Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I've decided to document the thesis writing process with occasional pictures, all of which promise to be low quality and gratuitously melodramatic. Here is Image One, in which she realizes she will in fact be living at her desk the whole summer. Note how England has suddenly decided to be sunny. Sometimes I hate this country.

That cereal bowl there is not posed. I actually did eat two of three meals in front of the computer today, transcribing my bloody interviews until I wished I'd just flipped the recorder off halfway through them and made up the rest. Unethical? You try listening to nine or ten hours worth of recordings over and over and over again and then tell me if you still think interviewees should be able to speak for themselves. They don't have a Human Subjects Review or a research ethics protocol here, remember? Or was that one of those things I was supposed to refrain from talking about until after I graduated?...

So I'm going to spend my summer writing until my keyboard falls apart. Now, of course, the undergraduates are also finishing their exams, so a week of sheer drunken rioting is about to begin. It has begun, actually: the undergrads across the street (the only people I've ever actually filed noise complaints about) are apparently done, as they seem to have all gotten smashed and then passed out with the same bad, Nintendo-sounding techno song blaring over and over and over again until I feel like I'm trapped on a video game level I can't escape.

I don't really blame them: for the first time since September, the weather is beautiful, and people here react much like they do in Seattle (strip, burn off a layer of skin, repeat). The punting guides are out in force, hurtling in front of bikes and buses if they see potential prey across the street. If anyone asks you whether you fancy a punt, just scream at them and run. Punters, by the way, are the people who navigate you up and down the river in punts, sort of like gondolas but bigger and flatter and lacking the pointy bits on the ends. It's a fun thing to do, but I suspect the guides are paid on commission, as they will ask anyone within a 10-foot radius if they'd fancy a punt down the river today. This includes those of us who are lugging vast armfuls of groceries. I've always wanted to say, "Aw yeah, let me just throw the fruit and veg in the back and make a wee snack while we're at it." If you talk to them, though, it's over, so running is generally a better idea. Besides, it's much more fun to try steering the punt yourself. Based on my casual observations, about a quarter of the people who do fall in, but the water's deep and not that brackish. Mmmmmm.

It's finally warm enough to shed the raincoats and sweaters (okay, at least the sweaters). Alas, if midriff shirts are supposed to be out of fashion now, someone forgot to tell the lasses here, many of whom are flouncing around in floofy pirate-type skirts and tops fit for someone about half their age (and half their weight). It's always amusing. You can sort of tell who the foreigners are. The European students tend to be dressier; the Americans and Canadians look like most of us rolled out of an REI catalog (oh wait...); the British students either run around in baby pink shirts (boys) or half an outfit (girls).

To clarify, there are some nicely dressed people here, and I'm sure not every half-outfit belongs to a British student, but this uni's sense fashion is unique. No one I know from another country wants to buy clothes here. We all go home with half-empty suitcases and then lug them back filled with the next season's wardrobe. I have a friend here who wants to publish a true-to-student-life fashion book that will feature only short denium miniskirts paired with black tights and muffin-top shirts. In the dead of winter. When it's below freezing.

Now that I've offended most of the student population, I'm going to go print out my transcribed interviews so I can start analyzing them for the paper! Then, I'm going to curl up with a cup of tea and obsess about ever finding (let alone qualifying) for a job here. I haven't been diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive yet, but that isn't because I'm not trying.

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