Culture shock and how it affected me!
11.01.2010 -5 °C
So, after that epic 16 hour sleep I eventually ventured out of my room, met up with my friend Grace and she showed me the 24 HOUR vending machine which funnily enough was right next to my house...if I had known that was there, I would have eaten sooner. Now that i haven't eaten for more than 24 hours, that healthy muesli bar was the best shit ever! We went to sort out my Accommodation money, FINALLY got my key for my floor and room and then went on our first grocery shop!
We ventured into Putney Town, my first glimpse into England culture...it was just how I imagined it to be. Little shops dotted everywhere, freezing cold - it was still snowing - and even though it was crap weather, I loved it! We sorted out our Oyster cards and phones as well. We went to Sainsbury's, a supermarket, and bought the basic essentials for our cupboards at uni. After we had a coffee at Starbuck's (it was so weird to see so many Starbuck's coffee shops around London, as they phased them out in Australia), had Makkas for lunch (so not as good as Australian McDonald's), and went back home to unpack our shopping and make some lunch. Later on, Grace and I went to the famous Richmond Park and saw some wild deer and saw little squirrels running about it was amazing! We wanted to walk throughout the whole Park, but the snow was just too immense and so we only lasted half an hour lol.
That night Grace and I cooked up in my little kitchen and talked about everything, and got an early night because we had Orientation the next day! Orientation was pretty good - had some tours, lectures about our subject requirements, got our ID cards (which we needed at all times), and got to meet some other International students. It's funny how you always hear American accents in Tv shows and movies, but hearing it in real life is weird. All you think is "OH My GODDDDDD, look how beeutifullll it all is! Gosh!" it was a little annoying but it made me laugh lol. That night the people of the uni took us to Asda, one of the biggest supermarkets I've ever seen to show us how cheap everything is. Part 2 of Orientation was the next day...we had a whole day 'Photo Frenzy' in London, where all the Internationals went in groups and all got a full day travel card with a sheet of clues on it of famous landmarks in London, we had to figure out what the places were, and with the disposable camera we got, all get in a photo in front of the places we needed to find. We had the whole day to do it, that and trying to work out the London Underground. Me and Grace were one of the last ones there, as all the others had already left! In our group we had me, Grace, the two Americans we would later befriend Megan and Sarah (from North Carolina), another American named Molly who was so clueless with everything it was hilarious, and two French people as well as an Italian who spoke hardly any English.
We asked a guy at one of the Tube stations (the Tube is another name for the Underground) and he gave us pretty much all the answers we needed to get through the day, and where the places were. Getting to know the Americans was pretty cool, Molly was a laugh though - she tried to buy an Oyster card with American money and kept on asking homeless people for directions lol, no matter how dangerous they looked! The French complained a hell of a lot, complaining mostly about not eating - so we finally stopped at a cafe to eat some lunch. After a lot of mucking around, and seeing the sights like Buckingham Palace (without the guards), London Eye, St Paul's, Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern and Piccadilly Circus (where we lost Molly for a long time at the station lol), we eventually braved the cold enough to meet at the International House on Great Portland Road for some dinner and drinks with the other Internationals (who funnily enough mostly gave up it seemed and went home after they realised how hard it was to find these places!) We had our first night of drinking English style with a pint of beer/cider (Strongbow) and eventually headed back to Roehampton for a good night's sleep.
The next day, Grace and I headed to Oxford to check out the world famous Oxford University (it was still snowing, but it was beautiful all the same). The dormitories were closed because students had just started coming back from the Christmas break, and we stayed for the afternoon, did some shopping and had some lunch. We left Oxford at about 3ish when it started getting dark. We got back to London Victoria where we met up with my mutual cousin (My brother in law's cousin) who has been living in London for a few months. My sister gave me his number, we decided to catch up and maybe see if I could get a job with him at a hostel that he's been working at. He asked his manager and sadly there were no vacancies, but it would've been about 7 pounds an hour and all night shifts. I had been considering getting a small job while I was overseas, but decided against it - the amount of study I had to do was enough, as well as travelling and partying - which had to come first in my eyes! And anyway I had enough money to last me till June.
That night went back to uni, and would've had a good night's sleep before the classes started the next day. I was mistaken when i heard a lot of door knocking at about 3am, and what distinctly sounded like fire extinguishers going off. I was pretty groggy so I may have heard girl's voices, but thought to myself - what the hell have I come to? The next morning I woke up, went in the kitchen to make some breakfast and sat on my stool in the kitchen to eat it. Was i waiting for somebody to come in? Maybe, but I was still quite scared to meet these new people. I had met in the days prior to this a few people here and there on my floor - Josh, Miles, Orrell (the floor rep - basically one of the two students who are in charge of the floor), Greg (a third year Journalism student) and of course Emily. Today Josh walked past and said hello but kept walking. Not even a minute passed and Miles pops his head in, and goes " What are you doing in here then? Come with me in the other kitchen. We're your family now!". I was a little surprised to hear this as I had barely met the guy, but realised hey i'm going to be living with these people, I may as well get to know them. So shortly after I went into the big kitchen - the disgusting one - and found myself sitting there and observing every person that came in.
I was very quiet, but I always am when I meet new people. Today I met Kat (the other Floor rep), who was telling me how upset she was when nobody told her that I was coming to live in Bede 1, and I told her about my eventful night locked out of Bede 1 - and she was in her room, which is right next to the Bede 1 door, the whole time! She didn't come to the door to open it when I was knocking though...i also met Jenny, a Northern girl who apparently knocked on my door the day earlier but of course I wasn't there. She was in the room next door. I met Joseph, whom Miles introduced to me, Leeanne (a Dutch girl), Mitchell a 19 year old who loved the 80's lol, and i met also Emma and Nicola, two best friends who despite looking quite odd to me (Emma with her frizzy hair - she looked ALOT older than 19) and Nicola's quite depressing nature, they reminded me of those two old muppets you see go to the opera lol. Everybody started talking about the fire extinguisher that Emily and a girl named Louise let go - Jenny in particular seemed upset with Louise for doing all this. Emily came in at that moment, along with Marta, and she looked quite hungover. It seemed that last night everybody came back from the xmas holidays, and got drunk and decided to let off fire extinguishers! I was very intrigued to meet these Louise character.
And meet her I did. Louise, it turned out, was not the mental girl I had thought of - she looked completely normal. She, like Jenny, was Northern, brunette, quite slim and her hair instantly reminded me of Mufasa's mane off the Lion King. She stumbled in the room, extremely hung over, took a look at me and goes "Eee who are you then? Ee my god I can't meet you like this!" and ran out again, with everybody laughing at her. I thought now she is a character to watch out for.
I was sitting in that kitchen for the entire morning till lunchtime and loved every minute of it. I was a bit nervous still to talk to these people, but I had a feeling we would all become good friends.