✎.. week twenty seven

Re-reading a favorite
I feel like everyone are emotionally drained nowadays because of everything going on, so I haven’t been in the right mindset to start any new books. I decided to go for something that gives me comfort, books based on one of my favorite video game series, Dragon Age. The public’s reception of the book was kind of average, it wasn’t the best but it also wasn’t the worst. I really like it because it gives more backstory for Cole, a companion from the third game, he is one of my favorites. He is a spirit who has taken over the body of someone who died in the White Spire, and in the novel we get to know how and why it happened.

Drying flowers for DIYs
A few months ago I invested in buying rose and lavender plants, and since then I’ve been collecting rose petals and lavender flower buds as they dry out for later use. When I get enough lavender buds, I could turn it into a lavender pouch to put either in my pillow or a drawer of clothes to make them smell better and I’m really excited about that. The rose petals I could use to make rose water or something, I haven’t really decided on what to do with them yet.

Student accommodation update
This week I visited the city my university is located in to look at a new place to stay. I have previously contacted my university directly about accommodation but they only prioritize first year students and/or people younger than 22, which I am neither of them. I realized I can’t just rely on waiting for them to find a place to stay for me so I inquired online about it and was invited to a viewing of one on Friday the 2nd.
The viewing went well, and I’ll be informed if I get the room or not by Wednesday, so I’m crossing my fingers! While I was down there I visited my friend who I spent the most time with in York, and we had a very typical “white people taco night” with tacos and gaming. It was really nice to see her again, we haven’t been able to hang out after we got home from England since we were both in quarantine and whatnot.

Apart from this, the past weeks have been quite uneventful. It’s all just a waiting game now. Waiting for a new place to live, waiting for uni to start up again, waiting for student funding, waiting for a job. It’s not the most fun thing in the world.

Exploring York: York Castle Museum pt. 2

Part two of the York Castle Museum, you can find part 1 here.

The York Castle Museum recreated a Victorian shopping street that used to exist in York, and the bricks were donated by the person who owned the street they were on. There’s ‘commoners’ walking around, making sure that people behave and don’t break anything, and they help making it feel more like a real street. Most of the shops are just fronts or have an interior but no people, but one of the sweet shops actually had a store attendant and you could buy sweets there.

The first thing you see is an empty cart and a cocoa room that was run by the Temperance movement. They wanted people to go out to spend money on chocolate based products rather than alcohol.

There’s an undertaker’s office, which showed how they worked when preparing people for their funerals, if they were able to have one. I’m really interested in anything creepy so this was my favorite part of the street. There was also a candle workshop nearby showing how they made candles with wax or tallow.

An old apothecary. They had all sorts of advertisements and nifty little glass bottles and I was fully in love with the whole aesthetic of it. It smelled kind of funky in there, I assume they wanted to replicate what it would smell like with so many different kinds of chemicals and scents all mixed together.

There was a boarding school there, which showed the most uncomfortable chairs I’ve ever seen. I don’t understand how they were able to sit on them for so long. Not that the wooden chairs we had in school when I grew up were any better, but still. There was also a shop window that showed typical items being up for sale around that time.

At the end of the street you’d find a horse buggy and a more enclosed space where it was decorated with union jack and these little cabinets of curiosities. It said on them that you could insert 20p to activate them, but I was way too worried about accidentally breaking them to try any.

There was a lot more shops in the street that I didn’t photograph, mostly because there was people in them and I didn’t want to just post their photos without asking. The girl present in my photos is my friend, so that’s another story. The Castle Museum was a really fun experience. There is a third section regarding the Castle Dungeons, I’ll get around to posting about that some other time.

✎.. week twenty four

Not a topic that would be typical for me at all. Recently I watched a video where someone tried out 80’s Jazzercise, and for someone who isn’t exactly into cardio or anything it sounded like a fun challenge. I’ve used this 10 minute ‘red carpet ready’ workout as a warmup and it has been really fun to just get to move to some music. I’ll definitely try some more extensive routines once I get used to cardio workouts again. I get to track the calories I burn in Lifesum still too, which I talked about last week.

I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited on and off since it was released in 2014, but lately I’ve gotten more into it. Might have something to do with Corona and being quarantined. They recently released a new expansion called Greymoor where they take us back to western Skyrim, and I enjoy it a lot. Solitude has always been my favorite city in the game and it’s so much fun to experience a different version of it, and to share the experience with my friend(s). The expansion added scrying and archaeology and it’s so much fun to dig for treasures.

University updates
I still have no idea whether we return to campus for actual lectures next semester or not, and it is starting to really stress me out considering I have to apply for student loans, find a place to live and preferably find a job too. This semester technically isn’t finished yet in Norway since it’s barely the middle of June so it takes a while to sort things out, I suppose.
On a bit brighter note, I have three papers left to receive feedback on. The first, which was a sociology paper on deviant behavior, I got a 2:1 on, which equals to a B. I’m very happy with that and I’m glad I’m able to stay on that scale. Now I just have to wait for feedback on my two English Literature essays and then my year abroad will officially be over. I’ll miss York a lot, and I’ll miss both the lecturers and everyone in my class.

And like last week, because this issue doesn’t resolve itself..

Ways to support the #Blacklivesmatter movement
I’m sure you’ve heard about everything going on in the world. All we can do is support in every way we can. Someone made a handy carrd.co link where you can find different resources for how to help out, petitions, donation links etc. Every little thing counts. Blacklivesmatter.carrd.co

✎.. week twenty three

More new skincare
Following the two new serums I tried last week, this week I received three more from The Ordinary. I had a discount code for these three too and I paid around 170 NOK for all three, which is still very inexpensive for a serum. I bought a Caffeine Solution for the under eye area, a brightening Alpha Lipoic Acid treatment to help brighten the skin and a 100% Borage Seed Oil that feels really nice and hydrating on the skin. I’m very happy with these three and they compliment the two serums I have already really well.

An ingenious product
While browsing Lyko, I discovered this product that they call Hydrapuffs. The fabric is kind of strange, a hybrid between a cotton round and a sheet mask, and it helps disperse oils and serums really well on the skin. You can even soak the fabric to use it as a homemade sheet mask too. I haven’t done that yet, but I use half or a quarter of one puff to help apply my Q10 serum because it is very runny and difficult to apply with my fingers. They’re easy enough to cut into smaller pieces so that you wont have to waste a whole or double one each time.

I’ve heard many people talk about this app, and I honestly thought it just sounded really tiring to track literally everything you consume. Surprisingly, it’s not! I realized I actually eat less calories than I thought I did, and I learned that I should reach the calorie goal by adding more fruit instead of unhealthy options. I feel a lot better about what I eat now, and it’s nice to be able to see a weekly summary of how I’ve eaten and that it shows an average calorie intake. With premium you can get lots of extras like meal plans and such, but I haven’t paid for that, the free version works just fine for me.

Ways to support the #Blacklivesmatter movement
I’m sure you’ve heard about everything going on in the world. All we can do is support in every way we can. Someone made a handy carrd.co link where you can find different resources for how to help out, petitions, donation links etc. Every little thing counts. Blacklivesmatter.carrd.co

✎.. week twenty two

Since this semester of uni has been finished, I thought I might as well partially morph this blog into something more personal so I’ll keep the motivation to write. Weekly summaries are always so fun to both read and write, so that’s what I’m going to settle on. It’s lenient, you decide whatever you want to write about and the length honestly depends on what you’ve been up to that week.

New skincare
Since we’re all mostly in a lockdown still, I decided to finally start investing more in skincare. I have had great success with anything containing hyaluronic acid, so buying a serum that is only that was an easy pick for me. I also have one that is just Q10 to help combat signs of aging. I have a few more serums coming in the mail but they haven’t made it here yet. So far I’m really impressed with these two from Revuele, and they were super cheap, around 55 NOK each.

Scented candles
I’ve always been a big fan of woodsy, earthy and warm scents. Sandalwood, frankincense, amber, oak and mahogany has been my personal favorites for a long time. Recently while browsing through the H&M website I found these two and immediately decided to purchase them. They smell so good, and burning them together makes it even better. Amber and Sandalwood is a great combination. I’ll definitely reuse the glass jars once they are empty. One came with a wooden lid and the other came with a plastic one. They’d either make some good planters or storage jars.

Enjoying both rain and the nice weather
Lately it feels like every other day has had a different kind of weather, which is very typical for summer here. It is either really, really warm, or it is raining like heck. I definitely prefer the latter, it just makes one feel less guilty about staying inside to read or play video games. I do enjoy the occasional sunny day though, especially when it is so nice and green outside.

We used to have a view of the river but sadly that disappears every summer. I’m looking forward to seeing that during the autumn again though.

This week has been rather uneventful. I’m just applying for summer jobs, looking for a new place to stay and waiting for any updates from my university about what will happen with our classes in the next semester. Hopefully we’ll get to know more soon.

Book Review: Dawn

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler – ★★★★★

This book was included in the reading list for my Science-Fiction for Survival module. In Dawn we follow the story of Lilith who finds herself aboard an alien vessel. This is the first part of a series called “Lilith’s brood”, one of Butler’s best series in my opinion. Hundreds of years has passed since atomic war basically destroyed earth and several people were saved by aliens called the Oankali. People are kept in stasis until the Oankali decides it is time for them to wake up, usually choosing whoever is most suited for leading the group first, in this case it is Lilith.

The Oankali offers to save them, if not they will all die, so technically they are not giving them much of a choice in the matter. This is problematic for several of the humans that are woken up by Lilith, and the story has a lot of conflict and deceit in it. The story also centers around Lilith and her growing relationship with one of the Oankalis who are supposedly just observing and learning from her, but in the process they bond and it chooses Lilith and her human partner as its’ mates.

Both the first book and the rest of the series is really interesting and shows us a different side of the typical alien invasion. Instead of a war we are served a story about aliens wanting to help rebuild earth, for a price. The price being the process of creating human/alien hybrids to repopulate earth with what could likely be called übermenschen. I think it is a really interesting story and I would highly recommend this to anyone who are interested in aliens and science fiction. Lilith is also a woman of color, which was an unusual narrative at the time of publication. In conclusion, it is a great book and it is well worth the read.

Exploring York: York Castle Museum pt. 1

The York Castle museum has several departments centered around different things. This part will be about the department regarding life in Yorkshire in ye olde days. The museum displays anything from Victorian sitting rooms to toys from the 90’s, so there is something to look at for everyone. I’ll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves because there was a lot to take in as we wandered the hallways there. Our trip to the museum was in very early March 2020, so it was pre-lockdown.

A common Victorian sitting room in Yorkshire

A cottage style home from Yorkshire

A typical English living room, a vintage carousel and a slightly racist automaton

Stereotypical English kitchens and tools that count be found in Yorkshire in the past

They also had a section dedicated to fashion throughout the decades, these were the most interesting pieces of them all. Wearing that kind of armor must have been tiring.

That concludes the first of roughly three posts about the York Castle Museum. The next part will show off their reconstruction of a Victorian shopping street that did actually exist in the City of York in the past. It was quite an experience to get to walk through it and experience a very tiny slice of life from the past.

Happy 17. Mai in lockdown!

May 17th is Norway’s Constitutional Day and it is considered a national holiday here. Usually there are parades and celebrations throughout the whole day, but sadly, this year none of that can happen. Despite of this, I do hope my fellow Norwegians and I get to experience at least a little bit of the magic. I will miss the parades, the marching bands playing, the market stalls with overpriced candies, the unlimited ice creams you were allowed to have that day, and oddly enough, the people. I guess lockdown really does something to you, huh?

Happy 17. Mai, fellow Norwegians, hopefully next year will be better.

Academics: Assessment and Grading

The grading system in the UK was very confusing to us when we first moved abroad. In Norway you’re either used to numbers 1-6 with 6 being the highest, or letters A-F with A being the highest. In the UK, however, in university you are graded from first class to third class, with anything lower than that being a fail. I made a little table below just to give you a rough idea of how the percentage grading translates to letter grades.

Our home institution has to convert all of the grades we receive abroad to our own grading system, and I’m really hoping that it will be done fair and square. I received quite a few 2:1 grades, which hopefully will be converted into B’s after this semester is finished. Our lecturers told us that 2:1 and 2:2 grades were the most common and that we should be happy about receiving those.

As for assessments, the most typical assessment for the modules I studied was written essays, with the exception of one sociology modules that focused on reports and case studies. For the literary studies modules we had to write two essays per semester, one being shorter (~1500 words) and being worth 40% of the grade, and one being longer (~2500 words) and being worth 60% of the grade. In Norway we usually have shorter assessments that are due every other week, but these assessments were due with about a month or month and a half between them. I personally found this to be more stressful than the assessment system at my home institution. The way you would write essays is a bit different too since you would have to use a lot of references/sources. It feels a bit more like “show that you can paraphrase and reference other people’s words well” instead of sitting down and writing an essay in your own words.

One positive thing about assessments at York St. John University though was their feedback. They always started out pointing out what you did well, then a few bits you could improve on while still reassuring you that what you wrote was solid to begin with. I used to dread receiving feedback on assessments at home, but the system they used abroad really helped building my confidence when it comes to academic writing. Now I’m just anxious about having to go back to very minimal feedback.

Book Review: The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – ★★★★

This book was on the reading list for my Sci-Fi for Survival module. In this post-apocalyptic novel we follow the story of Bill Masen and his survival in a world where almost everyone has gone blind, and giant walking plants tries to kill them. Due to a comet shower, anyone who watched it lost their vision, but since Bill was in surgery he had his eyes covered and luckily avoided having that happen to him. From the moment he wakes up and realizes, we follow his journey as he tries to survive in this new world. He had been researching the triffids that are terrorizing people and that gives him just a bit better chance of survival.

The novel is very engaging and I had a great time reading through it for my university module. There are a few haunting moments in the novel that I wont ever forget, and that shows just how well Wyndham has written it. I wrote an assignment about this one, because Wyndham is often on the reading list of high schools and the like. He is claimed to be a ‘safe’ writer, but a lot of the imagery he uses would not exactly be appropriate for a younger audience. There’s descriptions of suicide and a bit of self harm in a way in the novel, so if you are sensitive to those kinds of things, maybe avoid reading this one.

The story has a typical love interest arc, but luckily it just brings something to the table instead of being a useless plot line. Either way, I think that The Day of the Triffids is a great novel with an interesting story, and I would definitely recommend it if you are interested in, or already fond of the Sci-Fi genre.