Well, I’ve arrived in England. Since you have to pay to use the wireless internet or something annoying like that at the airport, I’m writing this blog post first as a Word document, and it has been published a little bit later. What a flight. Thankfully, there wasn’t any turbulence like that awful flight from Salt Lake City to Detroit, it was just very long. I sat next to a wonderfully nice woman named Astrid (isn’t her name awesome?) She’s from Germany and currently teaches German at Georgetown University. She and eleven of her colleagues are flying from Dulles to Kenya to meet with Jesuits who run a university there to swap ideas about running universities, support each other, etc. Astrid was wonderfully nice. She looked out for me on my flight and told me that she was sure I would thrive in London since I seem like such a head-strong and confidant young woman. I hope she has a wonderful trip to Kenya, I’m kind of jealous she gets to go!
The food on the flight was surprisingly good. I have no idea what I was expecting, but it was really good. The portions were understandably small, but it was just enough of everything to fill me up. For airline food, I was very impressed.
As much as I tried, sleep simply wouldn’t come on the plane. I watched some television shows and about a third of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (not my favorite one by a long shot, and I wanted to try to get some sleep, so I abandoned that endeavor for a failed attempt to sleep). Right now, it is a little after nine in the morning here in London, which means it is about four in the morning back home. I have been up for twenty hours. Surprisingly, I don’t feel as tired as I should; we’ll wait to see how long that sensation lasts.
Let me share with you a few words about customs. For some reason, going thru customs really stressed me out. A few days ago I even had a dream that I got to customs and didn’t have the paperwork I needed (the dream then got really weird, but we won’t go into that). This then carried over into my packing frenzy, and I ran up to the bank two hours before leaving for the airport in a desperate (and successful) attempt to get an up-to-date bank statement. So, I have a stack of papers all ready for me to present to the customs officer, as directed by the packet sent to me by the study abroad program. I’m proud as can be that I have literally every bit of information you could ever want when going through customs, I didn’t leave a single thing out. You want to know what he looks at? My passport…THAT’S IT! I even offered to give him the acceptance letter sent to me by the University of Westminster solely for the purpose of customs, but he said no! Umm, all right, gee, thanks. I was all prepared and everything, and I can’t even show off how prepared I was! So Mom, I know you’re reading this, that letter you wrote saying that you guys will support me in part while in London was a waste. That’s right, I even had my mom write a letter, as directed, once again, by the study abroad packet. I wanted the letter to say, “Dear Dude, I promise to give my daughter a million, billion dollars so she can stay in England to see the Olympics.” Unfortunately, my mother didn’t listen to me (shocker, I know), which was highly disappointing, not that it mattered at all since the customs guy didn’t even bother to look at a single piece of paper I had carefully packed away in one pocket of my folder completely dedicated to customs paperwork.
Right now, I’m sitting in a small restaurant in Heathrow Airport resisting the urge to check out any of the shops they may have so I don’t blow through all my money right away. I spent a little bit of time talking to a very nice British couple who were supposed to fly to L.A. this morning, but their flight has been delayed until 4 PM. I encouraged them to take a trip to Washington, DC at some point, telling them about Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and Assateague Island. Right now, they just want to get to LA, which is completely understandable. They told me that I was very brave for flying to England all by myself. I don’t see it as being very brave though, at least they speak the same language here. now, if I was going to Italy like my mom suggested I do a few times or Russia (it came up very early on in the whole study abroad discussion), then I’d be brave. I mean, I see people who go abroad to somewhere that doesn’t speak the same language as being brave, because you might be taking Spanish or French or Italian classes, but that doesn’t mean you’re fluent in the language. Once again, I wish that couple as well a wonderful trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco (I told them to check out the Painted Ladies while they’re there and expressed how jealous I am of their travels as well). It’s amazing who you meet in an airport, although I find myself getting jealous of everyone else’s travels, although I’m preparing to have “the greatest summer of my life” as my former English teacher said. I certainly hope so.
Apparently, the weather here in London has been absolutely terrible the past few days, with torrential downpours, wind and even hail. I really hope it clears up soon, because that could put a major damper on some of the plans they have for orientation this weekend. I don’t want to ruin everything that is to come this weekend, but some highlights include the British Museum (home of the Rosetta Stone), Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and Buckingham Palace. If you think that’s a lot, that’s only some of the highlights on the itinerary. This weekend is definitely going to be packed, but I’m here to explore London, not to sleep, sleep is for the weak! So, naturally, I will be weak and crash the second I get to my flat and see the bed. It looks like a lot of early mornings this weekend, which is always good fun (yeah right), but there’s a lot of stuff planned. As long as they don’t make us do any God awful icebreakers, then I’ll keep my complaining to a minimum.
This post really resembles a stream of consciousness writing, and that’s probably the exhaustion starting to set in. I figure if I pump enough caffeine into my system, I’ll at least make it until mid-afternoon without completely cracking. Keep an eye out for more posts to come, perhaps several today, depending on how much time I have. For now, I’m signing out, I think I’m going to do some shopping ;-)