So I haven’t posted in a while, and although I have been sending loads of emails and Facebook messages to people, I feel like it is appropriate to share my experiences in London with the rest of the world as well.
Honestly speaking, the epic amount of preparation that I did prior to my trip was still not enough to prepare me for the trip to London as I quickly learned, some things are learned through experience and not reading.
When we arrived at the airport (my mom and I), I was able to meet up with my new friends from Webster’s home campus- two undergrads Amanda and Katie. We got my boarding pass (which didn’t have my seat number on it), weighed my luggage, said goodbye to our folks and waited a bit for the plane to New York.
Flying into New York was absolutely spectacular- I sat next to a Webster girl named Caitlin and we talked about classical music, art, history, and film. It was so wonderful to meet someone who shared a similar appreciation for the arts. Upon arriving in New York, I was able to see the Empire State building and the Brooklyn bridge. A feeling overcame me that I am not even to fully describe, but for lack of better words, a sense of serene contentment for my post-graduate future in New York City. It was wonderful.
We waited around in the airport for a few hours, and ate at Chili’s in the airport close to our gate. The food was absolutely brilliant but the service was so poor that it dampened our spirits a bit. Hopping on the plane to London, my stomach was overcome with butterflies. I was excited and nervous and still stuck in a mental surrealism over what was happening, and what was to happen.
The plane was HUGE and although I had been on planes before, I had never been on such a long plane ride over the Atlantic. I attempted to tylenol PM myself into a deep sleep, induced by Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde but that never worked, even when it was about midnight my time. The airplane food was really good though, but I was starved and wanting to take my mind off the fact that I was flying over an ocean to spend a summer in London.
The girl I sat next to was a junior at Washington University, originally from Indiana, who was coming to London to do an internship with Parliament.
Around 5-6 a.m. (London time) we arrived in the outer limits of London and flew over the countryside. It was absolutely beautiful seeing all of the greenery and English countryside villages. The feeling I had wasn’t quite excitement though- it was a nervous, “oh crap what the heck have I gotten myself into” kind of feeling.
Once at Heathrow, it all felt so unreal. I was in another country, another land, with a bunch of people who spoke my English but sounded different than me. Not to mention the fact that even at 7 a.m. fresh off an airplane, everyone was beautiful. Getting through customs was a bummer, my friends made it through pretty quickly but as I am in England for graduate school and had to get my own flat, the customs official had to confirm my housing, my ability to afford my housing, etc. It was at customs that I learned that my flat was located on Gloucester (pronounced Gloss-ter) not Glue-chester. Weird.
We sat around the airport for a bit waiting for my friend Julia to meet up with us and show us how to get to Central London. However, after not seeing her or being able to get in touch with her and finding out that our friend Clif was stuck in D.C. for the night due to his cancelled flight to London, we were able to quickly find the route to the underground (Tube) and my HEFTY research of the London tube system allowed us to quickly find our way to Baker Street, where our housing was located. Getting there was another story- lugging 52 lbs worth of clothes and shoes and another 10-15 lbs of duffle bags and purses up countless flights of stairs to transfer lines. I thought for sure my arms were going to fall off. But, in the end, I think I just packed on a bit more muscles. No complaints.
Moving into my flat was also surprisingly easy- lovely little place, much better than the pictures, with a perfect view of my street- cream row homes with black iron balconies and British flags perched outside of windows.
My friend Julia met up with me (as in, she got to London about 2 weeks before I did, and this was the first time we officially met) and we went to a local store to buy decorations, blankets, and household items for my flat:
That night, we got my Oyster card (with Diamond Jubilee markings on it) to the Victoria Station (south of where I live) and I was able to navigate us there using my freakishly impressive knowledge of the tube station (we had to transfer to the Circle line because they were working on the eastern part of the red line. On a Saturday).
For dinner, we ate at The Shakespeare across from Victoria Station and near the Apollo where Wicked is playing. And then we went home.
Things I learned my first day in London:
1)On the escalator, stand to the right so people in a rush can go pass you on the left
2)Everyone looks like a model, so dress accordingly.
3)The whole American idea of “not wearing makeup-but wearing makeup look” is out the window. For the most part, people wear makeup. Loads of it. And, you know they are wearing it. see: point 2
4)Most people wear black. They for the most part all wear black tights, and flats.
5)You can top-up (add money to) an Oyster card using change
6)Carrying suitcases up flights of steps is the worst idea that anyone has ever thought of in the entire span of the human race
7)Toilets look a bit different than in America, and takes some getting used to on how to flush.
8)little British kids are the best things that God has provided the planet. Their accents are divine.
9)Tube work occurs on the weekend, which is absolutely absurd.
10)Words spelled with a “-cester” at the end are pronounced like “-ster”; “Glou” is “Gloss” and if you say Glue-chester you look and sound dumb.
Welcome to the best summer ever.