Well here I am in England! After months of anticipation I've finally arrived. My flight left Newark airport at 9:15 PM. I was a little apprehensive before getting on the plane, but then I met another girl from Muhlenberg. She is going to Goldsmiths in London. She also told me that her friend Sarah, who is here at Royal Holloway, was supposed to fly on a Virgin Atlantic flight from JFK but it got cancelled at the last minute so she was flying from Newark. Sarah and I were hoping to meet up at the airport but since her flight got changed, we didn't arrive at the same time. The flight over was fine, and I got a chance to sleep a little bit. The couple sitting next to me had two daughters who both studied abroad - one in London and one in Paris. They said it was a life changing experience and one I'd never forget. I think the best part of the flight was seeing New York City from the air. I love seeing the lights and excitement, but seeing Times Square was particuarly breath taking. From the sky, it looks so small in a sea of bright
Once I landed, I went through passport control which only took about 30 minutes or so. England's immigration policy is changing so I had to declare myself a student visitor. They needed to make sure I would be here less than six months and I won't be working while I'm here. Once I gathered my luggage, there were students from Royal Holloway to greet us at the arrivals gate. They took us to a bus in a different terminal which dropped us off at the college. From there we had to walk to our dorm buildings and check in and get our keys. It was quite a walk with 75 pounds of luggage! After I got my key luckily a student mentor volunteered to help with my luggage. I live in floor 2, which is really the 3rd floor because the ground floor is 0, and the lift was out of service, meaning he had to carry it all up the stairs!
My room is fantastic - everyone had said I was very lucky to be living in Williamson because it was just built over the summer. They moved my mattress in just a few days ago.
It's so nice to sleep in a bed and take a shower knowing you're the first one to ever use it! The room reminds me a lot of a hotel room. I have my own bathroom, there's a full size bed, a huge desk, closet and a lot of shelves. I live alone in a hall of 8 people. We all share a kitchen. It's like suite style in America, but here they call it a flat. When I first got here, no one else was around so I was kind of apprehensive. I didn't know where my Muhlenberg friends were and I didn't know anyone else on campus. I heard some noise out in the hall and went to take a look. It ends up one of my suitemates had been here but sleeping. Her name is Erin and she is also studying abroad. She lives in Boston but goes to school in Maryland and is an English major, a common study here. We got to know each other and hit it off but we were anticipating the arrival of our new suitemates. I got unpacked and settled in. We had a meeting about living in our residence halls
Saturday evening so I had the chance to meet up with my Muhlenberg friends. (There are 3 other girls from Muhlenberg here. We weren't close friends back at school and hadn't planned to come here together, but we've been hanging out a lot here) The school gave us a free dinner for our first night. After that, we headed over to Medicine, the most popular bar on campus (and located right across from our dorm). It reminded us too much of an American bar, so we decided to leave and get our rest as we had an extremely long day and were suffering from jet lag!
On Sunday Erin and I did some food shopping. The prices weren't as bad as I was expecting them to be. The walk into town is about a mile, but it's through a cute "village" as they call the towns here. There are cute cottages along the way, and it's a pleasant walk. Since I'm not the best chef in the world, I was happy to find out that my flatmate Erin loves to cook and she will be willing to help me out. I was hoping we would live with someone who
had pots and pans to supply, but we seem to be with all international students who didn't bring any with them. Speaking of flatmates, we were worried at first we would be the only ones here but it seems to be filling up. There is room for 8 and so far there is:
1) Me, studying politics. I'm also taking a class in the drama department and media arts department
2) Erin, studying abroad from Washington College in Maryland, lives in Boston, English Major
3) Henry, from Hong Kong who is studying Management...he brought a lot of Chinese food with him and cooks for him and his girlfriend every night. The food always smells delicious and I'm hoping he'll cook for us one night. We're not really sure what to think of him, because he walks around and cooks wearing only his underwear, smokes in our kitchen, and told us last night he used to sell weed but all of his "customers" quit. This could be an interesting experience
4) There is also a girl from India whose name I can't remember but is very nice. She is studying biomedical sciences.
5) Danlin, a girl from China who we spoke
to for a bit last night. She is very willing to introduce us to her friends here and show us around. Actually all of our flatmates are second or third years, so they want to show us the ropes and help us get acquainted with Royal Holloway.
In the afternoon we walked around to take pictures of the campus. I can't believe how beautiful it is! It is bigger than Muhlenberg, but not huge and overwhelming. There is a lot of trees and greenery and my favorite part that there is a castle on the campus! At the main gate, there is the Founders building which used to be a castle. It is now classrooms, offices and dorm rooms. Founders is even more beautiful than in the pictures and much bigger than I anticipated!
On Sunday night, we went out for my birthday. We didn't want to go to Medicine again, so we decided to try someplace new...there are actually 4 pubs right on campus. Drinking is looked at so differently here. In America, it seems college students constantly want to drink because they know it's illegal so they go overboard. Here it is very excepted and people do it
much more responsibly. So we tried a new pub called Crosslands in the Founders building. We had a good time talking to the table of guys sitting next to us and then they sang happy birthday to me. I know it's so cliche, but I really do love the British accent...no matter what they are saying, it just sounds so much more sophisticated! Someone told us yesterday that he doesn't understand American girls' fascination with the British accent!
All in all so far England has been fantastic. Since it's Freshers week, classes don't start yet. I had one meeting today for the Media Arts department, and I have another tomorrow. Then I have two Friday for Politics and Drama. During Freshers week, there's not much "study" in study abroad, but a time for everyone to have fun and get used to being at "uni" as they call college here. I'm trying to take advantage of every opportunity I have to make this an unforgettable experience!
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