I’d like to preface this post by announcing that I a.) am completely sober, b.) am a little bit exhausted, and c.) have basically no idea what I’m doing and that’s clearly affecting my brain.
Happy New Year! I flew to England a week ago. I’ve been here a week. A week.
I don’t know… like, I don’t even know what I’m saying… how is this a thing? HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE.
I was going to post as soon as I arrived last week, but when I got to campus at Queen Mary, University of London, they were all, Surprise no internet for you ho-HO silly Americans we merry old British folk care little for your “blogging” or your “email-checking” or your “letting-your-parents-know-that-your-plane-didn’t-crash-into-the-ocean-ing” you cheeky things ha cheeky.
But we have internet now, in case you hadn’t noticed, so I am now entirely free to love it here. And I do.
I do, really. I’m living in a single room in a flat I share with at least 7 other people (I lost count… I’ve met too many people over the course of a week). 4 of us are Americans, and 4 are British, and all are very nice and very keen on the low legal drinking age here. I went to a pub the first night (Jan. 3) with my roommate from last year (we were on the same flight… nice to have at least one close friend around) because it was her 21st birthday. I witnessed her first ever legal-if-we-were-in-America drink. And then I went back to my flat and faceplanted on my bed because I’m a total animal like that.
I’m enrolled in four courses at QMUL—two English, two Drama—and I’ve been to three so far this week. It’s sort of strange being on the targeted end of the dialect radar, but there are plenty of Americans at this university, so the British kids don’t freak out as much as we do when there are Brits in our American classes.
When I first met my British flatmates, one of them listened to me talk for about ten seconds before telling me that I seemed “less American” as the study abroad students who lived here last semester (clearly, he didn’t see me during the Olympics when I basically walked around in an American flag). He then proceeded to do an excellent impression of what I assumed to be a SoCal frat boy, complete with “Oh my God, like, whatever”s and “Dude, I like your pants*.” He was very convincing.
(*Apparently “pants” does not actually mean “pants” here, but in fact it means “underwear” and due to this realization, I am becoming conscious of just how many times I use the word “pants” on an everyday basis. Hint: a lot.)
So far, I have been on a bus tour of London and a boat cruise down the Thames, and both were fun and tourist-y. I’m more excited to be able to see London like a local does, and not like an American on vacation (granted, I’ll still be an American but the whole vacationing aspect does diminish with the fact that I’ll be here for almost half a year).
Speaking of being an American, my lovely immigration officer at Heathrow made quite certain of that fact by unintentionally setting me up for deportation. There was a mixup with the visa stamps at immigration, and I received one that was from 2012. Brilliant.
Fortunately, I received an endearing, one-sentence reply from my ever-helpful study abroad office telling me that they don’t deal with that sort of thing, and directed me to an advice and counseling service to be advised and counseled.
In their defense, they are dealing with hundreds of study abroad students this semester, and the British are somewhat… economical with their words anyway.
Exhibit A, a screenshot from another email sent out to students:
But I’m getting my visa complications sorted out, and aside from that, my experience so far really has been amazing. I can’t even describe what it’s like to be walking down a street and know that you’re surrounded by thousands of years of history. The people here are great, too. Supposedly, I’m living in the hoochie end of London (according to my old babysitter who lives here now). I have no idea what “hoochie” means, but I don’t think these people know “hoochie” until they’ve lived in South Central L.A.
It is freezing, however, and I proudly keep my room at about 80° F at all times because if I don’t, my coldblooded heart will shrivel and die. But I did bring my USC sweater, and when I wore it a few days ago, I received a couple of victory signs and “fight ons” in the Tube and on the streets, which blew my mind. CRAZY BIG TROJAN FAMILY IS CRAZY BIG.
Last night, I went to see my first show of the semester in Picadilly Circus at the Criterion Theatre. It’s called The 39 Steps, and it was a show parodying numerous Alfred Hitchcock films. I thought it was charming—deliberately low budget with sketch comedy humor and only four actors playing all of the parts. Really well done.
That’s all for now because it’s almost 10 PM here, I have to wake up far too early to go running in Victoria Park just outside of campus with my old roommate tomorrow… I don’t know how she talked me into this. It’s too cold for this. Downside to being delirious?
P.S.—I’d just like to add for my mother’s benefit (not that she’ll read this) that when my adorable and wonderful housekeeper Tracy came to clean today, she told me that my room was “a palace” compared to some of the other rooms she’s had to clean. A PALACE. PAL-ACE. Okay. Bye.