Posts tagged ‘pubs’

January 20, 2011

My First Free Moment

Actually, I’m lying. We had free time yesterday after orientation but I didn’t take it to be on my computer/room because a) I’m in London. b) I didn’t want to be tempted to nap and screw up my jet lag. Now that I’m somewhat awake and getting used to this schedule, I’m ready to update.

So, the flight here was basically incredible. I forgot that planes serve food when they’re over something like 5 hours, so when the flight attendant asked me if I wanted pasta or chicken, my obvious response was, “We get food?” …I had actually planned on going until 9:35 am London time without eating. Turns out, we got TWO meals, dinner and breakfast (red-eyes are my new favorite), but I haven’t even told you the best part of the trip. I’m pretty sure every single passenger had our own row to sleep on. (red-eyes *that are not crowded* are my new favorite) I arrived in Heathrow about 20 minutes early, got through customs/UK border, had to ask HER if she wanted to see my student status letter because I was so persistent on printing it out 3 times. To get from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5, where I was meeting up with the rest of the group, I had to get on the Heathrow Express, get off at the stop for Terminal 1 & 5, then connect to the other car that went to Terminal 4. Most of you have been on the subway in NYC, DC metro or some form of it. When you’re waiting for a train, you wait for everyone to get off and then you get on as quickly as you can so you don’t miss the doors closing. So, once everyone unloaded from this car, I stepped forward to get on, only to get yelled at by a conductor to stay on the platform. Absolutely clueless, I just stood their watching the conductor make a run through every single car to make sure it was clear, then we were allowed on. I’m still not quite sure why that happened, because it definitely didn’t happen later on the tube. Anyways, on this adventure I met a lady who is homeless and lives in Heathrow airport. She carries one suitcase, her purse, and a tempurpedic pad that she rolls up and sticks in the handles of her bag and just goes about her life, talking and meeting to everyone passing through. After chatting with her I met up with the JMU group (only the interns are here right now, the rest come TOMORROW!), and then once we were all collected we loaded onto the bus and took the approx 1 hour ride to our new home, Bedford Place 🙂

Once we got here we just dropped off our bags into our room and went straight to our school, the FSU building about 3 blocks away. (The British Museum is the next block over, and there are two parks at each end of our street) We had an orientation, got packets, info cards, our new cell phones, oyster cards (for the tube) and a bunchh of other stuff. Then we had the rest of the night off, so I came back and unpacked. Our room has unbelievably small space for unpacking and storing stuff, so that was a huge/funny challenge. To avoid falling asleep Annalina (my roommate) and I went a few blocks away to run some errands, we “TopUp”ed aka..put money on our cell phones, and then went to Boots, the London version of our Rite Aid/CVS, to get toiletries and basics. After showering and whatnot a few of us adventured off trying to find a pub for dinner.

Annalina and I had asked Charlotte, our house manager/resident manager, for a pub that previous JMU kids had liked. She drew us a map, and we realized after we had left that the map was still sitting on our desk, three floors up. We decided to just leave it and see where life took us, and Annalina remembered the general direction.. so we just went for it.We found a plaza/outdoor shopping square, but we didn’t want chain food or ‘food court’ type meals so we went further. We passed a futbol game, but were starving so we wanted to eat first. We stopped a guy on the street and he told us about a good local pub called The Lamb. We walked up and down and around and around. We passed one street that had a lit up cafe looking thing, but by this point we were determined to find The Lamb, so we decided if after a few more blocks we didn’t find it, we’d come back. Turns ouuuut that that was The Lamb. Well, right next door was, but still. After getting directions round 2, the identifying factor to the street was the old public toilet that is at the beginning of the street that forms a fork. Sort of cool, sort of gross. We walked in The Lamb through one door and walked out the other. It was definitely a drinking scene, and bodies were packed in so we couldn’t move..good for future reference. However, we all were starving by this point, so we decided to adventure on because we didn’t even know if they served food at all in this place. One block later and we stumble across The Perserverence. How appropriate of a name for a group that had ventured all over looking for a wonderfully cozy pub. Charlotte had warned us earlier that pubs are not like restaurants, you don’t just sit down and wait for a server because you’ll be waiting the entire night. You have to go up to the bar and order and then wait for your food after that. I went up to the bartender: “So….do we just sit?” Him: “Um yeah, unless you want to stand.” Clearly American. After getting the process down, we got some sandwiches and my first legal drink for the rest of my life was a pint of Wainwright beer. After dinner we took a different route home and it wound up being SO close to our home…maybe 2 blocks. So it might become a regular place to hang out. We’ll see. We got home around 9:30 and with the jet lag and drinking it was easy peasy falling asleep and I slept until this morning. I’m pretty sure after one more night I’ll be on track with this schedule.

This morning we had a CAPA orientation (CAPA=Center for Academic Programs Abroad) and we just heard about tips for our internships, advice from previous students, etc etc. Annalina and I both found out our interviews are tomorrow morning, so since we had the rest of the day free we decided to go find our internships so we didn’t get lost tomorrow. GOOD thing we did that because we definitely got lost trying to find mine. After everything, it’s actually only about a 10 minute commute (which is awesome) but we went the wrong way because we were looking at the map right side up…which was, from where we were coming from, upside down. When we finally got to the area, I was extremely happy because it reminds me of NYC in that it is busy, there’s business casual attire everywhere, and the buildings are much bigger than in other parts of London. We found my building and  it is the cutest thing ever and I can’t wait to go there every week. We grabbed lunch at a sandwich place and then went off to find Annalina’s location, which is about a 35 min tube ride. After finding it we took the bus back (yes, the double deckers!) to Euston and walked home. After exploring and adventuring for the past two days I am getting a familiar sense of everything around us, still have the same, if not more, level of excitment AND am getting over my jet lag quickly. Pictures to come!!

(which, it turns out, IS a saying that is actually as common as people think it is)