Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
It won’t have escaped the notice of many of you that it’s Valentine’s Day this Saturday. Ah yes, you can almost hear all those young men’s fancies lightly turning to thoughts of love, can’t you? Sadly, romance isn’t what it used to be, and in today’s materialistic world it doesn’t really come as a surprise to hear that a first-year student at Bristol University has auctioned her virginity to get herself through her degree course. 18-year-old Rosie Reid from Dulwich in London decided to make her extreme offer on eBay after calculating that otherwise she faced a debt of £15,000 on leaving university. Apparently she received more than 400 offers within the first three days. The University has remained neutral on the issue, and although Rosie’s parents regret what she’s doing, they recognise that as she’s an adult, it’s her choice.
Student fees have been high up the political agenda in the UK in recent weeks, most notably on 27 January, when the Government faced one of the largest back-bench rebellions ever in a vote on legislation to introduce variable student fees. The proposal was to allow universities to charge up to £3,000 a year for their courses, rather than the present fixed fee of £1,125. But it was particularly controversial, both because there had been next to no public consultation and because the Labour Party had made a manifesto commitment not to introduce “top-up” fees. Its majority was cut from 161 to just five – and even then only after persuading several Scottish MPs to vote for the measure (which won’t affect Scottish universities) rather than abstain and see the Government defeated.
The controversy has continued to rage – over the dwindling prospects for prospective students from poorer families, over the ability of middle-class parents to pay off their children’s debts, and over the government’s tactics in fighting off the rebellion. Even within the academic world opinions are divided: although administrators have welcomed the move to a more flexible market, the lecturers’ unions fear that many new graduates – including new lecturers – will have debts bigger than their starting salaries.
Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:
Worth having a look at Ananova’s Quirkies page for some bizarre news stories. Steve Wright in the Afternoon, eat your heart out.
[Obsolete link removed]
Take any simple phrase, subject it to a machine translation and then translate it back to the original language. The result is often hilarious. You can do this quickly in several languages at:
Make sure you click the box to include Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to get the funniest results. Here’s one I tried earlier:
Original phrase: Mike Clark likes to have a sly dig in his gardening columns.
Result: With the fact of that they swim, the form the internal microphone, of hollowings of this Clarke and that to the interior, where this is specified, dressing gown to him is and similar.
Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:
Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.”
– Anatole France, author (1844-1924)
A professor at The University of Edinburgh is giving a lecture on the supernatural. To get a feel for his audience, he asks them, “How many of you believe in ghosts?”
About 80 students raise their hands. “That’s a good start,” says the professor. “For those who believe in ghosts, do any of you think you’ve ever seen a ghost?”
About 40 students raise their hands. “That’s great,” he continues. “I’m really glad you’re taking this seriously. Has anyone here ever talked to a ghost?”
15 students raise their hands. “That’s an amazing response,” remarks the professor, impressed. “Has anyone here ever touched a ghost?”
Three students raise their hands. “Brilliant. But let me ask you one question further… Have any of you ever been intimate with a ghost?”
One of the students raises his hand. The professor is astonished. He takes off his glasses, takes a step back, and says, “That’s amazing! In all the years I’ve been giving this lecture, no one has ever claimed that. Will you come to the front here and tell us about your experience?”
The Edinburgh student nods and makes his way down to the front of the lecture theatre. The professor asks, “Well, tell us what it’s like to make love to a ghost.”
The student replies, “Ghost?!? Jings!… I thought you said ‘goat.'”
Kay has been an expat for 25 years. She set up the British Expat website nearly 15 years ago, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)