The Student Life, it starts again..

It was back to university life with a bump this week, and I’m glad to say that International Health is exactly what I hoped it would be. A relaxed, easy timetable to ease us back into the horrific idea of “studying” with topics that are genuinely interesting. However, it has made me realise just how clueless I am about foreign affairs. Making a mental note to watch the news every night, and start reading a respected newspaper. The course is four weeks long, and we get the last two weeks off to work on our report. The topic of the report is up to us, and I’m so far toying with several ideas; the social stigma still attached to leprosy and the role that it places in eradication of the disease; and NGOs – exploring where the money you give to charity really goes.

I also started my summer Spanish classes this week. (I actually missed the first one, having got too caught up in watching The Avengers in the cinema… oops.) Our teacher, Carmen, is an extremely enthusiastic woman who can’t stop promoting her book. (In fairness she’s given us a print out of a whole chapter and it is pretty good.) The fact that the intermediate and advanced classes have been rammed into one works out pretty nicely for me; I can keep up, but it’s still challenging enough. Plus there’s only about eight of us, so we all get a large dose of Carmen’s unfathomable energy.

Despite being punctured with a few lectures and discussions about international public health, climate change and the mentioned spanish class, I’ve had a very lazy week mostly confined to my bedroom. The Dundee weather hasn’t quite got the idea that it’s nearly summer and needs to stop raining. Me and Petro did break out of the flat for a few hours to stroll along the waterfront, followed by tea and cake in Henry’s Coffee House, where we’d stumbled into a great open mic session and spent a long time lazing on the sofas.

Just a couple of snapshots from our walk – Dundee’s famous ship, the “Discovery”. And of course, it wouldn’t be Dundee without a couple of beer bottles abandoned on the side of the path.

Friday night the girls in the flat got ready to go out to Bethan’s birthday party (with the absence of  Kelly and Rachael and the addition of Jayne). It was a fun night in Duke’s corner, however my current situation as an exceptionally broke student meant that I spent the whole night drinking tap water. What I wouldn’t give for a nice cosmopolitan…

A couple of pictures of us ready to go out, for proof that I don’t always look like a tink slobbing around in jogging bottoms and an old hoody.

When we stumbled back into the flat, freezing cold, I discovered my favourite alpaca socks! They were stuffed into the back of my forever overflowing sock drawer, and I think this was the first time I’d re-stumbled across them; they were as soft and fluffy as the day I bought them on the Salt Flats in Bolivia.

On a bit more of a downer, I guess if I’m going to use my blog as I “journal” I should probably write about some stuff that I’d really rather ignore. Like yesterday, which put me through one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I keep thinking about that line from Friends, when Ross says: “it’s always great when someone tells you they love you.” Well, sometimes that’s just not true. Sometimes it’s the very last thing you want to hear; I certainly didn’t. Now even though I know that everything I did felt right at the time and I never meant to hurt anyone… I’ve never felt so acutely selfish, and regretted my own choices so much. Bleeeeeeeeeh.

Tonight I’ve been distracting myself by going round to Holly’s to watch vampires and werewolves (yes…. Twilight New Moon was on the cards) and BAKING. We cooked up a double portion of these bad boys – Oreo and Peanut Butter Brownie Cakes from Picky Palate– one set to take into classes tomorrow and another set for us to eat… tonight… in one go. Yum. There were too many for us to polish off, but we gave it a good attempt, and I’ve got a bagful of cakes with me just waiting to be devoured (they probably won’t have to wait long). I’ll definitely be trying out some more recipes from this blog soon, considering how well these turned out!

While I have had a lazy week, one thing I have been doing is lots of reading. Long lie-ins and bad weather mean lots of hours cuddled up in bed with a cup of tea and a good book.

Here’s what I’ve read this week:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot -a non-fiction book about the woman behind the HeLa cell line, the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture. The research that has gone into the book is huge, and the story is told beautifully; saying that,  it is probably not a book I would read again. As a general rule, I find non-fiction books (particularly that revolve around science…) a little tricky to get my head around. Maybe it’s because as a medical student my brain is conditioned to think that reading about such issues counts as “studying”, and is therefore not something to be enjoyed! It is, however, a great read and (I imagaine) appropriate whether you know a lot or nothing about HeLa and cell culture, and Rebecca Skloot definitely manages to make the subject interesting by bringing the human element to the forefront of medical research.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson – the second book in the “Millennium” series, although it’s taken me almost a year since finishing the last one to get round to reading it. Saw it on the shelf of a charity shop and snapped it up! I read this book in a couple of days, which shows how addictive it was to read. Looking back I think I slightly preferred the first book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” but it was pretty close. This book was fast paced, with plenty of action and surprises, alongside quirky and original characters that really draw you in. There were occasions when I got a little mixed up and had to backtrack a few pages, but that is probably more to do with my haphazard reading style than anything else. When I’m next out scouring charity shops, I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”.

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith – My mum gave me the first book in the series several months ago, but I hadn’t yet got around to reading it, having skimmed across the back and deciding that “it wasn’t my thing”. However it was a thin book that looked fairly easy to read, so I picked it up a couple of evenings ago. By lunchtime the next day, it was finished. The character of Mma Ramotswe is warm and engaging and I loved the insight into Africa and Botswana, that really captures the magic of Africa – it made me want to jump on a plane and fly there immediately. I’ve already been on the phone to my mum and asked her to send me a few more in the series.

I am currently half way through another of my mum’s recommended books, The Siege by Helen Dunmore. Having only started it this morning I am making quick progress! So far, so good…

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