During my year abroad, I made a few posts about the differences in the U.K. vs. the U.S., including stereotypes, university and student housing with a more recent related post was about spending Christmas in the U.K. Now, this segment back with a bang with comparing roads and driving now that I got a car! When my dad visited, he helped me buy a used 2006 Ford Fiesta to use mainly for work as I’ve been spending my entire life on the bus.

Now, the differences and similarities with driving and roads:

Obviously, the whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing is a big game-changer. When I first started driving in the States, I struggled with not staying in the lane going too far onto the curb as I was weary about oncoming cars in the other lane. I’m doing the same here: I get nervous that there isn’t enough space for cars to pass on smaller streets and end up hitting the curb to overcompensate or, in the case of my test drive, nicking a mirror from cars park on the side of the road. That’s probably my biggest problem driving on the wrong side. Other than that, I’ve adapted quickly and at the moment, I’m proudly over a week of hitting no curbs!

In the U.S., virtually everyone gets their license sooner rather than later at sixteen. Everyone I know back home has a license and a car to use, whether it’s a family car own their own. In the U.K., about 30% of people my age have a driving license and only a handful have a car to use. With the widespread public transit, there’s hardly a need for a car for a typical university student.

Another big difference is that most cars here are manual transmission rather than automatic. Luckily, my dad taught me how to drive one and even at home, I use a manual just as often as an automatic so I was always in practice. However, something funny is that the gears are in the exact same position despite the steering wheel be on the opposite side of the car. Meaning, rather than the first gears being closest to you like they are when the steering wheel is on the left side of the car, they are furthest from you when the wheel is on on the right side of the car.

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In the U.K., there are a lot more give way (a.k.a “yield”) signs rather than stop signs. On my daily commute, there are zero stop signs: all give way or traffic lights. However, I have to stop about 50% of the time anyway. There’s also the unsaid give way where if you’re on a narrow residential street, the car on the same side as the parked cars pulls to the side to let the oncoming vehicle pass.

Parking is also a bit different. Not all houses have driveways and even fewer have garages, so most people park in the street. Luckily, I live in a residential area so parking is free and limited to residents, except on match days where we non-permit holders have to move their car as I live about a 15 minute walk from the football stadium. However, football season is done for a few months so I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes… Elsewhere, I often have to parallel park, especially at one of my client’s houses who live off high street. I’ve probably parallel parked more in the last two weeks than most suburban-dwelling Americans have in the last year. Parking lots are also rare. Even the mall has a parking garage instead of a spread out lot. All in all, parking in Brighton is probably comparable to parking in a midtown area of the U.S.: some free parking if you can be bothered to find it, otherwise it’s a small fee.

The U.K. is roundabouts galore. There are maybe two in Tucson, where I use probably about five a day on my short commutes. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about them…

In the U.K., I find few people own cars bigger than an SUV for recreational purposes. I see maybe one truck a day that’s not marked for business use. The roads here are quite small and might be hard to drive through with such a big car. I find it quite preposterous that my brother has a pick-up truck even though he’s in it alone more often than not and uses the bed to it’s full extent once in a blue moon.

Finally, the actual amount of driving greatly differs at least for me personally. Brighton is a lot smaller than Phoenix or Tucson. I find things in the U.S. are a lot more spread out. My average driving time for any given trip in Arizona is about 15-20 where that is my absolute maximum driving time around Brighton to my further clients.

I’ve become quite comfortable with driving and am so happy that I have a car to make life a bit easier.

Photo by Austin Neill.

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I’m thrilled to feature another one of my favorite blogs Word of Rachel by the lovely Rachel this month! My name and degree twin, she blogs about everything from beauty to university.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Rachel-35Hi, I’m Rachel, hobbyist lifestyle blogger and full time student. I’m currently in my final year of my Marine Biology degree, and hope to work in marine mammal conservation in the future. Right now, I split my time between assignments, lectures, blogging, and playing The Sims way more than I should. I also have a kitten, Peggy, who enjoys cuddles, licking all the taps in my flat, and biting my feet when I’m not giving her enough attention!

How did you get into blogging?

Blogging is something I’ve wanted to do for years, but never really had anyone around me that didn’t think it was anything other than a waste of time. As the New Year came around, I decided 2017 was the year to finally give it a go!

I started out as a beauty blogger, before having a re-brand last November and moving into Lifestyle full time, with beauty and student life spotted in. I only create content I love, and try not to worry too much about who’s reading it.

Tell us about your favorite blog post.

I have 2! The first one is the first time I introduced Peggy to the world. The second one is about how I’m done with numbers, as not only did I have a lot of fun writing it, people really connected with it and I met a lot of amazing people because of it.

What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

I should be doing my uni work, but more often than not I’m playing with my cat or playing The Sims. I’m mildly obsessed with The Sims…

What has been some of your favorite university courses?

Every year since second year I’ve taken a module all about conservation biology, and these are my favourites. They don’t hold back and make you consider everything about conservation with a very “Real-Life” approach. I love knowing every side of a story before I had to come to a conclusion, so these modules work so well for me!

How did you choose your degree?

Like all marine biology students, I was obsessed with dolphins as a child. When I found out most people that study them are marine biologists, I knew that was what I wanted to be. I actually fell out of love with biology during my A levels, thanks to a poor teacher, and tried to go into chemistry instead. After I dropped out of my first degree, I spent years working as a waitress before deciding to go back into education. Marine biology has been the best choice for me. I love it!

Where else can we find you?

Twitter || Instagram || Facebook || Bloglovin’

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I would like to start out this post like I have been with every other post this month: sorry for being scarce in the blogging world, I’ve been quite busy with my brothers visiting last month, my dad visiting last week (post about it coming soon) and the usual work, university, life hustle.

But, I got a car! When my dad visited, he helped me buy a used 2006 Ford Fiesta to use mainly for work as I’ve been spending my entire life on the bus. I will write a post or two about it in the coming weeks, but for now, just know that I’m so relieved that I have more time to do university work and take car of myself.

Without further ado, here are my top five favorite posts from this month in all categories:

  1. 28 Things that I am Still Yet to Master: An honest, down-to-earth hilarious post we can all relate to. As I enter into my mid-twenties, I feel a lot of pressure to do everything perfectly and have my life together, but as long as I’m content, I shouldn’t worry so much about being perfect.
  2. What I Learned While Travelling with my Father: My dad and I went to New York and Washington, D.C. together in September and he just visited and I can say that spending time with him 24/7 is a much different experience than our home life.  I feel like I see the “real” him for the amazing man he is. I really cherish our time together and hope we can travel more in the future!
  3. What to Expect on a LiveAboard Trip: I’m a bit salty (pun intended) that this post was published after a strikingly similar post I made… but it’s great nonetheless and complements mine well.
  4. How to Write Better Blog Posts: Because we can always improve!
  5. 21 Things You Must Do in Tahiti: Tahiti looks like an amazing place that I would love to dive in and lounge on the beach.

Science, sustainability and veganism

General travel and study abroad

Travel destinations

Lifestyle

Blogging

Entertainment

Photo by Andrew Knechel.

 

 

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Hello, Music Monday. It’s been a minute.

As I might have mentioned before, I used to collect CDs, however, I haven’t actively bought CDs in a few years. At my peak, I owned about 150+ CDs. Now, I have about 75, which is the bare minimum I could handle when I most recently weeded out my collection. Although, I could probably do with even less now.

However, I would have a very difficult time parting with my autographed CDs, even if they’re form bands I don’t listen to anymore.

Here are my signed CDs and the stories behind them (for your enjoyment, I’ve also included pictures of my awkward, younger self I took with band members when I got my CDs signed):

Rise Against: If you’ve been following me any amount of time, you’ll probably know that Rise Against is my all-time favorite band. I’ve seen the live more than any other band and have been a massive fan for about eight years. I got my first CD signed when I met them for the first time in September 2012 before seeing them live for the second time. Here’s an excerpt from the post:

“… the store limited the items that band could sign to one. Although I brought several CDs, I chose to get their second album, Revolutions Per Minute signed. When it was my turn, I shakily handed my CD to them, gave them each a gift of a painting of themselves, shook their hand and was hurried along. Although our encounter was brief, I was on cloud nine!”

I got the rest of their discography (as then) signed when I saw them in April 2015:

“I was also hoping the painting [I made for them] would be leverage for them to sign all my CDs rather than just the one allowed by the same record store that hosted the first signing. As expected, they were really receptive to the painting and were thrilled to sign all my CDs! Also, Zach (the guitarist) complimented my Anti-Flag shirt and I’ve been wearing it to their concerts ever since. I was even more thrilled I now had all their music to date autographed.”

Now, I’m only missing an autograph on their most recent album, Wolves, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m all caught up again, I’m sure!

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Senses Fail: I often site Senses Fail as my second favorite band. I’ve liked them just as long as Rise Against and their music is so different, but almost as equally powerful (Rise Against will always rein supreme). If you caught my tattoos and piercings post, you might recall I have a Senses Fail inspired tattoo about a year ago.

Unlike Rise Against and other bands I closely follow, for some reason, I never bothered to make myself familiar with the band members of Senses Fail beyond the frontman, Buddy Nielsen. They seem to have so much turnover, it didn’t really matter to me.

I got all the albums they released at the time autographed by Buddy and the other anonymous band members in 2014 at the Let It Enfold You ten year anniversary tour. I was thrilled to have all the CDs signed!

That was an amazing show, but the shows I went to in the years to follow let me down. However, I went to their most amazing show to date early last year and that got me back into them again!

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Enter Shikari: Enter Shikari are another band I love a lot and I have their entire discography to date autographed! After accumulating their three most recent studio albums throughout the year, in November 2015, they were kind enough to sign all the CDs I had at the time at a signing at Banquet Records in Kingston, London.

I bought two of their albums already signed and got the final CD signed when I saw them in Pomona in 2017 on the tenth anniversary tour of said album (Take to the Skies).

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Again, sorry I’ve been scarce on here lately. Life has been crazy with my brothers visiting, work, university work, trying to find a new house for August and more. Also, I’m quite enjoying my free time with reading recently (read two books this week!) and after staring at a computer screen all day for my dissertation, it’s the last thing I want to do for fun.

Anyway, I can’t believe another term has come and gone. The calendar year is half over and my degree is 2/3 done!

Here is a massive goal update with:

  • Second term goals revisited
  • 2018 goals update
  • Third term goals

Here is how my second term goals translated into reality:

  • Work between 20-25 hours a week: Yep. I work about 20 hours a week, but spend about 10-15 hours a week on the bus, so that being said with work at the center of my universe, I don’t have time or energy for much else. Hopefully that will change soon as I’m looking into getting a car.
  • Choose five possible career paths: Ha. Ha ha. I have a few very generic ideas of what I want to do but I have no idea where to start. Yay for being anxious about the future!
  • Visit an academic adviser once every other week: More or less. I meet with my dissertation supervisor once a week or so to check in on my progress, but I hope to meet with some other staff for career advice or just to network.
  • Go to a football game: Nope.
  • Go to a musical: Yes! I saw Chess for my birthday and Les Miserables with my brothers.
  • Meet up with Buddies once a month: Nope. I’m the worst Buddy. I’ve been meaning to message them for ages now but never get around to it, but I like to think they don’t need me anymore and have spread their wings.
  • Message my friends (especially back home) and family more: I try, but I’ve been so busy and when I finally get around to messaging back, it’s been an embarrassing amount of time.
  • Travel to one new U.K. city: Kind of, visited Seven Sisters, a local country park, for the first time.
  • Run thrice a week: Nope.
  • Stretch for five minutes everyday: Nope, but this is so simple and I really should.
  • Limit myself to one cheese and one egg meal, one chocolate bar and three sodas a week: Not so great on the cheese, getting better with the chocolate and soda and don’t eat egg that much.
  • Limit myself to dining out (or, more likely, ordering pizza) once every other week: Not happening.
  • Read two books a month: More or less.
  • Listen to new music (two albums a week): More or less.
  • Complete a new T.V. series: Yes and then some. Really enjoyed The Good Place but enjoy rewatching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and keeping up with new episodes of Drag Race.

As you can see, I didn’t do stellar. I set these goals before I got my new time-demanding job, but will make sure to set more attainable goals for this final term.

And now my New Year’s resolutions:

  • Travel to three new countries: I went to South Africa and have plans to go to Norway, which will probably be the end of my visits to new countries… however, I am also going to Luxembourg in June and going home for Christmas.
  • Travel to three new U.K. destinations: I have been to Seven Sisters and the Scottish highlands with my brothers and hope to go to either Kew Botanical Gardens or the Jurassic Coast this summer.
  • Attend one football game, one hockey game and one musical: I just missed football season and there are no hockey games close to Brighton, but I have seen two musicals.
  • Visit home: I have plans to go home December 19th!
  • Get a pet: My living situation will be more long-term starting in January, wherever that may be, so I will look into sorting that later in the year.

Finally, my third term goals:

  • Continue to work between 20-25 hours a week
  • Continue to meet with an academic adviser once every other week
  • Travel to one new U.K. city
  • Stretch for five minutes everyday
  • Cut back on cheese, dairy chocolate and soda
  • Read two books a month
  • Listen to new music (two albums a week)
  • Complete a new T.V. series
  • Apply for two jobs a week
  • Blog for about five hours a week
  • Watch more films

Hopefully the above goals are more realistic now that I’ve gotten used to my new job hours. I will post an update of the third term goals once I hand my dissertation in at the end of August, eek!

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