London Calling

Hello from London!

Let me start off by saying that it’s absolutely wonderful here. I’m obsessed. I heard someone describe London as a cleaner and better New York City. Well, I don’t know about better, but otherwise that’s pretty accurate. My friend Amanda also mentioned that she’s heard that “New York City is a cacophony, and London is a symphony.” That, I think, is the complete truth. No matter where I am I will miss the hell out of New York, but London is just… different. It feels calmer somehow. And then you throw in the double decker buses and the iconic telephone booths and all the centuries-old landmarks and the gorgeous accents… Yeah. It’s wonderful here.

I’ve been here a week already, so I’ll try to do a brief rundown of what’s been happening so far.

I was weepy all day on Wednesday before I left (I blame the hormones. No, seriously), until I got into the airport. Apparently I have some sort of go-mode that’s triggered by security, because once I got through I was completely fine, except for when I was texting people my final goodbyes. But for the most part, the tears stopped at JFK. I attempted to sleep on the flight but I’m not sure how much I actually got. However much it ended up being, that plus adrenaline was enough to sustain me throughout the entire day on Thursday.

Yes, you read that correctly. I skipped the worst of jet lag. Don’t worry, I won’t break my arm patting myself on the back. :)

My flight landed earlier than the projected time of 10:30 am, and getting my bags from baggage claim out into the terminal and then onto the Queen Mary bus was a hassle and a half. Thank god I don’t have to deal with that until June at the absolute earliest!

I talked to some nice people in the airport, but the funny thing is that there’s a good chance I’ll never see them again. We didn’t have phones on that first day, so after those initial introductions we all kind of lost touch. Living in the stone age, man. It’s rough.

But I did meet Amanda that first day in the airport! We hit it off right away and sat next to each other on the bus to campus, which is when I noticed her Hufflepuff Quidditch keychain. Um, can you say new BFF? Hah. But seriously. Within that hour and a half bus ride we’d made plans to make plans to go see David Thewlis at the War Horse premiere that Sunday. We’ve already decided that we’re sort of the same person.

Most of Thursday was spent in my flat unpacking and trying to get used to all the quirks of my room. There are only three drawers and four shelves, tons of closet space but only six hotel hangers; there was a wet spot on my carpet; the heat turns itself off when it feels like it; the shower is nothing but a curtain hung up in one corner of the bathroom; and don’t even get me started on the electricity situation. Suffice it to say that I blew out the outlets in half of my flat that night. Twice.

Due to these electrical woes, and the fact that my two converters apparently aren’t what you need in the UK, I was immediately out and about and walking to PC World 15 minutes down the road. I mean, I know you’re supposed to jump right in and everything, but yeesh. And it was dark out! I was kinda freaked about getting lost, but it really was just a straight shot down the road. Easy as pie.

I made it back in time for a paid-for meal at The Curve, but didn’t really know who I was going to sit with, since I didn’t see Amanda there. The girl in front of me in line turned around and asked me if I knew how this worked, though, so she seemed friendly enough. When I got my food I decided to go over to their table and sit with them and the two girls they’d joined.

Meet Lorraine, Jen, Celeste, and Liz. We (plus Amanda) are planning on cooking dinner together every Thursday night… aka I met the right people right off the bat. :)

That night, we went grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s (which meant the same walk I’d just made to PC World, only further), and then I charged my phone in the working outlets in the flat’s kitchen until I went to bed. Oh, and I met my flatmate, Sam. He’s the only Brit of the nine of us. Go figure!

Friday was orientation, which meant a lot of sitting around and listening to people speak and then hellish old-school class registration. It was great to have a group of familiar faces already! We experienced our first fire drill as well. At least I already had my coat on – the rooms are FREEZING here! Celeste and I met Joel (pronounced Jo-elle) when we were outside too, and he ended up coming to the (beautiful) mall with us that night, along with Shaun and Dave, who Celeste and Liz had met at dinner the night before.

Westfield Mall was built for the Olympics and, good god, is it fantastic. More shoe stores than I’ve ever seen in my life, which might be dangerous, but it’s so pretty! We had a good time; we all needed phones, or international plans at least, so Shaun, Amanda and I ended up getting identical everything. Because obvs we’re totes BFFS already, guyz!

Seriously, they’re all really cool people. Shaun and I are completely different, but we spent ages talking about wrestling and how awesome it used to be. Who knew the WWE would be how I find common ground with boys like ten years later?

After the mall, we went out to a bar (or pub? What’s the difference?) right off campus called the New Globe and just hung out for awhile. It closed at midnight, which was fine with me, because I was BEAT.

On Saturday, Amanda and I were the only ones to wake up early (following our original plan) and go grocery shopping. The walk to Sainsbury’s may be easy, but the walk back after spending over £50 on a pot, a pan, and groceries was NOT fun. We did our own thing for lunch, and then reconvened to walk back over there to visit the fruit & vegetable stand outside. For £3, I got five kiwis, 15 clementines, and four orange peppers. WIN!

We ran into Shaun and Dave over there too, and walked around Whitechapel Market before heading back to campus. We each did our own thing for dinner (frozen meal FTW!) before meeting in Shaun’s flat to hang out for awhile before we went out to a different bar/pub that goes by like 15 different names. Let’s call it Spoons, shall we? We ended up hanging out with some people from his flat, which was really fun. Afterwards, I Skyped with my parents for a bit and went to bed.

Sunday was uber fun. Jen and Amanda took the study abroad bus tour in the morning/early afternoon, and afterwards we (and Lorraine) went to the War Horse premiere! We got there pretty late but got pretty good spots, considering Prince William and Kate Middleton were going to be there. I was really only there for David Thewlis, and he ended up not even coming over to our section, which was a huge bummer. :( But everyone had such a good time that they all want to hit up as many premieres as possible!

Monday was the first day of class, and my first (and only) one was at 1. Excellent! It’s Architecture in London from 1837-present, which means every other week we go and see a building instead of having a lecture. I can’t wait to get out and see the city!

That night there was an optional river cruise (aka “Booze Cruise”) that I opted out of, so I got to be a complete bum for the first time here. Let me tell you, it was glorious. I was in serious need of some me-time!

Tuesdays are about to become my favorite day of the week – no class! I slept until noon, and woke up to a new episode of Castle that I watched sans commercials online. It was fantastic. I had lunch, and then went to Olympic Park (more on that in a bit). At night, Celeste, Liz, Lorraine, Jen and I cooked a delicious meal together and spent the evening hanging out. Basically, it was an awesome day all around. Lovin’ it!

I had class at 9 am today, which wasn’t fun to get up for, especially since my alarm clock didn’t go off. But the class is Digital Literacy and Intercultural Communication, and it sounds fascinating. I also made a friend right away, which was awesome. His name’s Daniel, he’s a British film major, and we completely hit it off. So if nothing else, it’s a friendly face and a cool class to wake up to.

Afterwards, I didn’t have anything to do. I was drowsy as all hell though, so I ate lunch and took a ten minute nap (that I woke up from almost an hour and a half later. Whoops!). Then I walked around campus a bit; I had to find where my first class is tomorrow (a history class in the Maths building. I don’t get it), I took a quick tour of the gym, and I went to get some visa advice.

My Tier 4 visa is only good until June, which is a problem if I want to work until August. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to extend it, since I won’t be a student here anymore. So that all needs to be figured out ASAP.

I was a bum tonight as well, and finally ate the pasta that I made and intended to eat on Monday night. Long story short, the stove is labeled wrong, so I waited for over an hour for my water to boil because it was on the lowest heat instead of the highest. Say it with me: womp womp wompppp. My flatmate Rebecca (who’s from Germany) helped me out, though, and told me it took them half a year to figure it out. At least I got it on my first try, right? Well, my dinner was delicious, if I do say so myself. And I watched the newest episode of The Biggest Loser! But the plan tomorrow is to go to the J. Edgar premiere with Jen, so don’t worry, I’m not a total recluse. ;)

So anyway. Olympic Park.

Considering it’s so close, it’s kind of a hassle to get to. I had to take the tube one stop to Stratford, where I had to take the DLR one stop to Pudding Mill Lane. This will definitely change once the entire thing is finished with construction and open to the public, but right now the only real destination is the View Tube.

Outside of the station, you have to walk through a construction area to get to the viewing site, which was definitely an experience. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there, but a worker told me where to go, so it was actually completely legit. And then I walked up to the Greenway and saw this.

Hey now. I mean, I can see it from my bedroom window (NO BIG DEAL OR ANYTHING GUYS), but this was… awesome. No other word for it.

I cried a little bit, not gonna lie. I expected to, after crying when I landed at the Salt Lake City airport (oy vey), so that’s why I wanted to go alone my first time. I’m glad I did, too. I got to meander at my own pace and cry without being judged, haha.

Really though. I was standing there, looking at this stadium and imagining it during the Opening Ceremony, with 80,000 spectators packed into it and the torch lit and crazy fireworks exploding from the top…

It was such a vivid image that I teared up. I cannot WAIT to be here in August, whether it’s after a summer of being here or whether I’m returning from elsewhere. I. Cannot. Wait.

This whole visa thing is making my goals seem that much more difficult to reach, but I’m so thankful I have the stadium looking at me through my window. Every morning I pull back the curtain and have a constant reminder of what I’m working towards.

It’ll all be worth it one day.

1 comment :

  1. I couldn't be more thrilled about the experience you're having in London! I LOVE your view! Don't forget RP and brick walls!!!

    "Shaun and I are completely different, but we spent ages talking about wrestling and how awesome it used to be. Who knew the WWE would be how I find common ground with boys like ten years later?" loling! :D