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Friday, January 13, 2012

You'd Think Killing People Would Make Them Like You...

... but it doesn't. It just makes them dead.

Any guesses at to the source of the quote?? Ha, it's really nerdy, I'll give you that as a hint!

Alrighty, well, methinks it's time for an update! A real one, not a George Harrisonesque update, no matter how fine that man may have been.
I'm now back in the lovely Bangor! Fun fact: I originally put "I'm not back in the lovely Bangor!" How false that is, my friends. I'm back, and somewhat loving it! Not going to lie, having exams does put a dent in being back. I wouldn't have it any other way, though. Well, if I could have it sans exams I'd have it that way.
I flew out of the tropical Salt Lake City on January 7th? I think? Oh, just kidding. I flew out the 6th and got into the U.K. on the 7th. What was great about flying in this time is I knew exactly what I was doing, where I was going, and how I was getting there. Once you get used to the tube and trains (THE TUBE CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT!) travel is a piece of cake, chocolate or vanilla, take your pick! Or we could say German chocolate cake since I'm trying to be abroad. Sorry, I'm in a funky mood (will explain momentarily).
Ok, focus Cook. So, I flew in and caught the tube to Waterloo and from there caught a train to Salisbury.

What? Salisbury? 'Why Salisbury', you ask? Simple explanation. My friend, Dan, lives down in Salisbury, so my other friend, Carla, and I caught trains to Salisbury and carpooled up to Bangor with Dan. 'Twas fun, but man, I was exhausted. I'd gotten up around 5.50am on January 6th in Utah to catch my flight to London, my flight arrived in London around 6.45am on the 7th, and then I didn't get to sleep until 9.30 that night, about 2.30pm in Utah. I'm pretty proud that I never fell asleep! My sleep deprivation skills are becoming quite impressive, if I do say so myself. Although it does put me in the weirdest of moods. No, that's not the explanation for my current mood. Fun story, I met this cool guy studying abroad in London on the tube. It was nice having a travel companion while I was on the tube. That's the cool thing about studying abroad: you get out of your shell (if you have a pretty thick one, like me), you talk more, and you meet some really cool people from all over the world. While in Prague, one of the girls who ended up in my room was from Germany. She was quite nice, but liked to smoke pot at 4 in the morning. Sorry if I've mentioned this in a past entry!

Alright, so back in Bangor! A hint for those traveling from the west to the east: don't go to sleep once you arrive. Just get on your feet and keep going. It's the easiest way to adjust to the time change. Some people advise changing your clocks/watches once you get on the plane to adjust to the time zone you'll be entering and then acting as if you're there already. They then say don't take sleeping pills because it screws up your internal (or circadian) rhythm. I think it's a grand idea, but if you're like me, you won't get to sleep if you're not tired. You'll just sit there and think. For ages. I did that just this morning. 2 hours of thinking... at 4 am... that was crap. No, that's not the reason for my funky mood. Nearly there! Anyway, my advise? Try to sleep, if you can't, busy yourself and keep going until bedtime that night. It'll be tough, but you're in for the best sleep of your life. I slept 12 hours on Sunday night. That was the most magnificent thing EVER. Another hint: don't plan on flying in the day before an exam. It will mess you up. I didn't, and I am so glad. Having a couple of buffer days allows you to get back on schedule and get back to normal. It also gives you extra study time!

Ok, I've arrived at the explanation for my funky mood:

Oh gosh. I swear, exams are horrid. Psychologically, physically, emotionally... it drains you in more than one way. Now, I'm preaching to the choir, I realize that. However, differences!

In the States there's always the chance of final exemptions. Not a chance here. At least not a chance from what I've seen. The exams are a bit more chill, I've noticed. Well, not for me because I'm an anal anxiety-ridden mess of a student (always have been!), but for most people I'm surrounded by they're pretty chill. The general mood I've come across is, "If I fail, I'll just sit the class again. No big deal." Magnificent! Why can't I be chill like that?! That's definitely not the general idea in the States. In the States it's, "If I don't pass this class, I'll fail, my GPA will die, I'll never get my degree, my parents will cut me off, I'll go to clown school, and I'll be a failure the rest of my life!"

Your future.

Just kidding. Kind of. Anyway, the chill mood is a huge difference. Then when you go into the exam room, they're not as anal about checking for cheaters and phones. They're really trustworthy. Not that I tried cheating! I promise you, I did not. I feel bad just lying about taking a piece of my brother's gum. 

... you stole my gum...?

Yeahhh, that's one of my baby brothers! Ain't he cute?? Ha, sorry. Exams. They're killer. Anyway, oh! I love this about exams here! So, instead of the classic bubble sheet and bluebook, they have this white piece of paper for the multiple choice where you put an X in the box instead of filling in a circle. Plus you can use blue ink, black ink, or a pencil. I like having options. Then for the short answer questions they actually provide the exam booklet for you. How cool is that?! I think it's brill! I always forget to buy a bluebook until the last minute. Those are the only differences I can think of at the moment. Good grief, I've done so much studying this week. My brain is a pile of poo at the moment.

I had two exams on Tuesday, one for Sport & Exercise Physiology and then another for Introduction to Sports Science for Coaches. The Sport & Exercise Physiology exam was going to kill me, I thought. That's pretty much the only exam I studied for over Christmas break (yeah, there's another difference... one that sucks...) and I studied so much on Monday for it. That class has frustrated me to no end. I study for it, I do the readings, I spend hours on my lab reports, and yet I managed 2 C+s on the reports and one C. I did everything I could. I did so much research and reading. Each report took at least 5 hours of my time. At least. I got an 85 on the multiple choice exam I had to take while I was in Prague. That was good, but I'm still scared to death I failed. That exam was tough, and I'm really worried about my first short answer. The second one I know I annihilated, but that first one... ugh, I don't want to talk about it anymore.

So! Introduction to Sports Science for Coaches! That was probably the funnest exam I have ever had, and I would take it again in a heartbeat! Just for fun! Yeah... I am that nerdy. What did it consist of? Let me explain. The exam was pre-released, and we had all Christmas break to plan our answer. It didn't take me long, to be honest. There were two questions, and we just had to answer one. We could either devise a nutrition plan for a specific sport or create a training plan for a specific sport. You had to include references and back up your reasons with scientific logic, and not just 'Well, it works for me'. Originally I was going to do basketball because I had a group presentation to do for a considerably large portion of my grade (87-did alright!) about the most important psychological aspects of the sport, but in the end I went with my true passion: running.

That's me and my momo! I'm on the left. The one with her mouth wide open. I obviously talk a lot.

Nerd confession: I read about marathon training for fun. I also research running forums, research articles, and magazine articles for fun. Given how much I've done already, putting together a plan really was a cinch, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just had to track down specific sources (I never note where I find information from, I just note if it's credible) and I was good to go. I'd just like to say that Hal Higdon is my hero, and I adore him. Love you, Hal! He'll probably never see that, but that's ok. 

Anyway, two exams down and two more to go! Until today! This morning I had the exam for Psychology of Sport Performance. I felt pretty confident in my ability to pass (until the end, but that's how it always goes), but it was brutal. There were three sections. Section A was short answer, and I think there were about 5 questions in it. I was able to answer all but one (the information was right there, I could nearly see it in my brain!). The one I couldn't answer was only 2 marks out of 20, so I wasn't too terribly disheartened. Then section B was multiple choice, no big deal. Or so I thought. Some of those questions were really quite difficult. That section was worth 35 marks. I was feeling a bit worried at the end of this. Section C was a case study about a guy named AB who was a nervous wreck. He'd recently been moved up from the reserve team to the firsts team, but his cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety had increased whereas his self-confidence had decreased. According to Marten et al.'s multidimensional anxiety theory this would result in a decrease in performance. Poor ol' AB also was experiencing twitching, intra-sender communication problems from the team manager, and lack Group Integration-task and Attraction to Group-task. Ha, sorry, I'm proud of myself for remembering! Anyway, that was where it got really brutal. 14 questions, and most of those were short answer! Moving on from there, I nearly didn't finish in time! 5 minutes to spare, ladies and gents. I probably completely missed the last question, but I wrote the crap out of the rest of them. Fingers crossed I passed!

So that was this morning. I've pretty much been studying ever since. Want to know what I'll look like come Monday afternoon?

This will be me.

I look forward to this. Just kidding, but I do absolutely love this picture. Gets a giggle out of me anytime! This will be me.

Ok, I couldn't help myself. I absolutely love this video! Back to serious.
Anyway, ugh, I've been studying all day, and I'll be studying all day tomorrow as well. I know, right? I studied all day after a brutal exam? Intense and impressive. Just kidding. The last exam is for Physical Activity for Health, and it is on Monday morning at 9am. I'm quite stressed about this one as well, to be honest. I've gotten either 90s or 95s on the two multiple choice exams we had in there on week 7 and week 12, but the final is worth 70%. It wouldn't be so bad, but it's multiple choice and short answer. The only way to get top marks is to include sources in the short answer. I hate that. I do read the resources, and I remember most of the information, but I have a bugger of a time remembering the authors and the years. I really hope I do well... I've studied a lot for it, and I'm thinking I'll do alright. I just have to pass (the classes transfer for credit), but I still freak about this stuff. Who has two thumbs and constant high anxiety? This girl!

Well folks, that's another difference you need to be aware of when studying abroad in the United Kingdom: know your resources! Lovely fact about Bangor, though? Once I finish exams I should have about two weeks before the next semester starts up. That'll be nice.

Oh, also, sad update about my New Years resolutions. Yeah... the one about not dropping an electronic device in the toilet? That kind of happened... on New Years day... at 10.20am... I was brushing my teeth and my phone flew into the toilet. It was quite sad. It works, though! Happy days. I'm still bummed that the resolution died so young in the year. My camera still turns on from its swim in the toilet on December 30th, but the screen is all black, and when it takes pictures all it sees is darkness. Not going to lie, I'm really depressed about my camera dying. 

Ugh. Ah well, it is just a camera. I'll get another one some day. There is one thing I want to touch on though before I part. Integration. Once you study abroad, the place you go leaves a bit of it in you, and there's a good chance it'll make you feel out of place once you return to your home country. I don't really know how to describe it, but once I was in Utah for the break I felt a bit out of place. I got over it alright, but there was still this background feeling. I don't know where it came from or anything, and I may just be an oddball. Then when I got back to the U.K. it was weird, because I'm not British. It's like the African American population after the Civil War. One idea was to take the ex-slaves and ship them back to Africa, which was tried. However, African Americans weren't African, they were American. They didn't fit in in Africa. At that moment in history, they didn't fit in in the United States either. They were out of place, not really having a country to call home. I'm not at all saying that I'm just like those poor folks. Heavens, no. What I'm saying is that I feel a bit separate from my fellow Americans (not entirely), and I do feel a bit separate from my British homies (hey now, y'all say trousers... they're pants!), but I consider Bangor my home, at least for now. I love it here! This first week back was rough because I felt really out of place, I desperately need my loan to come in, I haven't heard if I've been accepted, and I have exams that are killing me, but I love it here. Y'all have got a snowball's chance in Hell of convincing me to go back to Austin! Anyway, hope y'all are doing well! I need to do some more revision... fingers crossed on my exams, yeah?

Nos da!

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