Lately I've been extremely busy and havn't got round to blog therefore. I had my last midterm today, and although this day is called Dia de los muertos or "Day of the dead", I think I survived one more crazy exam. Now I finally foresee a week of doing perhaps something else than study 24-7. They really force one to study like maniacs here, actually one of the 8 PhD students I started with quit because he couldn't find enough time to study, having a family and all.
Last wednesday was halloween, it was really interesting to see all kinds of people, children and students walking around in costumes. Some students and faculty showed up to school wearing costumes. Buildings were decorated, costume parties were held etc. Sadly I had absolutely no time to take part, since I was of course studying. However, it was nice to see children and teenagers walking around in the streets after dark in my neighbourhood. Normally the streets where I live are completely void of any life after dark.... because it's dangerous to go outside after dark, of course.
While we're on the subject of how dangerous my neighbourhood is, there was a murder here close by the other day. Extremely scary! A guy on a bike was killed in a drive-by shooting! It happened in the middle of the day, outside the house of a friend of mine. It is thought to have been gang related, although the motif was not known. This is apparently how everyday life in LA is. After this happened I've become scared of walking outside in my neighbourhood, even during daytime. I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder, and looking out for spooky people.
And yes while we're on the subject of getting killed. Yesterday, on halloween of course, I woke up at 6am in the morning to the quieking sound of the firealarms in my building (which I live alone in). It turned out that the newly installed heater had turned on automatically during the night because the temperature went below 15C or so, and set fire to something in the ventilation system. This caused smoke in all the appartment. Luckily I was quick to discover the source of the smoke and turn the heater off before the whole building went down in flames.. I was shocked, things could have gone worse, much worse. Fire is especially dangerous here in LA since everything is so dry. After this I don't even feel safe inside.
But although things here can sometimes seem dire, the constant good summer weather makes up for incredibly much. It lets you tolerate much more. And no matter bad things look it's impossible not being affected by the constant summer atmosphere here. Actually this place grows on you, and like all places it has good things and bad things...
This weekend I'm going to a Laguna Beach resort (payed by the school), where I plan to lie on the beach and enjoy the sun.. :) Perhaps I'll even get a chance to learn how to surf?