Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tales of Bangor #6 - Lectures and other reading

The main point in taking a semester abroad is - surprise! - to study at another university. After a week of settling in, shopping for necessities, eating out way too often and some sight-seeing (not to forget sports and exercise) courses are finally starting.

Following Uni Bangor's rules for Erasmus-students I only attend three courses this term (each of them has 10 ECTS and they won't allow me to do more): "Phonetics&Variation", "Welsh Writing in English" (which of course means that the literature is composed in English, but by writers of Welsh origin) and "Sociolinguistics" - the last one being an awkward choice to make up for another course I had planned to take but which is regrettably not held this term. I hope it will be good, nevertheless.

Phonetics had the honour of opening this semester for me yesterday. Most Erasmus students had apparently ruled it out as "probably too hard" in the first place, which made me feel a bit insecure and I started to question my decision. All fears were, however, wiped out by the professor's introductory sentence:

"The point of this course is that we all have fun together."

And that is precisely what we did:
after a bit of theoretical talk about sound production and phonetics we grabbed our IPA-tables* and started hissing. All the fricatives got a turn, /s/ and /z/ just offering an easy beginning. Soon we found ourselves sticking our jaws out, emitting a kind of muffled f-sound (the one you get when you try to blow your fringe out of your face): a-pha, a-pha we all chorused and freakish as this might sound, we all had great fun hissing and clicking.
Almost as much fun will be keeping a pronunciation diary in which we're asked to put down all our observations ("...try not to be too antisocial, when you observe.").
Résumé: Definitely looking forward to next week.

*International Phonetic Alphabet

Today brought on the second lecture - the one I had been looking forward to most of all: the literature course. I had walked into MUSE's (a tiny little bookstore that sells new and second-hand copies of all important books) yesterday, clutching my slightly intimidating reading list tightly in hand, and purchased about 2 kgs of books (one still to come, the other out of print).

The late time of day (4 o'clock, right after lunch) and the number of Welsh names, which I cannot (yet ... hopefully) write down just from hearing made the seminar a little bit hard to follow, but this problem was brushed aside by my finding a personal relation to the topic: All the early Welsh English-writers had grown up in a Welsh-speaking environment but been taught English at school, which is not much dissimilar from my own situation. Course question: Why did they choose to write in English? hm.... Why do I choose to write English, just now? See what I mean?
I cannot wait to start reading the set books, and probably I shouldn't, too: we have to read one book per week, so I had better get started.
Résumé: Will be tough work and a fair amount of back-up reading because I do not exactly know much about Wales and its history and most of the other students seem to do. (I think most of them are Welsh.) But I'm going to learn a lot and love it!

Next on the agenda: Welsh class. This time it's the real thing: I am going to have a go at the Welsh language. Just the thought fills me with excitement!! Can't wait. It is going to be a lot of fun, which will not least of all be due to the fact that in my contagious enthusiasm I managed to persuad more than a handful other Erasmus students to join me. Wheeee!! (Soon this blog will be written in Welsh... )

Enough of lectures, let's turn to part two in the headline: Other Reading (Don't worry, this is not going to be about books or anything "dull".)
Today I walked into the kitchen and saw that the notice board I had broken yesterday (well, I didn't actually break it. It was sheer bad luck: The board is fixed to the door with blu-tack and therefore comes down at least once a day. Of course it also fell after I had put it up - having found it lying helplessly on the floor - but this time the wooden frame broke. I nearly panicked and frantically tried to fix it while Nas was watching and laughing at my clumsy attempts. Eventually I had to give up and settled for a message to convey how sorry I was and left a tube of superglue with it (I'd found that one under my wardrobe a few days ago. Don't ask.) The end of this long story was that Tom repaired the board using tape.)
Anyway, where was I? I think I had better start the sentence again: Today I walked into the kitchen and saw that the notice board that had broken yesterday was whole again and back where it belonged. Immediately I felt relieved.
Only after that sensation did I see that something new was written on it:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaw!!! Apparently I have been forgiven the breakage. :)

I have not answered yet (in written form), but I know what the answer will be. Bring on Thursday night!


The Plashing Vole said...

I hope you're enjoying Cwmardy - the subject of my PhD. Sounds like you're going to have a great year.

Been to the Greek Taverna yet?

Kristina said...

Cwmardy's a good read! Haven't tried the Greek Taverna yet. Do you mean the one on the hill (on Holyhead Rd.), next to the Chinese place?

Anonymous said...

How dare you write about greek tavernas when there's a chance I might read that at 2:45 in the morning? Now I'm HUNGRY. Your fault.

PS: Oh wait...chinese place...thank you, not so hungry anymore.

The one and only said...

Oida! Kristl! Jetzt sorg ich da mal für ein bisschen bodenständigkeit. Bist du der deutschen Sprache nicht mehr mächtig, oder was? Wieso mutest du mir zu, hier englische Geschichten zu lesen?
Jetzt erklär mal, was soll das heißen auf der Tafel? Ich kanns nicht verstehen, weil ich es nämlich nicht lesen kann! Steht da einfach nur "Do you want to go with me to the Thursday night?" Was soll das heißen? Was ist an der Donnerstag Nacht so toll?
Im Übrigen, no surprise for me you destroyed the board - who else should have done it? Just remembering banana milk :-)
Bitte um dringende Aufklärung der Sachverhalte!

Kristina said...

Man möge sich abregen im Weinviertel! Es gibt auch andere Leute, die mein Geschreibsel lesen (und die der deutschen Sprache nicht mächtig sind) und daher kommt der Wandel zum Englischen. Tut mir leid - Extrawünsche werden nicht akzeptiert.
Auf dem Board steht "Kristina, do you want to go to the pub Thursday night." und ich hab mich darüber so gefreut, weil man offenbar Interesse daran hat mich zu integrieren, was meiner Situation durchaus zuträglich sein könnte, wenn man bedenkt, dass meine Aufenthaltsdauer hier ganze 5 Monate umfasst. (War übrigens dann ein sehr netter Abend!)
Das Board hab ich außerdem nur indirekt zerstört und es ist mit dem Bananenmilchfiasko deshalb nicht zu vergleichen (außerdem wollte ich das gerne unter den Teppich gekehrt und nicht mehr hervorgeholt wissen).
Ich hoffe die Tatsache, dass dieser Kommentar auf Deutsch aufscheint verdeutlicht dir meine Fähigkeit und Gewilltheit auf alle Leser individuell einzugehen und deren sprachlichen Anforderungen und Wünschen nachzukommen.



El-Mo said...

Ooooh, you have a word of the day corner on the board! Heehee... =)

Kristina said...

Yeah! Say it and you do 10 press-ups :).

David said...

*haha* It's very interesting that you found a tube of glue a few days before you broke the frame... ;-) Perhaps another person had to fix it too :D Or it was just fate ;-)

The Plashing Vole said...

I can't remember what's next to the Greek Taverna! There's a passageway between two shops/cafés. It's on Holyhead road though, on the right as you head out of Bangor, but before you get to the big Chapel on the right. (Or turn left down the hill from College Road).