an example: One of my courses is called English & Society, we have a weekly lecture on Tuesday and a tutorial on Friday, which is almost every week. Now the concepts of ‘lecture’ and ‘tutorial’ and very different here: ‘Lecture’ means the lecturer talks most of the time, but the talks are very interactive, we sometimes get worksheets or are supposed to talk to our neighbors about a question or something, several times during one lecture. I would say it is very similar to what we know in Vienna as tutorials or ARs. Another difference is the number of participants, I think we are only about 30 to 40 people in this course and I was told it is more than full. In addition to that, attendance is always compulsory, attendance lists need to be signed every single time and we are basically not allowed to miss a single session. As far as I have understood it, we can miss class, but we need a good reason for that.

Now that I have mentioned English & Society – which deals with Sociolinguistics – I will tell you a little bit more about the courses I take. As an exchange student you have to do at least 25 ECTS, maximum 30 ECTS. Since I could only do courses with 10 ECTS, I do 30 – which means I have three courses. One of them is English & Society, the other ones are SLA and Language Teaching as well as Metaphor & Thought. At the very beginning before the classes had started I was not very happy with my course selection because apart from M&T I had to pick what fits my schedule, since the courses I wanted to do originally were not offered or not accessible to ERASMUS students. However, now I think SLA and Language Teaching was really good choice, because it deals with bilingualism and I am in the middle of a bilingualism community. So I guess there is no better place to learn about something I have not yet focused on that much, especially because my home is actually bilingual too. Metaphor & Thought was the course I came here for, it is Cognitive Linguistics in its purest state (does that sound weird? I guess it does…but I hope you know what I mean).

That was what I have to do because the University wants me to do that and because of my ERASMUS scholarship (they only want 15 ECTS, however – very nice people!). But that was certainly not everything I do here! I came here to learn as much as I can, after all. So apart from my the courses I take as a module (this means I have to do exams and get grades), I also do Welsh and Japanese!

 

What can I tell you about Japanese? It seems all Japanese teachers in the world are just awesome, so that is actually something I found in Vienna and I also find here in Bangor. I just had one lesson and although I became part of community (=class) that had been together since September, I felt very welcome and enjoyed the session. I also feel that I really learned a lot in just two hours. Oh yeah I forgot that – here there is no real academic quarter but two hours of teaching with a break in the middle. 😉 It is also quite interesting to experience being taught the same target language – Japanese – by using two different languages as means of instructions, German in Vienna, English in Bangor. Why? Because it requires some kind of metalanguage to learn and talk about Japanese, and this kind of metalanguage is a bit different in the two languages. 😉

Welsh is also pretty great, it was a bit difficult at the beginning because the pronunciation of certain letters is so different from what I am used to in all other languages I know. Have a look at this:

student –      spelling: myfyriwr            pronunciation:/məˈvərjʊr/

linguistics – spelling: ieithyddiaeth   pronunciation: /jəi̯ˈθəðjɑɨ̯θ/

So for instance the <y>, which is pronounced as /ə/ or /ɪ/ depending on the position of the syllable, as far as I have noticed so far. The <w> is also irritating, as it is pronounced as /ʊ/. However, one gets used to it after some time! (‘thank god!’ – my tongue said that, not me)

Bilingualism

One thing I have already realized in Chester when I was waiting for the train when listening to two old ladies talking Welsh is the importance of the Welsh language in Wales. One expects that Wales as a part of the United Kingdom is an English-speaking country and don’t misunderstand me, it is, but Welsh has the same status if not a higher status. Everything is provided in both languages, mails from the university are first in Welsh and then below one can find the English version. I am very impressed by the efforts made here to keep Welsh as a language actually spoken by the people. Bilingualism is omnipresent everywhere. However, I am not sure if younger people have the same command of Welsh as previous generations do. Nevertheless, being allowed to experience bilingual community is certainly something I highly value. Please find some evidence of what I said about the role of the two languages in form of photos below.

Societies, clubs and David Crystal (yes the famous linguist David Crystal!!)

Two things I would also like to address  with respect to academic life – societies and club and David Crystal day.

Societies and clubs play a very important role here. Those are basically communities or people sharing the same interests and having similar goals. They meet regularly and organize events such as social events or workshops. You can google ‘societies’ and add any university name you are interested in to find out what people do around the world. At the Welcome meeting we were told how important those are at university, and I am very happy that we are now working on establishing the same back at home, I was very fascinated by the idea and really want to realize it for our students as well. One event in which a society also plays quite a role here in Bangor is David Crystal Day, which I was very glad to experience on the 1st of February. David Crystal is one of the most famous linguists in the world and honorary professor at Bangor University, and after the two talks he gave on this day I can say that he is a brilliant entertainer as well. I missed the chance to see him back in 2012 when he was in Vienna, so I am even more happy about this chance. The second talk he gave was on eloquence, the first one on English accents. I want to share a few highly interesting things of his talk – especially for the linguists among you: He said that he himself does not have one accent -“mixed accents are increasingly the norm“. He also said that RP is not that popular anymore in England, it is changing – because of that change recent textbooks call it “General British” instead of RP – “formal characters dropped so much, it makes no sense to use a term reflecting class distinction if it is not relevant anymore“. He also said that the Queen’s accent has changed! All in all, his talk was absolutely great, I have learned so much and it certainly gave me food for thought.

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David Crystal – a celebrity in linguistics*.* (he’s the left one btw.)

I apologize for the long text, don’t worry, the photos come now! 😉

Day trip to Caernarfon

Last Saturday we went to a town called Caernafon, which is actually very close to Bangor. It took us approximately thirty min to get there by bus. Caernarfon is mainly famous because of its castle, which is also where we went to and spent most of our time this day.

The castle is huge and very impressive, we spent quite a few hours in there walking through all the towers and going to the very top of them, which was not that easy because of the narrow stairs. However, it was definitely worth it going up. We paid a visit to the museum, which is part of the castle. The visit was  very insightful in many ways (I have learnt, for instance, that goats apparently fight in wars). This exact castle is also the place where Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales in 1969. I do not want to bore you with history here, this time I let the photos I took there speak to you (many more to find in the gallery!!). 😉

I hope you liked this blog entry, I know it’s a rather long one but there was a lot of information to share this time. 😉 Next time I will probably write about our visit to Roman Camp, the Chinese New Year Celebration in Bangor and the planned visit to Beaumaris castle, we will see. 😉

At the very end I want share one important insight with you:

A few days ago I was reading a text about frames, ICMs ect. for my Metaphor & Thought class and I realized something: At the beginning it was difficult here, it was all about going abroad, being far away from home and those things – some of you will know too well what I mean. However, while reading this text I could not feel more like being at home. Home is indeed where the heart is. No matter where I am, as long as there is linguistics, I am at home.

Best wishes,

Alexandra