Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Much needed update!!!

I have been here for a week now and everything is going really well.  I’m surprised at how much there is to adjust to, because I thought the transition would be so easy.  I didn’t even think about the little things to adjust to like not knowing where to go grocery shopping right away, or not being able to use Netflix over here because it is an American website (which really bummed me out!)  Then there are the bigger things like learning how to use public transportation, meeting so many new people, sleeping in a new bed, missing so many people, and trying to figure out a whole new school.  So I’ll just give a little break down day by day of what has been going on.  If you don’t want to read all of this stuff, I have the key points about what I learned after each day.  It’s like the sparknotes to my blog.
Day one, Tuesday/Wednesday
First of all, the plane trip was not that bad at all.  I left at about 2 pm my time and got to the airport in London at 7:30 am the next day because of the time difference.  London is 6 hours ahead of central time.  The only bad thing about the airport and plane trip was my bad luck with technology.  I tried to use my laptop at the airport and realized my computer had a horrible virus and was attacking itself.  I could not even shut down my computer because it was popping up so many things and trying to get me to by this so called antivirus software, all I had to do was enter my credit card info.  I did not enter my info because that was the scam and when I got to the school my computer was even worse.  The tech people at Saint Mary’s were not prepared to handle how bad my computer was so I to go without my computer for a few days till I could get it fixed. 
Since I didn’t have a phone yet I couldn’t contact my mom to tell her was okay once I got to the school, and this is where the funny story comes in.  Just so you know the airport I arrived at in London was huge!  So huge I had to take a train that was inside the airport to get to the terminal I was supposed to meet my tour group at.  I middle age guy could tell I was lost and heard me asking someone I needed to find terminal three and he said that was where he was walking and could lead the way.  He was nice and it was a public place to I followed him while he was telling me funny slang words I should use over here.  He was very helpful but he started getting a little overly friendly.  He gave me a bottle of pop that was unopened even though I said no thank you (which I didn’t drink), and then once we got to the terminal ended up giving me his “card” which was just his name and number on a piece of hard paper written in pen.  It was kinnda awkward and even though it was never creepy.  I called my mom from the airport phone to tell her I arrived safely and told her about this random guy and how I was now just waiting for my tour group to show up.  Since I didn’t e-mail or call my mom once I got to the school (no phone or working internet yet) she started to worry.  Then one of her friends brought up the movie Taken to her, in which college age woman tourist got sold into the sex industry by guys to tricked them into it. She freaks out because of the guy I told her about in the airport.  My mom is very facebook savvy so she found Vikki’s facebook (who is the Saint Mary’s student who studied at Viterbo first semester) and asks if she has heard from me and tells her she is worried.  I was in the cafeteria here when Vikki hunted me down and then she let me use her phone to call my mom, who was freaking out a little by this point.  Then my mom told me, “Have you ever seen the movie taken?  It’s always the nice guys who say they are not creepy who are the real creeps!!!!” 
Other than that the first night was a little uneventful, there were about 30 study abroad students and all of us are American except for 2 Australians. We were all exhausted so after orientation we ended up trying to go to bed pretty early.  Tried is the key word.  We arrived on a Wednesday and Wednesday is the biggest party night here.  There is a huge clubbing atmosphere here so it was like a rave in the hallways and none of us have ever heard anything like that going on in dorms before.  There is literary a pub owned by the school on campus and kitchens in the dorms that are used to party places so it gets very crazy on Wednesdays. 

<At the Airport in MN
New Things I learned-
-Don’t make your mom worry; get in contact with her some way!
-Even people who seem nice can be really creepy, so try not to look like a tourist too much.
-Don’t plan on getting a lot of sleep on Wednesday nights.
Day 2 Thursday
Needless to say we were all Zombies by this point because of extreme jetlag and lack of sleep.  It was still really fun though because it was great to meet so many new people.  We signed up for classes, and got to look through some really cool parts of the school.  During orientation I started hanging out with Sam (girl) and Jess from Australian.  Sam ‘s school had an exchange program too and she had a guy named Scott come to her school first semester and they started dating.  Now he is back here is after orientation he helped Jess, Sam, and I get phones and drove us all to this cool shopping area called Kingston.  There was a nice three level mall there and I had my first meal off campus, McDonalds.  I also dropped off my computer to get fixed, and they had to remove everything and put it on a harddrive and put it back on.  It cost about $200 after the exchange rate, which sucked but at least everything was saved!  It was very liberating to get a phone, because you don’t realize how helpless you feel without your phone or internet till you don’t have either and you are in a different country!
We also went to a indie nightclub that night called New Slang where British Sea Power was playing., which was really fun.

<At New Slang

<The Waldegrave Drawing room on Campus, we had a meeting in here and this room is rented out for events a lot as well.

Thing I learned-
-You learn a lot from hanging out with locals.
- You don’t realize how helpless you feel without technology till you don’t have it.
-Don’t try to keep up drinking with anyone from Australia; they will kick your ass.  Luckily I just stopped after a while and gave up.
-Girls here dress a lot more fashionable then where I am fun, though fashion seems to outweigh flatter in some ways when it comes to clothes.  I hardly ever see girls in sweatpants or jeans.
Day 3, Friday
Jess, two other international students, and I all went into Kingston again so I could get my computer and so they could get phones too.  There is so much to see everywhere it is insane.  Plus you are always just a short walk or train ride away from another burrow where there is even more to see.  I also found out this day that Topshop is the huge clothing store here.  Jess and I ended up staying in Kingston till pretty late and came back and missed eating in the café, and this was the night I had my first little freakout.
I came back to the dorms and was pretty homesick and just wanted to talk to people from home and eat something.  I tried to configure my computer so it would work on the internet here but I didn’t do it right so it kept booting me off everything.  It was about 10pm and I had not eaten since about 2pm.  I was alone in my room freaking out on my computer I just spent $200 for not working and I started crying.  I ended up calling my mom on my even though I knew it would be expensive and that helped a lot.  I decided I was hungry and I was going to get food even if it was only from a vending machine in the student union.  The only thing was that all the buildings that had vending machines were locked up by this point.  Some security guards told me a pizza place that would deliver so I went to the public computer lab to call them up, only to find they were closed.  I was frustrated so I decided to just head back to my room and tough it out.  I called my mom to update her on my failed attempts when a dominions delivery guy on a motorbike drove by, to which I just had to laugh at the situation.  My mom looked up this number for me but by the time I ended up calling them they were not delivering anymore.  So when I got back to my room I called up Sadie, my best friend from college, and that cheered me up a lot.  I went to sleep really hungry but in a good mood after talking to people I love.

New things I learned-
-Sometimes you just have to laugh at how stupid situations can be.
-Talking to people you love can make you feel so much better.
-If you don’t have any food in your room, and you know you are going to miss supper, pick up food on the way home.
-At the end of the day, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Day 4 Saturday
This was the day we went into Knightsbridge which is a nicer shopping area of London where a lot of the really expensive places are.  I just woke up, and realized I missed brunch, when Jess came into my room and invited me to go and said we had to leave really soon if we wanted to catch the train.  Jess has a friend from back home in Australia that lives in London and we were going to meet her there with some of her friends.  The public transportation system is amazing but I’m really glad Jess was there to help me figure it out because I was really lost on how to use it at first.  

Two random side stories I want to remember!  When we got off the underground there was this anti fur thing going on.  One of the anti fur woman was feeding a bunch of pigeons when some crazy guy that looked like mad eye moody from Harry Potter came over and hit the pigeons which his staff and started cussing the anti fur lady or and then he just wandered away mumbling to himself.  Also, a really flamboyant guy walked out of the underground wearing a fur  vest and had a look of “oh shit” on his face when he saw the rally that was priceless. Then he booked it like no other past them and it was great.
We met Jess’ friend outside of Harrods.  Harrods is as big or maybe even bigger than the New York City Macy’s.  It’s the only thing I can compare it to.  It was crazy in there.  There were rooms filled with designer purses, another room just with perfume, another for makeup, and there was even a pet store in there.  There was a whole floor with gourmet restaurants and food to buy as well.  There was food ranging from fancy chocolates to sushi.  There was even a guy at the pizza place singing full out opera while tossing pizza dough which is two skills I have never seen used together.  There were clothes in there that were up to 1200 pounds, which would be about $2,000.  We also looked in other shops as well, and at this point I had not eaten for over 24 hours but I didn’t really care anymore.  We ended up going to this little café for an early dinner at this little café and I got a chicken fajita wrap which tasted like the best thing I had ever had at this point.  We caught the underground and trains back to campus after a long day of walking and I slept very well.

<That whole building is Harrods

<One of the best meals of my life!
New Things I learned-
-Public transportation is amazing, but it is a lot to take on.
-People watching in London is really fun.
-The exchange rate eats all your money.
------More to some soon!!!!  Sunday was my walking tour of London and I just started classes so I'll take those updates later, right now it is Wednesday night so I will be going out soon!


  1. I was wondering when you'd update. Sorry about the rocky start. Keep your chin up, this will be a fun journey!

  2. Constant vigilance, Alyssa! Haha :)

    Sounds like you're getting into the groove of things nicely and making good friends. I'm loving getting to read all about your burgeoning European adventures!!


    P.S. Oh, how I wish I could experience the dorm raves on Wednesdays with you!!

  3. Glad you had time to update. It will be fun years from now to read it.
    Love You!

    P.S. When you come home we should watch the movie "Taken" so you can see why I freaked out!

  4. Sounds like a lot of the things I encountered too! There are a few late-night food places in Twickenham, like a great kebab place. Yes, everything closes pretty early... Walk into town and get some menus to places that deliver!

    If you need groceries, walk into Teddington. Or, there are those 'off license' places that are often open until about 11 -- the one down Waldegrave Road toward Twickenham is, and I think a few are in Teddington as well.

    It'll all be a breeze before you know it!