I arrived at the airport earlier in the day and was brought back to campus with a few other students. On my first day here, I went to the local shop to purchase an Oyster Card, which is how one pays for the public transit system. I then learned how to use the bus and get to Asda (the British version of Walmart) to purchase groceries. The rest of the day was spent unpacking and exploring campus before going to the Welcome Dinner.
I went through orientation and registration. I now have an official Roehampton Student ID! I went on an official campus tour as well, I’ve got about half of campus down, the other half is still kind of confusing to me. I met up with some people and we ended up back at Asda getting groceries we had forgotten previously. When we got back to school we wandered around campus and explored the library before hanging out and playing card games well into the night. The people that I went to Asda with this day are now people I hang out with every day and are very much lifelong friends.
We spent several hours in Central London. I learned how to get to the local train station, which is about a ten-minute walk from campus. I saw the London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben (which is under construction, of course) and the London Eye, as well as countless other monuments and old buildings. I am slowly becoming an expert in public transportation!
I ended up joining a group and we went to Hyde Park. While there, we rented rowboats and rowed around a man-made lake for an hour. When we were done, we walked around to find a place for lunch. The restaurant that we stopped at had spinach, chickpea, and fettuccini “meat” balls and spaghetti, which I loved! We took the tube (subway) back to our area of London. I ended the night with a game of frisbee with a bunch of cool people! I was worried coming in that I would be lonely since I didn’t know anybody else who was studying at my school. Honestly, though, making friends has been pretty easy! A lot of people who came here also came alone, so we’re all just trying to get to know each other. Most everybody is kind, generous and genuine.
The first day of class. I’m in a literature course that focuses on how London has been depicted through books, specifically the Magic, Murder, and Mystery of the city. Class runs from 9:00-13:00, Monday through Thursday. It seems long but we get two breaks to stretch, get snacks, and use the loo. My professor is originally from California and has been in London for just over a decade. She’s very nice. After class, a group of us went looking for a charity shop (thrift store). The original one we wanted is no longer in business and the other one we found, the owner was out for lunch. I stopped at a post office to buy stamps and was blown away by how expensive they are. Don’t ask, I don’t want to talk about it. I bought a gym membership since I’m here for so long!
Getting up for class is rough, and not having caffeine in the morning is worse. I had to get a coffee on our first break because I kept nodding off. Class went by really fast and afterward, I quickly worked on a presentation. Then I went to the gym. Then I got ready for the Hidden Pubs of London Tour. It wasn’t as fantastic as I wanted to be, but I did see a lot of beautiful old buildings and hear some crazy ghost stories, including one that inspired J.K. Rowling’s Nearly Headless Nick. We ended the tour at a gin palace and after I ordered my gin and tonic I realized that I didn’t like gin. I drank it though. On our way back to the station, we stopped at McDonald’s. The chips (fries) here are the same, and they have veggie burgers. The veggie burger I got was NOT good. I’ll try the spicy one next time, but if that one isn’t good I will just stick to the chips.
I presented in class about Jack the Ripper and we watched a movie about him. After class I went to a quaint little event that the Study Abroad Team at my university put on for us; tea and cake. The cake I tried was vegan chocolate and it was so good! The tea was also very good, except that it was hot and humid and I was drinking a warm beverage. While at the social, a group of us decided to spontaneously go into the city and ride the London Eye. I’ve really taken to doing things spontaneously, as I used to do before my life required organization. We ordered our tickets online with a student discount. I was expecting the cost to be £50 but it was actually only £15, which was a relief, though I probably would have done it anyways. The Eye was pretty cool but not as great as I expected it to be, given how talked up the attraction is. We roamed around the city afterward to find a doughnut shop in Soho. It was the most expensive doughnut I’ve ever had, but it was incredibly rich and the frosting was amazing.
That’s it for week one! Week two will be coming soon, and with some even crazier stories than week one.