I hate to make this post already sound depressing, but it was revealed today to us Study Abroad students that life wouldn’t be all fun and games this semester. There are classes to go to, homework to complete, and various other side effects of being a college resident that dampen the experience. It’s not that I didn’t know these things, but life had been so fluid and easygoing the past two days that I assumed and hoped that life would continue being that way. Orientation showed me that that was not the case… obviously! I mean, it is still college, right?
Besides the fact that I made another friend (hey, Danielle!), there was an off-kilter feeling to the whole morning. I knew it was going to be an off day when I couldn’t stay awake for ten minutes during orientation. Every time I blinked I was in danger of falling into a deep slumber in front of Study Abroad students with surnames A-L. The information being given to us was interesting and most definitely helpful, but the lack of caffeine in my life these past days really took its toll on me. I was a zombie in human form, brain dead and unresponsive. Long story short: the morning didn’t go too well.
The afternoon, however, picked up slightly. Jen and I lounged around the flat for a bit, making lunch and watching YouTube videos of the “Apparently Kid” and, of course, some A Very Potter Musical. Lunch consisted of instant oolongmen (think Ramen but with little veggies and large amounts of sodium) for myself and udon for dear old Jen. Flatmates floated in and out of the kitchen; it is unknown whether they like us yet or not. They might just find us weird, which definitely sits between the two extremes.
With nothing on the docket until 4:00 pm, Jen and I decided to head to King’s Cross station and assess the line for the Platform 9 3/4 picture spot. Unfortunately, by the time we decided to get out of the flat and meander down to the Tube, it was already 3:00 and our arrival time was 3:15. The line was a bit too long for a fifteen minute time constraint, so we browsed the shop (of course there was a gift shop; everyone loves a HP gift shop). I saw the most amazing lithograph (pictures made from book text) of the first Harry Potter book in the form of a snitch and Hedwig silhouette to the pretty tune of 30 pounds. I haven’t seen anything like it back home, but there is that pesky question of how I will get it home… so I refrained from buying it. For now.
After browsing the many items I wanted to purchase but had the decency not to, we ditched the station and ran back to the Tube to (hopefully) make it back in time for our walking tour of East End London at 4:00 pm. We made it in record time and met our new friend there as well (how lucky!). Our tour guide was kind and peppy, which definitely made the slightly grueling walk a bit more bearable. It was clear she knew her information and wanted to share it with us, so naturally I wanted to learn. We made a complete square from the campus up and around to a park and back. She gave us helpful tips and tricks for daily living in London as well as pointers as to where to get the cheapest groceries. The only thing she didn’t help us with was how to deal with the “freshers” outside the dorms yelling at the top of their lungs. Of course I didn’t expect her to give any practical advice about living on a campus such as this one, but anything at all would have been extremely welcome.
If you couldn’t guess, the freshers like to party. I don’t mind that–I understand normal college students do such things especially when the drinking age is 18 and above–but I do mind the constant screaming outside my window. Luckily it has been dying down somewhat (maybe because the parties are elsewhere in London), but I can still hear the occasional song or chant drifting up to my room, waking me from a deep sleep. I don’t have to tell you that it’s unpleasant. I say they are freshers, but really it could be anyone from any year. Just the fact that the “fresher events” are this week makes me assume (probably correctly) that the freshers are the most common partyers. Just an educated guess.
The only downside to yesterday was that I had a bout of intense homesickness. I had a feeling this would happen soon enough, considering I hadn’t really thought too hard about home since I got here, but it rushed over me like a tidal wave. I was shopping for groceries when I realized I had no idea what I was doing and it was all I could do not to break down in the store itself. Luckily I held myself together for the ride home, but once I entered my room I was a mess. I am thankful to Jen for being there for me and helping me understand that this, too, shall pass and that we’ll both be home in a shorter time than we would like to admit. I also Facetime’d with my parents which helped in a major way. Just seeing their faces, hearing their voices, and actually talking to them about things helped so much. Sure, I may have shed a tear when I had to say good-bye to them after the call, but they told me the same thing everyone else has: enjoy your time here because it won’t last forever. Three months is shorter than you think.
With that thought in mind, I leave this blog post in your able hands. I miss my family and friends back home so very much, but I must focus on forging new friendships here for the time being. Friends truly help glue the broken pieces back together, especially when no one else is around to do so.