I haven’t flown on a Boeing 747 in a long time (6 years?) and I was seated right behind the wing with a window seat. Perfect. The lady sitting next to me was a sweet girl from Sweden, though I couldn’t tell by her accent. Everyone sounds the same here and I can’t understand any of them. Truth? They all sound so sophisticated and formal. Even when they curse they sound lovely – I wonder what they must think of the way we talk!
Somewhere below the clouds in this picture is Ireland. Everyone had their window shades down, this was about the time they turned the cabin lights on and were starting to serve breakfast, but many people were still trying to sleep. As you can imagine, opening my shade let in A LOT of light – and I even got hollered at. I ignored them and said tough luck. We’ll be landing in a few hours anyway, it is about time you woke up!! I’m going to enjoy every second of this trip and if I want to look out my window, then I’ll look out my window! Heh, heh…does that make me a rude person? Selfish, maybe. But this is a trip of a lifetime, come on!! Sometimes peeps just need to relax a little.
I took a sleeping pill on the plane hoping to conk out and get some rest – but instead I just laid there most of the time completely and utterly relaxed. I wasn’t able to move or sleep. It was pretty miserable, but apparently I did sleep some, because I awoke to the little TV saying we only had 1.5 hours left of flight. Sweet. But I didn’t feel rested. Not in the very least. I was running on adrenaline and excitement.
That’s me, on the plane. Looking excited and more awake than I feel right now…
Then the fun really began. I managed to find my way through the airport, across the border, collected my luggage and get through customs. I changed my clothes, too, because after 10 hours on the plane I felt disgusting. With some (okay, a lot) of help, I purchased the ticket to my destination. The ATM wouldn’t allow me to get any cash, a battle I will handle tomorrow, I think, because I am just too tired, plus it is a Sunday. So I waited for the bus…with my two rolling suitcases, backpack, and over-sized, stuffed purse.
And finally it arrived. And I was quickly able to confirm that they indeed do drive on the wrong side of the road here. I haven’t ever experienced it, other than just seeing it on TV. I am here to tell you that it is just as weird as you could possibly imagine it would be. And, they drive like maniacs. The bus we were on was pretty large, and the car next to us was very small, but that didn’t stop them from getting within inches of each other! That and we about took out countless pedestrians, street signs, and other various objects in the way.
You will notice that the pictures of my journey stop here. This is where the fun died, just a little, and the camera got put away. I got deposited at the Woking rail station, and managed to get to the right “platform” for my train. It seemed easy enough. The train was pretty quick and before I knew it I was in Guildford. I got off the train and look around hoping to see a sign of something – anything – that would point me in the direction of the University of Surrey. No such luck. I finally asked one of the employees for help. He even helped me carry my luggage up the 3 flights of stairs because they don’t have a “lift” at the station. Whether he wanted a tip or not I do not know, but I had no money so I couldn’t have tipped him anyway. I was just so grateful to have help.
The next thing I knew, I was standing on the side of a street.
“Look right, left, right before you cross…right? Because in the states it is right, left, right…right?”
I asked the lady which way Surrey was and she pointed to her left and said it was a 10 minutes walk but said I could take the bus. Since I had no cash for a ticket, I chose to walk. Bad call. Not 15 paces away from the station and it began to rain. 15 paces more and it was pouring. Sweet. I had an umbrella, but each hand was pulling a suitcase, so I didn’t really have the option to hold the umbrella anyway. This was one of those moments when a third arm would have been great.
I trudged along down the narrow streets, coming to close for comfort to passing cars with my luggage and I was soaked to the bone. I took two wrong turns and ended up in a residential neighborhood. Fortunately, a good one, and someone could tell I was lost (of course, it was obvious) and I finally find the university (hip hip horray!) only to find out that the reception desk is closed. My key is at the security office and it is up around the corner. Cool. Uphill and around the corner. In the rain. Sweet. I trudge on once again. I finally get my key and the security officer has pity on my poor soaking wet American soul (that’s obvious, too). He was so nice and he offered to drive me back to my dorm. Hallelujah! So he loaded my bags, and I just stood there waiting for to get in the truck. He walked over the door and put the key in the lock and I thought, what a gentlemen, he’s going to open the door for me! You see where this is going yet? Then he goes,
“I ride on this side, luv.”
[Side note: they call everyone “luv” here, it took me a while to figure that one out.]
I felt like SUCH an idiot.
Once I got in he told me that it is actually the rest of the world who drives on the wrong side of the road. I suppose that’s one way to look at it. When in Rome.
My room is on the third floor and he even helped me haul my luggage up the stairs. I offered to pay him, even though I didn’t have anything, and hoped he would decline. He most certainly did. Phew. Me and my big mouth.
I finally made it to my dorm. An accomplishment that I was really starting to doubt would happen. It is small…quaint would be more like it. I will post pictures when I get it unpacked. I dropped my luggage and bolted for the lieu (restroom) because I drank too much tea on the plane. But then, whoa, whoa…wait a minute. NO TP? Are you serious?! That’s not the only thing this room doesn’t have, the list goes on and on and on. Phone won’t work, no internet until I get my student ID tomorrow, no access to campus computer labs until tomorrow, no alarm clock, no towels (thank goodness I brought my own), and since I had been thinking ahead, I bought a “bedding pack” for WAY too much a few days ago to have waiting for me in my room so I at least have something to rest my nugget on tonight.
So. I sat there looking at my stuff.
I guess I should unpack?
I did just that and then wandered around campus to find a convenience store. Fortunately, there was one – with TP. I bought a bag of chips, TP, a sandwich, and laundry detergent. The girl explained to me that I could go to Town Centre and get internet at a cafe there. I find myself striking up conversation with everyone and anyone just so I can listen to them speak. I just love their accents. With a few exceptions. I find that the bus drivers are very difficult to understand – not sure why that is.
After dropping my items off in my room, I booked it for the bus stop. I desperately wanted to let my family know that I made it alright! I sat there waiting for the bus and actually fell asleep. The bus pulled up and I was startled awake. I’ve never been so tired. I’m willing to bet that when I read over this tomorrow, I either won’t remember writing it, or it won’t make any sense at all, or both.
The bus ride was quite..interesting. Maybe worse than the first bus ride from the airport. Remember the scene in Harry Potter when the bus picks him up and they are zooming around London? Yes, that’s about how it is. No joke. I clung to the post for dear life.
Once I found Town Centre, I found a Starbucks. BINGO. A cup of coffee and internet access. Prior to finding Starbucks, I wandered around a bit. H&M, lots of clothing stores…yes, I shall return for a bit of shopping, I do believe. Anyway, so here I am.
I checked my email, and found this picture in my incranium. I’m the luckiest Auntie Em in the world. Hands down. My family is so awesome.