I once saw a short film about the creation of an experimental dairy-based treat at BYU Creamery. It was formed when food science students decided to take two unrelated food concepts and see what would happen when you put them together.
Their creation? Carbonated yogurt.
It was a little wacky and weird, but it was unique and interesting. It was fun. It was something you didn’t expect, and even if it didn’t take off and become a cupboard staple in every home in America, it made for an interesting story and learning experience.
Experiencing other cultures is like that for me. One of the things I have really enjoyed about my time here in Newcastle is the opportunity it has given me to share experiences with people from different cultures. There are a bevy of international students at the university, and the city has truly embraced their various tastes and traditions. Within the Organic Farming program alone, there are students from China, Indonesia, Trinidad, Oman, Taiwan, England, Canada, and the US. When I had a classes with other students in the School of Agriculture, I made friends from Mozambique, Malaysia, Kenya, Germany, and Italy. My flatmates come from Brunei, Singapore, Turkey, and Thailand. I have a neighbor from Ghana, a church friend from Brazil, a professor from Portugal.
On a daily basis, I hear more foreign accents than I do British accents.
All of this exposure to other cultures has opened my eyes. It has made me more fond of and grateful for certain things in my own culture, and helped me fall in love with so many things from other cultures. But the thing I love most is that despite all of our differences of religion, food, art, history, politics, philosophies, etc., when we share experiences like this, we form beautiful connections. Sometimes they’re unexpected and unusual, sometimes they’re wacky and weird, but they’re always, always interesting and enlightening.
And I love it.
This is Daryl, one of my favorite people. He is an incredibly talented musician, so when he mentioned that he was participating in a student concert, I was really keen to go. Several other students performed as well, and the music ranged from folk to hard rock to electronica. Even though some of it didn’t match my taste in music, I loved seeing these musicians do something that clearly made them so very happy. Next to Daryl, I think my favorite performance was the guy who did “live coded music.” As a coder myself, it was really inspiring to see how he used technology to create something beautiful.
The stores around here take their Christmas window displays pretty seriously, but none more so than Fenwick*. This year’s display has an Alice in Wonderland theme, complete with epic music and animatronic characters!
* Say “Fennick, not “Fen-wick.”
I was supposed to go to the Preston Temple this Saturday, but then my ride fell through. Instead, I spent the morning enjoying good conversation and yummy hot chocolate with some wonderful friends, and then I took a walk around the city. This building is the Central Arcade, one of my favorites, and that bagpiper is usually there to fill the vaulted ceiling with his glorious droning. Sometimes, I will pretend that I need to go into the music store across from him just so I have an excuse to hear him play for a little bit.
I went to a Caroling service at a local Anglican church with my flatmate (a Muslim) and a friend from China. Even as a Christian, it was interesting to see some of the differences between my beliefs and the beliefs of those who attend this church, and singing sacred hymns in such a beautiful space with such a large crowd was inspiring to say the least.
The Ashington Branch* hosted a Ceilidh this week, and here is the awesome group of YSA people that went along for a whirl. A Ceilidh (“Kay-lee”) is a Irish dance with a caller, much like the square dances we used to do in Elementary School. It was a lot of fun, and the music was fantastic!
*A branch is what we call a small congregation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
This is another one of my favorite buildings downtown. It’s just a department store, but I think the building has such character.
Santa Claus made a special appearance at our Christmas party after Institute on Tuesday. His friend here is Damon, who had never gotten a Christmas gift from Santa Claus before that night.