Establishing New Roots.

So It’s been about 5 days since I last posted. A lot has gone on. Sunday was pretty much wasted by a few friends and I roaming the streets looking for a good place to get lunch. We ended up settling at this please on Upper Street called The York. It was your typical British Pub that aside from the three of us, was completely inhabited by Brits. Therefore, we assumed that the food must be good. We were right. However, what was not good was the service. Actually there was no service. After awkwardly waiting at the table for about 30 minutes for a waitress to come over, a nice British couple informed us that we had to go up to the bar to order food. After feeling like fools, we ordered and paid up front. An interesting idea because you actually can just leave the table when you finish eating and not have to get a check. I ordered Fish and Chips because I wanted my first REAL meal to be authentic. So, after a short wait, they brought out our food and I can honestly say, I have never seen a bigger piece of fish in my life. It was enormous. And quite good. I had my first taste of mashed peas and HP sauce which is amazing and does not stand for Harry Potter. It’s basically steak sauce that the Brits put on everything. Anyway, after lunch, we walked back home in the rain and called it a day. I for one had to be at work at 9AM on Monday and needed to get a good night sleep.

Monday, I started work. It was amazing. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and made me feel right at home. I came home exhausted and was barely able to stay awake long enough to watch Sunday night’s episode of True Blood which was one of the best this season. I will not talk about what happened because I’m not a promoter of spoilers. Wednesday, I started school. It was less than amazing. Having 3 hour classes is really not ideal however, it is nice that I only have each class once a week. I much prefer this than having class meet 2 or 3 times a week for shorter periods. I had Cognitive Psych and Abnormal Psych. Cognitive was really really boring and I couldn’t wait to get out of it however, my abnormal class was amazing. The teacher is an elderly british lady named Kate who wears velcro shoes and walks around the room as she talks in her PERFECT british accent. I felt like I was living a scene out of a Harry Potter movie. That’s now the second HP reference of this post. Everyone talks about Harry Potter here so please forgive me. Basically for Kate’s class, she talks and shows us videos for an hour and a half and then we have a movie for the second hour and a half which is pretty much amazing! We watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the first class. I can’t say that I complained. Thankfully I didn’t get any real work and my classes seem like they are going to be pretty easy at this point.

Today, Thursday, is my second and final day of classes for the week. I had Personality this morning and Social Psych this afternoon. I have a lot of the same people in my classes, many of which I knew from NY so I feel like I will be able to get help from them outside of class if need be. However, something I didn’t realize until my afternoon class was that my teacher for Personality is the SAME teacher for Social. So I actually had 6 hours with the same professor. He’s actually awesome though. His name is Tomas and he has been the resident psychologist for Big Brother for the past 6 years. He is really famous in the psychology world and really really funny. So today went relatively quickly even though I spent 6 hours in front of the same teacher. I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for the Greenwich trip with NYU tomorrow but soon realized I am probably going to regret it. I now have to be at Westminster Pier tomorrow along the river Thames for a Boat Tour and Guided Tour of Greenwich. After my years at 5th Ave, I refuse to subject myself to the life of a tourist. But, tomorrow, I don’t really have a choice now since I can’t get out of this. Oh well. I am going to try and make the best of it and actually be positive for a change. CHEERS.

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Let the Exploring Begin

Even though I had only been here for 2 days, waking up Friday already felt like I was home. I had a conversation with a few of my NYUL friends about how it feels like we have been here for weeks already. Now that I have had a little time to get myself acquainted with the area, I know where to go to get groceries (Tesco Metro, NOT Tesco Express), where the closest Barlcay’s is, and what busses/tubes that I need to take in order to get to work. My first day of work is going to be Monday at 9AM which is quite early for me. It is definitely going to be interesting working my first 9-6 shift. Here’s what my building looks like from the courtyard.

Yesterday was the rummage sale at Byron. Basically, we could go buy stuff that last semester’s students had left behind like converters, hangars and books. I ended up getting 15 hangars, a hamper, a converter, tape and a few other things for only £6. A steal if you ask me. I was going to buy some books but they were charging £35 each which i thought was REALLY high, considering Amazon UK sells them for much cheaper. I ended up ordering 5 books today and it cost me £85 plus shipping which is FAR less than what I usually pay back in New York. I spent the rest of my day yesterday walking around Bloomsbury and spent a short while catching up on some of my shows from back home like Suits, Burn Notice and Jersey Shore. I got a slingbox before I left and installed it at my mom’s house which allows me to watch her tv live or any tv shows she recorded on her DVR. It’s quite possibly the most amazing thing since sliced bread. If you haven’t ever heard of it, I suggest looking into it.

This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn. Literally like 6AM. I have no idea how or why i am able to wake up so early because the time change is forward, not backwards. But anyway, I used this time to go to Tesco and get groceries. When I got to the supermarket, I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to take one of the shopping carts (trolleys as the lady called them). They were joined by chains and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to detach one. I asked the lady and she told me that you have to put a pound (£) into the cart and that it will release the chain. Interestingly enough, when you are through with the “trolley” you return it and get your 1 pound coin back! I guess this is their insurance policy to make sure that their carts don’t leave the building. After shopping for nearly an hour, I had about 35 items which is a whole hell of a lot if you consider I had to carry it all back to my apartment. It was only £48 which is was ridiculously cheap considering how much I purchased. When I got back to my flat, I was exhausted. I unpacked all of my groceries and checked my mail for my debit card which still hasn’t arrived. 😦 Next thing I knew, I was asleep again!

At about noon, I woke up and remembered that NYUL had a bus tour of London at 130. At about 1pm, I walked to Byron, the other residence , with two of my friends, Kristin and Cat. We boarded the bus not knowing what to expect. However, we actually were pleasantly surprised. The tour guide was awesome. She was very knowledgeable and witty. We honestly went through all of London: Kings Cross, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, London Eye, Financial District, St Paul’s Cathedral and much more.

I’m not much of a tourist so I really liked going through everything in one day and being able to see what I actually thought was worth seeing again in the future. I took a lot of pictures on my new camera (Canon 60D). I really am in love with it. I couldn’t be happier with it. Every single picture that I took came out much better than I expected. Tonight there is an event at a Pub down the street that I think pretty much all of us are going to so we will see how that goes. More on that later…

The First 48…

Today, Thursday, is my first full day in the UK. After arriving yesterday around midday, I was extremely exhausted. I flew on Delta Flight 1 from JFK to LHR. I sat next to a really really nice girl named Margaux who goes to Vanderbilt and is doing a semester at NYULondon. She ended up knowing a lot of people from my private school in Virginia which just proves what a small world we live in. We spent the majority of the flight talking about our lives and where we wanted to travel while we were abroad. The flight went really quickly and I did not end up sleeping on the plane; not because I didn’t want to but I think it is ridiculously uncomfortable. After lugging all of my suitcases through the airport, I met up with 2 other NYU kids, Tommy and Kristin and we all split a cab from Heathrow to our building where we are staying called NIDO. The cab ride was less than spectacular and I wasn’t initially impressed. However, as we got closer to Zone 1, things began to look up. We past a lot of really nice car dealerships which made me happy because of my obsession with high end cars. Our taxi driver definitely hit someone in front of us and kept going which was a lithe jarring but hey, that’s London. After about 45 minutes, we arrived at my apartment near Kings Cross. It only ended up costing about £23.00 each which was far better than the £90.00 that most cabbies charge.

By now, I was so tired. Yet, I knew that I needed to unpack, shower, and get to a bank. I was pretty much raped by the Travelex currency change people at JFK and was not about to let that happen again. Since I have Bank of America, I can use Barclay’s over here in the UK for no charge. So, off to Barclays I went. However, without a cell phone or map, I quickly became lost, walking literally miles up hill until I found the branch. Once there, I met with a really nice lady named Sophee who helped me open a UK bank account. Students usually aren’t allowed to open them but because I am going to be working for Apple here as well, they made an exception so that I can do direct deposit. After getting my bank account open and making my first deposit, I finally had a sigh of relief knowing that I actually had gotten something accomplished. When I left Barclay’s I went to O2 to get a new sim card for my iPhone 4. However, after waiting in line for nearly 50 minutes, I was told that I had to have a UK bank account to sign up for the account. Therefore, I have to now wait for my Barclays card to arrive in the mail. That was really a bummer and kind of pissed me off but, I realized that there was nothing I could do about it.

When I got back to my apartment, I honestly was so tired that as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out cold. I slept for a few hours before waking up and Skyping with my mom back in Virginia. It was good to hear a familiar voice. As soon as I finished my conversation with her, I realized something I had forgotten to do all day long…EAT. I literally had not eaten a single thing since that awful meal they served us on the plane. However, it was already 10pm at this point and everything had already closed. Fact: London shuts down pretty early at night. With nothing else to do, I decided to take a few ambien and go right back to sleep. It was needed.

So my goal for today was to wake up around 9AM and go get some household items that I needed. But, not so quickly. When I packed my backpack to go, I realized that I couldn’t find my passport. I searched my entire room and it was nowhere in sight. I began panicking because my passport is the most important thing that I own here in the UK. It has my UK work Visa pasted inside and is the only thing that will allow me to travel back home. After thinking about where it possibly could be, I realized that I might have left it at Barclay’s. I rang the branch but no one answered. After freaking out further, I decided to take a taxi to the bank. Actually, this was my FIRST black taxi ride. It ended up being like £7 which i considered expensive since the bank really isn’t that far away from me. When I got to the bank I asked the teller if anyone had turned in a passport. She was very nice and said that she would go to the back and look. About 5 minutes later, she returned with a little navy booklet that could only be one thing…MY PASSPORT. She said that they found it in the scanner. When I had given them my passport to scan, they had forgotten to give it back to me and I had forgotten to ask. CRISIS AVERTED. Anyway, it was the first thing to turn the day around. I was running late to my orientation  at Bedford Square so I took another taxi which cost me another £11. So far I had spent nearly $30 on taxis for a stupid mistake.

 

Our required lunch/orientation lasted for about 4 hours and honestly if it had lasted a moment longer I don’t know if I could have survived. It was so boring and all I wanted to do was get out of there. I don’t think i learned anything that I didn’t already know. However, it was pretty funny to hear the police officers speak. They were really down to earth and made us all laugh. When it ended, I walked a short while to Tottenham Court Road. It is the major destination street for electronic goods in London sans Apple. I stopped in Vodafone UK and got a pay as you go BlackBerry account for only £5 a month. This is ridiculously cheap if you consider that includes data, text, and BlackBerry Messenger. BBM is a huge thing over here and everyone has it. After getting my BB activated, I headed down Oxford Street and stopped at a few stores like Muji and Marks and Spencer. M&S is a department store that is based out of the UK and specializes in UK merchandise. I got a really good pillow and a bath rug among other things. After spending way to much money and using almost all of my £££, I decided to head back to my residence at NIDO, taking my 3rd and final cab of the day. Another £11 gone. At this point, I’m honestly so tired. I haven’t been this active in a while and even though I know it’s a good thing, it is just going to take my body a little getting used to. I am so exhausted that I probably won’t even need to take any ambien tonight. That’s a BIG deal for me. Anyway, I’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned for the weekend and can’t wait to see what crosses my path next.