God put a smile upon my face

Work has begun to pick up again now, and as much as I like the easy life, this is not unwelcome. Having nothing to do all the time can be fun for a few days, but it quickly becomes old and makes a bit of a mockery of the whole academic exchange. In reality, it isn’t that I don’t have anything to do, it’s just last quarter was so manic with the Aerodynamics and Heat Transfer, that only having 3-4 fairly easy problems a week in each subject this quarter is a bit of a walk in the park. There is a midterm for Propulsions next Tuesday though, so it is nice to get cracking with that. At the moment Propulsions is by far my favourite class, as it is the most practical. Solids is interesting enough, but it is difficult to picture how it these principle stresses and angles are applied in the real world. Vibrations is just a pain due to the terrible textbook.

The Propulsions homework last week was rather more in depth too. For my part, it was not helped as my textbook remained in-transit with USPS, making a mockery of the estimated 1-2 days delivery estimate. It came, and not before time, on Friday. I was intrigued to find that it was a paperback, and despite coming from New Jersey was apparently not licensed for sale outside India, Pakistan, Bhutan, all that jazz. The quality seems to have suffered as a result, one particular page being stitched in all screwed up. Pity it’s a jolly important one! With the help of some scissors and a pencil this has all been patched up now though. So, for a US-Exchange Top Tip, you can save nearly $300 on your textbooks if you try, but you had better not be preparing yourself for a facsimile of the one you can buy for an extortionate price in the bookstore. And on that bombshell… I miss Top Gear.

Tuesday and Thursday were actually spent largely focussed on the weeks Propulsions homework, and harassing my friend the TA. After crashing his office hours for the third time in a row on Thursday, me and Nicole, and later at the library Ben, finally got it cracked. There are also the little things that trip you up, such the gravitational constant for American, wait excuse me, English units, or it’s that v² is in Joules per second and not kJoules. After spending a few hours at the library, I went off for lunch which Nicole decided to tag along with. Having a subway was most certainly welcome change from the pasta in the CV refectory. Out on the patio by the Price Center in the sunshine, you realise life is good. Thursday morning hadn’t been the best after I copied the angle down incorrectly for the quiz in Solids and had to madly rush through and do it all again in the four minutes. Now though, the sunshine had brightened everything up.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful, and Friday morning was no different. I took the opportunity to have a bit of a laugh doing a bit of filming of myself playing the piano (now on YouTube, search “Matt Holland Piano”). I got most of the Solids homework done, which killed a couple of hours, and picking up my Indian textbook and meeting Stefan to borrow his Vibrations book, I had a super fast lunch before the one and only class of the day at 2pm. It was Ballroom dancing after this, which I was beginning to lose the momentum with. This is in part since I can’t make the lesson part of Friday’s anymore, only the fun dance bit. This would be great if I already knew the dances, but I don’t. Once again, the TA was there but straight after introducing me to his friend he had to rush off. I hit it off rather quickly with his friend, partly because she was the spitting image in every way to another friend of mine. Being a novice dancer, she was on the whole as good a hoofer as me, and also enjoyed watching the others, so we stood there chatting and watching for a good hour.

In the evening, Nicole had invited me to a party some friends of hers were hosting. I managed to get slightly lost on the way there, and then had a bit of a misunderstanding of where we were to meet, but I was still there in good time, which was nice as it meant I could get acquainted with the hosts before hand. Things got even better when after an hour some more familiar faces came in through the patio doors. The premise of the night was that it was a $5 party, and you could spend you dollar bills getting people to do things or getting paid yourself, with the goal of breaking even. It didn’t get out of hand though and it was a good laugh, and much more light hearted and good humoured that parties I had been to in Edinburgh. American parties are certainly better in my opinion than Scottish ones. American Condo’s are also a cut above any sort of accommodation on offer for students in the UK. Have you’ve ever seen a condo, so student residence in a US TV show or film and thought “yeah right!”? Well, time to think again! It’s bang on the money. I was mighty impressed.

At about 12:30, Nicole said she was feeling pretty whacked and fancied heading back to watch a movie. I felt like my presence at the party had run its course and so was more than up for this. We got back, got some popcorn out, put ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ on and disappeared into the ridiculously large and comfortable leather couch. So comfortable was it, that what I’m sure was just a blink I was surprised in was to see that I had missed a good half hour of the film. I was shattered and it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep again.

Breakfast was a feast of baked beans on toast, the first time I’d had baked beans for neigh on 5 months! We chatted for a bit, got a few groceries at Trader Joes and then parted ways, so I could go back for a shower and her to do her gardening. I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to work after I got back, and the weather was so wonderful outside that a walk seemed in order. Putting on my cowboy gear, I headed out towards the cliffs at Torrey Pines. I really love my cowboy gear. I didn’t think that the items would quickly find themselves within my everyday rotation when I bought them, but they have now proved most worthwhile! I wear the boots most every day. In Torrey Pines, on the cliffs, in the late afternoon sunshine, everything felt brilliantly lazy. There no rush to get back and time could go on forever. Pure California soul. I took the opportunity for relax and bit in true cowboy style.

Happy days.

The lazy cowboy at Torrey Pines

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