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.