Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I’m alive!!!

Ok, so it’s been nearly two months since my last blog post, mainly because I was busy flim-flaming my way from Birmingham to Cambridge to Berlin to Glasgow to Pittsburgh (via Iceland and New York). Suffice to say, it’s been a *hectic* two months, but I am now settled in my new house in Greenfields, Pittsburgh, PA. Hurrah!

But besides a bunch of international travel, I’ve managed to catch up with friends and family, see some interesting sights, learned loads at the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Berlin, watched a rugby game (we lost…), celebrated my 30th birthday (in Pittsburgh!), ate loads of nice food, scoped out some great bars, had some awesome beers (Berlin and Pittsburgh are hallowed venues for micro and craft brewing), finished up a funding application, finished up an edited book proposal (with only minor bumps along the way, mainly technological), *nearly* finished up a journal article (damn stats are still killing me), sorted a US bank account, sorted a US cell phone, sorted US internet access (hence the ability to now update the blog!), sorted a house (see above), sorted all my immigration and visa paperwork (so I’m not gonna get kicked out of the country!), found some nice parks, went for a few runs (which resulted in me not being able to run for a week due to a foot injury…), found the local Giant Eagle, found a local gluten-free bakery for Rebecca (so she can have bagels for the first time ever!), met some lovely new friends and colleagues, had an invite to speak at the Scottish Leadership Conference, and just generally had a really great couple of weeks.

Anyway, with secure internet up and running now, blog updates should be coming along a lot more regularly, so keep tuned for stories about my Fulbright year, sociolinguistic research, random musings, academic trials and tribulations, and all the rest of it.

– The Social Linguist

N.B This is not an official US Department of State blog. Views and information presented here are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Programme or the US Department of State.

Back into the fold

Yes, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger I’m afraid, with no update in over two weeks… Mea culpa! The trip to Brazil took a bit more out of me than I realised, and I ended up coming down with a cold which laid me low for about a week. Conferences are really hard work; being cooped up in a room with a bunch of people for three days straight, not enough sleep, not enough rest, lots of talking and thinking, so it wasn’t a surprise that when I got on the plane to fly back to the UK, my nose started running and my throat was killing. I went through an entire roll of tissue paper during the flight and wasn’t able to get any sleep. I’m sure that when Rebecca picked me up at Heathrow that I looked like death warmed up. Anyway, I seem to be on the mend now, and with the semester more or less finished now, I’m looking forward to the summer break so I can get on with my writing.

Ok, I suppose I should update on the rest of the conference, especially since the trip there was so torturous.


  • The two keynotes I saw (Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall) were really interesting. Kira’s was on the limp wrist gesture (LWG) in American culture, and she charted the spread of the gesture from the earliest Hollywood silent movies all the way through to contemporary comedy shows. While there wasn’t much in the way of language,the discussion of how it became embedded as a ‘gay’ gesture was brilliant (link with ‘weak’ masculinity, ‘primitive’ humanity and so on). Mary’s keynote was on reaffirming the feminist foundations of language, gender and sexuality studies, going through the major feminist movements and relating them back to the kinds of theoretical orientations each movement has.
  • Meeting new people: since I don’t really go to language and gender conferences, it was good to meet folk I would otherwise not have a chance to meet. It was also great hearing about the kinds of things people were working on, and the range of work was impressive.
  • Caipirinhas – enough said.
  • Getting some exposure on my work and the new Mock the Week research. The panel I was part of (organised by Tommaso Milani) was really well received and it was great to meet some people working on ‘tough’ masculinities.
  • Probably one of the best opening ceremonies of any conference I’ve ever been to ever. Great music from local school kids and I think they probably could have carried on for another hour or two.


  • It was a reallllllly long way to go, nearly 30 hours each way. This wasn’t as bad as some people’s journey who took about two days to get to Brazil, but still…
  • The conference venue – the people we met were really nice and my hotel was in a good location, but it just wasn’t a good city to walk around in. Every time we wanted to go anywhere, we had to get a taxi or bus. Even in Porto Alegre (see photos), it still felt a bit sketchy. This could be my spoilt Western perspective on things and the fact I don’t speak Portuguese, but still, I really didn’t fancy walking around either Sao Leopoldo or Porto Alegre at night.
  • Not enough discussion during question time at papers – I occasionally got the sense that there wasn’t much engagement with some of the papers I saw, most likely a by-product of the fact that everyone was absolutely shattered by the travel.

So yeah, as usual, some good, some bad, but an interesting experience nonetheless. Next conference up is at Berlin for the 19th Sociolinguistics Symposium, a behemoth of a conference with something like 20 parallel sessions and usually about 1000 delegates. I’ll be presenting a paper on the masculinities work I’ve been doing, and hopefully my paper will be before the conference dinner (and now I’ve said that, any money I’ll be on after it…).

Here’s some pictures of Brazil!

The Social Linguist

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Categories: Conferences Tags: , ,

Aventuras no Brazil

Well, it’s certainly been an overwhelming 24 hours of travel all the way from Heathrow to Porto Alegre, and I’m surprised I’m still awake to be able to type up this blog post…

I knew that it was doomed from the start when I found out that my seat from Heathrow to Sao Paulo (a 12 hour flight) was in the middle of a three-seater row. And because I have the worst luck in the world when it comes to flying, my gut feeling was that my fellow passenger wouldn’t be a wilting waif. And as fate would have it, I ended up in between two, let’s say, rather portly gentlemen, one from Scotland and the other from Sao Paulo. I didn’t speak to the chap from Scotland because he passed out almost as soon as we were airborne, but I did get a chance to talk to Fernado who was travelling back home for a month before heading down south to do some skiing. As we talked, there was practically no space in my seat to sit comfortably, something which hadn’t gone unnoticed by Fernando who showed a great deal of sympathy for my plight (Mr Scotland was still passed out and had nary a mind to even monitor his snoring…). We were served dinner (Scotland didn’t wake up for dinner he was that sparked out), and as I hunched forward as best I could to tuck into the delights of 30000 feet food, I glumly thought to myself that I had another 10 hours ahead of me of feeling like the proverbial sardine in a tin. I guessed that if I could get some sleep, I would be sorted, but alas, with Mr. Scotland on my left radiating a heat so fierce I thought he had a fever, I started thinking about a get-out plan. The flight attendant was happy enough for me to move to an open seat, although I’m not sure the guys I disturbed were. I was, however, greeted with an open seat on my left and could have wept for joy. Instead, I decided to get some ‘sleep’ for a few hours. About 4am (local time), I awoke to what I cautiously termed ‘breakfast’, although I’m sure ‘experimental meal-plan’ would be closer to the mark.

Anyway, once we landed, I was treated to something I dread at the end of half-day flights: queues. Queues to immigration. Queues to check-in. Queues for security. Queues for boarding. It was pretty much solid queues from Sao Paulo until I landed in Porto Alegre, where I couldn’t find the bus to take me to the train station. Once I had found the train station, I couldn’t find a taxi to take me to the hotel. Once I had found the hotel, I couldn’t fit my power adaptor to the sockets. Once I had found an electronic store ($R20 there), bought a new adaptor ($R50), and got a taxi back ($R20), I realised that actually the continental adaptor I had brought with me DID fit in one of the sockets, I just hadn’t seen it before I rushed out. So now I’m down $R90 (about £30) with absolutely nothing to show for it except a useless bit of plastic. I can’t speak Portuguese to try and get a refund for it. I’m absolutely shattered. I’m hungry. I’m smelly. And I’ve still got to finish the Mock the Week presentation before Thursday.

Who said conferences were fun?

The Social Linguist