The Honeymoon Stage
I have done more in the first 11 days of living in London than I expected to do in the first month. I had hardly set my bags down before it was time to meet with Coleman and the other Interstudy students to receive our phones and get the basics of traveling around London (Yay, oystercards). Everyone was equally exhausted but we managed to stay awake for dinner, shopping, and the most incredible hot chocolate I have ever experienced (It’s more of an experience than a drink). We were encouraged to stay up until at least nine-thirty before we went to bed in order to avoid horrendous jet lag. I am proud to say I made it to ten thirty before face-planting onto my single bed with only a fitted sheet and two naked pillows (Hey, I’m trying to save money for more important things… i.e. souvenirs)
By day two everyone had gotten the hang of the underground and we managed to meet up to go visit the Tower of London which was followed by the most British meals we could think of: fish and chips and steak pie.
Orientation week started the following Monday and, like most orientation weeks, it was filled with lots of making friends and lots of going out. My flat mates turned out to be really wonderful people, though apparently there is one more who remains a mystery to me. I have yet to see him.
The rest of orientation week consisted of being touristy, roaming around London, and going to bars, which is particularly convenient at Queen Mary as they have a student bar on campus. It was not hard to remember that most students here have been drinking since they were eighteen (Or fourteen…. Or according to my Nigerian friends “There may as well be no legal age [in Nigeria]. No one cares.”) Most of the guys downed about three drinks to every single drink my American friends had. It should probably stay that way.
During the days, we traveled to local markets for shopping or just went exploring. On one particular day Lucy–another Interstudy student– and I decided to pick a random stop on the underground and explore the area around it.
She picked Notting Hill Gate and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Right near by was Princess Diana’s memorial walk and Kensington Palace. It was an absolutely gorgeous walkway with fountains and swans and little children getting attacked by pigeons for bread. Very endearing.
On Friday a group of us went to see the musical Avenue Q which everyone found hysterical (How can you go wrong with a puppet musical?) and the following Sunday we went to see Henry VIII at the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare put on his plays.
I was warned that there would be a “Honeymoon stage” when I first got here that made everything seem new, exotic, and exciting but that culture shock and homesickness are often known to follow. So far it’s true. Everything IS new and exciting. I’m still waiting for the homesickness but I feel like there’s too much to do to even think about it. My first class is today and I am going to a concert tonight. This weekend a group of my friends and I are considering going on a day trip to various tourist attractions including Stonehenge…. I can rest when I’m dead.