Contrary to popular belief...

(1) I am not a travel agent
(2) nor do I have time (or the interest) to go on a "witch hunt".

Oh don't ask how these stories intertwine but they're on my mind and one day I WILL write a book about NOT having all the answers and perhaps these will make an appearance.

Being a sorority advisor has its ups and downs, but in the end you just know the juice is worth the squeeze (can I use that in this situation?) so you keep going and hope for the best.

Some of my favorite moments are when "the advisors" are accused of being on a "witch hunt" - you know, looking for every single member who has ever broken a rule or a part of the standards code that the sorority stands on, so they can be "punished".

I am always so very flattered when chapter members assume this attitude, because quite frankly it's nice to think that they actually think even if I had the time to go on a witch hunt, that I actually would...ahem, nope.

Unfortunately (or really probably, fortunately, for many), I do not have the time nor the interest. And neither do my fellow advisors. Contrary to popular belief, we too like to think of ourselves as having "lives" outside of the sorority...

As an aside, however, if you do get "caught" doing something you know you shouldn't be doing...well, chances are you weren't very good at "hiding" what you shouldn't have been doing in the first place - and remember, we too, were chapter members at one point in time.

And please, trust me, no one goes LOOKING for anyone to screw up. At least not these advisors.

In today's world students find it appropriate to contact you with official business through the facespace. Especially when you are not "friends" on the social network. Yes, they have your email address, but that might not be INSTANT in eliciting a response from you.

Once a student asked for the details surrounding a change they wanted to make to their return flight, about a week out. Within the inquiry there were no details - when, from where, to where, etc...things a travel agent would need to know. I did not ask for these details in my response because? I am not a travel agent.

So instead, I explained they would need to be in touch with the agent and to include some additional details, to learn the specifics. Easy enough, I even included the travel agent's email address (because they are not on the facespace).


The student responded to say in not as many words that their professor directed them to me (correct thing to do) since I booked their flight, but if I was unable to and refused to help, could I please pass them the contact information for the Director of the program, so they could be in touch him instead?

Dear student. Unfortunately, I am not a travel agent, nor is the director. Furthermore, neither of us booked your flight, nor did our office, we pay people to do that. You selected a group flight through your application, but that information goes to the travel agent, who books the ticket, not us, we're not the travel agency. The ticket is in your name, you paid for it, you must take care of whatever changes you are interested in pursuing. I am deeply sorry that I cannot be of further assistance, because if I could help I would, but I can't. So do, please, call the airline and take care of this yourself. And have a fantastic time traveling the continent.

PS - the office is CLOSED!


What's that cliche phrase?

"It's a small world, afterall"? I hate cliches. But in this case I'm going to have to use it.

I do think that it's only a small world for those able to explore it, actually. But that's a different topic for another day.

I've been coming to London for three years now, in the summers. It's funny how you can travel somewhere and have no idea there are people you know who live there. Sometimes you don't discover this until after you've left and you've posted all the photos on the facespace and your friend comments, "when were you in ____? I live there!"

Or sometimes you discover a friend lives in a city by happenstance.

Karen is moving to Singapore for a year for work, today actually - BEST OF LUCK KAREN! On my way to London I sent the usual bbm to Karen and Dewi: hey I'm on my way to London, let's get together sooner this year than last!

Karen responded: hey not sure if you know, I'm moving to Singapore for a year for work, you must come to my birthday/going away part July 2! Will send you the invite on facebook...

So I check out the invite, decide I am absolutely going even if it is in the middle of arrival weekend and I know I will have had no sleep - because this summer is going to be the summer where the program doesn't control my life, I'm taking back some of the control and I'm going to try to actually enjoy...and those of you who really know me know it's very easy for me to just stay stuck in the office "working" to make sure every little detail is perfect...

People I haven't seen in years and years (since 1998 or earlier to be exact, when we lived in Surabaya, Indonesia) have RSVPd that they are going to Karen's party. When I arrive it's just Karen and her boyfriend, James, and we start chatting it up - it's been a year since I've seen her so there's a lot to discuss.

Karen mentions the people who are coming, and the last minute message she got from "Daz" who said he would be there but hadn't responded on facebook.

I'm sorry, Daz? As in my 8th grade prom date?

Karen says, "yeah, he lives here, he's lived here for years, did you not know?"

Obviously not.

Let's back-track to my 13-year-old self in the 8th grade. Like every other 13 year old girl in the world, I was boy-crazy. And Daz had just move to Sby from Australia, he was the best swimmer on the swim team and I had the BIGGEST crush on him. Tall, dark, sarcastic and "mixed" Chinese/English, so you know he was adorable...He was in the 10th grade, and he asked me to go to prom with him. OMG, going to prom as an 8th grader? With a 10th grader no less. There were only a few who were invited. At least that's how I like to remember it. And my dad, Mr. Lamb himself, agreed that I could go.


Let's just say when Daz walked in to the party I reverted back to that 13-year-old-awkward-self and was completely at a loss for words. All I could think about was the night he picked me up at our house by campus with his driver and how nervous I was. What if he tries to kiss me?!?!?!?

Roll your eyes, react however you want, but it shook me considerably that night at Karen's party because I was "prepared" to see whomever else had RSVPd, but was certainly not prepared to see this huge crush from my childhood...

Because I was unprepared to see this blast-from-the-past, I hadn't had time to walk down memory lane to remember ANYTHING from that point in my life (how often do you think back to when you were 13, really?) and since my memory is complete shite anyway, I was in this cloud of trying to act normal but also trying to piece together that period of history.

Of course Daz, the smart ass he is, remembered everything. But he also had the advantage of having just cleaned out some of his old things and had READ THROUGH every letter I had ever written him.

"I wrote you letters?" No, I didn't remember at that moment...

But of course I did...because I am the biggest cheese-ball ever. I still am.

After a while (a few days) the pieces of memory started coming back to me. I vaguely remember sprinting to the high school from the middle school between classes to throw a note at him, or at someone whom I knew he was going to be in class with. I remember that I folded them a special way. I have NO IDEA what I wrote in them, but Daz didn't hesitate to remind me that I would write somewhere on them, or sign them or something, with "a.d.i.d.a.s."


Completely mortified.

No one expects to remember those kinds of details from their teenage past, do they? So I'm just dumbfounded, still, sitting in front of him, catching up with him and others from that past. Daz took the photo shown below. Everyone else has more history, because they stayed in Sby whereas I moved to Abu Dhabi for high school, and graduated there...

Anyway - it's just crazy how life works. Since that night I may or may not have seen Daz a few times :) Afterall, we hardly know each other now, after what, 12 years? We did go to an SIS mini-reunion at the Atkins residence outside of Oxford this past weekend, it was again a blast from the past and such good fun.

Ohhh tell me something new...

Last summer was insane. Really, I don't remember having much fun in London except for a few times:
  1. A very late night/early morning return during a weekend which went from dancing with some Indian dude wearing a shirt that read on the front: "I'm that guy" and on the back: "You're that girl" - to dancing and singing in the street with some street musician playing Wonderwall - to sitting on some steps on the strand side of Waterloo eating 4am McDonald's...mmmmm, lovin' it!*
  2. Meeting up with Karen and Dewi at Giraffe for dinner and buying my first pair of Liz's husband Leo's silver earrings off Karen.
  3. Writing about all the antics that went on around this place...
What antics from last year? They're all a blur now, but James did a good job of reminding me before I landed, I think he's missing being here for it all this summer: the professor that went home, three students that went home, the remodeling of a shower in the dorm, the vibrating room...the list goes on.

Let's talk about this year...


Pre-departure we discovered a student's passport expired in 2009. "Hello, student, your passport expired in 2009, you won't be able to participate on the program unless you renew your passport."

Student: "I thought that passports are good for life"

Office: "Right, well, but it has an expiration date written on the photo page, doesn't it? So it's like milk, after a certain date it goes bad, and it's written on the carton so people don't consume it after that date..."


It's 2:30am, there's a pounding at my door. Jordan? No, she would just walk in...the knocking only grows louder. I take out my earplugs and look at my phone. Two missed calls. "COME IN" I shout, and "Sally" enters, "'Brenda" has dislocated her kneecap!" she exclaims.

...What? Who? What?

"Brenda has dislocated her kneecap, she fell down the stairs on her way back from a McDonald's run, and I think it's pretty bad...you have to come see."

"Okay let me put some clothes on and I'll be right out...what room number?"

On the way upstairs I'm googling 'dislocated knee cap' and the images I'm receiving are brutal-looking. This student is going to have to go to the hospital if their knee looks anything like what I'm seeing on WebMD.

In Brenda's room, she is on the bed, clearly in pain but I'm not getting a good reading of how much. That knee cap is certainly still in place by the looks of it.

I ask Brenda, "Can you bend your leg? can you move it at all? what happened? do you need to go to the hospital?"

[confused, scared, blank stares]

Sally says, "We tried to call Professor A (whose uni they are from) but he didn't answer. Let's call that tall man! The one who teaches sports! He's a doctor, isn't he?"

Yeah...not the same kind of doctor...we're not calling him at 3am.

I'm finally awake and have decided this knee cap has to be strained but it's certainly not dislocated, so I say, "okay, Brenda, you have to speak to me and tell me what you need and how I can help. Do you want to go to the hospital?"

Brenda says, "no!"

"Well do you want to go in the morning?"

Brenda says, "no!"

"Okay. So, it's 3am, you don't want to seek medical assistance, I think that's a fair decision because it looks like you've just badly bruised your kneecap...sooooo, what is it you need from me that can't wait until the morning?"

I didn't really say that, actually, I was very kind because I know Brenda was shocked and scared, and really it was Sally who decided to come and get me, I still don't understand how she got in to my flat after I missed the phone calls....

A few nights later Brenda called me at 3am, "do you have anything that will help me sleep?" Turns out Sally had given her something to help her sleep the night before, and Sally wasn't responding so she called me..."yes, I have some dramamine for travel sickness that might relax you, I'll be right up".

Just another day on the job.


Student: I need a linen change.

Me: Okay, I can schedule you for one, but can it not wait until the regularly scheduled change? In a few days?

Student: No, I sort of wet the bed.

Me: Hmmm? What do you mean by 'sort of'?

Student: I got really drunk last night and wet the bed.

Me: Believe it or not this isn't the first time this has happened on this program, I'll schedule you for a linen change, you might be responsible for any damages made to the mattress.

Student: Okay, thank you.

Note: there is a laundry facility located in the building. There is no way in hell I would have admitted to something like that, I would have washed my sheets and acted as if nothing had ever happened. But that's me.


After the official welcome in the chapel across the bridge, there's always a cocktail style finger-food reception. I'm standing at the veggie-hummous table enjoying some broccoli and 'Miss Congeniality' strolls up, "where can I sit?"

"Hmmm? Oh it's a cocktail reception, so just stand and mingle."

Then I see her plate piled up with appetizers, clearly her meal for the evening, she wants to sit down and get serious with this food.

"Soooo, there aren't any seats at all?" she asks. Clearly she can take a look around herself and answer this question, but surprisingly students these days tend to think less and less for themselves, they are always looking for the answer from someone else and in this study-abroad program's case, those answers must come from your's truly...

"I am not sure, take a look around, if you find a seat, have at it, enjoy the evening."

'Miss Congeniality' has an amazing attitude about her, really it's quite impressive, and she says, "well I see some seats over there, can I sit in those?"



This is really just a general point: students today don't read anything.

I've been told I am one of the best at making a sarcastic point with such a smile and sweetness to me that I am able to get away with more than most impatient people. I am unaware of when I'm doing this, but I do like to make a point, especially after I've worked so hard to get fool-proof information across. And when I say "fool-proof" I mean that I will literally have students proof my "notices" before I post them to ensure I've answered every possible question anyone could think of.

I know that I can be a smart ass when it comes to a question I have already provided the answer to. So when a students asks me a question they clearly have not taken the responsibility to answer themselves, it ignites a fire in me. Think of it as an opportunity to help someone learn a valuable lesson: READ PEOPLE!

For example, we post announcements on the bulletin boards in the breezeway - anyone who enters or exits the building must pass by these boards - and if there is something more detailed to share, we post notices on every flat door to ensure students receive the most up to date information.

It really gets under my skin when a student comes in with a question, that is thoroughly answered on the notice posted to their flat door days ago. So my initial response to their question is, "have you had a chance to read the notice on your flat door?" The student's response is always, "yes, I read it."

Oh is that so? Alright, well let's take another look at it together, shall we? And I will read aloud the very clear answer to their inquiry and then ask, "so tell me again, what is your question?" Works every time.

Sure, sometime I come across as a not-so-nice-word, but I'm trying to teach some life lessons here people, be responsible for yourself!


Much of my job responsibility is the daily management of decisions that have already been made. In some cases I get to make the decisions, but on the highest level I purely manage the decisions that others make, which I feel I am quite good at, even when I don't always agree with the decision. So, I thoroughly appreciate when a student has the audacity to look at me in a ridiculous manner and say, "well that's lame" about a program policy or decision that has been made that I clearly have little-to-no control over.

Thanks, I appreciate your point of view, sorry you feel that way.

That's it, that's all I can muster for now...and the sun has finally come out, I must go outside!

PS - must I mention that the names of the "real" people above have been changed to protect the guilty? Yes, I must mention that.

*For a better idea of point 1 at the top of the list for "fun" from last year, check out minute 3:24 at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/user/SirSeef#p/a/u/2/O6WxZ9bNvDY

A ginger child stole my heart...

My dad has a thing for red-heads (my mother), and I’m guessing it runs in the family because a ginger child has stolen my heart this summer. With fire-ey red hair and freckles, and big brown eyes, he had me at “hewwo”. Actually that’s a lie, it was his first eye-roll that really did it for me. Or perhaps it was when he lost his sixth tooth as he was showing me how loose it was. Who knew a 6 year old could be so charming.

One day he asked if we could have lunch together. He brought a card game called “Whot!” (much like UNO), some pasta, his dad, and fresh blueberries to share. Every day since our first date he climbs on the ledge behind some bushes outside our office window to knock on the glass and wave, smiling his toothless grin.

One day last week he came by and we chatted through the glass. He said he had been to the British Museum and got scared and then sick. “What do you mean you got sick?” I asked. “I threw up, I puked, because I was so scared.” It was the unraveling mummies that did it for him, too much for a 6-year-old.