I am finally fixing this entry, keep in mind that it’s been a few days, and a lot has happened, I’m going to do the best I can, but it’s going to be a bit wonky.
I say bye to my dad after having a nice lunch with Anna and Dorian and stuff my duffle bag as full as I can. In prepping to load the car about an hour and a half later I have to face Winston. This is probably the hardest moment of leaving since I have no idea when/if I’ll see him again. I got down on my knees to give him a hug and he just rammed his head into my thighs and stood there pressing into them about as hard as he could (He’s always done this to everyone. It’s his Doggy-hug or some-such-thing. He’s never done the whole “let me sniff your crotch” he just shoves his head there and stands there). This lasted for a solid 2+ minutes, maybe longer. It was horrible. I hate leaving him, and he knew I was going. This just breaks me into itty bitty pieces. But finally Winston and I parted ways, and I locked my door for the last time for quite a while.
My mom and I loaded up the car, drove out to BWI and got Grant to help with my ton of luggage. My items weighed in okay and then they had to do security tags for all carry-on-items. So needless to say I was running back to where our parents were sitting to grab our carry on items, running back to the desk, praying my bags were light enough, etc. Quite the fun excursion.
After that we grabbed some horrendous airline food, Grant and I went through security without a hitch (my pillow made it!) and we got on our plane. At first I thought my seat change had worked and we’d sit next to each other. Sadly no, we were in the same row, but opposite sides of the plane. We both had aisle seats. Grant got to sit next to a very nice gentleman who seemed to be quite chatty. I sat next to a girl who was also coming to Newcastle for her MA in Creative Writing. Turns out she went to Bryn Mawr and then Dickinson. So we both had someone else to talk to the for the 6+ hour flight. We would be next to each other from London to Newcastle. And we also had the craziest pilot ever. Apparently he liked flying in circles. We got near London and he did a full 360, went straight on for another 5 minutes then made a huge banking turn back towards the airport. We were all like. . uh. . . can we land now PLEASE??
*note: British Airways food = passable, but not too great.
We arrived in London and started the huge trek over to Terminal 1 or 4 or whatever the other terminal was we were supposed to go to. This involved walking through a ton of passages, down an escalator and onto a shuttle bus. From there we had to go through security and then over to customs where they checked our passports. This is where my fun started.
I get to the nicely scowling customs lady and she asks me a few questions and looks at my acceptance letter and says that she needs to go check my passport and could I please have a seat. Grant got through just fine. Apparently I was doomed. So I’m sitting there freaking out. The British Consulate rejected my application the first time and apparently that turned up rather nastily on the screens when they scanned my passport. FUN! Anways, after waiting about 10 minutes for this whole process to go through and I’m about to burst into jet-lagged tears (I didn’t sleep AT ALL) the lady comes back, grins at me, and waves me through. I am not supposed to travel for the next 6 months unless I wish to be stopped like this again. OH BOY!
After that heart attack we made it over to Gate 5 where they had us wait and wait for the 11:40 flight to Newcastle. They they shunted us off to gate 74 or so which was down a hallway, around some corners and then a mad rush to get our seats. I was starting to feel ill. So I just stared out the window. Very nice view. The plane eventually took off, I had some ginger ale and a chocolate candy thing and stared out the window praying I wouldn’t get ill. Stomach of steel here I come.
The view was amazing. Sunlight, green fields, brown fields, towns, cities, the English Channel, etc. It was lovely. We started getting a tiny bit lower and I had been playing the game of find-the-railroad since I wondered if we’d see Durham. Sure enough we flew over a town that I could have SWORN was Durham. And then lo and behold we saw Newcastle. We flew way out over the water, looked up to what was probably some of southern Scotland and then finally into the Northumbria farmlands. We saw cows, sprinklings of sheep (it did look like that), and horses. And then we landed with a much smoother landing than our cross-Atlantic flight.
Getting our luggage was heart attack #2 for me. My duffle bag was MIA. Everyone else had their luggage, but not me. So I go to the desk and they put my name down, address, etc and tell me it’s on the 5 pm flight and I should have it by this evening if not tomorrow morning. Okay. . I can deal. *urk* We then go to our Meet and Greet Service and wait for our shuttle to take us to our accommodation.
The shuttle ride was quite nice, lovely views and then. . .the football stadium. I shall post pictures somewhere soon. You have got to see this thing. I think it’s . . . . well. . it just is. We unload, get out and get inside for our check-in moment where we are given keys. Nice stuff really. There is a key for our room and kitchen (you have a single room and the kitchen is usually on your same floor or a floor away), windows, and an electric thing that lets you in the building when you wave it at a panel. Rather nice really. Not too bad.
My room is shown to me by a very nice American guy who was quite chatty. My room is on the main floor and looks out directly at a tree and then the stadium. Needless to say, it will probably get quite noisy when there are matches. I am not looking forward to this. My bathroom is literally a water closet, especially after a shower where water just gets everywhere. It is PUNY. Washing my hair is great because my elbows don’t really have any place to go. I am sure Grant is having a worse time.
His room is on the 2nd-ish floor facing the courtyard (i.e. Car Park and bike storage area) and much quieter. Lucky him. I am adapting to my room okay, I’d be happier if my kitchen weren’t in the basement, but my kitchen-sharing-people seem nice. Grant’s are too.
Anyways, after being shown to our rooms we took off to meander the campus and the city. Since I’d been here before I gave him a quick rundown tour and got myself a wee bit lost. Thankfully it’s not TOO hard to get figured out again. And also it’s VERY nice that my classrooms are very close to my dorm. At least I think they are. . .
The weather was a bit brisk. We were warned it would be cold, and yes, it was WAY cooler than Baltimore. Probably in the 50s or upper 40s. VERY enjoyable to some of us who dislike 80 degree weather. My new friend from the airplane is in a different accommodation than the two of us, but I hope her flat is nice.
Anyways, Grant and I meandered through the city in search of groceries and foodage. We found our way to the Co-op (cheap groceries YAY!) and then dinner in Chinatown. IT WAS EXPENSIVE!!!!! I’m sorry, but no cheap food in Chinatown. NO NO NO. At least not on the street we found. It was INSANE! We finally found a buffet that was about £5 each. Not too bad, and I think we ate our fair share of food. We were both so dead to the world.
We went back to the dorms and I managed to stay up until 8 pm before I just nosedived asleep.
I woke up at 5:30ish and started the cleaning process of my room. I unpacked, put things away and cleaned up my desk. I think I finished everything around 7:30 when I finally meandered over to Grant’s room and woke him up. He’s on the other side of the building so it takes a few minutes to get through all the doors (every 3 or so rooms). So he got up, dressed and cleaned up and we headed out for our first full day in Newcastle.
….. to be continued. It’s time to get out of doors for a bit.
It’s the first day it’s rained!!! OH MY!