Thursday, September 27, 2007

Walking Around Windsor

Just thought to share with you my Windsor walk three weeks ago (was that only three weeks ago?!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

To Keep Me From Getting Homesick...

Aleks told me about this wonderfully indigenized version of "Troy" but never got around to watch it, until I got hit by the homesick bug in the middle of my reading assignments. So this got me snickering in my room, discreetly, though, as the Brits would. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Promises to Keep

There’s a nice apple tree outside my window. Everytime I look out to it, the word “temptation” comes to mind--and how I need to resist it.

The temptation to...

Go out and enjoy the remaining days of summer sunshine – or be holed up in my room starting my reading assignments.

Go out and have a cup of coffee at the dorm lounge with new friends – or go and check out reference books in the library.

Go out and watch a movie at the TV room – or do some research on the net for assignments.

Go out and learn how to play “cricket” with my dormates – or settle down and write a paper on this controversial topic called “postcolonialism.”

…and I am gently reminded by Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Extravagance of God

*written on Sept 10.

“God cannot do things that are not extravagant.”

The preacher said on my first Sunday service here in England. How apt. How true. I’ve been here for 5 days and still I find myself incredulous that I’ve managed to get here. Many months back when I started the whole process, I was less than positive that I would make it—there were too many hurdles and hoops. But the whole process went amazingly smooth that I could not help but think that this must really be something that God wants me to get into.

Of course, I have yet to get myself to campus and face whatever academic hurdles there is--but the past 6 days have shown me so many glimpses of God’s extravagant grace.

He’s provided me with generous colleagues who have opened their home to me for a week’s stay. This didn’t just mean a roof over my head but food and hospitality!

He’s provided me with the best sleep I have ever had in ages—I’ve had a full 8 hours of sleep and at British time as well…funnily enough, no jet lag. I just slept when the sun went down and got up when it rose. Well, it didn’t hurt that I had an unbelievably cuddly duvet!

He’s provided me with fabulous food—and yes, I can honestly say that the English meals I’ve had have been good and they were as English as it could get: Toad in the Hole (not what you think it is), Scotch Eggs, Tea and Cream, Scones. Unfortunately no Fish & Chips as of yet (I wonder what they’ll think if I dip them with catsup instead of vinegar…)

He’s provided me with great sunny and comfortably cool weather, so I could take walks and enjoy the neigborhood I’m in (it’s obviously a fancy—or as the Brits would say—posh neighborhood, what with houses having names instead of ordinary numbers with the street name attached to it—like No. 10 Downing Street…)

He’s gotten my generous hosts to bring me to some sightseeing at Windsor…and with the Union Jack flying high on one of the Castle’s tower, the queen was even in residence! I never got to visit the Queen or chase the little mice under her chair (ugh) but just going around the outside grounds, watching a Society wedding from the outside of the Guild House where Prince Charles and Camilla exchanged vows, and having tea and cream in the Windsor church that the Queen frequents, taking a walk along the River Thames…how could I complain?

He’s given me the best Sunday I’ve had. After a stirring sermon, I was able to enjoy a scrumptious potato and beef stew lunch with my hosts’ family friends in their farm, then go off for apple picking and “brambling” that is picking blackberries in their orchard. Perfection was ending this whole fun day with tea and scones.

All I expected was a place to adjust my body clock and maybe some introduction to British culture but God have me The Works---and how extravagantly! I wonder sometimes why He bothers, but He does and I am thankful.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My Humble Conclusion

I have concluded, from my very limited (read: next to nil) experience, that the best time to arrive in London is at noon—when the immigration officers have just had their lunchbreak (and therefore too sleepy to bother with incoming travelers like moi) or going into lunchbreak (therefore too hungry to bother with incoming travelers like moi)!

I just figured that must be one of the reasons why I breezed through the whole process of coming into merry old England. The biggest problem I had was not being able to produce my letter of invitation from the college. “You should have brought it with you,” said Mr. Immigration Officer, looking at me sternly. “I’m sorry, but I gave it to your Embassy already when I had to submit all my requirements to get my student visa.” I said, widening my chinky eyes ever so innocently (a feat). Which to me means, “Hello, don’t you have records?! It’s YOUR government who gave me a student visa…”

Anyway, I somehow had the last say. He then kindly directed me to the Health officer. I got there and the lady in the counter asked me for results from a recent chest x-ray. “Huh?!” Nobody ever told me that! No, don’t worry, I wasn’t too cheeky this time. I just said, “I didn’t bring them with me, but I’ve had a chest x-ray and I did have my medicals done when I applied to the college.” She goes back into the office, called somebody and spent a few minutes chitchatting, I guess, about me. She comes out and says, “Well, the radiologist says you don’t need to have another x-ray since you got it done back in your country…so, could you have somebody send it over?” I said yes and that was it, I was sent off my merry way with the needed stamp on the back of my travel card. I went back to another immigration counter, handed the card to a nice lady staff. “Oh, lovely!” she says with a smile as she handed me my passport. I never had a more pleasant experience going through any immigration (even our own). I guess these guys just had lunch.

After collecting my luggage (and yes, Barbie Bag came along for the trip) I went to the sign that says 'NOTHIN TO DECLARE' and wondered if I would get into trouble with my instant Lucky Mee Pancit Canton…only to stroll through because there was no one around to man the counters. I guess they were on lunchbreak! Everything took less than an hour.

So I offer you my humble conclusion: that the best time to arrive is noon (and maybe this works in any airport in any country!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Half and Half

**posted at the old NAIA, which, to my delight, has a weak wifi signal.:-)

That is what I would have to reply when people ask me whether I am excited to leave for the UK. Half of me just went through a 2006 issue of Trafalgar Travel Book and got really excited about the places I will be able to visit while there, and the other half wishes I could stay on in Manila to do some more work.

The thing is, a lot of good things have been happening in work and it seems a pity to leave them. I am actually leaving them to able hands but still…

It’s the control freak in me who wants to always be around to set things up and work things out—but God reminded me, “You know what, the world actually continues to spin on its axis quite without incident while you sleep!”

Oh yeah, Lord, thanks for reminding me You’re in charge of my work since it is after all Your work.

So I take a step of faith—both ways—away from the work that I love, and into a new and unknown future.

Now I am 100% excited.

Cheerio, and may you also experience how it is to leave things to the Boss!

Monday, September 03, 2007


When I get very frustrated, I lapse into Cebuano…and this is the only word that can do justice to how I feel since yesterday afternoon!

I had mini-despedida merienda with a good friend and she, out of the blue, suddenly asked the “so-called” seasoned traveler, moi, “So you leave September 5 midnight? You do know that you have to be at the airport September 4 early evening, right?” Well, you would, of course, expect me to say, “Duh!! Of course, I know that!” I would expect me to say that---instead of the stunned silence and the hanging jaw.

No, Sireee, it didn’t occur to me! And for this silly oversight, I would have missed--err--nice airplane food! (?)

I could really knock myself on the head on this—especially as this is not exactly the first time I had my dates worked out wrongly. (Confession: I came late for my Davao-Manila flight last year—one day late, because I got my dates mixed up.) I also get my times wrong (I am not good with military time—why do they have to say 1300hrs when they mean 1pm?! Okey, please don’t bother to comment on this, I know why but I just don’t want it that way for myself.)

My friends, who know I have been getting schedules and dates mixed up (like expecting to go out with some friends on June 3 and then finding out later that I actually told them June 30.) , aside from being accused of dyslexia (can’t read time and tell my left from my right), are also now accusing me of on-set Alzheimers!

Anyway, all’s well that ends well—but wait, I haven’t exactly boarded the plane yet, so who’s to know if I get something else mixed up again??