January 15, 2006

Arrival in England

I'm in England! I'm writing this from the computer lab in the library. I got here on January 11 after a seven and a half hour flight, waited in a really long line to show someone my passport and get it stamped, waited in the central bus terminal for about two hours, then went on a five hour bus ride to my school...lol, it was a very very long day. But finally I got here and moved in, I live in a place called Waveney Terrace, there are about 12 people living on my floor and we each have our own rooms with a bed and a desk and a sink, and then we all share a kitchen and a bathroom. Everyone on my floor seems really nice. I guess my floor is going out on Tuesday, so I'm looking forward to that. My residence hall seems very social, which is a switch from Busey. Wow. Its weird to realize that I will never live in Busey again. Next year, an apartment!

The first night I met a bunch of other study abroad students; everyone here is very nice and I think we all needed some friends. After I moved in we all went to the pub (yes they have a pub on campus. It's run by the union .So weird.) I ordered my first legal alcoholic drink! That was bizarre. I did it moreso because I could than anything else, lol. I barely drank any of it though, I was stupid and ordered beer even though I KNOW I dont like beer, but I didnt know what else to order, so I ended up pouring about 3/4 of my glass (which was HUGE) into another American's glass, lol. Ah well. I went to bed about 8 oclock that night; I was SO tired as I'd been up for about 26 hours or so, but then woke up very awake at about midnight. I finally know what jet lag is. Jet lag means that you're tired all the time but it's impossible to sleep at night. I was very homesick that first night; that was hard. I just felt so cut off from everything and everyone - I had no computer, no phone, no way of contacting anyone...it was hard. But I stayed up about three hours ago, wrote letters, tried to read, and then finally fell back asleep around 3.

It's nice here, very pretty. Norwich is a very cool town. Lots of historic buildings, cobblestone streets, churches...I like it. Even though I got lost!!! I went with the same group of americans I mentioned earlier, and at one point I accidentally left one of the stores with some soap without paying for it since I got absorbed into the conversation I was having. So I realized this about halfway down the street, said, "Oh my gosh, I forgot to pay for this!" and told everyone I would meet them where they were going. (I THOUGHT I knew where they were going). I bought the soap, (nobody seemed to notice that I walked in with it and walked directly up to the register), and then left, and got very very lost. I walked in circles for about an hour. No big deal though, somehow I didnt panic or anything, I just kept walking until I finally found a building that looked familiar and made my way back to where I had come from in the first place. Norwich isnt that big. What's funny is, while I was lost, a British person asked me for directions! (As soon as I opened my mouth and identified myself as an American with my accent, she did a double take and said never mind.) So at least I apparently LOOKED like I knew where I was, which is kind of cool. After that I bought a phone (email me if you want the number), to ease the cut off feeling, and then had the brilliant idea of walking down the street that I had originally lost my group to see if I could find anyone. Apparently it wasnt as stupid as it sounds, because I got halfway down the street to hear "Christina" and turn to see the rest of my group across the street. It was nice to realize that they had noticed my absense. After we met up again we ate dinner at this place called Pinnochios that had amazing food, although I think the waiter was getting a bit fed up with the large group of Americans who took forever to figure out their methods of paying and only asked for water to drink. That night I was finally able to call my parents, who had been worrying a bit since I wasnt really able to contact them for about two days after I left.

I went to Norwich again yesterday, bought some groceries, hangers, and a pillow (the school supplied bedding that I paid some money for, but the pillow was ridiculous; I ended up sleeping on folded up t-shirts the first couple of nights), ate soup and hot chocolate outside of a cafe, which was very cool, then came back...I was feeling very tired and antiosocial, but I made myself be social and go to the pub to see if I saw anyone I knew. I was very proud of myself for that. It worked out, too, because I met up with some americans I had met the first day and we, along with their flatmates, went to this thing called an LCR night which was like a dance club, basically, except run by the union. It was fun, although it cost some MORE money, which wasnt that good...I am running through money at an insane rate these past couple of days. I'm hoping that it's just as I'm settling in and that I wont keep spending money at this rate this semester, otherwise I'm in trouble. Everything's more expensive here. And the kicker is that it SOUNDS cheaper while being more expensive. Like something might be 5 pounds. And you go, oh thats not that bad...but then you realize it's about 10 american dollars. Ouch. I'm still getting used to the money too. Every cashier I've bought things from must thing I'm very slow, because I constantly have to just stare at the change in my hand before paying, since I dont recognize any of the coins. I'll get used to that too though, I think.

Things I've noted so far. A lot of English people add "love" on the end of sentences, and say "thats all right" instead of "you're welcome". English tea really does taste good. There are rabbits EVERYWHERE and they're HUGE. The cars drive on the left side of the road. I knew that already but its one thing to know it and another thing to be on a bus and constantly think you're turning into the wrong lane. It's strange how something can be so ingrained in you as "natural" only because you were brought up that way. Public transportation here is awesome. Food is expensive and comes in smaller portions most of the time. Almost everyone I've met so far is very outgong and friendly. They label red delicious apples as "the flashy american apple." A lot of people smoke. They are much less roundabout on their labels on cigarrettes, though. You know how ours have that "Surgeon general's warning...blah blah blah" in tiny letters on the bottom? their cigarrette packs just have "SMOKING KILLS" in big letters. Lol. I was amused. A lot less subtle.

But anyway, I feel like I've been typing stuff forever, but just wanted to let everyone know what I was up to! If you want ot write or call me, email me for my address/phone number. I'd love to hear from you.

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