Friday, August 20, 2004

Ok, I have taken enought time to think about this

My Trip to Aberdeen

After spending the night packing in a hurry, I walked down to Waverly Station to board the train. It took me a while to find it since they did not put it up on the departure board until ten minutes before it left the station. The train was a large GNER train for the two hour trip to Aberdeen.

The ride up was uneventful. I crossed the Firth on a huge bridge which is just east of the car bridge across the Firth. We then went along the Firth across from Edinburgh until we turned North with the coast. We passed many small towns until we reached Dundee to pick up passengers. We stopped a few more times until we reached Aberdeen.

The trip was beautiful since the sun had decided to come out showing east coast Scotland in all its glory. The view alternated between the sea and the plain with sheep and goats and wheat fields. It was a quiet ride.

I arrived in Aberdeen around 11:30 am and found to my dismay that there were no garbage cans anywhere to be found in the station. I had to wait until I found a bag hung on a hook outside. In any case, I walked up to the cab drivers to get them to take me to Aberdeen University campus in the old town. Now, as many of you know, cab drivers in the Isles and I have this on going problem. They more often than not tell me to walk to wherever I want to go. Often, I have no clue and ask them to take me and they refuse. This time was different! He just nodded and got into the car. It was like I was in some different universe. A cab driver, in the Isles even, did not tell me to walk to where I wanted to go.

A note about Aberdeen and Edinburgh before I go on. Edinburgh is basically constructed out of sandstone from a nearby quarry. While the stone is cheap, acid rain, created by industrial factories and cars, basically makes it melt from the inside out. So there has been a bunch of £40,000+ repairs to buildings because of the melting sandstone. On the other hand, Aberdeen is known as the "Granite City" because nearly everything is made out of the stuff. In the sunlight, the city glitters from the mica within the stone.

I arrived at the hall of residence and checked in. That is when I found out that it was going to be £70 rather than the £35 that I thought it was. Well, they were willing to let me stay until I paid. So I dropped everything off in my room which had a TV and watched some of the Olympics. I then took a nap since I had a long night.

I decided that I needed to get some food so I asked the porter to find out that I had to walk almost fifteen minutes over the hill into downtown to get food. So I walked up and took pictures along the way (I should have these pictures soon). I ended up in a mall food court. They had this really funny place that served all "American" food. I did not look too closely but there was this very lethargic looking Scottish girl behind the counter. I decided that I needed to go somewhere else. I walked down George Street looking for a place. I finally found a pub with a kitchen attached.

Once I was finished, I walked back to the campus. I watched some more Olympics before I decided that I should register. I thought that I would just grab things and go since it was the hottest day of the year in Aberdeen and I was sweaty but when I arrived at that registration place, I was way laid by the staff because I am a new face to the discipline and they wanted to get to know who I was. My professor showed up and I also saw the cambridge professor who has now attended three conferences that I have been at. We now joke that he is following me around. So here I was hot and sweaty talking to people that I did not want to be hot and sweaty around. They also plied me with wine. I finally got away. I watched some more Olympics before hitting the shower and then to bed.

I had forgotten my alarm clock in my rush to get packed so I had to wake myself up every few hours to make sure that I did not over sleep and miss the first part of the conference. I got dressed and went down to have breakfast. The conference started 10 am. I did not know where it was so I started in the general direction of the main part of the campus until I saw someone I knew was part of the organizing of the event. I joined them and they showed me where it was suppost to be. Now as with all other conferences, it was like drinking from a fire hose. Each speaker had thirty minutes to give their information. This was invariably broken as academics seem to have diahrria of the mouth. After a hour and a half of this, we broke for tea break. Lunch was provided by the conference hosts. After a day of this we broke for wine and cheese and to discuss what we were going to do for dinner. We decided to go out for Italian. So we piled into taxis and went into downtown. I ended up sitting to a girl who was a native Welsh speaker and who did not speak English all that often. Her accent and cadence was completely off and when she was talking she would often insert Welsh words into the sentence. It was quite fun figuring out exactly what she was talking about most of the time. After more and more wine and food, we walked across the street to the pub where my professor and I had a discussion about computers and The Book of the Dean of Lismore, of course, with more drinks.

We finally decided to call it a night and took a taxi back to the accomodation. I was not ready to go to sleep yet so I flicked on BBC 2 on the TV. It was a very very very strange Icelandic film about a guy who gets his mother's lesbian lover pregnant (yes, I am honestly describing this film. I do not think I could make something like this up). I caught it at the end of the film so then there was this show with a host and three guests who were commenting on late night BBC programming. So they flipped through the channels and made rude comments about other BBC channels. I finally went to sleep.

Again, I had to get up on my own since I had no alarm clock. This time it started at 9 am. I went to breakfast and had breakfast with my supervisor who was also at the conference. He then reminded me that I had two weeks to finish up my dissertation. Thanks dude. Like I am not already under enough pressure. He apologized but I think he was trying to make a point. So we went off to the conference. We ended up having a two hour session, which was just exhausting. Anyway, the last speaker went over so I had to dart out or I would have missed my train. The ride back was good. I read the newspaper and I took pictures from the train but I could not figure out how to turn the flash off on the camera so it might be a bit strange.

So I arrived home to work on my dissertation safe and sound.

posted by Chris  #10:38 AM | 0 comments |