Friday, September 28, 2007

Back to School

Well, my classes start on October 1st and I am excited to say the least. I went to a philosophy post-grad party yesterday (I doubt many people can fully appreciate the fun to be had at such an event), and I was able to meet many of my professors and fellow cohorts. At one point the head of the department stood up and addressed my class, essentially giving us his warmest greeting and welcoming us to “hell.” I gather that the first semester of my course of study is quite intense.

The courses I will be taking are: 1) Research Methods; 2) Current Issues in Philosophy: Philosophy of Language and Epistemology; and 3) Philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment. So, if people are planning to visit when I am not on break, and they want to actually talk to me, then they should plan on discussing one of the above topics.

As Corrie mentioned in the last post, I have been trying to get ahead on my coursework before classes start. For my Research Methods module I have to write an outline of a question I want to research/address and then research/address it in 4,000 words or less. For those of you who might be interested, what I am hoping to use as my question is:

In Virtues of the Mind, Linda Zagzebski points out the lack of ethical considerations in Alvin Plantinga’s warrant trilogy (Warrant: the Current Debate; Warrant and Proper Function; and Warranted Christian Belief). Is the virtue epistemology Zagzebski proposes compatible with the theological/ethical framework Plantinga claims to adhere to, i.e. Reformed Theology?

I am not sure if it will fly; I’m concerned that it might be too theological, given common (but often arbitrary) divisions between the disciplines philosophy and theology. We’ll see.

Here are some other fun facts that I don’t feel that I want to devote a paragraph to:
• Proverbially speaking, I bought my weight in David Hume books for my Philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment class…that crazy guy.
• I am delighted to say that I should be having coffee with one of my philosophical heroes in the next couple weeks; I get giddy thinking about it.
• It looks like I will be able to be involved with the Arche Research Centre, more than I originally anticipated.

And finally and on an entirely different note, let me go ahead and debrief everyone on my haggis experience. While it was cooking, I thought it smelled like an old leather boot stuffed with the grossest most aged cheese you can fathom; however, Brannan and I were resolved to try it. Below are some of the pictures from our experience. The first couple bites were not too bad, really. It tasted a lot like how you might imagine a meatloaf pâté, but unfortunately, certain not so pleasant hints of flavor quickly grew in strength; abruptly ending my experience with the dish. (sidenote from Corrie: I tried to warn them…)

And here are some other pictures of our life and times from the past few weeks

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hooray for warmth!

Can I just say I am sooooo thankful that we no longer have to sit outside to use the internet (unless of course, the library is closed). We found out that I can come in and use it whenever I want! I just have to have this great little pink card with me. That makes my fingers veeeery happy.

So Ian is having a great week of orientation. He has gone to a few of the postgraduate things and was able to matriculate today.. That means he has an official St Andrews ID card so he can do all the things privileged students can do - like freely go in and out of the library as well as check out materials, and the one he's really excited about - using the gym! I'm beginning to realize just how bored he was the past few weeks we've been here (aside from all the exciting things we did, obviously) because he got his first syllabus and proceeded to do something like 1/3 of the work for the class.. Oh hubby :) He was made for school. Needless to say, he's excited for classes to start. He will have 3 modules a week. Two of them are in Stirling which is about an hour (hour and a half?) away and that's on monday. So he'll be gone basically all day on Mondays. Then, once he decides on the other class he wants to take, he'll have one more either on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.. And in case that's not enough, he's considering taking a basic logic class just for fun (it's not required). He has also toyed with the idea of getting a part time job, but we'll just wait and see how busy he is with classes first. I'll have him post an update regarding what his classes are actually about for any of you that might be interested later.

As for me, I have been working (the US job, no job here yet) and painting! Yay! I thought I'd never get to. I've also been doing lots of laundry and sometimes getting confused by the washing machine... That's right folks, even the washing machines are confusing :) To save money I hang our clothes to dry until they are mostly to alltheway dry and then dry them in the 'dryer' (it's the same as the washer) for like 10 minutes so they're not all scratchy.. It works but makes for clothes being everywhere! :) We love Scotland!!!

My goal now is to learn how to cook a whole chicken. I've got a few recipes because we found out that it is way, and I mean, way cheaper to use a whole chicken than to buy chicken breasts all the time. The breasts are over one pound (we're talking moo-lah here, not weight) each, so I bought a 'cheap' bag for over 6 pounds and it had six small-medium breasts in it... Then we were at Tesco the other day and found a '2 for 5 pounds' deal for whole chickens. So we're doing it! As far as other meat, much to Ian's sadness, it is all really expensive. To buy lamb here costs about as much as it cost us to buy hamburger meat at walmart, so we're forgoeing beef and becoming lamb eaters.

I know I keep talking about saving money and it makes me laugh right now because I really have no idea how much anything costs. We have yet to get any kind of bill (most are sent only every three months) so I just keep assuming that whenever one comes it's going to be really expensive so that we are as smart as we can be (any tips are much appreciated). I'm secretly hoping though that it's not as much as we expected so I can actually use the dryer with no feelings of guilt :)

Whoa - another big change - students! There are students EVERYWHERE... I never considered that when the students come back it basically doubles the population in our little town. And, sadly, we're finding that the castle tavern (the one across the street) does attract students, however, they don't seem to stay really late, so it hasn't affected our sleeping patterns yet. And, I figure once classes start, it can only get better because they have to study sometime, but maybe I'm just continuing in my optimistic ignorance.

One other thing.. I think it's harvest season for those potatoes! We've seen huge truckloads of them drive past our flat.. you don't see that everyday :) And, a few weeks ago a truck went by with hay that was piled as tall as the top of our second story window - not exaggerating (usually from our window we can look down on the tops of the semi trucks, so that was some tall hay). Our location is really funny because there is actually a lot of traffic on North Street. The funny part is, everyone uses it, tour buses, local buses, semi trucks, taxis, farmers (i.e. tractors), regular people.. everybody. I get nervous sometimes and just sit and wait for those semis to crash into the side of our building as they try to turn from one narrow road onto an even more narrow road, but no one has crashed yet.

I almost forgot! Don't you love it when God provides for you in ways that you know aren't really needs, but just things you were kind of hoping for? I do :) I don't know if I mentioned how there is nowhere to store anything in our bathroom, but there isn't. I was really hoping we could find something so that we were a little more organized (I think I fluctuate between type A and type B, but when it comes to being organized and clean, I'm finding that at this point in my life I am pretty much a type A - I think Ian wouldn't mind if that changed at some point :) ) and I was pretty much ready to give up and try to convince Ian to buy something more expensive than what we wanted to spend. Then, we went into a charity shop (the last one of the day) and found a little 3 drawer dresser for 5 pounds!! Unbelievable. I still can't believe it. On top of that, I found two screws in the back of the laundry room door that something (more shelves maybe????) can hang from today so that we can actually put things away instead of keeping them in front of and on top of the washer and moving them around when it's time to do laundry. So there you go. God provided more abundantly than I could even bring myself to ask - I felt a little sheepish :) He knows me so well!

I suppose that's really it now.. more to come...

Friday, September 21, 2007

scottish things

ok, so i'm freezing my tail off sitting outside the library because we don't have internet, but I just have to tell you a few of the things we've done in the last few days...

1. Ate dinner with friends Monday AND Tuesday night - nice... Had wonderful times with all of them and are so thankful for the hospitality shown us. Tuesday night we went to a pub and watched a rugby game between Scotland and Romania. Scotland totally won.
2. Had the Ellis' come to us to wander St Andrews
3. Went up into Rule's tower and through the cathedral grounds
4. Found out that I can make really, really good shepherd's pie, garlic chicken stir fry, chicken and noodles, and apple crisp (not all on the same night though) and that Ian is an excellent rice maker.
5. Sat in the runniest bird poo ever and had to have my jeans wiped with baby wipes (thank goodness the Ellis' have a diaper-wearing baby)
6. Ian got to go to a meeting with all the people he really admires here at St Andrews and was so excited he almost threw up
7. Saw the most AMAZING rainbow I have EVER SEEN... seriously.. looked like God drew it on the sky with some hard core highlighters. Not to mention we've seen four rainbows just since we've been here.
8. We got Lily to like Ian - hooray!
9. Ian, Brannan, and Katie tried haggis today. I did not and after watching Ian and Brannan come near vomiting after trying to eat a plate of it I never will, and I won't regret that. It also really stinks when you cook it.
10. Got a surprise delivery of the reddest rug I have ever seen (I suppose to compliment our red couches) and pillows for our couch from our landlord.. but we made it work quite well. The red is definiteley not too overpowering.

So, we are having all kinds of scottish experiences and really loving most of them (except the haggis) Ian starts some school stuff next week (not classes yet) I also get to go to my first women's Bible study next week.. And, keep praying that i get a job!
p.s. sorry about typ-o's my hands are quite stiff :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

3 things...

Well! We have been busy little bees lately :) First we wanted to show you pictures of our flat – I know you’re all dying to see it. And, actually it has become quite homey even since we took these pictures.. We found the amazing Poundland in Aberdeen and so were able to get some little decorative items and picture frames to put around so we see some familiar faces.

these are the stairs you come up to get into our flat.. and we have a buzzer/intercom thing on our front door – it’s super cool

this is a view of our front door from the inside

hallway leading to every room in our flat :)

first you come to the bedroom which turned out to be quite cute.. and you can actually walk into the walk in closet

then you come to the bathroom.. notice the European half glass on the shower – makes things very wet :)

then you have the washing machine closet.. it’s a washer/dryer combo, although the clothes aren’t so much dry when they come out

then the kitchen, twice the size of Casa and has counter space… Hooray!!

and finally the living/study/dining room!! We have beautiful red couches (did I mention it folds out!!?), a tiny little desk, a table for eating, and a little reading nook. It’s quite cozy

Now on to our train ride to Aberdeen. We had a great weekend with the Ellis’, unfortunately, they have all the pictures because o-so-prepared Corrie forgot to bring the battery charger for the cameras. So, we only have pictures of the train station, but that will just have to suffice.

here’s the train station – teeny tiny and cute!

us at the station

and a view of us crossing over the Firth of Tay. You think riding a car over a bridge is scary, try a train!! OH, and here’s a funny story, we totally missed our train the first time because we didn’t realize the doors only stay open for about 30 seconds. Whoops! So, we sat for about an hour, and did eventually get a train to Aberdeen successfully :)

Then, today we did some COLD walking to wander in the cathedral grounds and go take pictures of Ian’s building. I believe the weathermen would call today much ‘fresher’ than yesterday :) The wind was a-blowin.

here we are at the cathedral (I’m definitely cold here, but it gets worse)

the cold weather brings a beautiful sky

this is me in front of a beautiful ocean that I would NEVER want to get in because it is so freezing. Not exactly beach weather!

There it is - Ian's building! I’m so proud!! We might even go in tomorrow – whoa…

So that’s all for now. Hopefully these will get a little shorter and a little more frequent once we have some internet in our flat.. but that will probably be a little while longer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Things First...

Some pics of Chicago. We had a great weekend of Navy Pier, Ed Debevik’s, and Wii :)
outside our hotel

a view from the giant ferris wheel

Reba came for a visit!

so excited!

the whole fam.

Then we said our goodbyes and took off for Scotland…
We are officially a week into our time in St Andrews and we can’t find anything to not like about life here (aside from maybe the not-so-delicious food and the fact that we think our flat makes Ian dizzy). Our flat turned out to be beautiful and spacious, though it still needs some cleaning. We even have a fold out bed in our couch, so come on over and we’ll take care of you! We are in the process of adding things to our flat because, while it is furnished it’s only bare the minimum, so we’re sprucing it up a bit. It has been interesting to try to find inexpensive items, as well as groceries. We found this one store that I think could get me into trouble called Argos. It’s a catalog store where you go in and peruse this huge catalog and then write down the reference numbers. You take your sheet up to the check out and pay that person, then stand and wait while they go to the back and get what you bought. Genius! And not too expensive. The one thing we always have to remind ourselves though is that we have to carry whatever we buy. We don’t really live too far from anything because this town is just not that big, but if you’ve got armfuls, it can seem like we lives miles away! We have seen some pretty funny cars here as well (smart cars.. I laugh every time), and have a picture of their garages…
not exactly the 2 car garages we're used to!

It’s kind of funny how many things work differently here as well. For example, when you plug something in, you then have to flip a switch to turn the outlet on – I was playing with switches and accidentally turned off our dishwasher mid-cycle – whoops! Food is definitely different… ‘beef burgers’ and pb&j just aren’t the same, not to mention macaroni and cheese. They do have peanut butter, but it’s nowhere near as good as my extra crunchy Jif :). And we found out when I wanted chips with my burger that what I really wanted was crisps. But you know what is really good? Happy hour right across the street – hot drinks for a pound every morning, and Scottish fudge donuts, heart attack in a box, but soooooo good.

Also we have decided to avoid driving at all costs. You can rent cars to go do things, but I’m pretty sure we’d not only get lost, but probably cause all kinds of ‘smashes’. Oh, and all the doors to stores have pull handles even though you’re supposed to push them – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled…

Everyone is super nice as well. We have had people ask us if we need help quite a few times, so I think we have the ‘ummmm, what am I supposed to do now?’ look down pretty well. :) Today we went to the post office to send our application for a Tesco card (like walmart, only much smaller) and I asked a guy if it would need a stamp because I didn’t know what the markings on it meant, and he was just as confused as I was so I decided to just buy a stamp. I had no idea how much they would cost, so I asked a little old lady and she said, “Oh, I’ll just give you one” and proceeded to do so. When I asked again how much they cost she said, “Oh, don’t worry about it.” So I got a free stamp, but still have no idea how much they cost.

And we set up a bank account with Lloyds – so easy! We had heard all these nightmare stories about setting them up, but we had no trouble whatsoever. Now all we have to do is put some money in there – which means I need to find a job!! I have about 4 that I’m going to apply for, so we’ll se what happens.

That’s all for today, we’ll post pics of our flat as soon as we can… in the meantime, enjoy these :)

beautiful view
Ian and the cathedral
Ian thought this sign was funny
ministry of magic anyone?
Location of our evening church service
Patrick Hamilton was martyred in St Andrews, and these stones are a memorial to that.