I finally feel a bit more settled in now that all my stuff is unpacked and generally in place. So far everything has been going great! I can't wait to get out and explore more.
Anyway, going back to the beginning, the flight over to London wasn't that bad. I ended up bring WAY too much luggage, but oh well. It was a struggle to get it all into the Prius, but it fit!
I was supposed to leave St. Louis around 5pm, although we ended up being delayed about an hour due to mechanical problems. Thankfully, I had a pretty long lay-over in Atlanta before my flight to London so I didn't have any problems making my connection. The flight only took about 8.5 hours so not too bad. After arriving it took a little while to get through customs then I had to wait a few hours to get on the shuttle, but eventually I made it onto campus. The staff were all ready to help us check in and were very friendly (as opposed to the stiff upper lip Brit stereotype). The rooms are fairly nice and very private. Everyone has their own room and bathroom with a shared kitchen at the end of the hall. I was expecting my room to be small, but honestly, not THIS small. The room itself is probably about your average dorm size but the bathroom is really really tiny. I got used to living in my spacious L.A. size two person apartment with two sinks and a kitchen and living room.
Here's the room:
After a little bit of work, it's starting to look a bit like home:
Across from the bed is a desk that runs the length of the wall from the bathroom to the door. The desk is actually pretty decently sized and since it's so long there's plenty of desk space. Clearly they expect us to do a lot of studying! Check it out:
But, oh, the bathroom. Don't get me wrong, I'm super thankful I have a private one. (Although splitting two sinks with Preksha was really never difficult...) But, alas, it's difficult to shower when the only thing separating the "shower" from the toilet is a flimsy curtain on a track so small it's clinging to your body. Take a look for yourself.
Notice how the floor is just a floor - no separation between "shower" and "not shower" flooring. The curtain rides along a rail in the ceiling to protect clothes or towels from the water. Nothing, however, protects them from the condensation which flows all along the tile walls.
It's truly smaller than the closet I had in my good 'ole L.A. apartment, but alas, it's private, and that is certainly very convenient. I was also thankful I brought sheets with me since I got in after dark. While I did bring a thermal blanket, I didn't bring a comforter because it would have taken up too much space. So, that meant the only real blanket I had was the fleece blanket I brought with me on the plane.
This blanket happened to be mom's Christmas present from me a few years back. She asked me for "a Donny Osmond Blanket." Well, I searched the website, found this fleece one, and gave it to her. Turns out she wanted some limited edition collector's blanket that was significantly more stylish than this little fleece one. Well, Donny was the perfect size to fold up easily and put in my carry-on, so along to London he went. Now, every time I see the blanket it reminds me of home. The pillowcase is of course my adorable dog Agnesi and I didn't leave behind my stuffed animal Wispy either! Anywho, by Thursday night, I was all settled in and definitely ready to go to bed.
Today, I spent most of the day in orientation; basically just sitting in a lecture hall listening to a bunch of information. Once all the sessions finished, we began module (British for class) registration. This would normally be done online, but us study abroad students do everything by paper. This actually allows us to take classes in multiple departments which UK students can't do. In the UK, "reading for your degree" is a three year process in which you intensively study your subject and your subject only. Thus, the online registration system gives access to one department only. Since we're special, we had class registration in a large conference room where representatives from each department set up booths and we "queued" in order to speak with them about which classes we wanted to take, prerequisites, and timetables to try to figure everything out. It was a very time consuming process, especially to an American not accustomed to queuing. In the end, I've found 7 classes that I'm interested in. I've been signed off for 5 of them, and in the end I'm only going to take 4, and I know for a fact that some of them clash with each other, so Monday after enrollment I'll be sitting down with my timetable and trying to hammer it out, then travelling campus to visit each department to get the necessary signatures.
Here's the options:
1) Physics of Energy and the Environment
2) Aerospace Design
3) Low Speed Aerodynamics
4) Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics
5) Digital Circuit Design
6) The Road From 1945: Britain since the Second World War
7) Society and the State in Britain, 1450-1720
So, we'll see. I've got this weekend to figure out potential schedules then two weeks before I have to finalize everything.
Already, I've experienced how pubs are central to the British social fabric. Pubs here are more than just places to drink. Last night, when I didn't have my internet password, a few friends and I went and hung out at a pub because they had free wifi and it was the only way we could contact home. Tonight, a bunch of the same people and I went exploring a couple of the other pubs just to hang out for a little bit and get to know each other better. We got a picture of all of us.
Anywho, I've had a really great time so far and I really can't wait to get to know more people. Already, we're planning to go explore central London a bit tomorrow (as you can see in the Travel calendar to the right). It's surprisingly difficult to plan events without cell phones though. Mostly because we've become the generation that plans 10 minutes in advance. We actually had to set up a meeting time before we all went back to our dorms otherwise we'd have no way of getting in touch in the morning. The problem is that if someone is running late you don't have a way of contacting them. I hope to get a phone either tomorrow or the day after at the shopping mall one tube stop away. And, it's not just ANY shopping mall, it's Europe's largest urban shopping center built as part of the Olympic Park construction! I can't wait to check it out! Well, that's all for now. I need to get some sleep before my day of exploring tomorrow!