Sunday, March 29, 2009

Best Kebab

At this point it would be totally inappropriate to not dedicate an entire blog to Best Kebab. Unlike every other food joint in Glasgow it remains open 24/7, and the radio is always blasting, so its been known to become a mini dance party at 3 am (including drunks who decided to dance on the tables...the radio got turned off until they left) Located on cathedral street just outside of Queen street rail station, don't let its not so classy looks fool you...OK it's not classy in anyway, but the chips and cheese (2 pounds) are to die for... especially when fellow students try to cross the Glasgow streets to get there when they are drunk. Best Kebab Chips and Cheese is the ultimate drunk food (I haven't been drunk, but its what I have been told...and it is very good). Basically, its hot french fries covered with cheese in a box (half the trick is waiting for the cheese to melt and the other half is stirring the cheese in so you get some on every fry).The only problem is the next morning and waking up because it sits like a brick in ones stomach. I'm pretty sure that Best kebab has found a niche' market catering to drunks who easily part with their money for super unhealthy but awesome food. Best Kebab is willing to put up with the clientele and I'm sure they are very profitable. Oh side note! I'm also pretty sure that Best Kebab is a front for the Glasgow Iranian mob (which may or may not exist)...I have no proof of this, but it seems like the right sort of place to launder money.

We went to best Kebab after prom the other night. That's right, two of the flats above mine (13c and d) decided to throw a prom. This was Julian's Idea...he wanted "crappy American prom music" and we gave it to him...I'm not sure he appreciated it. I actually dressed up and made a prom playlist which went over pretty well with everyone else. Morgan (fellow American) and I got almost everyone to awkward prom dance to Howie Day's "collide" and I taught everyone the cupid shuffle(It's a simple line dance for those who don't know). The event included a tin foil arch and lots of balloons and overall might have been the best prom I have attended. Anyway, all of this post is to say that Best Kebab is amazing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The boring side of things

So more on the less interesting side of things. The last two days I have spent some time working on a group project and when not working on that I have been catching up on movies or playing guitar. This small room is really starting to get to me. I've come to realize that I definitely can not study in my room...its like a psychological barrier I just don't get work done. Combine that with the fact that the library closes at 9:30 and that I do my best work at night and I start thinking Travis Tritt "I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E". The whole idle time would probably be better spent kicking some 1 hour online Clemson class homework which I do have...but it is incredibly boring. Not that I have been totally unproductive...I have emailed or applied to at least a dozen jobs, but as the days tick by with out any positive results a strange looming desperation is growing. So couple everything together add some dreary rain and the middle of a big city and you've got yourself breeding grounds for unhappiness.
On the brighter side Scott and I are in the middle of planning out our spring break trip throughout Europe. So far it looks like we will see everything we desire too except Spain Luxembourg and the beaches of Normandy. I think we are both excited about the trip because we keep bringing up random things to figure out before we leave (like do we need padlocks for leaving our bags in the hostels).
Anyway all things considered I'm doing well, just thought I'd try to restart the trend of blogging more often...even if it is slightly depressing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Castle Trip

Wow! might have been the best weekend of my life. People kept asking me if I was going to go on the castle trip. I finally realized that I might like to go...unfortunately I decided this just over a week before the actually trip was going to occur. I got really lucky and when I covertly asked Jim if there were any more tickets available he said he did have one cancellation and that If I swung by his office the next morning he would let my buy the ticket. So I got up early and got the ticket.
thus after my Treasury Management test Friday morning (which I just learned I apparently failed miserably...I need a 50% to pass the class by Clemson Standards and I got a 37% on the counts for 20% of the class grade...I'm a little worried about it) said test ended around 11:15 so I ran back to my room and "man packed" which involved grabbing cloths and stuffing them into my backpacking backpack in a hurried unfolded way. The cloths felt very unloved by this, but it allowed me to sprint down the street to George Square in time to gather with the rest of the internationals by noon.
There were almost 150 of us which required three buses. Having left Mike and Scott behind at the Uni. (that's what they call it here...For example Uni work = school work) I was quick to fall in with flat 4D a group of mostly American girls who dwell above Scott. I took to joining Christy and Colleen in singing (I later learned that they successfully annoyed some American Midwesterners sitting in front of them) and talking with Lori (Kristen myself and Lori pictured). Kristen had a really cool electronic book which held 53 different books (no back light so its easy on the eyes) so she seemed content to stay out of the general going ons of the bus. A side note about her...we had a group project and she pretty much did the entire thing before we met to do it, she said she did it to avoid doing other homework...I personally think she could use a lesson in proper procrastination...but then I'll bet really successful people are more like that...she'll probably never get a 37% on a test...and I swear I put in several hours of quality studying (end side note). I also got to know Federica an Italian girl who ended up sitting next to me. She just got here 3 weeks ago and is doing rather well with her English. I made fun of her talking with her hands as much as she did...I'm not sure if its the Italian or just trying to express what she means...or both.
The trip through the highlands was beautiful. Jim told us some history about ruins we passed, and we saw some oil rigs that were under construction. We stopped twice for bathroom breaks and to stock up on extra snack food. 8 hours after we left George Square we arrived at the Carbisdale Castle. It really didn't seem like that long of a trip thanks to all the interesting conversation and singing.
The Carbisdale Castle is now owned by the youth hostel association. Jim gave us a brief history of the castle before leading those of us who wanted to on a walk out a half mile to see the castle floodlit and look at the stars. It was a cloudless night and there is almost no light pollution up in highlands, the moon was also not around to outshine the stars so the number of stars out was totally breath taking. Oh and the castle was pretty...but the stars were fabulous.
The Castle History: Apparently lady Cabisdale managed to marry into nobility by marrying the duke of Sutherland. He died of a shooting accident (as did her previous husband) and left everything in his will to her, Well his family was not pleased by this so they hired good lawyers and worked out a deal where they got their land and castle back if in exchange they built her a place that was up to her standard of living, hence the Carbisdale Castle. The side of the clock tower that faces the Sutherland castle has no clock on it because "she wouldn't give them the time off day". Anyway she sold it shortly after it was built (because she married some other guy to run off too new york with) to a famous whaling family and they in turn donated it years later to the youth hostel association. The castle came complete with a secret door that opened with you tipped a certain unfortunately broke (the door that is) about five years ago. There is also rumored a resident lady ghost, a carpet has been seen wrinkling towards guests and there have been reports of strange rocking sounds coming from the room that once was the nursery. unfortunate none of these events happened (to my knowledge) while we stayed there.
Anyway I slept well in our room with 12 guys with the exception of having to get up early to grab breakfast before heading off to do the days events.
We started off with breakfast and then a nature hike around the castle and through the forest and pasture lands that surround it. It was here that I played "Hey Cow" scoring only 2 points (you get a point for every cow that looks at you). I met Yuri (cool Asian girl) because of this, she still thinks that I made up the game to explain my insanity of screaming "hey cow" really loudly. She now calls me "Cow" and if she's feeling nice "Cow Boy" so I have taken to calling her "cow girl. " Anyway, we were all given a packed lunch before departing for the Duke of Sutherland's Castle. The Duke of Sutherland really knows how to keep a garden and he placed his castle right on the coast so the combination of highland and sea air was just perfect (well I enjoyed it I'm not sure if he cared). We didn't get to tour the inside of the castle because the current duke and family still live there. We stopped in a little village on the way back to get more snackage and use the restrooms. Plus one kid needed medical attention from the morning nature walk...he had a puffy eye from an allergic reaction with nature.
That evening we played lots of cards and had a fantastic dinner...I mostly remember the Mandarin orange cheese cake and waiting patiently to eat it because the Germans think its rude to eat dessert before everyone is finished with their main meal. I ended up hanging out with one of the truely diverse groups there. We had two germans, an american, a french girl or two, a canadian, an austrian and others. Jim also had each nationality get up and sing something from that country. This was really enjoyable up until we went and Christy convinced everyone to sing a journey song...this went horribly, but everyone clapped politely anyway. Jim also constructed a treasure hunt(more like 20 questions found around the castle) which I am convinced we (Me Mackenzie and Colleen) won, but he never announced the winner so I'm going to go by his office and find out. I also taught lots of people how to play some card games like mysterious four, nertz and spades. At one point Lena and I took to Beauty and the Beast style dancing in the upper hall...I failed to figure out the proper waltz motion to spin like they do in the movie, but it was still fun. We also realized that we could slide across the floor in our socks so we tried to do a grab and kinda worked. What really worked was my white socks cleaning the dirty floor, they were almost black on the bottom when I looked at them later.
The next morning we packed up and hit the road. We stopped by Loch Ness and ran away from the monster. A short time after leaving the nessy visitor center Bus one broke down...I had decided to ride bus 3 that day for the first time ...every other ride I had been on bus one. So buses 2+3 traveled a half mile up the road from the breakdown point and let us out to take pictures and take in some fresh air. I single handedly convinced a whole herd of people to stand on the wall and get a jump picture. I was proud of this...until we all hit the ground rolling. Luckily no one got hurt. About five minutes after the jump photo it was noticed that bus one was coming our way...walking up the road. for some reason this was hilarious and I got a picture. We all had to wait around for an hour before they got an extra bus to pick up everyone in bus 1.
The journey home was mostly uneventful. Andee (from Austria and part of the mountaineering club) and I finally got the bus driver to turn off the radio (its not like it comes in strong in the highland mountains anyway) and enjoyed some conversations with people around us. And that was one of the greatest weekends I've ever had.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ireland! and St Patty's Day

Wow! what a wonderful trip. It was bright and sunny the whole time...even now that I am back in Glasgow it's still cheerful outside...weird. We decided that to save on transportation and to play it safe we should leave Monday night and sleep in the airport. Our flight was supposed to leave at 6:30a.m. and we would have been really pushing it to get a bus or train(pictured) that early in the morning. So we (12 of the 15 of us...the other 3 paid for a taxi in the morning) caught a train to Prestwick International Airport (around midnight) We tried to sleep in the airport...we found some really comfy booth benches that contoured to the body....but airport security was not keen on anyone being comfortable for the night so we all ended up on the floor of the airport. Morning rolled around to the sound of Starbucks employees opening shop (I don't think I slept much at all). Some grabbed coffee while others of us found books or newspapers in the book shop and thus we passed the time till we could get our boarding passes. Ryan air does an excellent job of cramming seats close together on the plane...supposedly they came by advertising stuff every few minutes on the flight there...but I fell asleep against the window and didn't wake up untill we were over Ireland (it was a 50 minute flight so i didn't sleep long). We arrived in Dublin to 50 degree weather and bright sunshine. We caught a double decker bus into the city center. The city was alive with family's and lots and lots of green wearing people. I'm not sure if it was the sunshine, the city, the people, or the fact that it was St Patty's day but something felt much more hopeful about Dublin than Glasgow.
Anyway we enjoyed the famous St Patty's day parade from behind a wall of people...all kinds of weird things pasted us favorite (and I failed to take a picture of it) was a man riding a huge mechanical bird frame. he had control over the birds head and he kept swinging it out over the crowd and then snapping its beak shut in a loud menacing manner...very cool.
After the parade we went to the Guinness Beer Storage House...a huge building and long tour that was extremely fascinating met us and we gave it the time it deserved. Guinness is currently celebrating its 250th anniversary so they had all kinds of performances going on. We even took to swing dancing to a swing band on the 5th floor at one point. The bar tenders on the top floor which overlooks Dublin did a really cool trick and made a shamrock imprint in the foam every individual pint. (picture looking down from the 4thish's like the CIA but with beer)
After Guinness we found dinner off in a corner of the city at an Asian restaurant. The food was good, but I paid way to much for them to bring me spicy pork instead of BBQ pork...I guess that's life. We finished dinner and went out to explore the nightlife. On our way a random girl ran up to me, yelled Happy St. Patty's Day! and then kissed me on the cheek...I was totally unprepared for this so i just said Happy St Patty's day back as she moved on to do the same to everyone else in our group. We exchanged pleasantries and she left convinced she'd see us again that night(we didn't see her again).
We unfortunately found no green beer to drink...well we found some it was just pricey to get into the place let alone buy it so we skipped out. Luckily we landed in a pub called legends. They had a riverdance group perform for part of the evening and a traditional Irish folk band that played after them. This was an absolutely perfect Irish setting and it kept us from needing to exert to much energy which there was not much of due to the lack of sleep the night before. Oh we also found it funny that Dublin might be the only place where Guinness is cheaper than Budweiser.
We left before midnight, split a taxi ride back to the airport...a cool Nigerian was driving us so I knew we were safe and didn't bother to find the seat belt(actually I had so much stuff I couldn't locate the seat belt).
We slept in the star bucks till 347am when security came around and kicked everyone in the shoes (we are talking about hundred people sprawled everywhere in the airport) apparently they only let you sleep if you take up 1 seat in the Starbucks not two or more...Anyway we did the whole trip process in reverse and now are back in Glasgow...somehow we brought a little sunshine with us.

Next weekend ...which I guess is 2 days away is the international Castle trip where we get to spend the night in some castle way up in the highlands...I'm very excited about it because i got the last ticket available from someone who canceled (Score!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

To Ireland for St. Patty's

I figured out the whole skype thing and called my Grandmother today from Glasgow (She doesn't dig computers enough to get one yet). She sounded like she was doing well, still suffering from vertigo and therefore not driving her new CRV as much as it wants to be driven. She encouraged me to throw my address out there so here it is (We recently enjoyed brownies made 3000 miles away in New Orleans that Mikes family sent...hint hint).
13A3 Birkbeck Court, 105 Cathedral Street, Glasgow G 4 0NP

OK so tonight we (at least 10 of us...including Me, Mike, Scott, Mark,Christy, Allie, some Australians and others) are hopping on a train to Prestwick airport where we will waste time until our 630am flight on Ryan air...the joke out there is that we will have to jump to help the plane take off...and to keep the feet off the floor because of the uncleanliness...but the tickets sure were cheap. We are off to Ireland for some St. Patty's day celebrating. hopefully I'll have some good photos to put up next blog. Scott, Christy, the Australians and I will return on the Wednesday 12:30'll be very interesting because all the hostels were it's gonna be a long period of no sleep.

I heard something I thought was funny today ...A classmate asked to borrow a rubber...she meant the eraser I was using. Apparently they call erasers rubbers here...I think this verbal difference could lead to some very interesting/awkward situations.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Overwhelming Sorriness

(a blurry picture taken on campus)
I am very sorry about that last post...I was short on time because I really wanted to go to bed and so I just spilled thoughts out all over the place. I hope anyone following this blog was not thrown off by that...I will do better to keep posts flowing in a orderly fashion from here on out.
Today I added a visitor counter to the blog...I had to do some html editing, but I have just enough skills to delete the part of the code that made a link below it trying to get more people to add it to their web pages (I decided that there would be no advertising on this page that I did not personally promote or benefit from), as of this post seven of the seventeen visits are by me editing and updating things.

I finally got to sleep in today, which was most excellent, then Scott and I spent a large chunk of the day in Starbucks working on a Topics in Corporate Finance project (we've mostly avoided American stores because we want to experience as many Scottish things as possible, but Starbucks is across the street from the apple store which supplies us with free wireless Internet). We will finish the project tomorrow and then start on a Portfolio Theory project as well. (Schoolwork Bleh!). So far I know of no travel plans for this weekend, but a huge group of us are going to Ireland next Tuesday for St. Patties day.
For those who care, this will also be the 250th anniversary of Guinness beer.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Alrighty! So this week and next week are more or less the Strathclyde equivalent of Clemson midterms. However, most of my classes just have one big test at the end so right now there are a lot of group projects/reports. For example today in value theories we did a report and I got to be the "American Representative" flown in that day for that speech about the love canal incident (an event which happened in America). I think I nailed it...but, so far the Scottish as a whole are not very entertaining speakers. Of course it beats the one girl from Slovakia or somewhere like that, she reallllllly struggled, the worst part was teams only had to send a few people up to present it wasn't like they needed to send the person up who couldn't communicate very well...I think it might cost them points in the end.
Anyway, enough about class lets talk about the weather. I hear it's like 80 degrees back home and people are getting sun burnt. I want everyone to know that I actually saw the sun today...through the downpour of chilling rain. Actually, I'm really not jealous I don't miss the hot humid sweatyness one bit...yet.
OK so this weekend we (Me, Scott, Mike, Kristen, and Kelsey) went to St. Andrews via bus. It was pretty, but in a calmer way than the other places I've been, on the bright side it's full of history. Oh and the smell of the ocean brought back lots of memories...although some effect is lost here because the sun is not warming the skin. We explored the city and visited the coast then bought tickets to see the ruins of the castle and cathedral. Apparently they built the cathedral poorly and it was plagued with problems (like falling apart). The tickets we bought let us climb to the top of an ancient cathedral tower. Kelsey counted exactly 161 steps on the way back down from the top. I had forgotten what the feeling of dizziness felt like, but I was reminded about half way down that incredibly steep spiral staircase...why does it all turn only one direction?.
The Castle ruins were also very interested. I was highly disappointed, although I expected to be, that they block off all the exciting areas from the public (for example the bottle neck dungeon). This castle did, however, have an underground cave that was dug as a counter mine to stop the enemy from digging under the castle. This too however was walled off at one point (about 150 feet in), but at least I got a taste of caving which has become one of my favorite activities as of late.
We were running low on daylight and we wanted to see the old course during the day so we walked a little less than a mile to the other side of St. Andrews. We had to inquire to find the old course...there is also the new course (which is ironically several hundred years old as well) and one other course the name I have forgotten. After getting pointed in the right direction we walked down a path that jogged along side the old course. As we got really far away from any form of shelter it decided to rain. After being here for a month and a half being wet and cold is just normal so no one complained and we kept on going. We were actually searching for a specific bridge that is often on T.V. when the tours come through the Old course. We finally got out Scott's newly bought post card which featured said bridge and deduced that it had to be back where we came from.
At this point we cut out to the beach for the walk back. This Spot on St. Andrews beach is where they filmed the opening scene of "Chariots of Fire" so naturally we all took turns getting pictures running down the beach.
Anyway, we walked the beach back to the club house and found the bridge, got pictures then finished up by getting dinner in town. I got haggis on a pepperoni pizza which was actually not a bad decision. I did, however, feel for Kristen who bought an entire dinner consisting mostly of haggis. She didn't finish it...I think we all know why. It rained the entire two hour bus ride back, which was actually rather peaceful...I still have not figured out how to sleep in a bus, but it is a goal for the future.
Sunday Mike, Kelsey, Scott and I went to a Presbyterian church called the Tron (Scott's choice last week, unfortunately, was a self help doctrine teaching charismatic church...neither of us enjoyed it.) the Tron is located in a historic church building and the seating is really cool. We ended up in the horseshoe shaped balcony which is just slightly higher than the preachers pedestal. In standard Presbyterian fashion we sang hymns from a hymnal (most of which strike me as slow and boring, but I think everyone else enjoyed it). I did, however, find the teaching to be founded in scripture which was very pleasant after last week.
That's about it since my last post. Two other boring updates: there is an unfortunate hole in the seat of one of my favorite jeans that I've just noticed, and I did laundry again today.
Oh and finally, I found a Yorkie bar so I bought it and ate half then shared it with the guys. It's pretty much strait milk chocolate, not very exciting for a bar that denies females the right to eat it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quick unstylish update

Gosh, I suddenly have lots of group projects and tutorial homework due. At least that is my excuse for not updating my blog in the last few days. I think I also hit a weird stage emotionally somewhere between adjusting and culture shock (they had a lecture before we left to study abroad about the different stages most people go through). So I've been slightly depressed and haven't felt like writing (its getting much better now). I think the icing on the cake was the huge snowstorm Clemson had...I really wanted to be home for the first time I'd have rather been there than here. But I'd have to trade at least six snowfalls and a snowball fight that involved a Nigerian...and I just couldn't trade that (the same snowball fight included another African opening his flat window and everyone throwing snowballs at him, he then yelled at everyone in jest...too which more snowballs found there way into his flat...very hilarious).
While working on one group project I learned that periods (aka this dot: . ) are not called periods here. Instead the Scottish prefer to think that when they are writing they are going very fast. Thus they call them "Full Stops".
One friend suggested that this is from back in the telegraph era *STOP* When people would end a phrase with a *STOP* *STOP* I wondered if commas are like half stops or yield signs, but they still apparently call them commas. I'm not sure whether I should ask about exclamation points. Who knew that punctuation could be so exciting! Anyway, I must unfortunately be off to do more homework. St. Andrews is the plan for this weekend (hopefully this will include hats and a walk around the course). *FULL STOP*