30 November 2006

Alias Season 4 - The Bristow Clan

OK, imagine this family: Your mother is a former KGB spy who spied on her own husband who worked for the CIA. Your mother spied on your father but both are sure that they are each others' love of their lives. While you were at elementary school, your father put you through a sleeper agents training and then had you hypnotised to forget that memory. This exciting "summer camp" probably predestined you for becoming a CIA agent yourself. Still, he loves you. Your mother on the other hand, shot at you while trying to escape capture by the CIA (being a fugitive and all). She loves you, too.

Best thing is, you have to subordinate to the man who had killed all your friends, including your first fiancé and follow his orders. Interestingly, it turns out that this man has fathered your half-sister who grew up with her evil aunt (still with me? *g*) that will later almost destroy the world. This half-sister was brought to her aunt to be raised by her by the dead (or not dead?) father of your future fiancé who is also a CIA agent (family business, see) . Your father-in-law has been killed by your mother. Your half-sister lookes and acts like an angel but alas, later turns into a zombie that tries to kill her sister in the end (as predicted in a phrophesy).
Your father killed your mother (or at least that's what everyone thought, the person who got the bullet through her head was actually a clone), believing that she had set a price on the your head. When your father meets her later again (she has been kept incarcerated and tortured), she first hits him with her fist and within 24 hours, kisses him passionately.

All this only topped by a merry family trip of all these people together into a deathly zone (an electromagnetic weapon designed by someone like Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago and rebuilt by your contemporaries) to prevent the global population from becoming homicidal zombies, one proposal in a CIA freight plane right before jumping into Russian air (parachuting is part of the family trip) and your aunt (who was responsible for all this havoc in the first place) being first tortured by your father, then shot in the head by her sister.

27 November 2006

15 things that indicate you are getting adjusted to London

1) You know how to get on the tube at rush hours (TFL announcements: "Please use ALL doors. Squeeeeze in there! Doors are closing! Please stand clear of the doors. I SAID please stand clear of the doors!!!").

2) You have developed the confidence to stick out your arm to hire a bus, without feeling embarassed.

3) As a continental European, you have found out the secret tricks how to use a british toilet (not to be underestimated).

4) You resignatingly accept the fact that "conceptions and constructions" of a Caffè Latte are not universal.

5) You react neither intimidated nor panicked upon seeing a security guard, even at the oddest of places (what does Starbucks need a security guard for???).

6) The feeling of being observed and either be the main actress/actor your very own Truman Show, stuck in the intimate fantasies of whoever is surveilling the CCTV monitors, or be seized and transported to a secret police interrogation room because mistakingly assumed to be an Austrian-Hungarian spy.

7) You can blend out the frequent shop announcements about NOT LEAVING YOUR PERSONAL BELONGINGS UNATTENDED.

8) The ear-splitting sirenes of the respective emergency services vehicles which, of course, get stuck in a traffic jam right anywhere where you happen to be at the moment, don't make you all aggressive anymore.

9) You get used to the thin walls that expose you to the risk of getting your ears on heavy evidence of your neighbours very healthy relationship.

10) You have a reason to become 21: the purchase of alcohol. "Please be not offended if we ask you for your ID if you are lucky enough to look under 21" - That's what they put on stickers next to the till.

11) Queuing ing up for anything, i.e. in the bank, in the always nearly deserted cloakroom of the British Library or even for no purpose at all, is completely normal.

12) You don't have a bike (either it has been stolen or you have had an unfortunate encounter with a double decker).

13) You perceive pedestrian traffic lights as merely ornamental.

14) You have learnt the lesson that shoes which go below your ancle are more labour-intensive than cost-effective (toasting your soaked shoes on the heater everytime it rains is not what I consider a potential hobby).

15) Last but really not least: Your umbrella is your best friend.

A very productive weekend

I am so proud of me.

_ I finished transcribing the 1.10h interview for my seminar in qualitative research methods in Vienna. For the lays among you, one hour of interview takes approximately eight hours to transcribe. I now have 30 pages of material. I think it took me twice as long as that overall. I added the pictures and only have to print it tomorrow at Russell and send it via express mail.

_ Finished my Ethno SEA reading on the extent of syncretism of Theravada Buddhism in Burma.

_ Finished my Dev reading on the rural and urban divide and peasant agriculture, and answered the questions to that.

_ Helped a friend and payed a debt by writing an essay.

_ Helped another friend by beta-reading an essay. We decided to establish an essay checking partnership.

_ Tomorrow I will go to the library for my f* essay and print the lecture power points from last week.

So as you see, I have loads to do. Won't be able to update until Tuesday, perhaps.

25 November 2006


One: On Thursday I celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time in my life! According to Emma, the best thing about it was that it was vegan (instead of a turkey we had tofu)! So basically, they made pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, cornbread, cranberry jam and, well, tofu with vegan pesto). We were joined by Hanni (German) and Marc (plain British). After the dinner, we did arts & crafts, in our case, drawing turkeys with crayons out of the copied shape of your hand (see above, yes, those are supposed to be turkeys). Actually, this is something five-year olds do in school but who cares?

Two: Following up my desperation with the wax, I know can add my definition of tampons to the list of Unobtainable Items. First of all, the shop shelves are flooded with tampons with applicators but if you want some without, you'd have to look hard (maybe it's a Austrian and German thing, but we prefer the low-tech stuff). Paradoxically, the tampons themselves look like antiques, just compressed rough cotton without any rills.

Three: Stacia and I watched another great movie with a highly interesting topic. It is called "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" and raises the question of [Spoilers! Highlight to read on!] if you'd rather live with a particular memory erased. I believe that I'd prefer the other way around: To have certain memories transplanted into my brain. Would be cool to hear other people's ideas about this, so if you want to contribute sth...

Four: Sim City is now going into a more advanced level. *cocks eyebrow* There are definitely some amazing free add-ons available on the net that definitely... increase the anatomic accurateness of the sims. *wide grin*

Five: Isn't usually that Europeans laugh at US-Americans's lack of geographic knowledge ("Austria? Oh yeah, I've got a gran down-under!" - "Austria? I thought that was a part of Germany!" or simply putting Germans and Austrians "in the same pot, which is actually bordering on an insult) ? So, while looking for a quiz that lets me check my SEA knowledge, I came across one that asks you to drag the name of the US-States on the right place on the map (Heidi: "It's so difficult because your states look all the same on a map" - Sam: "I know, they are all boxes but they are all different boxes!"). In the next level you are to choose the right capitals of the respective US-States (Stacia: "The weirdest thing is that the capital of a state isn't necessarily the biggest city."). I consider my geographic knowledge quite well (when not asked about West Africa or Russia) but I completely sucked at this! Check it out!

23 November 2006

Wax Attack and TV Fee

Earlier today, I was waxing my legs in the kitchen (better light and more space) when Chris came in. He went past me to his cupboard, looked at me and said, "Isn't this something you do in the bathroom, rather than in the kitchen?" I replied, "Why?" and pulled off the strip on my shin. Chris eyes widened, he said, "OK, I'm going" and had fled the scene faster than you can say "Wanna join?" The reader should be informed that Chris has had a traumatic experience with depilatory wax while applying it to himself. I might have a sadistic tendency (Kat, are you nodding?!), I somehow feel amused about reviving his memory. I don't even know if he got what he was looking for before he left.

Quick note about the wax: Seems nearly impossible to find a wax jar. The drugstores sell all kinds of veet stuff (even veet for men), just not in a jar. And the only jar I could find at Boots (the british "dm") was from a company I had never heard of before but cost 14 £! Stacia got me a Superdrug (the british "Bipa") wax jar for 5,50 £ that smells disgustingly like papaya but that's the price you pay for beauty. Maybe some products falls into the category of potential ingredient for explosive devices (for security threats in drugstores, read Stacia's report from 22 November).

Also, the TV licensing company claims that I hadn't replied to their inquiry and informed me today that I had been put on a investigation list and might face trial and charged a 1000 £ fine. I had e-mailed them TWICE within the given deadline and hadn't heard of them until now. It's not my fault that they hadn't been forwarded. Result: I have been entered into the TV Licensing National Enforcement Database. These bastards. *sigh* It's the same in every country, isn't it? At least you don't have to pay for radio (and consequently, broadband internet), as in Austria (see the GIS website for details).

21 November 2006

Work, work, work and a crisis on top of this

Have been quite busy last week and am on the verge of exhaustion. Although I have been reading like a nun these past weeks, my To Do List won't get any shorter:

- My first essay (in SEA GP) is due in less than two weeks and I have no idea what to write about or how to go about the essay. However, I already know how to reward myself for it: Will see "Breaking and Entering".

- Univie professor Seiser sent an e-mail to everybody who participated in her Qualitative Research Methods seminar last semester to inform us that at that time, she had not even received 50 % of the transcribed interviews we are required to submit (deadline 30 November). So I spent Sunday doing that until I ran out of battery and I couldn't find the other batteries I had. Guess where my battery recharger was: In my locker at Russell Square. 2km of walk. Neither time nor ganas being already stressed out and all.

- After a nap earlier this evening, I got up at 11 pm and finished reading the excerpt on Vietnam in my reading pack for my SEA GP lesson at 9 am today. Took me five hours to work through it. I should really try to read things in one piece and stop the time I commit to doing that to increase efficiency. As I logged into the online platform later to check if the lecturer (the one that makes me squirm every time in his tutorials) had assigned any further readings, I found one (another 23 pages) and also the information that George W. Bush visits Vietnam now for the APEC meeting. The course convenor expects us of course to read some articles from the press coverage. Great. Luckily, I didn't find much on Vietnam in The Times Online and I didn't try harder.

- Lately and absolutely the most serious on top of this is that I remembered that Development Studies has actually never been my first choice. I took it in Austria because the education system in Austria is structured into credits (equivalent of weekly hours) which are divided into major subject and "the rest" (either one minor or several ones combined or an individual combination of lectures). Consequently, I picked development because it provides an introduction into politics and economy and therefore compliments anthropology, being a humanity (also, I was thinking of the graduate job market for anthropologists). When I applied to SOAS, I thought, "I have already started with this, let's take this as a combined course". What I didn't know was that Development Studies at SOAS is taught much more from an economic perspective, compared to the more theory-oriented approach (at least at the beginning of study) in Austria. Additionally, the education system is different and therefore implicates increased effort in the study of the subject (such as spending 6 hours on average on reading) and I guess you concluded yourselves, that I lack the motivation to do this.
Everytime I go to the tutorial, I think, "What am I doing here? I have no idea what they are talking about!" Problem is, it highly likely that it is too late for a degree change but I will talk to my tutors nevertheless and see if there is anything at all that can be done about this.

Keep you updated.

16 November 2006

HSBC, a history - Part 3/3

Since I have been quite busy this week, I'm afraid it will be the third part of my bank experience. If you really reach the end of it, I will be very proud of you!

- I doubted this and went to another branch on the very same day. When I complained to the guy that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand does within HSBC and showed him the letter, he says it means that I just have to wait.

- I wait and get sent another letter saying that I have to bring my passport, my UCAS letter and proof of residence to a branch. I do so, queue up again for 20 minutes and am told later that my account had already been opened weeks ago and he didn't know why I had been sent that letter. He apologised and didn't even try to make it sound sincere. He says, I will receive my debit card within 5 working days (it was a Thursday).

- Instead, I received yet another letter, asking me to pick a 6-10 digit security number for online banking. Normally, I'd receive one but since I live in shared accomodation, I have to choose one myself. Oh well.

- I am sent a card, that doesn't look like a debit card but claims that it does have the same functions. There is neither chip, signature field or Maestro sign on it and my general impression was that it is a toy card.

- In the last week of October, I am sent a bank statement. It says that I have to pay 5 £ as a charge for my account. I am not going to pay for a service I couldn't use!

- That's what I told the employee I met next. He says: "So you want me to close your account. Is that what you are asking me?" I said, "No, I don't. There must be a way for me to complain and not pay these fees!" He was really nice and saw how desperate I was. He registered me for online banking (only possible through a branch because you have to pick a security number but I guess this is the same number I had to pick earlier, only that no one had told me how to use online banking) and explained that I still have to register the first time I log in to online banking. Every time you log in, it asks you for your date of birth, account number, sort code and particular digits out of your security number. It's tyring. I showed him my card and he says that that was a service card, not a debit card and he didn't know why I had been sent this.

- Since I cannot do anything about the 5 £, I decide to transfer money to my UK account. I need the IBAN. I ring HSBC. I was disconnected twice but got through the third time. I was given my IBAN and the international HSBC sort code.

- I logged into Bank Austria online banking and entered the details. Sort code incorrect, I am told. I tried different ones from their webpage until one worked. I just hope for the best. I don't know what happens if the money doesn't arrive in time because international students are not allowed an overdraft.

This is not something that happened to me alone. It is common knowledge that the situation with customer service of banks in the UK is like this. I wonder how on earth did the UK become one of the world leading financial centres???

14 November 2006

Edinburgh revisited

I spent the last weekend in Edinburgh where I visited Kat and her two hilarious flatmates Bart and Paul. First thing I noticed was that in Ed, it was cold as shit, as the weather forecast put it: "9°C but feels like 7°C" (due to the damp and the wind). My feet felt like two blocks of ice and my bum like concrete, that is, dead. Funnily, as I was walking over North Bridge and admiring the sight over the gorgous city, my eyes fell on a quite impressive sight: A girl walking in my direction with a spaghetti top and hot pants. Another girl that braved the elements was exposing her kidneys to serious inflammation. Ah well, perhaps the women up here are hard boiled.

Anyway, after a morning in chilling out, a time travel in the afternoon to the beginning of time (Dynamic Earth) and a hike up to the Salisbury Crags on Sunday afternoon which form part of the crate of an extinct volcano and wherefrom you get the most stunning view over Edinburgh (!!!), we retraced our "auld ways" on Sunday evening, walking up the Royal Mile, over George IV Bridge and down to Cowgate where we rediscovered the hostel we had stayed in on our first visit two years ago, the Budget Backpackers. They have repainted the building but to no avail. Memories of the disgusting bathroom and the even more disgusting toilet came up. How this made them so successful, I don't know but they now own the building opposite too and even have a professional reception with a counter, tourist information and a logo. They were one of the cheapest within the city centre, so if anyone is adventuorous enough to dare living in the lion's den while on his or her trip to Ed, please report back to me!

Interesting facts:

_ There is a 50 £ fine on cigarette litter. "Keep Edinburgh clean" Good idea but it's not as if anyone could hold any evidence against you. Ed is not as CCTV infested as London. I merely saw five cameras and these were all where you expect them to be, on bank buildings.

_ "Frustration can cause accidents", this is what you are told when you are on the motorway.

_ Eejit: Scottish for "idiot". This site offers a hilarious insight into Scottish slang!

10 November 2006

HSBC, thou art a wickedness! - Part 2/3

- On the next morning, 14 September, I go to Westbahnhof, one of the two major railway stations in Vienna, buy a telephone card and call the number. It is a tape for telebanking ("If you want to check the balance of your account, press 1"). I can tell you, I was furious! I rang up and I swore to myself that if I they don't get this settled now, I cancel my application. I complained when I called the same hotline as in the night before and explained that I don't understand why my I have to run after them to get that damned account opened before I arrive in the UK (little did I know that this was a naive hope). My emotion apparently showed in my voice because I was forwarded twice until a woman answered that seemed to be an experienced "high level" employee. She was the first person of HSBC that I spoke to on the phone which has given me her full name. Imagine. She promised to send the correct form via e-mail, as well the instructions to get this finally done and a couple of questions that I need to answer in written form. She also tells me what documents they require.

- What followed was a 10-hour-marathon: I went to uni to check my mails. No application form 30 minutes later. I went home (takes 40 minutes), got my passport, my residence registration, drove to the Magistrate to get a certified copy of that. I go to the next Bank Austria branch to get the last six months' bank statements (as required). I also need a bank reference. The employee calls my personal bank officer and tells me that only my personal branch can do this. While waiting for the bus, I call that woman (she gave me her extension number) from HSBC and tell her that I need the e-mail asap if I want to send this today. She promises to send it now. I go to my personal branch, they are very friendly and supportive, give me a bank reference (saying I have got an active student account with them) and stamp and sign both the reference and the statements. I drive back to uni to download and print the HSBC form that has arrived. The e-mail really includes everything Ms Mitchell promised to send. I printed the form (a fucked up layout in PDF => three A4 pages on one) and rang HSBC again to ask what groups of people can certify my passport (it was already 5pm by then). "Police officers? Very good!" I go back to the IT room, look up the number of the Vienna Police Directorate and call them while walking to the building (not far away). The man on the phone tells me that they used to do that but don't anymore. He connected me to the city council. They don't do that either. The Bank Austria headquarters are right in the middle of the uni and police, so I hope that this branch might still be open (bank officers can certify too). It isn't. I call the 24/7 Bank Austria hotline and ask whether, by any chance, there is a branch in Vienna that isn't closed yet. There was! There is a branch in the 21st district (outskirts of Vienna) that's open until 7 pm (I don't know why, as it is not very central). It took me one hour to get there by tram and one hour back to Westbahnhof (long opening hours post office). I used the time to fill out the form. The first part of the form with blue pen, the second part with green fineliner (I lost the pen), the last part with black pen (as required for automised reading). I sent all the documents + my tricolore application form on the very same day. Quite an achievement! Try to copy that!

- A few of the questions I had to answer in the e-mail to Ms Mitchell were:
--Purpose of opening the new account with HSBC UK (My life was boring?)
--Where the initial source of funds to be credited into the new account will originate (From the account number that they will see once I transfer the money??)
--The anticipated level and nature of activity through the new account (Am I supposed to have lived abroad before???)

- Upon moving in to Dinwiddy, I already have a letter in our box saying that my application would now be processed once I arrive in the UK but doesn't say whether I have to do something.

- I go to a branch on 25 September and ask the woman at the reception (it's like a conveyor belt, people queue up, briefly outline their problem to be either solved immediately or be told to wait for 15-20 minutes until their name is called) if I have to do sth. She looks me up on the database, says I am already on the system but I have to do the online application again in order for my bank account to be opened for good.

09 November 2006

A break from the break that isn't a break

After reading all night through and omitting sleep, I decided to take a break and joined Laura (German UG Politics student) and Silvia on a walk alongside the Regent's Canal on this bonny autumn day. Practically, this means that I went from this:

to this:

I felt like a walking challenge and continued to Camden Market. The other two have been there already, so I went alone but shopping isn't anything you can spend a lot of time talking anyway.

The market is amazing! The stalls have all kinds of clothes, from Asian, funky, gothic and corsets to hippie style. Three things I of the things I discovered which I want to outline here:

  • Ottfried Fischer laughing on a huge photograph while lying in a hammock (superfluos to mention what the shop sold). I didn't know that he is known outside of Toelz.
  • A shop selling clocks, jewellry and lampions (those were pretty beautiful) made of computer platines (really inventive).
  • Austrian hats worn for national dress (must be cult in Britain) and a dress that looked like a dirndl adapted for a goth party.

After an extensive exercise to and around the stalls and home again (5 km in each direction!) I now feel relaxed and treat myself to a DVD that I bought at , "Closer", the story of "four strangers - their chance meetings, instant attractions and brutal betrayals".

HSBC, a tribute to the world's local bank - Part 1/3

Everyone who is courageous or simply unlucky enough to be in need for a UK bank account, may nod in sympathy, remembering similar experiences with the bank of their choice. The reason: In the UK, it takes at least one month to get the holy grail, a bank account because you have to prove that you are neither a fraud, a terrorist or a money launderer. In most cases this will be HSBC, "the world's local bank" as they call themselves, represented in I don't know many countries. As it turns out, HSBC has more customers than it can manage or they simly don't care a shit about customer satisfaction (it is nearly impossible to find a contact adress for this purpose on their website). But let me introduce you to my very own ordeal:

Once upon a time, it might have been 27 August, in a country not so far away (Austria), there was a student that wanted to apply for an International Bank Account at HSBC for she would leave the country on 23 September to start a new life as a student in the United Kingdom.

- I go their website and apply online. I fill out a form and am required to enter a UK telephone number. How am I supposed to have one??? After an hour of racking their elaborate website and trying different numbers via Skype, I am finally connected to...

- ..."HSBC International", the division that is rumored to be responsible for international accounts. I ask the guy who picks up the phone ("Good evening, my name is John, how can I help?") for help on what to write in the required field "UK telephone number". "Enter your Austrian number." OK. I try. Error message: Too many digits. "Enter any number. If there is space at the end of the application, you can enter a note there to explain." - "And if there isn't?" - "Then call us back." I had to.

- Two weeks pass (the usual maximum time it takes to open a bank account in Austria), and still no confirmation letter from HSBC. My application might just as well have never happened.

- I call them. The woman says: "Of course you have to fill out a printed form, you cannot just apply online!" (which contradicts the information on their website). I ask her where I can come by a form. She tells me to go to offshore.hsbc.com.

- I download the form which has 29 pages that I printed in colour (what a waste of ink). Upon discovering difficulties with filling out the form, I call them. Turns out that this is a form for an offshore account that requires a minimum sum of 10 000 €. Ergo: HSBC International is not HSBC Offshore and I found out before the woman that told me the link. She promises to have the responsible department send me the correct form.

- Half a week passes and I still haven't received any e-mail attachment or mail. I request to be called back. They do. I ask the employee if we can arrange for a personal branch that will guide me through this and where I can go to later. I am told: "You can't just pop into a branch!" (HSBC International and HSBC UK are two separate things but both are centred on the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

- I call back minutes later because I have another question and this time I am advised to open a UK account which, as I explain to the employee, I have read on their webpage to be only possible for those non-UK residents that have already been resident in the UK for three years.
It's now 11 September.

- On 13 September, around midnight (24/7 hotline) I arrange to be called back (I had quit internet at my flat and didn't have a landline. So I called my mum, who called them via her landline and gave them my mobile number). Where on that damned webpage can I find the form or what has happened to my request? I expected a database at their call centre but they don't have one and he couldn't give me the information I needed either. It's not the employees' fault but they are not trained enough to give competent answers. He claims not to be responsible, so he gives me a number that is available from 8 am the next morning. I was so angry that tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn't sleep.

08 November 2006

Reading Week, Sim City & The Milk Shake Chase

SOAS students currently enjoy the "liberties" of Reading Week where no classes are held in order to let you catch up on your reading list or pick specialised books from the further readings or work on your essays - or all of that. While a lot of people might cry "Hurray!" and try to establish a new record in the Seven Day Binge Drinking Marathon, some people *ahem* actually take the Reading Week literally, albeit too arbitrarily perhaps (remembering indulging in fanfiction until 9 am in the morning last Sunday...).
Today saw me in the following situation: Heidi reading on international migration in SEA, having a stack of four other related books at the ready, as well as a bowl of delicious Gulasch Soup (Never tasted better! Thank you, Taschi!) and an issue of Cosmopolitan (for studying breaks).
I've got to write a 3000-word-essay in each single one of my subjects (that is, four). I want to do one on "SEA government policies concerning international migration" in SEA GP but will have to speak to my course convenor about this, as it is a self-formulated topic.
I found some more jewels while browsing the library (The Philippine Statistical Yearbooks! These look much more user-friendly than the webpage I had to use for my independent study project for my graduation)! I am really impressed!

About SimCity, Stacia and I created a virtual almost-equivalent (we reduced the number of residents to five to keep an overview) of the people in our flat with The Sims! *lol* So far, our kitchen caught fire twice, a person has died of shame, we've got some love triangles going on and a guy in a kilt *g*! Sounds like our very own soap!

I found this Milk Shake Chase among other interesting videos online and don't want to keep it any longer from you, enjoy!

04 November 2006

Follow me... to Oxford Street!

I am so exhausted from yesterday's shopping spree on Oxford Street. I spent six hours and 100 pounds on two (gorgeous!) tops and a pair of comfortable boots for winter. I think I told you when I arrived in Britain with my one pair of high heel boots, that I found it difficult to find sneakers, probably because boots are so en vogue. Now that I come to think of it, I haven't seen that many "defeminised" girls as you see them in Austria, the ones in rave style. Or maybe I just haven't been to the right places yet.

Whatever, so from walking down this high street, I would have given it a length of three times Mariahilfer Strasze in Vienna. Upon measuring it on my map though, I discovered that it is merely 200 meters longer? This seemed unbelievable, so I employed the most effective tool to find out (Google) and found this instead. Apparently, the introduction of a fast lane for hurrying pedestrians is discussed. The disrepancy between relative and absolute length is probably due to the fact that 90 % of the shops have three floors on average.

Three things I observed:
The technology that, in Austria, is used in ice-cream parlours to accelerate the ordering process, in London is used in shoe shops. The shop seller in the customer room scans in the product, required size and colour and the person in the stock room brings it.

A lot of clothes shops have student discounts. I got 10 % each in two shops. When you are in London and you have a UK student ID or ISIC, you should always ask for it!

Apparently, in the UK, you have the right to dress accordingly to your religion. For example, I have seen a librarian wear a kippah and a shop seller wear a chador. I remember the political discussion that came up when two sikh tram drivers wanted to wear their turban at work. They went to court and in the end, the Wiener Linien (the public transport company in Vienna) even made them one with their logo. I will grant cultural diversity in Britain its own post eventually, as it deserves.

02 November 2006

International Students Committee and London Film Festival

International Students Committee:
Yesterday I went to the first meeting of the International Students Committee at SOAS. Gopika (female BA Anthro & Dev Studies student from India), our International Students Officer was looking for people who wanted to help her, she being in her final year and having to write her dissertation. Four people turned up: a female egyptian LL.M student, a male czech SEA Studies student, a male south-african African Studies student and - me! After everyone had introduced themselves, we went on to [short interruption by fire alarm at 3.20 am *rolling eyes* this is the 10th or so fake fire alarm, mainly because of people that leave the kitchen door open while cooking. We've never had one at the dead of the night, though.] business and discussed things like fees (Non-EU students are charged up to 10 450 £), pre-arrival information, knowledge of the education system in the UK, cultural orientation, work experience and "fun" (*g* Gopika: "There is an International Students Day on November 17th" - Heidi: "There is?" - Gopika: "Yes, a lot of people don't know about this. Let's prepare an event at SOAS!"). We've had loads of ideas and all seem very committed. I hope this will also manifest itself in our activities, not only in our lip service.
The reason why I wanted to join the committee is that I really enjoy being an international student at SOAS and would like to contribute to and find out more about the experiences other students like me are making!

London Film Festival:
Went to "Lunacy", a movie by Jan Švankmajer, a surrealist czech director. Stacia had introduced me to the surprising and challenging work of "Jan", as we call him: During a boring night we had watched "Conspirators of Pleasure" at home. His movies are very intriguing, however maybe not anyone's taste! In Lunacy, Jan brings together influences from Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade. I guess you can say, that it is quite blasphemic, in some scenes I was expecting people to stand up and rant about it - but everyone remained seated. I guess if you don't want to see it, then you don't go there. Maybe that was an irrational reaction developed through growing up in a catholic environment. In Lunacy, Jan shows two ways in handling the patients of an asylum: Either you leave them in total freedom or you set up strict rules they have to comply by. But Jan raises spans a third dimension: Lunacy in our everyday lives.