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In the list of students in my home department, next to my name, it says "MA University of York (UK)". I'm special. With the exception of one Israeli student, no one else has a country specified next to the name of their university. The problem - the complication and confusion - is that there's a York University in Toronto (or in North York, more accurately). The two universities have different names - York University, University of York - but there are few enough of us who are tuned into such nuances. Throughout my time in Toronto, I had to specify that I'd been a student at York-the-one-in-the-UK.

I thought that when I moved to the UK, I'd no longer have to worry about specifying. I was wrong. It's even worse. The well-educated will still ask me whether I mean the York-in-Canada or the one in the UK, especially if they know I just moved here from Canada. A large number of others will mishear me as saying my MA is from New York (It's my funny foreign accent), and then either ask which institution (I just told them!) or just cruise along under the wrong assumption.

There's a London ad campaign which has similarly caused me confusion. When I was moving to London, most people I knew in Ontario needed to know which London - London, Ontario or London, England? When I arrived in London, large posters on the Underground proudly proclaimed "EVERYONE'S LONDON". The emphasis on the final ON made me think "Ontario" every single time. Why was the ad campaign emphasizing the "on"? I have no idea. It gave the advertising all the wrong spin to my biased brain.

There are too few names in the world. I went to a book launch for a book named Nova Scotia - it has nothing to do with Canada, and everything to do with "New Scottish Stuff". And so it goes. I'll continue to need to specify which York I went to - and which of three countries it's located in.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:24 pm (UTC)
The first time I visited Canada (1983) I was bound for Sarnia which involved changing planes at Pearson. I had never heard of London ON and was a bit dismayed to see my onward flight listed as London and Sarnia.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:26 pm (UTC)
Did I know you were at York, UK? I was there 1986-1997 (with a couple of breaks).
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC)
You did when we first met. (Give how many people you were meeting at the time, this was quite reasonably more memorable to me than you!) We didn't overlap, since I was there '97-'98, but we compared dates at the time. I did the MA in Late Medieval Studies.

Nicely enough, I have a friend who's starting the same MA there this autumn.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
It's surreal to think I'll be getting there in just a month. Hey, question to ask: I'll be getting into Heathrow at about 6:35 AM on October 1, and key pick-up for my flat that day in York is 11 AM-6 PM. I basically need to know the best way to get to York from London with about three suitcases in tow...I mean, I'm assuming I'll have to take a cab from Heathrow to whatever station I need...
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)
You'll probably want the direct line from Kings Cross mainline station. The National Rail journey planner site reckons trains go every half hour and take about two and a half hours. It also reckons you can get from Heathrow to Kings Cross by train (tube to Paddington, then surface train to Kings Cross) but this might not be fun with large amounts of luggage, so you might be better off taking a taxi.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)
Firstly, cab service in London is superb, and costs and arm-and-a-leg. Especially when you're going all the way from Heathrow to King's Cross. I'd recommend taking the Heathrow Express train to Paddington, take a cab from Paddington to King's Cross, and then the train up north. That you way can minimize cab fare and stairs. You should be able to take an airport luggage trolley right up to the Heathrow Express train, or fairly close to it, I would think.

Secondly, do you have a Young Person's Railcard yet? I can't remember if you got one on your last trip here. If you haven't, do so right away. I'm quite certain you're under 26, so won't need an ISIC card to get it. Just use your passport. It's worth the UKP 20 to buy it, since it gives you a third off all rail travel in the UK - and that includes both the Heathrow Express and the train up to York from King's Cross. Indeed, the pass could pay for itself just by doing those two trips. (You'll need a passport-sized photo of yourself in addition to the UKP 20 to purchase it.)

Trains to York run at least once an hour if not more often. If you catch an express, the trip only takes one hour and fifty minutes. It's quick! You can check the train schedule here, but you might not want to, for your own peace of mind. It'll take however long it takes to get from Heathrow to King's Cross - and you can never tell how long or slow the passport lines will be.

(I'd offer to come help you with the suitcases, but I'm not entirely sure whether I'll be here or in Toronto then. I wish I knew.)
Aug. 22nd, 2005 01:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, good point - Young Person's Railcards are well worth getting. They bring the cost of rail travel down to a vaguely appropriate price, and also enable you to get `saver' tickets for peak-time journeys for which they would not otherwise be valid. You need to be under 26, or a full-time student (with a valid ISIC card1, or official letter from your institution) at the time you buy the card.

1I understand that there is empirical evidence to suggest that busy station staff don't always closely check the expiry date of the ISIC card in question, though.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC)
P.S. When I say cab service is expensive, well, it would not surprise me if it cost you at least UKP 60-70 for a trip as long as Heathrow to King's Cross would be. That's more than it'll cost you to get from King's Cross to York - especially with a Young Person's card.
Aug. 27th, 2005 09:33 pm (UTC)
In a desperate bid to get home in time for Christmas I once had to take a taxi from Winchester to Heathrow, which cost me £50.

So be cute, tell a sob story, and negotiate a flat rate before getting in if you do decide on a lengthy cab journey.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC)
I remember logging into the central unix server at York (UK) once to see the message
Users may find access to external information servers (BIDS, NISS, etc) unreliable over the next few days. This is due to the administrators of the root domain name servers in the USA inadvertently reassigning the routing table entry for NET-YORK to York Regional Police Department, 17250 Yonge Street, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.

Most entertaining.

When I first moved to Warwick, I was chatting to an American postdoc who'd recently arrived from Texas, and I mentioned that I'd done my undergraduate study in York. ``York?'' he enquired, in a surprised tone of voice. ``Where the hell's York?''

``You know New York, right? Well it's the original one...'' I replied.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:57 pm (UTC)
You don't just remember it happening. You logged it and kept the logfile! It's pretty funny though, you're right.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC)
I think it was the fact that they'd given the full address of the police department which amused me - I could almost hear the sysadmin's deadpan and unimpressed voice in my head as I read it. I also found myself imagining the telephone conversation which must have taken place (``Have you, indeed? Oh dear. That's awkward. The one on Yonge Street? Is that right? Well well well...'').
Aug. 22nd, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC)
Our recycling of names here in the new world can cause amusing (if confusing) situations.
I always tell people my parents met in Paris and lived in London (which is true it just sounds more exotic if they don't realize that both are in SW Ontario).
Aug. 22nd, 2005 01:01 pm (UTC)
That's a good way to honestly spin your parents' story. York comes up frequently because it's part of my academic credentials, my relatively recent past, and how I met lots of friends. A more infrequently told part of my life is when I lived in Cambridge for a year - and there are many Cambridges. (As it happens, this was the one in MA. And we moved there when I was three months old.)
Aug. 22nd, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, I used to have relatives in Paris, ON. My uncle has since died and my aunt has moved to less-glam-sounding Hamilton. I always disappointed people when I had to explain, but as a kid just getting to travel from New Brunswick to Ontario at all was exciting enough. Plus they had a really cool dog (female, cocker spaniel) in those days.
Aug. 22nd, 2005 01:22 pm (UTC)
There was a story in the papers a few years ago about a couple who thought they were bound for Sydney NSW and were extremely astonished to find themselves in Sydney Nova Scotia ('But where's the Harbour Bridge? The Opera House?')
Aug. 22nd, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)
I think I was at the airport bound for Melbourne the afternoon that happened. Somebody had missed a flight to Sydney NSW and was redirected to the NS flight by a CP Air employee. It only struck me what had happened a few minutes later when I was safely ensconced in the Business class lounge with a large drink.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )