Monthly Archives: March 2017

Living in the UK – Some thoughts on food, books and my classes

Welcome back,

Now since I had a number of deadlines this week and I was a bit sick (I had a vertigo because of a blocked ear and had therefore an ear syringing – was ok ;-)), I can’t offer you any travel reports this time but I can offer you an insight into living in the UK and everything that comes with that, like buying and eating food or searching for a new book to read. I am sure you will find some things familiar if you have been to the UK before, but I am also sure you will learn something new too and hopefully enjoy reading it! 😉

Food is obviously always a big issue, but especially if you live in a country that offers food which his mostly different from the stuff you are used to at home, you will need some time to get used to it. What I can say about British supermarkets is that you won’t believe me what kind of awesome stuff they are selling here, and the good thing about it – it is very cheap compared to food sold in Austria. That might be one reason why every time I look into my basket before paying I say to myself “well, that escalated quickly…..”

Too much sweet stuff….

Another reason for this is certainly the fact that I always find something new I want to try in the sweets section, but I have to say that now (mid-March) I have control over it. Some of the most delicious things I have tried so far are Milky Way chocolate stars, Oreo Golden cookies, mint-flavored Aero bubbles and a Maltesers bunny (Easter is coming).

‘Spread’ is one of the words I have never used before I came here but is now quite important to me because I eat it every day. It refers to the paste you put on a toast or bread, you surely know the most famous one in Austria, Nutella. Here they sell hundreds (I am exaggerating) of different peanut butter spreads, but the coolest ones I found so far are Maltesers, Bounty, Cadbury and Twix spreads. I have tried all except for the Bounty one, and they are really good.

What amazes me  most is the variety of different hot chocolate drinks, which can be made with hot water. I have tried a lot of them like White Maltesers, Milky Way, Wispa (very bubbly), some mint and orange-flavored thing, but there are still so many to try.

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The selection of teas is simply amazing, I already bought more tea that I can drink during my stay here. But not everything is good, I have not told you about the cat food yet…

Cat food

Here they offer a huge selection of cans with everything you can imagine in them, I bought a chicken soup once in case I get ill. That was a very bad idea!  I will always remember that as the ‘cat food incident’: When I opened the can I thought omg this looks and smells like cat food. But I gave it a chance and prepared it in the microwave and tried it. I cannot say if it tastes like cat food because I have never tried cat food but I will certainly never try this soup again. I think cat food tastes like that…Now I really don’t understand why cats  eat this…

Tilda

Apparently British people  like Tilda Swinton – one of their fellow Brits – so much that they even name rice after her.I did not want to take a photo myself because I guess people would stare at me if I took a photo of rice in the supermarket….

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Crisps & Waste

Those were the positive aspects. However, this variety of great things apparently comes with a price: waste culture. Let me illustrate this by showing you how crisps look like here.

If you buy a bag of crisps (“Chips” in German) – usually 2 bags because you can have 2 for 2 pounds – and you open it you won’t find crisps. You will find five six smaller bags of crisps. It is double the amount of waste you produce if you buy one pack. The one shown on the photo below is rather small, about the size of crisps bags in Austria, but there are also much bigger ones which typically contain X2 salty x2 cheese and onion 2x salt and vinegar and sometimes 2x prawn. PRAWN??!? Yes, that is not a mistake. Prawn crisps. Why do they do that to those little creatures… I guess it is artificial flavor but still, the mere idea of turning a creature into crisps is kind of disturbing…..

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By the way, Chips (“Pommes”) are eaten with vinegar. Everything is eaten with vinegar. WHY??? I don’t like vinegar. But ok, if they like it…

Books

Before I went abroad I said to myself that I won’t buy books here because it is so annoying to get them back home. I did not stick to that. At all. You might know that I love CYAL ( children’s and young adult literature) and here you find a children’s books section everywhere! Every little bookshop such as the shop in Liverpool cathedral or Chester cathedral has a children’s books section. I found one in the Football Museum’s store as well, have a look at the photo below.

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I am particularly happy that I found a Shakespeare collection for children, I really love those books and I might find them useful for teaching in the future. I would have never thought that I would end up reading Shakespeare hear…what comes next? James Joyce? Äh..maybe not. Especially if there are no children’s editions.

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Another thing that is certainly very different here is teaching. I think I have already told you that I am doing five classes here, two of them being electives. Let me tell you a little bit more details about them.

English & Society

English & Society is a first-year Sociolinguistics course i have originally taken just because I had to find another course and this one was available to me and fit my schedule. You might think it is very basic and boring to me, but that is absolutely not true! While there are certainly many things I am already familiar with (and the teacher noticed that after thanking me for my active participation 😉 ), there are certain topics which are almost completely new like Language and Gender, which was very interesting and should definitely be a part of an introduction to Linguistics that features Sociolinguistics. Other issues were being discussed from a very different perspective compared to Vienna, especially since dialects have a very important status here. As David Crystal said, RP is not popular anymore, it does not even exist anymore. Another aspect is the fact that we have a 1-hour tutorial every week, which is basically a practical class – we analyze graphs and discuss certain aspects from the lecture. It is very similar to my ISL2 tutorial in Vienna, there is no repetition of content, but application of content, and now I experience it on the other side and see how very meaningful this is. For every course we have an online course on Blackboard – the Welsh Moodle – have a look at the screenshot below. It is – of course – bilingual.

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SLA and Language Teaching

SLA and Language Teaching is a course dealing with various aspects of bilingualism, language acquisition and language teaching, such as the Critical Period Hypothesis, Code-switching and native and non-native teachers of English. The session on the last mentioned topic was particularly interesting because this is such a controversial topic. The only thing I want to say about this is: Please ask yourself  if being a native-speaker of a certain language is something you decide yourself or something you are born with and cannot change….I guess you can imagine what I want to say, I am just pointing out the similarity to other discourses…problematic discourses…just saying…I won’t comment on this issue anymore because the discourse makes me a bit pissed. 🙂

Metaphor & Thought

This course mainly deals with metaphor and metonymy. At the very beginning I thought I was well informed about those because i have read so much about it, and many things were certainly familiar to me, but there are soooo many new aspects. For this course I have a tutorial every fortnight (tutorial = practical section with the teacher), where we practice the content with worksheets (as I said, very much like the ISL2 tutorial). It also inspired me to start with a certain project which I might tell you more about in the future…

Japanese

I do this course as an elective, it is taught by the ERASMUS coordinator and he is really cool! Most of the times we work with newspaper articles, we translate them in groups and then do some interactive stuff like playing out a dialogue. Yesterday I was the admin of JAXA (Japan’s NASA) talking English with a Japanese accent! But we also have more traditional lesson where we work with the book, but in general the atmosphere is rather relaxed and I feel very comfortable in the course.

Welsh

Welsh is communicative classroom, that means we are taught Welsh by the communicative method: Most of the time we learn constructions by practicing the pronunciation and using them by talking to fellow students. I really like it and I think I highly benefit from the class because I learn a lot for my own teaching. To show you what I have learned (and to show off a little bit) I write a short text about myself (without help): Alex dw i. Myfyriwr dw i. Dw i’n astudio Saesneg yn y Brifysgol ym Mangor. Dw i’n dwad o Awstria ond dw i’n byw yn Neuadd Kyffin ym Mangor. Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg yn Cymraeg i Oedolion yn Stryd y Deon. Dw i’n licio pêl-droed yn fawr! 😉

I hope you liked the blog entry, next time I will provide you with more interesting travel photos, but to finish this blog entry, have a look at the sunset I caught at the pier one week ago, it was amazing. 😉

Best wishes,

Alexandra

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Anfield, Liverpool ONE and following the White Rabbit in Llandudno

Welcome back,

Sorry, it took me a bit longer this time to write a blog entry, but last week was reading week, that means no classes (almost no classes, Welsh and Japanese took place) but a lot of time for reading travelling. I was not on the road the whole week and I somehow do not remember what I did when I was not travelling but I am sure it was something meaningful, the usual stuff you do when you don’t do anything in particular.

During reading week I went to Liverpool again, a very rainy Liverpool as you will read, experienced the Welsh national holiday, and went to a place not that far away from Bangor at the sea – Manchester by the Sea. Just kidding, it was Llandudno. After reading week I went to the cinema with a friend- read this blog entry to the very end to find out what is the best movie of 2016.

Some of you might have read my first entry about my first trip to Liverpool, where I wrote that I really want to come back to Liverpool soon – and that is exactly what I did. After a two-hour journey and change of trains in Chester I arrived at a rainy Liverpool and immediately took a bus to Anfield – the stadium of Liverpool FC. One thing you might want to know if you ever go to Liverpool or the UK in general: The buses won’t stop at your stop if you don’t raise your hand and the buses won’t stop at a certain stop if you don’t push the stop button – very different from Vienna but very efficient. You need to know it, though.

It took me approximately twenty minutes to get to Anfield, which is not exactly in the city center, and I just came in time to join a stadium tour. The tour guides did a great job, it was both informative and extremely funny to listen to them, although it is sometimes a bit tricky to get everything spoken in Scouse (Liverpool dialect). I want to share one of their many jokes with you: When we went to the player’s dining lounge we got to see an area designated to the children of the players. The guide said that there used to be many toys in there……….. but when Balotelli left the club he took most of them with him! 😉

During the stadium tour I met a friend from Porto Alegre in Brazil, who is also a big football fan, and he said that we will meet again in 2018 in Russia. I’m sure about him seeing Brazil, but I’m not so sure if I will see Austria there…

After the stadium tour I went to the club’s museum, which – as I was told – is the only museum displaying a real Champions League trophy.

I particularly enjoyed the new Steven Gerrard collection, it is really amazing what he gave to the museum to display.

After visiting the museum I went to the club’s shop and bought the best fitting hoodie I have ever bought in my entire life. It is black with a big grey Liverbird print on the front and you will certainly see me walking around Vienna in that one.

Afterwards I took a tour bus which went to Albert Dock, on the way I passed Goodison Park – home of Everton FC – which is actually VERY close to Anfield. Maybe I will go there too one day.

From Albert Dock I went straight to Liverpool ONE, Liverpool’s biggest shopping center, and spent the rest of the day there. It is incredible how many shops there are! I also have a very good excuse for shopping almost the entire day: the rain became heavier and in the end my umbrella did not leave Liverpool the way he came there with me. I went to Disney store, the football club stores, Primark, Forbidden Planet, a Sushi takeaway shop and many more I don’t seem to remember…I think I can only remember those ones I bought something at…So I bought many things, including a very cute Nemo plush, which is looking after me now.

It was very difficult in the heavy rain to make photos, so I have only a limited number of photos unfortunately. Before I went home I went around Albert Dock and then the rain got really heavy, I have never experienced such a heavy rain before in my life. My shoes got soaked and that was a rather unpleasant feeling but I took some great photos at least . 😉 I left Liverpool with a large number of shopping bags, a wet coat and many new impressions of a great city – I will be back.

WARNING – LINGUSITS ONLY – DANGER OF CONFUSION

Have a close look at what my Nemo plush has printed on:

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Just by printing this on a plush Nemo, Disney (2017) has successfully extended Widdowson’s (1978) distinction of genuineness and authenticity by adding the aspect of originality. So remember: Best material is genuine, authentic and original (whatever original means….). As you can see, I am in academic mode at the moment, I have two deadlines next week.

WARNING OVER – EVERYONE CAN CONTINUE READING

The first of March is St. David’s day, the Welsh national holiday. I saw a lot of Welsh flags in Bangor and went to a traditional dance in the evening which I took part in (I got very dizzy from the twirling) and I ate one of the most delicious food I have ever tasted – Welsh cake. It’s like a pancake but smaller and sweeter, simply great.

At the end of reading week I went to a place called Llandudno, which is pronounced as “Chlandidno” (for German speakers). This time not by train but by bus, so I got to see a little bit of the Welsh countryside, which his very green and very sheep-filled. After arriving in Llandudno, I was very surprised because I expected a very small town but it was actually much bigger than expected and surrounded by the sea. We first went to the promenade and discovered one of the most awesome things one can find in Llandudno: There are more than 50 statues of characters from the two Alice in Wonderland books and there are signs on the road which guide you through the town to the next statue. Alice, Alice everywhere!

The last statue of all is the White Rabbit, which can be found very close to the promenande, which you can see below.

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Llandudno promenade

On our way to the pier we came across a tent where a family – I assume – presented some birds, mainly owls but also a falcon. It was great to touch Hedwig’s cousin, it was very soft! Have a look at the photos, especially the one of the tiny little owl, he or she was so cute!

The pier was filled with small shops selling food, Wales merch and other stuff.

At the very end there was – what a surprise for British piers – an amusement arcade. My friends wanted to grab a Winnie the Pooh in a dragon costume out of one of the machines, but they were not lucky unfortunately…and of course, Alice was there as well, but a very…mature…Alice.

The pier from the pier on the town was simply great, but we made our way to the town accompanied by our well-known friends (?) and their laughing sounds from Bangor – the seagulls.

It was raining a little bit throughout the day, but as a result Llandudno said farewell to us with a rainbow.

I promised you to let you about the best film of 2016: I watched it with a friend in Bangor’s Art and Innovation Center – called Pontio – and it’s name is “Don’t Take Me Home”. It tells the story of the Welsh Football National Team and their journey from losing a coach to becoming one of the best teams in Europe. It was simply amazing, it shows the emotion of everyone connected to football – the players, the team, the supporters. If you are only a little bit interested in football or (national) identity, you should watch it, it is worth every single penny!

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With this tip I want to finish this blog entry, I hope you liked it! 🙂 With a few deadlines coming up I’m not sure whether I can provide you with exciting travel photographs in the next week(s), I will probably share with you some ordinary stuff, but which is also interesting and very funny, I promise! 🙂

Best wishes,

Alexandra

Alex’ Adventures in Chesterland – An unexpected appearance of the Cheshire Cat and chasing squirrels

`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alex (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)

(Lewis Carroll, adapted)

This quote describes quite well how I felt about many things we saw and experienced in Chester, which was a bit like Wonderland to me because I came across so many unexpected and strange – strange in a positive way – things. Read all about my trip to Chester in this blog entry.

I was very happy that I could actually go to Chester, since storm Doris hit North Wales quite hard – I went on a Saturday and on Thursday all trains were cancelled due to the weather conditions and even the University was closed for one day.

After arriving at the train station in Chester we went straight to the town center and found ourselves in the middle of a rather small but very beautiful town. Its houses give Chester a very special and unique charm, to me it felt like being in the middle of a medieval town.

On our way to the center we went through the town’s main shopping street – Foregate Street –we passed a number of great shops as well as the Eastgate and the Eastgate Clock, which is one of many sights.

Close to the town hall we paid a visit to the Visitor Information Centre, which surprised me by selling a number of Alice in Wonderland and especially Cheshire Cat products – Chester is located in a county called Cheshire. I bought a beautiful postcard there, you can see it on the photo below.

Right opposite to the town hall there was the next surprise waiting for us – a very cute statue of an elephant called Janya.

Our next stop was Chester Cathedral, where we were given a very warm welcome by an older gentleman and a lady. The cathedral is not as big as the one in Liverpool, but especially its windows are very impressive.

Chester Cathedral had many surprises to offer, one of them was the Lego Chester Cathedral. The building of a Lego model of the cathedral is a project supporting the cathedral’s education trust and a great idea in my opinion.

Another surprise were the small windows looing into the inaccessible inner yard of the cathedral.

Two of the larger ones were particularly interesting to me, they have one thing in common and this commonality made them special for me – have a look at the photos, the solution is provided at the end of this blog entry. 🙂

After visiting the cathedral, we walked a little bit through the town and saw the University of Chester, the city walls, the Queens Park Bridge and the river Dee – where we saw Mark Twain and Lady Diana – photos below. I also took a photo of a mouette (not a goéland) – in case I have not mentioned this before, in French there are two terms for seagull.

The town is very well known for its Roman past and therefore offers a number of museums and sights related to this part of its history, such as the Roman Gardens and the Roman Amphitheatre.

Close to those Roman sights we quickly went into St John the Baptist’s Church, maybe because of rather a strange appearance at its entrance.

Afterwards we went through Grosvenor Park and experienced something very fantastic: There were so many squirrels! While the first ones were rather shy, some of them were running towards us. The only thing you need to do is pretending you have some food in your hand. We then tried to capture some nice photos of them, which was not as easy as it sounds. It was very much like playing Pokémon Snap, this is real Pokémon Go I can tell you! I did my best in order to get the best photo possible: One of the squirrels climbed my left leg, one jumped on my right knee and another one gave me his right claw. Please find my rated submissions to Professor Oak and a photo of me being attacked below, as well as other impressions of this great park.

There is one huge and beautiful shopping center in Chester, the Grosvenor Shopping Centre. I found one shop particularly interesting, it was a shop called Build-a-bear where you can make your own plush: Fill it, dress it up and even give it a heart. Have look at the photo below to see the Star Wars section of the shop, you can even make your own Darth Bear or Bunny Fett. A Bunny Fett would be so tempting…I did not even glance at the price tag, I would not have recovered from the shock for sure…

Before leaving Chester we passed again the many shops close to the Eastgaste Clock and discovered many interesting things such as wooden Batman, Superman and Spiderman.

I am still amazed by the many interesting things we came across in Chester, I know I always say that, but I definitely want to visit Chester again! I forgot to share this but in Chester I saw the most delicious cakes I have ever seen in my life, the bakery I saw them in will be visited soon! And maybe Bunny Fett will accompany me home next time…

Best wishes,

Alex

I promised to tell you why I liked those particular windows in Chester Cathedral: The cats, of course. It is always the cats.