Culture, Damnit!

A life in London update as well as Christmas hols travel plans.

While I have, indeed, been traveling quite a bit, I’ve been doing a fair bit of wandering around central London as well.  Here’s the part where I squee gleefully about the things I’ve seen, people I’ve met, and experiences I’ve experienced (mainly for my sake, not so much for yours.  Feel free to skip around to the sections you’d like!)

That Residence Hall Life

Garden Halls is a joke.  There’s really no other way to say it.  The staff mean well, but, for the life of them, can’t get it figured out.

Construction within the complex itself has been completed, but the city continues construction on the sidewalks surrounding our building.  Resultingly, we went four days without hot water.  There are residents here who have been without heat in their rooms for a month.  (One complained of having to use a hairdryer to keep warm.  Ouch.)  At some point later on this month, we will be without electricity for 12 hours…but at least they warned us in advance?

Packages have a habit of going missing, but we don’t precisely know who’s at fault…because our postcode (zip code) still isn’t registered with the mail system.  Cherene is missing $500 worth of Amazon deliveries.  Luckily they’ve agreed to a refund.  Those who have the meal plan complain regularly of finding foreign objects in their food.  Thankfully, that issue is irrelevant to my situation.  (Phew!  Dodged that bullet.)


This upcoming Tuesday is my final day of class this term; it’ll take the shape of an Essay Workshop where we can discuss specifics of how our final essay should look according to British + postgraduate standards.

We don’t have a final exam, but we do have a 3,000 word essay due on January 9th which is 100% of our grade for the term (no pressure or anything…)

My favorite lecture of this term discussed television rather than film.  (Uh oh…)  From that, I was inspired to focus my final essay of this term on the medium of television and how it defines authorship.

In film, the authorship is generally in the hands of the director, the one telling the story.  In television however, you must first define the scope of your definition.  Are you talking about a single episode?  A season?  A character arc?  The entire show?  In America, we have the concept of “showrunner,” that is, the Executive Producer who is the be-all/end-all/lifeblood of the show.  Defined as: the person who has overall creative authority and management responsibility for a television programme.  This is a concept which, until recently, solely existed in the United States.  My essay will address the very first British showrunner (Russell T. Davies) and his time as the Doctor Who showrunner (until he passed the buck to Steven Moffat.)

I met with the lead lecturer on Friday and he seems to think this is a feasible path, so I’m going to keep going and see how it pans out.

To follow up my last London blog, I got a 66 on my first essay.  This (initially) caused a minor panic attack.  As an American (and a student who hadn’t received anything below a B at the undergraduate level,) a failing grade was simply unacceptable.

A brief (no really) insight into the British post-grad grading system. (From my Uni website)

  • Distinction: You’ll be awarded a Distinction if you achieve 70% or above.
  • Merit: You’ll be awarded a Merit if you achieve between 60% and 69%.
  • Pass: You’ll be awarded a Pass if you achieve between 50% and 59%.
  • Fail: You will have failed if you achieve a result of below 50%.

Another way to look at it (From another Uni’s undergrad website):


So the way I see it, my 66 on my first essay is somewhere around a B or a B+.  (Apparently, Brit’s don’t believe in using the full 100% scale?  What?)  The essay itself was unweighted (unfortunately) but did provide excellent insight into what the lecturer is looking for on my final weighted essay.

Speaking of my essay.  I should be working on it.  I am not.  I am writing a blog.  *whistles innocently*


In an effort to occupy my time when I’m not essay writing/blogging, I’ve been absorbing culture, damnit!

On recommendation from a select few on Facebook, I found my local library and picked up the first two books of the Kingkiller Chronicle (The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear) by Patrick Rothfuss.

…Guys.  HOW did it take me this long to discover this series?  Though they are ridiculous in length, I finished the two of them in roughly a week and a half. (o.o So Many Words.)  I immediately jumped into the fandom (nothing like diving head first into the deep end, ehh?)  Most unfortunately, there is one book left in the series and it’s been five years since the last book was published.  Rothfuss has shown no desire to speed to the conclusion (a la George R. R. Martin,) but I have become an avid follower of his Twitter and Twitch Stream…

…An obsession which became even more justified when, two weeks after I finished the series, it was announced that Lin-Manuel Miranda (the genius behind Hamilton) will be the creative producer behind the upcoming Kingkiller Chronicle television show and film.  (Here’s a bit of random knowledge: Lin is evidently a huge KC fan and wrote one of the Hamilton songs based on characters from the series…which…in hindsight, totally makes sense.)

I am literally living at the crossroads of two huge fandoms/passions.  Watching Pat and Lin attempting to out-geek each other on Twitter has given me life throughout the last two weeks.

As a result of this discovery, I decided I must be missing out on other nerdy series that people have been telling me about for years…so I went back to the library and checked out the first three books of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

Couldn’t do it.  I tried so hard too.  >_>  I took them back and decided to buy copies of The Kingkiller Chronicle instead.

To follow up that executive decision, I decided to re-approach a series I had read and thoroughly enjoyed as a child; The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, more commonly recognized by the main character’s name, Eragon.

This was a grievous mistake.

It took Rothfuss seven years to write his first book.  It took him four years convince a publisher to publish it.  It was finally released three years after Eragon came out.  Eragon was written by a 13 year-old.  Imagine reading a book by a child…and then reading a similar book, about three times in length, by an adult who had been working on it for 11 years.

In the interest of science, I am going to continue re-reading the Inheritance Cycle (I just finished Eragon) as the three sequels did, in fact, come out after the Rothfuss novels.  I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve also stumbled into copies of several other books that I intend to read at some point in the near future.  Maybe while I’m on vacation in Spain or Belgium?  1984, Murder on the Orient Express, All The Light We Cannot See, Game of Thrones (that’ll be last…), and the Infinity Ring series.

…Have I mentioned I’m supposed to be working on my essay?

Speaking Of…

Traveling!  I’m doing it!

  • Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona @ 1pm.  Casa Batllo, Casa Milo, find food (that’s important,) Sagrada Familia after 4pm.  Arc di Triumph on the way back.  Las Ramblas wandering concluding with a late dinner.
  • Day 2: Parc Guell, Las Ramblas during the daytime, wander past the oldest synagogue in Europe, Montjuic, Palau Nacionale, Font Magica @ 7, 7:30, and 8pm.
  • Day 3: Picasso museum, Chocolate Museum, fly to Madrid, Reina Sofia (free entry from 7-9pm), dinner at Plaza Mayor.
  • Day 4: El Rastro flea market, Temple of Debod, Royal Palace of Madrid, Lunch @ Puerta del Sol, Gran Via, Prado (free entry after 5pm), Cuesta de Moyano (used book market), dinner and Chocolateria San Gines (24 hours!)
  • Day 5: Day trip to Segovia?  No promises.
  • Day 6: Morning flight back to London.  Regroup/repack.
  • Day 7: Hop a bus to Brussels, arrive @ 5pm.
  • Day 8: Brussels wandering, Christmas markets.
  • Day 9: Day trip to Bruges.
  • Day 10: Return to London (Christmas Eve)

Obviously I haven’t fully researched Belgium yet.  Any recommendations?

This is about the point where I realize I’ve only covered half of what I wanted to in this blog post and it’s already hella long.  I think I’ll drop in a TBC and publish a second blog in another day or two.

In that vein…

Coming Up Next:

  • People I’ve Met
  • Show’s I’ve Seen
  • Places I’ve Visited
  • Technology That’s Failed Me
  • Food I’ve Not Cooked

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now working as a small-group travel coordinator. Nice to meet you!

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