There's nothing like that here; it has been an honour and a privilege to be around the members of UNITAS for the last eight months. They've been kind and friendly, even after I spent the first semester locked in my room. There's Sona, a graduate student who has been to most of the countries in the Far East; he never gave up on me, was always been wiling to help at a moment's notice, and has been the best neighbour I could possibly ask for. Kavita is going to be such a wonderful teacher; she's full of life, boundless enthusiasm, and she has been practicing reading stories aloud to anybody on the hall who can't move fast enough to escape. Paul will have deep and probing conversations about the meaning of existence at five in the morning, asking the questions that we never dare to say out loud. Parthe has often got up as early as I did, so I applaud the gentlemanly conduct we indulged in, leading to only one occasion when we left our rooms at the exact moment for a shower. I could go on for a long time, but I'll finish with Laura. I don't think I've met anybody quite so dedicated to the causes that she believes in. This doesn't mean that she's a mindless zealot, though; like all good journalists, she's interested in the truth than being caught up in partisan spin. On top of that, she's funny, keenly intelligent, and a supporter of Liverpool. I suppose I can overlook that last one. As I said, it has been an honour to be with them; my regret is that I didn't do it sooner.
(For anybody who's wondering, Rishi is French. Otherwise he'd be up there as well. One of the greatest friends I've had the pleasure of making)
The city itself is full of friendly people, always ready to stop and pass the time of day, with a public transport system that easily outstrips anything in a comparatively sized British town. No, it's not perfect. But what is? If you look hard enough, you probably will find racists, narrow-minded people, and so on, but is that really any different from home? Where 142 voters in my home town honestly thought that a National Front member should represent their views in the local council? No, it's not perfect, but neither are we.
My biggest fear is that I will lose contact with these people. I hope that I will know them for the rest of my life — that we shall always remain close, even if the physical distance between us is vast.
On that note, I turn sideways to the sun, and in a moment I am gone.
Um, yes. Do I think about these things too much?
It all started on Sunday night, when Laura was shocked to discover that I had only then ordered my first take-out pizza. Further questioning revealed that there's many American things that I haven't experienced, and she vowed to make sure I didn't go home without doing some of them. Hence the sandwich and the braiding of styrofoam packing (that one might not be a American tradition. Just in case you decide to turn up for the braiding).
Two days left. Staying happy until the end…
Enemy Combatant! Send him to Camp X-Ray!
Hang on, this means I can't watch Buffy, Angel, or The Daily Show this week, doesn't it? Curses++.
As you might have noticed, updates are going to be on the small side this week. Lots of things to do, not much time to write. Of course, after next week, I'll have all the time in the world…*sigh*
I have a cheque from the IRS! They're paying my excess baggage charges. Hah! Just to rub it in, I'll be filing for another refund next year as well. I don't trust them with my money…
Your first encounter with an American washing machine will be a disconcerting experience. Unlike in Her Majesty's Empire, wherein the drum is mounted on a vertical axis, allowing your garments to spin up and down freely, the colonial machine appears to be mounted horizontally. Clothes will then, therefore, spin to the outward extreme of the drum, and tend to stay there in a wet crumpled heap after the alloted washing time has elapsed
Empirical testing seems to suggest that the Imperial method provides a better wash, but this research could be compromised by the next difference that we urge Britons to observe.
It has come to our attention that American detergents do not clean as throughly as the fine products you find at your local corner shop. Again, more testing is required, but three different brands failed to clean lightly soiled fabric in one cycle. This state of affairs seems to be acknowledged by the companies of the New World, who suggest adding more of their product to produce a cleaner wash. This publication urges caution at this advice, especially when using detergent in tablet form. On occasion, the washing machine will fail to utilise enough water to dissolve all the tablets, leaving your clothes with a disturbing layer of hardened soap.
Finally, we must make a note about tumble dryers. These abound in the Americas; the time-honoured tradition of the humble clothes-line appears to have died out in these lands. Our advice is to experiment with a selection of different dryers before settling on one to use for the rest of your time abroad. Although they may appear identical, certain machines seem to be better at their task than others, so experimentation is vital.
We hope that you will be able to put this humble guide to some utility. In closing, we would like to remind the reader that exposure to different cultures is all part of the travelling experience, and to bear this in mind when extracting a soap-encrusted trouser leg from the washing machine.