I'm here! I'm in London - my home for the next 2? 3? 4? years!
As soon as our plane emerged from the cloud cover and I saw that crazy-quilt patchwork of greens, tans, and browns, I knew that it's real. I'm really here. I will really go to school here.
The first thing that struck me when I 'deplaned' (cause that's a word now!) was, "Oh shit, it's hot!" That's pretty much still what I'm thinking, but anyway. . . !
We (my parents and I) dragged our monstrously massive luggage (6 of 'em, 4 of which were mine) through the international arrival halls, but because the airport we flew into, Gatwick, used to be all Charter, we didn't have to go through Customs. We did have to go through passport control, and since I will be a resident in the UK, meaning I will also have the right to work, I had to go through a big rigamaroll. Well, it really wasn't too bad, considering what a big deal it is. I just had to present the official document saying I was a full-time student, and have a little interview with the agent. No pressure, really. Finally she stamped my passport allowing me to come and go as I please from England for one full year, entitling me also to work, as I said. Go pocket money! Each year I will have to present one of those letters when I return aftr the summer, entitling me renewed residence status.
Once through Passport Control, we trolleyed through the recepton area, looking for my Godmother Chris, but we couldn't see her. So we lugged our mountainous baggage over to a corner and tried to call her. Um. . .yeah. None of could make anything of those English airport phones. I don't know if a CIA operative could have even cracked those damn things. Luckily, when my mom went off to put in her effort, when she came back it was with Chris! Apparently she'd been too busy chatting up some other American to see us pass!
Somehow we managed to heave our ginormous suitcases through the airport, up several stories (or should I say 'storeys') and through the parking lot (or should I say 'car park') to her car. Since only our luggage and one person could fit in the car, and even that one person would have to be squashed to the side in order to accomodate, my mom went with Chris while my dad and I volunteered to take the train. It was simple, Chris said. Just take the bla bla la, to the bla bla bla, and you're there [in Maidenhead, the borough of London where Chris and her daughter, my godsister live]. To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention because she was directing this information to my dad, since he was taking care of the tickets.
Once rid of that luggage I felt that a gigantic straining weight had been freed from me and well. . .it had been! So once my dad bought and gave me my ticket I meandered around the airport, waiting for the 11:03 train. We agreed to meet my dad at 5 to 11 at the platform, and I checked my recently-adjusted watch every few minutes to make sure that I would get there in time. About an hour later, at 10 to 11, I made my way down to the platform just as a train was pulling away. I scanned the crowd for my dad, but then my eyes feel uopn the giant digital clock. It read 11:05. I immediately stared back at my watch. It said 5 to 11! I looked back and forth, until it beame painfully obvious that my clock was slow. I had missed my train, and my dad was surely on it, probably having assumed we couldn't see each other on the surge to get on. Oh well, I thought. I'll just catch the next one. The next one came about five minuts later, and I got on, but then I had a feeling it was the wrong train. Turns out it was, when I asked some elderly man, and he pointed out a screen with the names of the trains on them. I DID know I was supposed to take one to Reading,and that wasn't it. Sighing a breath of relief that I didn't continue on the wrong train, I stepped back onto the platform before it took off.
One hour later, I was really pissed, and worried. I didn't have a cell phone (er, I mean 'mobile phne', lol) - at least not one that worked in England, and by now my dad would realize I hadn't been on the train. F I N A L L Y my train came, at 12:03, and I boarded with relief. Hopefully they would wait for me at the Maidenhead stop. I took a look at my ticket and it said "Direction: Reading. From: Gatwick. Stop: Maidenhead." So all I had to do was wait for the Maidenhead stop and I'd be golden! Um, no, didn't work out that way. I dozed a bit and when I got to Reading without seeing Maidenhead, I immediatly assumed I'd missed the stop. So, cursing the bad luck and hoping my ticket would be good for the opposite way, I stayed on the train and eventually it headed back. I watched the stations it listed as we picked up speed, but would't you know it, no Maidenhead. So finally I tracked down a ticket-taker and asked her, and she said, No I had to transfer at Reading! How misleaading was my ticket now, really!
So I hopped off and crossed the train and when the ticket taker came around for mine, he was confused when I seemed to have appearred from no where, yet already had a ticket stamped from Gatiwck, lol. Poor old chap must have thought he was getting Alzheimer's.
ANYWAY! By now I was getting really concerned that my ticket wouldn't be good for the NEXT ride, and I had NO pounds (£s), and NO phone, and I didn't even know Chris's phone number or address. I was very worried, more for my family than for myself. But still, not even an hour in England and I'm already lost and alone!
On the positive side, I did get to see quite a bit of absolutely gorgeous countryside. I passed Windsor and saw a flock of about fifty swans in the Thames, and Hampton Court, and many, many beautiful farms and woods in between. When I got back to Reading there was more cofusion. The train depot there is massive, beacuse it's one of London's main tranfer points. It was very difficult to track down the train going to London and when I finally did, I still had the concern that I had the wrong tickt. I prayed no one would come around, but when she did, she luckily accepted it. At last, three and a half hours after I was supposed to catch the train, I found myself in the right place, and right before my eyes were Chris and my mom. It was the third trip they'd made to this particular station, and it was their last: they didn't know where they were going to go next, or what they were going to do next! How simple it all would have been if I'd had a mobile phone. . .which, incidentally inspired my mom to offer to get me one for here, heh heh heh. Another positive thing to come of it!
But when I saw them, I really could have cried with relief. The jet lag, the stress, and even the hunger (I hadn't eaten forever: I'd slept the whole time on the plane) really added up.
We just made one final stop before going back to their house. We went to Maidenhead's high street to pick up Laura at her work, a cool art supply shop. Afterwards we all had a delicious lunch at the cafe next door.
Then we had the extremely taxing job of hauling my boulder-like suitcases up to the third floor to Laura's bedroom where I'm staying. You can guess what happened next! Oh yes, sweet sleep.
What song is playing on my iTunes right now: What I'm reading: What I'm Wearing: Back to anecdotal journalism again! - Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
What I'm reading:
What I'm Wearing:
Back to anecdotal journalism again! - Tuesday, May 1st, 2007