Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hello Pidgy, Hello Daddy

Today I met foreigners. And fed pigeons. And saw my dad.

I could just end this blog with that, but I think I'll expound just for consistency's sake and because I feel like it.

I woke up this morning after having only two hours of sleep. When my roommate returned last night from whatever it was she was up to, I had just gone to bed but was still in that dreamy netherworld between wakefulness and sleep. The way I described it to my dad was that moment when you go from thinking about something real to creating fictional situations out of the thought and suddenly you're dreaming. But instead of continuing to dream and thus sleep, I kept snapping out of it.

With only two hours of what was essentially an early morning nap, I wasn't exactly refreshed, but I had to get going.

I ate a quick breakfast, making the mistake of mixing a fruit cocktail in with my baked beans (fruit cocktail and baked beans for breakfast... only in England, eh?) and ending up with all of my savory food tasting like sugary syrup. Then I set off for my university in London. The first time I've even made it close to campus.

While I still haven't gotten a chance to see the main quad that my school is known for, I was finally acquainted with that feeling of being a student at the university. The past two days have been filled with little activities all with fellow American students, but in this first venture to the area that directly surrounds the campus which I will be spending the next three months at, I felt at home. For the first time.

Though I would've liked to meet more people at my international student orientation, the couple I did meet were enough to make me feel positive about my forthcoming experience in London. The first was a Canadian girl who I could easily have assumed was American, and who complained herself that she's always correcting people who believe she's from the States.

We spent a couple of hours together in orientation sessions talking about our programs of study and all that we'd experienced so far in London and in regards to UCL. It was interesting for me to get to know someone with whom I don't have any background relationship. Many of the people in my study abroad program at the hotel are students at my home institution, which means we often end up talking about Chicago rather than London. It can be a bit comforting, but getting out of the box and meeting people from completely different backgrounds has been even more incredible.

A few hours later I took a walk back to my hotel, grabbed a sandwich from Pret A Manger and ate lunch in Russell Square. When a pigeon came up to me, I clandestinely threw him a piece of bread, then immediately regretted the decision when a bunch of other pigeons came barreling toward the poor thing and tried stealing the bread directly out of his mouth. Survival of the fittest, my butt. This was thievery.

Anyway, I soon warmed up to the other pigeons once they stopped attacking my original bird buddy. And thus the lunch was a success.

But the best part of my day was getting ahold of my dad on FaceTime and planning to meet up with him later in the day. He'll be here for the rest of the week and it is such a relief that I cannot even imagine what I would've done had he not been around.

Even though London has been wonderful to me these past few days, extraneous factors have put a strain on my relationship with it. Living situations, difficulty in communication and occasional feelings of loneliness have put a damper on what is otherwise the most wonderful thing to happen to me for a very long time.

The way I see it, this is still a city that can do no wrong. But at the moment I'm still trying to shape the social atmosphere in which I dwell so that it does no wrong too. Or at least so I can work along with it.

Thing is, I still haven't met a single British university student. But that's my next step. Tomorrow I'm back at international orientation, but by next week I'll be hobnobbing with hundreds of more people. With that, things are looking up.

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