Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Bored Stiff"

I'm writing a pretty terrible opinion-piece article for the RMU newspaper at the moment, a generic 'exchange-student-compares-home-school-with-exchange-school' type thing, and honestly, I was bored stiff writing it, so I'm curious as to how it reads to someone unaware of these differences.

The worst part of this endeavour was when I had the first draft finished, and I switched my Microsoft Word over to American English so I could spell-check and make everyting consistent with the bastardised English in the rest of the paper.

Here's the thing; I agree with some instances of those damn dirty yanks replacing 's' with 'z' (even if they call it 'zee' and not 'zed') and whatnot, but seriously - to spell 'travelling' as 'traveling' is just plain wrong.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Airplane Woes...

Gather around children, as I tell you all about my airplane-based-misadventure over the weekend! Like most plane-based adventures, it starts at the check-in counter, where an over-zealous North West Airline employee watches over my shoulder as I use the self-check-in kiosk, and then reads aloud the information on screen that my flight has been delayed my 25 minutes. I thank her for the information, but nonchalantly dismiss the minor delay as a possible convenience for the people picking me up in Minneapolis.

When going through security, the jaded guard stops me for a moment, and quizzes me over the name discrepancy between my boarding pass and my Passport; I’ve been travelling under the alias Sen O’Sullivan, as I was stupid enough to save my Passenger Information on Expedia as Seán, and every flight I’ve booked with Expedia for the past two months has excluded the ‘á’. I explain to the guard and continue on my way, possibly whistling merrily. I see that the tram to the departure gates has been waiting for quite some time now, and will probably take off at any second, but I maintain my walking pace, unwilling to rush until absolutely necessary. I’m about four steps away when the doors start to close so I lunge towards it, hoping the doors will not crush my outstretched hand. I barely had enough time to think “This might not be a good idea” before the doors pulled open again. Breathing a sigh of relief, I board the tram, as a stern, pre-recorded female voice, who had previously been making safety announcements and background chatter, now berates my brashness. “Somebody has interfered with the doors.” Everyone in the tram snaps their heads towards me at once. I smile awkwardly. “Please Step Away from the doors” she warns, and I worry that I’ve just got us stuck on a tram to nowhere, but the delay I caused only lasted as long as my automated-slap on the wrist.

Funnily enough, there was a bald businessman who rushed in behind me when I prised the doors apart, and he took off running as soon as we arrived at the departure terminal. He charged a good 100 yards towards the escalator, his briefcase swinging dangerously, and then stopped and stood still on the moving-stairs, holding onto the railing, seemingly forgetting his rush for a moment! Quite bizarre. When I arrived at my departure gate, I killed time on my Nintendo DS, until we finally boarded around 2.20pm, almost an hour later than we ought to have.

Cosy, no?

The plane was pretty small - it was a Canadair RJ, and as a 6’4” guy with what I’ll refer to as a ‘sturdy’ build, it was a bit cramped. I couldn’t stand up straight - or even close to straight - I had my knees bent and head bowed as low as I could comfortably manage, but I still knocked my noggin on every Exit sign, and my shoulders were pressed hard against the overhead bins on either side of the aisle I was trying to walk down. I finally got to my seat, and after usurping the woman who had mistakenly laid claim to it, I turned my attention to stowing my backpack. It wouldn’t fit in the tiny overhead bins, so I had to put it under the seat in front of me, which made squeezing into my spot all the more painful.

We sat on the plane outside the terminal for a good half hour before I fell asleep. I awoke while the plane was taxiing back to the terminal. The Pilot comes over the PA and announces that the first hour of delay had been caused by a ‘paperwork issue’ to do with ‘routing’, and now we were out of fuel from all the taxiing, and had to wait for the fuel truck before we could take off again. It was 4.10 at this stage - I know because my phone records show that I rang my friend Jac who was supposed to be picking me up twenty minutes later to tell her I was going to be very late.

People were understandably upset by the delays, and wanted to get off the plane to try and find another way to make their connecting flights, which prompted an NWA agent to board, and tell us that if just one person wanted to get off the plane, then the plane was no longer secured, and everyone on the plane would have to get off, and go through ticketing and security again. He also said that if we did that, our plane, which was now a number one priority that was ready to take off as soon as it was fuelled, would then be relegated to the bottom of the priority pile, as the planes that were on schedule would be kept on schedule. He also advised that all flights were pretty much sold out, so if any one person got off, we’d all be waiting on standby. He summed up this statement with the following, word for word; “You can stay here and go somewhere, or you can get off and go nowhere.”

Suspicious stares shot through the cabin from one passenger to another, before it became clear that no one person was willing to be hated by forty others. The question & answer session that followed was interrupted by our fuel truck showing up. Not before the overweight, bearded gentleman across the row from me in a garish Hawaiian shirt shouted out “How about we get some cheeseburgers!?” Which would have been fine, but he shouted it every four seconds until the guy next to him satisfied his craving for attention by acknowledging his outburst. Trapped on a cramped plane, sitting opposite the forty-year old class clown, I began to entertain myself by narrating in my head the events as they unfolded.

The joy that followed our refuelling was instantly quashed by the captain informing us that we couldn’t take off until the plane had been de-iced again, which elicited a few more groans from the chorus. He then summarised what had happened, and how long he expected it would be before we’d be in the air, and got off the mic. I turned to the clown to my right, and in a rare moment of trying to be nice to a complete fool, I quipped “I didn’t hear any mention of a Big Mac just now”. He responded with a look of utter confusion, then an ill-suitedly sincere “Yes... You’re right.” It took me a moment to realise that over the hum of the engines, and also possibly his unpreparedness to hear an Irish accent, I had just accosted him with “Ah dinnae heeuh ‘nee men-chun uv a Bi’ Mack junnow!”

But no matter - we were finally in the air, and all was well… For a while anyway. I was minding my own business, playing my DS, (dancing up a storm in Elite Beat Agents for the few that care), when I could’ve swore I heard the air hostess say something that sounded like “We need a doctor”. When a very large woman pounded her way past me, I removed my headphones and turned to my new acquaintance, Bland Bob (a nice chap with little personality), and asked him what was going on. Bland Bob softly told me “I think somebody needs a doctor”. Sure enough, about three rows in front of me there was an old geezer looking a bit hot and bothered, and out of it, while the aforementioned fatty stood over him mopping his brow and neck with a cloth. The lone stewardess clumsily got down a tank of oxygen from the overhead bin and advanced on the ill chap, looking absolutely panic-stricken. This is where I admit that I missed out on a bit of character development, and rewind a bit. Very shortly after the plane took off, she began distributing beverages (giving away free alcohol as compensation! Damn my non-drinking disposition!), she confided in me and Bland Bob that she was incredibly nervous because she never knew how to deal with passengers on a delayed flight. So back to the emergency then - the old geezer got his oxygen while his wife looked on in terror, but I still felt worst for the stewardess, who seemed to be having a worse heart-attack than the chap clutching his chest.

After a bit, the old geezer started to look a bit better, and even seemed to be joking with his hideously obese helper (who was no way a doctor - I’ve never seen an obese doctor, let alone a doctor who dresses as poorly as that woman… sorry). However, it felt as though the plane was starting to descend already - we had at least another hour of flight time! Bland Bob turns to me and says “I think we’re descending”. I look out the window - there’s a city a few hundred feet below us and inching closer - good catch there, Bob. Bob looks at his watch, chuffed, and says “That was pretty quick, yeah?” I postulate that we might not actually be in Minneapolis, but rather making an emergency landing in Chicago. The people behind me are now discussing how fast the flight was, and begin to point out landmarks in the city, identifying them as various bits and pieces they know from Minneapolis. The stewardess gets on the mic once again, informing us “Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be landing soon, but please remain in your seats with your seat-belts fastened”. I turn to Bland Bob, asking if he noticed that she didn’t specify where we’d be landing, and he tells me without a shadow of a doubt that we are in Chicago. Anyway - the plane eventually lands, while the woman behind me mistakenly points out that the flight was actually 2 hours because Pittsburgh is an hour behind Minneapolis (it’s the other way around), and I resist the temptation to set her straight because she’s actually amusing me.

There’s an ambulance waiting on the runway, and once the plane has come to a stop, the stewardess announces “Folks, we are NOT in Minneapolis, we are in Chicago”. The collective “What!?” from seemingly everyone else other than Bland Bob, the Class Clown and his lackey makes me laugh. It’s 7pm now - I call Jac and tell her I’m going to be delayed some more. The old geezer walks himself off the plane with the medical staff, and hops into the ambulance, which then sits on the runway, like us for 45 minutes, as we speculate on our flight’s fate. Is the plane now ‘compromised’, since a passenger has gotten off? Do we have to go through security again and sit on standby? The stewardess and pilot are both unaware of the policy, and we wait anxiously, while those more fortunate (by which I mean less tall) than I stand up and stretch out. 5 hours of sitting on a plane is a literal pain in the ass.

Finally, we get the go ahead, and after a ‘quick’ de-icing stop, and a bit of waiting on the runway for our turn to take off, we get on our way. This leg of the journey is largely uneventful, although I did manage to squeeze myself into the pathetically small bathroom, and stand up and take a piss while not actually standing up… Upon my exit from the world’s smallest cubicle, a fellow passenger asks “How did you fit in there?” A dry “I didn’t” was the wittiest reply I had to offer.

We finally touch down in Minneapolis, at 9pm. Not 4.30pm. And I ring Jac, and I tell her I’m finally there. She tells me to wait by the baggage carousel, and hangs up - and then Caitlyn greets me, which was a great surprise, but I was surprisingly out of it from the amount of endorphins my brain had released to maintain paralysis of my posterior, and I waited by the first baggage claim I saw - the wrong baggage claim. I may even have called her by the wrong name when I saw her, but I was overjoyed at the prospect of not having to spend any more time in a plane!

The weekend that followed was worth the problematic trip, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear - I wish I had taken my camera so I’d at least have some colourful indication of the happy ending, but such is life! Thanks for reading this gargantuan post, I'm sorry to have taken as much of your time as I have with some of the self-indulgent narration that I have, but this is a recreation of the inner-monologue that I entertained myself with on the plane!

Nothing says "I love you" like a hand-made Valentine... To my friends who have yet to meet Caitlyn, however, it says something more along the lines of "Is Sully a paedophile?"

Also, just to tie up the loose ends; we were told that the chap who suffered the heart attack was in a ‘stable condition’ upon our arrival in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, after leaving the hospital he was hit by a bus and died.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Open to Interpretation?

Sorry that Part 2 of the Chicago trip blog isn't here yet, but I've been distracted with what I'll discuss later!

I went to my creative writing class this morning, the one that's focusing on poetry far longer than it ought to be, and I got back one of the first poems I had to write at the start of the semester. I wish I had a scanner, as I'd just slap it up here and let it speak for itself, but now I guess I have to go to the hassle of replicating it through text... After being shackled to the formula of writing a haiku, I got a little nutty, and decided to voice my disdain by writing a crap, crass, juevenile poem. The 'poem' and subsequent feedback were as follows;

Poets love winter scenes,
The snow, wind, and icy lakes...
I prefer boobies

Next to the poem, he wrote "Entertaining - nice abrupt change of tone".

Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Obligatory Sight-seeing Blogging

UPDATE 01/12/07 : Just realised that 'Chicago' is not mentioned once over the course of this blog entry! Sorry about that!

Right - now that I'm done with the vent-fest that was Belgium Week, it's time to resume your scheduled programming!

The purpose of the trip was to meet up with my buddy Mike, who was visiting his girlfriend Holly, but it afforded me a chance to meet plenty of interesting characters, sample the different culture, and do the obligatory sightseeing nonsense that these study-abroad experiences are expected to be riddled with!

I arrived on Thursday evening, and went out to a Disco Bar type setting, which was a fairly typical night - had no problems getting in with my poorly faked ID, and I spent the evening conversing with random friends of Holly. Amazingly, for the first time since I got here, I met two Irish lads, one of whom was studying abroad in the States for a year, much like myself. The similarities didn't end there though, his tongue was loosened from a fairly successful night of drinking, and we found out we had a lot in common, most of which was the eerily similar tales of our respective American girlfriends... As if there's only one formula that all these yanks use in order to secure themselves some hot-piece-of-poor-'th'-sound-pronouncing-man-ass! My similarities with my new friend ended when later on in the night I witnessed him urinating behind a mailbox while his friend screamed drunken obscenities at some large looking men... Those fightin' Irish!

On the freezing cold walk back, I learned that Dunkin' Donuts was still open, so of course we had to stop in on the way - and in the process stumbled upon a freestyle rap battle! Basically there were two black kids against four or so white boys, and the white guys got schooled. My initial speculation that the black guys had a list of insulting rhymes pre-learnt so they could rattle off was disproved after they took what the white kids said and turned it against them. I was a little disappointed that the black kid kept everything at 'ghetto' mentality - talking about selling crack and smoking dope, when he seemed to be not be doing so poorly, judging from his 'fly' clothing. After knocking the uppity white kids speechless, they embraced as a show that the entire affair was in good humour, which was a relief that nobody was in fact, going to get capped in their pasty white ass. Sadly, I had no camera on me to document this fascinating ritual, but it's definitely something that you have to see for yourself.

Friday was the main day of sightseeing - Mike and I walked the 'Miracle Mile' - which is basically a lot of nice shops, as we made our way towards the Sears Tower, stopping into the Library along the way to avail of the bathroom facilities (not that you needed to know that, but it's technically another thing I saw). The closer we got to the Sears Tower, the more 'Caution - Falling Ice' signs we saw. When we were within a four block radius of the tower, we began to see this ice we were cautioned about, as the brick-sized lumps hurtled towards the ground at a startling pace. Amazingly, despite a couple of near misses, I didn't see anybody get hit.

The observation deck on the 103rd floor was closed for annual renovations, so we went to the 99th floor... (just doesn't seem as impressive, does it?) Here we were mesmerised by the falling ice as we waited for Holly, her brother and his friend to meet up with us. Despite the mist, the view was still pretty impressive, and from sitting around for a half hour or so, it at least felt like better value for money than my time atop the Empire State building! (and watching ice fall to earth and speculating how many people it killed made for a fun game)

That blur to the top, just left of centre is a chunk of ice hurtling towards someone's skull

Here's Scott and Kevin demonstrating how tall this tower is. Cheers lads.

This post is getting long, so I think I'll finish the rest later, but here's some more pics and info!

Mike and I went to a mall where they were recording a Christmas Movie with Vince Vaughn!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Belgium Week Fornight: The Conclusion

Wondering why I'm still writing about Belgium? Well, this is a way for me to illustrate that much like my co-op experience, what was advertised is not what you're going to get...

Okay, I admit, it was because I had academic obligations that were slightly more pressing than the climax of Belgium Week.

During the week, a friend informed me that some hapless UL students have recently arrived in Leuven for work at the Institute, and I honestly feel like I have their blood on my hands. Call me naive, or even egocentric, but when I was sent home because of my bad back, one of the last things I said to Dermot was that I was beginning a campaign to end the future suffering of our peers who would be duped like we had been, because I honestly thought I could make a difference if they found out how absolutely horrid it was!

Dermot, wishing he was the dead terrorist on the front of this magazine

I stormed into my placement officer's office the day after I arrived home, bearing in mind that I'd have to stay some bit level-headed while still telling her of the atrocities. I began by telling her about the potentially illegal housing. It was like talking to a machine - with a complete poker face she tells me she'll pass it onto her superior. "I'll inform Jerry".
I told her about the insanely long working hours.
"I'll inform Jerry."
I told her that there was no educational value to be found whatsoever from the experience, and the time off is insufficient to see Europe.
"I'll inform Jerry."
Any number of things I said to her were met with this pre-programmed response. It was futile.

Exasperated, I was began to spit vitriol, and begun using the same adjectives I've been plastering here, "back-breaking", "depressing", "demeaning", "degrading", "infuriating", "pointless".
She kept her professional composure, and offered no reactions, or even a compassionate ear. My list of solid arguments ended, but I didn't, and I continued to talk, now only with blind fury:
"I mean... Christ! The people who work there and enjoy it are goddamned idiots who get by by drinking every moment they're not at work, and even sometimes when they are!"

I wanted to tell her about my first morning there, when a colleague came down from her room to the sitting room, sat on the couch, and started smoking a joint. For breakfast. Not a word of "Would you mind?" or "Is it okay if...?". Not wanting to avail of the second-hand dope-smoke, I had to go into my room and kill time on my laptop... This motif continued for the following four and a half months, as I didn't want to be a part of anything that was going on in that house.

I wanted to tell her all of this, but she cut me off, in a very curt, professional manner.
"Now Seán, I'm willing to let you express your concerns about the co-op, but don't bitch about the people you had to work with! Show some sense of professionalism."
I was so used to being talked down on and taking it on the chin, I'm not even sure if I replied. The topic of the Institute essentially ended on that note; me being reprimanded.

This is, of course, part of the reason my co-op report is as inhibited as it is (if you've read the below posts you'll know that my word choice is ironic). However, I have yet to hand it in, so nobody can avail of the many explicit warnings within. The final weeks of my co-op were spent working somewhere with actual educational merit, and I must construct a separate report that explains what I got up to there. This report will be the complete opposite of it's companion piece, and I'm hoping the juxtaposition between the two will show that I'm more than some lazy, begrudging bitter bastard, and someone who is willing to express an honest opinion.

To those students from the University of Limerick, or any other College anywhere in the world, who have been sentenced to misery by menial-labour, I have only one thing to say, and that is "Get out while you still can." For the love of Christ, don't hope that it'll get better and stick it out, no matter how much they promise you that more staff are on the way, or there's a quiet period coming up. Don't stay out of pride, or stubbornness, or fear that you've 'failed' by leaving and looking for something better, the Co-Op office should have given you a job that relates to your future career, and you shouldn't be there! It's not going to look very good on a CV/résumé that you spent 6 months scrubbing shit off of toilets, even if they were exotic "mainland Europe" toilets. Granted, since my time, there was a change in the upper-management, so maybe things are a little more reasonable, but that shouldn't be the point. You're in college, I assume you're there to ensure your future doesn't involve such derision, so why start now?

I'd like to end on the note that going to Leuven, despite the good that came with it, is still the closest I will ever come to making a decision that I will regret for the rest of my life.

"the good that came with it" (Note I'm wearing Dermo's shirt)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Belgium Week: The Debacle Continues

As mentioned more than once before, one of my few hobbies is editing videos that distil certain events into the highlights that were caught on tape. On occasion, a random idea will pop into my head, like a song that would complement a certain theme, and I’ll make a mental note of it, and get working on it as soon as possible. On the plane on the way over to Belgium, I thought of something nice; I was going to get the best photos and clips that I took, and edit them to the very sentimental song 'Wish you were here' by Incubus, as a sort of video-postcard for my friends and family. I had great ideas for this video, and had a loose framework of the kind of clips I wanted where, what transitions I was going to use, and a new technique I was going to employ to really push the sappy, sentimental angle.

This was going to be one of the first images you'd be confronted with

After a week in Leuven, I knew that this video would never see the light of day, because “I wish you were here” was a fate I’d never wish on any of my friends. I scrapped the idea, and after a month or two I thought I’d try again to get myself editing a video again, just for the sake of it. This one was going to use ‘The Adventure’ by Angels and Airwaves, and we got the first forty seconds into it without much effort, using the footage we took on our first trip to Brussels. Once we had squeezed every last shot out that we could, we were stumped as to what else we could put in - because we had few pictures or video footage of things that we’d want to remember, or even consider part of an ’adventure’. Rather than taking our minds off the miserable time we were having, our project only served to highlight the amount of things we wanted to forget about! I tried to complete it on my own, taking a different approach, but it fell asunder once more.

My demeanour in Belgium was a little different than usual. It was a joke that I was working there, and eventually living became one too. Every night, Dermot and I would lay in the bunk-beds, gossiping about the inane antics of our stupider colleagues and laughing at their expense, and asking all kinds of questions.

Every morning, like clockwork, before saying “good morning”, Dermot would announce how many days we had left, down to the half. More than a talking clock counting down to freedom, he was the guy who kept me sane during the entire debacle. We discussed other matters too; such as the first thing we’d do once our time was served, filling each other in on our real lives back home that we were eager to resume, and making countless morbid jokes about the sweet embrace of death, which tempted us with its instant release from our humiliation and degradation. Before you go re-reading that last one and panic, relax - it was 100% in jest, and more often than not, elaborately describing our comically grisly demises made for much mirth in the dark hours in the staff house.

Another of the photos from our first night... Pre-spirit breaking, of course!

Bear in mind that I’m only speaking on my behalf, but these are my better memories of the time I spent with Dermot in Belgium. Dermot was an oasis of intellectual stimulation in a barren desert of ignorance, and as a result was quickly catapulted into the ranks of my better friends and trusted confidant!

Anyways, I’m going to leave it at that for now; tomorrow should see the final entry or entries of Belgium Week, so be sure to check that out, and remember, comments are hugely appreciated!

Figgs gets special props for not being a plonker - cheers Figgs!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Belgium Week: More Co-Op Reportage

"Hey Dermo! I'll give ya a tenner if you skewer my heart with that corkscrew!"

This is the second instalment about my Co-Op Report, and this entry should see the scathing remarks intensifying. Rather than post in the entire thing (there’s some boring technical stuff that I won’t bore you with), here are the choice quotes from the Summary page, starting with the opening line.

The time I spent at the Louvain Institute for Ireland in Europe was a waste of my time. Reading this report may very well be a waste of yours. […] The Louvain Institute for Ireland in Europe scams its employees with the €110 a week 'trainee wage', which remains at that level regardless of the hours put in. It scams potential workers by telling them they'll be working 9 hour days, when 12-16 are more of a reality. It scams the Universities by misinforming them about the work and living arrangements their students will be a part of (we had to lie to the police about where we resided – what kind of an ethical organisation asks that of their workers?). […] Why should an English student have to make beds and scrub toilets? New Media and self-degradation have what in common? If I were doing European Studies, I could maybe understand why I was there, but since I wasn't, I considered it a failure of the coop office that such an option was being offered to students like myself. That's not to say UL should sever all ties with the Louvain Institute – if they ever offer a Janitor Studies course, it might justify the two organisations getting back in touch.

Shortly after my spirit broke, my back followed. Despite being diagnosed with Discus Bulging of the lower spine, and presenting my Doctor's note to my employer, I was still forced to engage in tasks of physical labour. I attempted to reason with the management to no avail. No amount of pleading would sway their decision, as they simply didn’t care about my welfare. When I brought the issue to the CoOp office and made my health-concerns known back home however, the institute dropped me like a sack of bricks. If I could glean nothing else from the CoOp, at least it has given me some peace of mind about the spinal defect that I have to live with for the rest of my life, as it spared me a month and a half of misery at the Louvain Institute for Ireland in Europe.

This picture was taken on the first night. It was six months before I ever saw Dermot Murphy smile again...

So that’s the Summary... So I’m ready to paste in more stuff from the Learning Opportunities page, and I honestly can’t believe some of the stuff I wrote here! Without further ado;

The learning opportunities were minimal at the Louvain Institute for Ireland in Europe, in terms of what can be applied to my course of study, or even life. It did, however, present me with numerous opportunities to indulge in drunken, drug-fuelled revelry and fornication. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the Learning Opportunities afforded to me by my Co-Op Experience, many of which I knew of already, some are activities that those who were content at the Institute got up to, so they're here just to take up space.

● Smuggling illegal drugs such as marijuana and hashish into Belgium is easily facilitated by a quick train to Amsterdam and a rucksack
● Cleaning caked-on human excrement off a toilet seat is best accomplished by squirting cleaning product directly onto the faeces, then leaving it to dissolve away the faecal matter until the smell rises, after which a damp sponge may be employed in a vigorous scrubbing manner.
● Without mental stimulation at work, a human being is capable of going into a trance-like state, wherein they carry out their work in a robotic fashion, all the while thinking of the other place where they wish they were
● During the aforementioned state of extreme boredom, certain items of cutlery take on unique personalities based on their distinctive markings
● Changing a beer keg is not difficult. Having to lug it half a mile around a hilly, cobblestoned town to where it has to be hooked up is the hard part
● Lower back pain can be exacerbated by the motions employed when clearing and setting tables
● There are people utterly devoid of ambition in this world who put up with incredible amounts of misery so long as they are granted occasional access to alcohol and/or drugs
● Ignorant people can, and do rise to positions where they can abuse young people
● A person can spend a solid 138 days of regretting a poor decision they made, until such time as they are freed from their misery
● The medical system in Belgium is highly efficient
● Living in a mouldy, damp house is a good way to develop an intestinal infection
● 'Flushing out' an infected intestine is a messy process
● Not all Co-op is worthwhile
● Fairly laid-back, easygoing people are capable of being remoulded into misanthropic, embittered shells of their former selves

Quite the denunciation, yes? But don't get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy, being the sort of person I am, I can see the positive side to having something to write about on a blog! The point of these entries is to emphasise the absurdity of the situation that I was sent to that desolate place with an educational value of nil as part of a four year degree course!