Friday, September 19, 2008

The Arrival

I left my family (waving goodbye a million times) about 5 pm at LAX and wandered through security. I wore little fuzzy flipflops and held my huge boots so that I didn't have to keep hopping all over the place putting them back on. I would do that, you know, and maybe fall over too. I had a bunch of luggage, which was super annoying. One of my bags weighed in at 58 pounds, 8 stinky pounds over the limit. So, in the middle of LAX, Crystal, Manasa, Alg, and I are going through redistributing the random stuff that I packed in my suitcase. Two pairs of jeans, a mug, something else, and the airline lady letting me go 2 pounds over later, I wait in the terminal and hop on the plane. Note to self next time I study abroad Fall 2008: Don't bring so much stuff.

I look all nervous sitting there in my seat waiting for the plane to take off and I start up a conversation with the girl next to me. Turns out she just graduated from USC and studied abroad in Spain the year before. Now she's returning to teach English at a school there for a year. I was so happy to sit by someone not-creepy and not-smelly. We were fascinated by the personal on-demand entertainment. I played old school battleship, and I could have battled against another passenger! Except I didn't know who to battle against, and Ms. Spain was in the middle of a movie/nap so I just played the computer. And lost. Sigh. But the computer knows where I put my ships and cheated, duh. Because it's the computer and it saw me when I did it. After watching a couple Discovery-style documentaries I finally figure out how to properly use the entertainment system and watch Sex and the City. They served dinner, which was actually a pretty tasty chicken-and-rice dish, with salad, crackers and cheese, and WINE. I was excited, except that it was pretty gross. Oh well. I got the red wine because it's supposed to be good for you, although I'm not sure why. I'm sure someone somewhere does.

We finally land and we collected our luggage and used a FREE trolley at Heathrow. I was pretty excited about the free part, they never have those in LAX. My friend departed and gave me her card, and we've been chatting over email about how cool it is to be in another country and how random it is that we still talk although we just met on a plane. At the airport, I proceeded to wander around the airport, too dumb and confused to find the metro, but then the information lady pointed me towards it. It's right in the center, of course. It was fairly luggage accessible, except for transferring on the tube. I took the cheaper route, using the tube twice instead of the Heathrow Express, because I figure I have to transfer to a tube anyway, I might as well start off underground. Unfortunately, the transfer to the Victoria line has no escalators! There I was. With 2 fifty pound bags, a huge backpack, and my stuffed purse staring up at the 4 flights of stairs I had to go up. I stood at the stairs for a couple minutes, looking confused, and an older couple offered to help me up. Fortunately, the people are very friendly and surprisingly patient when they noticed all my stuff. I took a cab and made it to Ramsay, sweaty and suspicious of strangers. Because that's what my mom said when I was like 3, and I'm not dumb. I checked into my room which is bigger than my single at Caltech, so that was nice! Unfortunately it's also really old. I unpacked right away, but I forgot to bring hangers. The previous resident left behind 5 or 6 so I was perfectly happy with those. I didn't explore London that much until the next day because I was exhausted.

<---- Here's my room right after I moved in. I moved some things around, but that's what it looks like!

Comments: Don't drink the water unless it says "for drinking". I have a sink in my room with two spouts. One is for cold, and one is for hot. Choose your pain. Freezing cold? Or scalding? The shower is the push-button kind, lasting about 45 seconds, with no temperature adjustment. Mine is very very HOT, but Kathryn said hers was relatively cold. I think I prefer my too hot one.

The food in London is very expensive, but I'm actually quite fond of it. The first few days we went to a pub to get fish & chips or random sandwiches, but we've discovered the art of buying cheaper food at Sainsbury's. Every once in a while I will grab a coffee or a tea, especially while at the museums. The museums in London are amazing (and free)! We acted liked stupid tourists for about a week and it was better that way. I really enjoyed the British Museum's Grecian collection, and the Natural History Museum. I SAW REAL DINOSAUR FOSSILS. I have quite the collection of photos on facebook. Also, the Magna Carta is illegible; it looks like brown paper. Also, the jewelry exhibits were my favorite, although normally I don't frequently notice or purchase jewelry at home.

<--- Me with a real live dinosaur.

I'm learning (for real) about ancient Egypt. I spend about 4 hrs in the library each day just reading the material, so I will be an expert soon, yup. Ok, I have to go read more about Egypt and do some quantum. yay.

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