I haven't even been in London a week yet and already I have so much to say! Instead of blabbing on for one really long post, I'll split it up a bit. Look for quite a few posts from me in the next few days! So where to begin?
How about with packing? After researching appropriate clothes for London both fashion and weather wise, buying suitcases that fit the British Airlines generous standards, and cramming four jars of peanut butter in my suitcase, I thought the hardest part about baggage was over. Not so! Since US Airlines was operating part of the flight, the weight allowance was only fifty pounds. My bag weighed in at seventy-six. This left me scrambling trying unpack and repack and then eventually just tweaking it enough so it weighed only seventy pounds, plus a hefty overweight baggage fee.
I made through security easily enough, though a bald eagle was going through security at about the same time as me, which was a bit of an oddity. My flight to Philadelphia was delayed almost an hour and then my suitcase was too big for US Airlines standards, which are apparently far less generous than British Airlines. I asked at the gate before boarding about checking the bag, but I was told not to since it was an international flight. But then it wouldn't fit into the overhead bin so one flight attendant took it to check it at the last minute, handed me a plastic bag so I could put my contact lenses and a jacket and keep it with me, and then apologized for the lack of stylishness of the said plastic bag. I was more concerned when two businessmen told me I had little chance of seeing my luggage anytime soon.
On the flight to London, I watched two animated children's films (Rio and Rio 2, both very adorable) and Austenland (about a Jane Austen-obsessed woman who goes on a themed vacation to Austenland, which was surprisingly semi-decent). Not good at sleeping under the best of circumstances, I of course didn't sleep on the plane. I had to wait at customs while an agent looked at my finger prints since they weren't coming up on the fingerprint scanner. After waiting for at least a half hour, she told me it happened quite often, but at the time I was worrying that I wouldn't be allowed in the country!
Then there was a brief-lived stroke of good luck: both my suitcases arrived! After that however, I had to carry all of my heavy luggage on two "lifts" (and if you know me well, you know I hate elevators), a train, and up and down numerous hallways to the meeting point for my tour group, ISA. After waiting for everyone to arrive, we took a very, very long "coach" ride through central London before arriving at Queen Mary, University of London!
Even though I'm a fourth--year college student, this is my first time living on campus. I'm enjoying my dorm experience so far. My room has a bed, a desk, some shelves, a "wardrobe", a mini fridge, and my own bathroom (though the shower floor is the entire bathroom floor). I have five flat mates, two from England, one from the states, one from Australia, and one from Cyprus. We all share a kitchen.
I've had a few orientations and official enrolment (no, I didn't misspell it, the British only use one "l"), which is a lengthy process in itself! Everything is much more formal in the British schooling system (more on that in another post!) My student ID is needed to enter the library, an official letter from the school is needed to apply for student bank account, and almost everywhere offers a student discount.
I have been enjoying the campus and exploring East End!
Did you know that there are palm trees in one of the green spaces in East London? They're tiny, but quite adorable!
Check back tomorrow for my adventures on the River Thames for the International Student Boat Party and visit to the Camden Town Market! Thank you for reading!
Have you ever had problems with your luggage on a flight?
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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