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Aug. 27th, 2008

lost doc

They say the journey is more important than the destination......

but at 30+ hours of travel to reach Finland; I'm not quite sure I agree with them this time. Yes. I've finally made it to Finlandia! I arrived at 5:30pm the 26th and have been here a little over 24 hours. Before I get to that, however, I must detail the journey. If I had to suffer a 30+ hour trip the least you all can do is read about it :P.

So it all started at around 11am August the 25th when I got ready to leave to pick up my bags and head to the Kigali airport. My flight wasn't till 2 but I figured early is better. I was right. It of course took at least 30 minutes to get us on the road to the house to pick up the luggage (I went with my roommate and a co-worker who were going to pickup the co-worker's replacement that was arriving that day at 11:45am). We get there a little before 12pm and I go through security to check in (you check you bags after going through a set of metal detectors and an X-ray machine. I check in without a hitch and make the decision to check my second carry-on as it weighs a ton and I'm allowed to check two bags on this flight. This proves to be a good move since I don't have to drag it around for hours in the Nairobi airport.

After an uneventful (no books so I just watched a bit of the premier league game) wait in the Kigali waiting area (nothing like gates here since you just walk to you airplane) it was time to board. It was open seating and the flight to Nairobi was pretty fast and before you know it we are touching down.

Now comes the rather horrendous 7.5 hour wait. I was told there was a coffee shop at the end of the terminal. I headed it what I though was the direction and see the Simba kenya airways transit lounge. It looks marvelous and I'm a little skeptical. Turns out I was right to be, it's of course the first class/business class lounge. They direct us the the other transit lounge (for those mere mortals that can't afford the expensive business class seats). It's a rather smelly cafeteria feeling nightmere. After a coke, some sudoku and an hour I'm off to explore the rest of the airport. Thus commences the rather long ritual of ducking into expensive duty free shops that have books I haven't heard of for like 25$ a paperback. There are two little "cafes" if you can call them and so I buy a soda and some samosas and pop a squat on the recessed floor in the hallways. You see you can't enter the gate seating areas until your flight is about to go and there isn't a lot of seating outside it )plus the seats are about as comfy as the floor, which you can at least stretch out on). I play a lot of sudoku, power up my laptop for a few games of spider solitaire (which I've gotten very good at), but have to shut down since I don't have a british style plug adapter which they use in Kenya.

After a very long weight, 3 samosas, 2 sodas, a choclate bar, a bag of chips and a pair of Kenyan sandal/flip flops I was able to enter into the gate for our flight. I got there early which is really good because the room became packed with people just sprawled everywhere and exaughsted as the it was around 11:30pm and I'm sure many were like me and had been there for a bajillion hours. We finally borded the plain and got seats. I was lucky to get an aisle seat since there was no changing to be done. I was unlucky enough to get a seat that constantly moved back and forward as I leaned or sat up (even without pressing the button) and also, our rows entertainment systems didn't work, which meant no movies :(. Luckily it was a night flight and I was wiped so it was probably for the best as I just did my best to doze through everything...though they did take their sweet time shutting off the lights. I debated getting a bunch of alcohol which they give for free! and are very generous with, but decided against it as I was rather intensely dehydratred and it was only going to get worse...not to mention I wasn't sure if I started drinking I'd be able to stop, which would be bad since I still had a long way to go.

Hours of uncomfortable shifting and struggling to get comfy we finally land in London. I then head to customs, get stamped and head to pick up my bags to change terminals and recheck them. This goes rather smoothly, though I had to track down someone to tell me where I needed to be. I get to terminal 1 and they check me in and give me my ticket but tell me they can't take the bad until 2.5 hours until the flight since there is no one there to load it. They tell me to come back and just drop the bag off later...no need to wait in line since it's ticketed and everything. Thankfully I have a trolley so I just wheel around for a bit. I'm in a bit of culture shock as I enthuse about the stupendiously clean and completely automated bathroom. A newspaper, mocha coffee, choclate muffin, chocolate bar and bottle of water later I drop my bag off and go through security. OMG SHINY! Everything is so clean and purdy and OMG CHAIRS! tons of them...and with actual padding! Crazy!

I go over to a book store and just stare....so.much.choice. *cue mental stupor* I'm not sure what to do with all this choice. I pet the books like lost fond pets. I decide against buying a book because while more reasonably priced they aren't cheap and I'm too dead to read and god how am I supposed to choose? what is this choice you speak of? So I go and sit in the lounge middle and stare off into space as I wait for my gate announcement (which they don't announce until 45 min before the flight?!?) They finally announce and I go to the gate (gate 5) which is like in BFE next to gates 74-76? After like 12 turns two flights of stairs (one up and one down) I finally get there and people are already lined up to board!?! The plane is BA and the seats are pretty nice; though at this point my ass is about to rebel and is telling my body to go F itself because it's sick of being sat on (I really need more padding; my ass is waaaay too boney). We get a sandwhich lunch and I doze until we land (FINALLY)

I get off, collect my bag and meet the tutor who picks me up and takes me to my apartment which is amazing! The rest of the day is another story so stay tuned for "First Night in Finlandia: A Tale of Meatballs and Hair Driers".

Aug. 13th, 2008

lost doc

(no subject)

So this will probably be a rather pathetic entry as I'm rather exaughtsted and hungry I think...not eating enough protein I suppose.

I did finally hear back from the school so things are better. I'm just waiting for login info so I can register for classes.

I have 12 days left! well, more like 11 since today is close to being over. Perhaps I'll more to say in these entrys by then since not much changes here.

In many ways this has been both a really long and really short expereince. It's wierd really.

I can't believe it's almost already time for me to go to Finland. I remember that seeming so far away when I first started thinking about exchanges and then Finland back in SC, before I went to France even. I moved down to SC 425 days ago ...I'm been outside the US for the past 239 days. Totally weird!

That said, I'm sad I won't see the olympics really. We don't have cable at the house and the end the day before I leave. I suppose I look up clips of the highlights on the internet. The swimming win for the 4x100 relay was craaazy.

Jul. 31st, 2008

lost doc

I'm commiting! I swear I am!

So this is a post on my determination to keep loosing weight and eat healthier overall. Since I've been in Rwanda I've lost quite a bit of weight. In fact, my roommate who just came back from a month abroad mentioned it and was like...those pants are like 2 sizes too big now (cue internal squee of joy). This makes me extremely happy obviously. I was getting a bit overweight before. The reason I've been loosing weight is 2 fold. One is that I have been going to the gym pretty regularly, though last week was a wash between not feeling well and traveling. The 2nd and probably bigger reason is that there just isn't anything to get super excited about eating over here. The food isn't bad but it's not like in western countries where the is a combination of easy access and cheap junk food. I actually love this fact since I don't eat tons of crap that's bad my health. At the same time the diet here can be...unfufilling. I'm not really eating that healthy really...though more vegetables so that's good...but I eat a lot of white rice which isn't particularly good for you...and if I'm honest, I really only want to sacrafice the calories if it's in relation to asian food which I'm addicted to.

So what it comes down to is me being afraid it will all reverse when I leave Rwanda which is definitely something I don't want. This means I'm going to a) have to keep up the exercise b) be very careful about eating habits. I had taken to eating this really good brown jasmine rice from trader joe's in the US that doesn't taste that different from normal rice. Did you know that potatoes are actually better for you than white rice? (provided the potatoes are real I think and not instant). So I'm gonna try and be better and eat things that boost my metabolism and so on. If any of you have ideas or reciepes I'd love to hear them! Right now looking at starch free side dishes since that seems to be the hardest thing to get rid of and still feel like you've eaten.

Well, wish me luck I guess!
Tags: ,

Jul. 21st, 2008

Oh Shiz


Well I must unfortunately report my stomach ache came back with a vengeance yesterday, though I'm much better today. I am also slightly less thrilled with Opera as it constantly shuts down when I load streaming video to watch and of course you can't set the cache higher than 400mb which is annoying. I guess that just means I'll have to stick to Firefox for videos...all well, it could be worse I suppose. That is all, please return to your regularly scheduled programming..

Jul. 17th, 2008

Oh Shiz


So I just had to geek out here about Opera.

No not the musical form.

I've been having some wierd connection issues. Just more evidence that I need to flip to mac soon. Because of this I decided to download Opera since firefox has been unreliable (randomly closes) and IE doesn't work on my computer (not that I'd use it even if it did).

I had used Opera some back in the day when it and Firefox were new. They weren't that different back then. This is no longer true. Opera is freaking awesome! I am so completely converted!

Byebye evil failing firefox! It's Opera now baby. I suggest you try it out, it's really cool. I'm particually happy because it has a built in mail property that WORKS with my school email which means NO MORE EVIL SCHOOL INTERFACE! my schools web interface is horrendous! I defintely recommend everyone try it...they also have a version for mac so don't let that stop you!

Jun. 25th, 2008

lost doc

(no subject)

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline the books you LOVE.
3) Reprint this list in your own LJ  and add a few more books

Apr. 23rd, 2008

lost doc


So I'm leaving France tomorrow to head to Scotland for a few days and then off to Rwanda. I packed (I brought way too much crap) and can't wait to just be in the airport already. I'm afraid I'm going to have to pay more for my suitcases because I think they might only let you have 20 kg total and not per bag like most international flights, but I suppose there isn't much I can do at this point.

GSK is evil. The French doctor here gave me a prescription for Malarone (anti-malarial medication) and even the French health care won't cover it so you know it's expensive (45 euro for like 12 pills so for 4 months 450 euros or 675 dollars). Suffice to say I didn't buy it and I talked to my boss and the previous intern (who had the same issue and didn't get it either) and they basically told me not to worry about it too much and that there is cheaper stuff in Rwanda. Just seems like complete highway robbery to me!

In good news (the only bit I got yesterday) I was chosen as one of the 8 journalists for my school website blog which is not only cool, it means I don't have to do the writing assignments for my internship (the blog replaces it).

Ok time to watch some tv and distract myself from my nervous energy!

Apr. 15th, 2008

lost doc

Whoo boy

So I know it's been way too long since I did a real life update...but well life doesn't really wait for you to update your blog unfortunately. I suppose I've been too intimidated by the amount of time and stuff that's happened since then. I am currently still in Clermont-Ferrand for the next 9 or so days. I've been in France for the past 5 months and it's rather unbelievable that everything has gone so fast. It's weird how slow and fast life goes in the same breath. I'm extremely happy with my French (which has gotten so much better-not that it could have gotten worse). On the 24th I'll be heading to Scotland for a bit to see Edinburgh and hang out with the moms and then it's off to Rwanda for the next part of my adventure. I'll be there till around the end of August then it's off to Finland. I still have about 8 months until I get back to the good ole US of A but I'm going to do my best to take advantage of everything I can and I'll know it'll be nothing but love when I get back (which it certainly wasn't when I left ;P). Then it will be time to freak out about the job search but that's waaaaaay far off.

France has been awesome. Clermont isn't bad and has it's qualities that are better over Paris (like the prices) but yeah I do regret not living in Paris some. We got an awesome French education though so I can't complain too much and I can always go to Paris later. It's probably the most likely place for me to go visit. France is always a love/hate thing much like anywhere you live. I hate the service here (if you can call it that, it's more like lack of) but I love the food and culture. Every time I speak or understand French I feel such accomplishment because it's a damn hard language. I was very proud of myself for calling up the hospital and arranging my appointment for vaccinations I need to go to Rwanda.

We took the TCF on the third of april and I got a B2 which is awesome! The description is below. I was the only beginner to get that high and no one in either section got above that level so I'd say that's quite an accomplishment.

B2-Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

I hope to someday be even more fluent and at least I'll get to use French in Rwanda.

I'll try to be better about blogging but who knows if I'll succeed. I'll at least try and get some photos on here if possible. I seem to have lost my camera cord....

J'espere que tout va bien avec vous! tout le monde me manque!

Mar. 20th, 2008

lost doc

(no subject)

by Neil Gaiman

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never

saw before.

Say "please" before you open the latch,

go through,

walk down the path.

A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted

front door,

as a knocker,

do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.

Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat


However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,

feed it.

If it tells you that it is dirty,

clean it.

If it cries to you that it hurts,

if you can,

ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the

wild wood.

The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's


there is another land at the bottom of it.

If you turn around here,

you can walk back, safely;

you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the


The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-


Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She

may ask for something;

give it to her. She

will point the way to the castle.

Inside it are three princesses.

Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.

In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve

months sit about a fire,

warming their feet, exchanging tales.

They may do favors for you, if you are polite.

You may pick strawberries in December's frost.

Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where

you are going.

The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-

man will take you.

(The answer to his question is this:

If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to

leave the boat.

Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.

Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that

witches are often betrayed by their appetites;

dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;

hearts can be well-hidden,

and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.

Know that diamonds and roses

are as uncomfortable when they tumble from

one's lips as toads and frogs:

colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

Remember your name.

Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.

Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped

to help you in their turn.

Trust dreams.

Trust your heart, and trust your story.

When you come back, return the way you came.

Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.

Do not forget your manners.

Do not look back.

Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).

Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).

Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is

why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the place your

journey started,

you will recognize it, although it will seem

much smaller than you remember.

Walk up the path, and through the garden gate

you never saw before but once.

And then go home. Or make a home.

And rest.


Jan. 7th, 2008

lost doc

Bonjour from Clermont Ferrand

So I am finally in France and where I'll be studying French. Unfortunately where I am right now doesn't have internet and so I'm at the school using q lab computer because I'm too lazy to plug my laptop in and charge it. This will be a short entry as the French keyboard is evil and I am being punished for actually knowing how to type(since the keys aren't the same as the US keys).

I think I'll just write this offline later and post it cuz this is so annoying!

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