Thursday, November 28, 2013

Becca has a job!

I know what you're thinking...exactly what Becca needs!
I've been contemplating an Edinburgh job for a while, casually keeping my eyes open without hunting too hard. It's nice but not imperative to supplement the Marshall stipend. More than that, though, it's a really great way to become more fully integrated in the uni. I've really enjoyed working in higher education admin in various roles at my previous universities: in the GenCen (women's studies department) at Michigan State and International Office at the University of East Anglia. 
I've just been offered a job as a "Publications Assistant" for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. They are doing a major push to make more of their faculty's research open access - available to the public without paying for academic journal subscriptions. I'll be encouraging faculty to make their articles open access and working on document uploading, search parameter consistency, etc. Lots of happy, Type A paperwork to do!
I start that when I get back from Budapest. (Oh, yes. I'm going to Budapest. Because 55 pound return from London=why not!? Also, Spencer -mate from undergrad - is there.)

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

For the first time since 1888, the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are on the same Gregorian date. How delightful! Food! Lights! Family!

I celebrated last night with a Christmas party with my LLM cohort...since many of us are leaving this weekend.

I leave for London this evening for the Marshall-wide turkey shindig, which this year is going to also involve dreidels and a menorah-lighting, because why not?!

See the latest episode of "Ramblings"...discussing Hanukkah and Thanksgiving in front of a Christmas tree.


I have an amazing vivid memory of writing and publishing this blog post. But apparently I didn't. Sorry, folks.

Last Friday, I jetted away from bonny Scotland to Amsterdam!
...I was not doing what many people think of as weekend mini-breaks to the Netherlands. (Though it was very clear that some of the folks on my plane were.)

My mate Ally got married in September. I was supposed to be her maid of honor...and very distinctly wasn't because the UKBA still had my passport for visa processing and I couldn't leave the country.
But...enter the beauty of multi-national families! Josh is Dutch, with extensive and close family in Holland. They went to visit their Dutch family as a honeymoon of sorts, and also had a second wedding ceremony/blessing at their family's church there.

It was really lovely to see Ally again and meet her family. Also a joy, of course, to have a good excuse to see the Netherlands! Her family lives in Harderwijk, a small city smack dab in the middle of the country. Lovely train rides to and from the airport, a really cute town centre, and adorable Dutch children in festive hats and shoes, since Sinterklaas comes on 5 December!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas is Coming!

I know, I know, it's too early!

Except I live in a country without there isn't actually a major holiday between Halloween and Christmas. And that pushes things up a bit.

And then there's the fact that classes end for Term 1 on 29 most people who are heading home will be leaving that weekend. Thus, if we want to do course Christmas parties, they have to happen now-ish!

So Christmas has come to Rebecca's Rooms of Requirement. There are trees, and snowflakes, and lights, and candles galore. And it is beautiful!

Not sure we're going to get actual snow...

I had just a few people over last night for a gift exchange, as a lot of folks had to bail at the last minute. But next week I'm having a social for the full International Law cohort, and I'm setting up a "White Elephant" exchange. The “White Elephant” Gift Exchange is a North American holiday party tradition. Everyone is asked to bring one small wrapped gift (<5 GBP). During the social, attendees will take turns unwrapping a gift. People have the option to open a new gift or “steal” an already unwrapped gift. The point of this is entertainment and laughs over which gifts become popular and who steals from whom.

We did a mini version last night. Naveed got chopsticks, and a 5-minute lecture from me and Becca (the other of my best English mates is also named Becca) about how he should learn to actually use them. Other Becca left with a snuggly lion companion (stuffed, not real - I didn't do an actual "white elephant" problematic gift) she has dubbed Aeb. And I have a lovely box of chocolates!

Monday, November 18, 2013

PhD/DPhil...thoughts, world?

I promised recently on “Ramblings with Rebecca” that we are going to do a Latin Week – introducing and defining some of the legal phrases I’ve stumbled upon. They will probably have nothing to do with each other or have any kind of relevance, really…just fun concepts that have become everyday language in my life.
In the meantime, though, I am writing up proposals for my PhD…and so today’s “Ramblings” episode was a fairly personal ramble of “HELP! WHAT AM I DOING?!?”
I am currently debating:
-Institution. Where should I go? Current top three are Cambridge, King’s College London, and Oxford.
-Topic. Food, water, environmental resources, justice, Middle East. That’s the general idea, but there are a *lot* of potential topics in there, and I do need a very specific set of research questions.
-Advisor. Probably the single greatest impact on my PhD/DPhil experience is the faculty member who will most directly oversee me.
-Discipline. Anthropology, international relations, public policy, development, human geography. So many options. Name that social science! This is probably more a question of going with whichever department my chosen advisor is in.

As of right now, I am planning to apply:
-PhD, Human Geography, Cambridge, where I would focus on food security issues.
-PhD, Human Geography, King’s College London, where I would focus on virtual water, hegemony, trade relations, and local actions vs. macro discourses.
-DPhil, Public Policy, Oxford, where I would focus on how national policies can better harness environmental resources as peace and regional cooperative mechanisms.

Any thoughts on any of this would be greatly appreciated, as I am still massively wrestling with all of the above…

Friday, November 15, 2013

AMENDS Reunion!

I came into London this weekend to meet with potential PhD advisor and catch up with some mates. And the timing was delightful...because I enjoyed a mini AMENDS Reunion! My roommate from the Stanford conference in April is visiting London with her family this week. 
Ghadeer and I met for coffee and swapped stories about how our initiatives are progressing. 
This evening, one of the Marshall Scholars from a few years ago who was a delegate at AMENDS' Inaugural Summit is able to join the current Marshall crew for drinks. 
Two in one day, lucky me! Both Ghadeer and Brian will be in Istanbul in January, when we will see many more of the crew. Full family reunion coming up. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I had forgotten how much fun bowling could be till a coursemate organised a night out for us. I just completed my second evening's bowl in Edinburgh, and a grand time was had by all.
I purposefully invited a hodgepodge of folks who didn't know each other too well from across courses and disciplines. The eight of us represented five different degree programmes and five different countries (Australia, Germany, Greece, UK, US).
I will just casually mention that I beat the Brit in my lane all three games (to the tune of mutual and contradicting taunts such as "Go, England" and "Boo, the English!").
This is not to say I actually have any skill. I don't think I got above 150 in any of the games...but I did definitely break 100 for a couple of them!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Good-bye, Sunshine!

We had three days of insanely gorgeous weather. It coincided with the visit of a favourite colleague from Michigan State's GenCen. We got in a lot of fantastic hiking and walking and around Edinburgh and barely did any indoor tourist stuff.
And then...this morning. Airport dropoff rather early...and it's been pouring. Ironic, since both of the people visiting me have been nicknamed "Sunshine" by others. 
"Please don't take my sunshine away!"
(Enjoy your flight, Sunny.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Remembrance Day

We're "remember, remember"-ing the 5th of November. However, the 11th of November is also a big day for our memories in the UK and other Commonwealth countries: It's a version of the US' Memorial Day.
Remembrance Day is celebrated on the 11th; churches around the UK tend to focus the nearest Sunday on services dedicated to remembering and honouring victims of war. Our service this morning began ten minutes early so the full church could be in silence, along with many other churches across the world, "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" - when the Armistice with Germany went into effect, ending the hostilities of World War I.
Red poppies, flowers on graves, crosses in public gardens, etc. are all very common for a week or two on either side of Remembrance Day. This morning also saw a large Pipers' Processional on the Royal Mile with even more folks than usual in kilts. I believe a lot of army pipers were about.
Also at church: Scouts in their uniforms! 'Twas delightful to see the Girl Guides and Boy Guides all about.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Remember, remember

It's the 5th of November!

But what on earth are we celebrating, or commemorating, or remembering, or whatever?

On this day when Britains are celebrating...or mourning...or remembering the

  • torture and execution of traitors/Catholic freedom fighters, and/or 
  • the successful foiling of an assassination plot,
I encourage all Americans to go vote.

And remember that the winners write history.

And remember that I don't encourage assassination and think there are many better ways to work for justice.

But there are probably also better ways to commemorate the capture and death of a hurting man who felt he was fighting for religious freedom than to burn his effigy.

That being said...I'm totally going to watch fireworks tonight.

Check out Ramblings for an episode on the story of Guy Fawkes.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Spencer is a much better and more dutiful correspondent than I. I have utterly failed to send more than two postcards since moving to Edinburgh; he managed to send off four in four days. 
So, you know, guilt trip...
Let me know if you would like a postcard. If only because it comes complete with an adorable thistle stamp if I go to the right post office.