so, once upon a time i decided to leave the country. then stuff happened. then i wrote in a boring fashion about stuff. fin.
Left for the Minneapolis airport from Brookings last Tuesday at far too early of an hour after far too little sleep. I can never sleep the night before a big journey. It kind of reminded me of the night before Egypt when I rolled around all night because I was extremely hot. My father came in and gave me a little fan; which would be a nice gesture, but if I remember correctly he was angry I wasn’t asleep. So it goes.
On the drive to the cities I maybe got another hour or two of sleep. In total I might have had five, but none of it connected or deep.
As we approached the airport, my natural fear began to kick in as I made pleas of “ok, who thought this was a good idea?” and “I think I’ll just stay here.” Became slightly disorientated in the airport, but me mum and I did find our way to the proper gate where scores of kids and parents were lining up. After plenty of awkward standing I managed to get some information and talk to some people I knew. Thus began the “‘oya gov!” phase. Then there was more awkward standing until I realized I could queu up for checking through my luggage. As more people arrived (greg, ginny, heather. mike was there always), things became less awkward and more sad. An hour or three later it was time for the parents to say goodbye and for the kids to go through security. At some point I ate a vegan muffin.
After passing security, it dawned on me I was going to have to figure stuff out. No one told us where the gate was. There was no chaperone. We’re adults, supposedly, not kids. We sat around waiting for the plane to take off for a long while. I managed to consume a crappy cinnabon and spill cranberry juice all over Heather in the meanwhile (embarassing moment #1!). Once we got to Chicago it was fun to see everyone get off the plane expecting to be lead somewhere. Not quite… Ginny, Greg, Heather and I found each other and Bethany took charge in leading us to the international terminal. On the way we kept wondering if we should have waited for Mike.
When we left the secure area and started heading towards trains, I wondered if I should have been following Bethany. She walks even faster than I. Heh, we took a train (ATS!) to another part of the airport. Wrong way entirely. We had to go all the way back, go through security, and then go back to the terminal we’d arrived in originally, but hey, now I’ve seen Chicago.
I spent my time on the flight over listening to the CFSR discog. That’s why I have no brain. I only got an hour or so of sleep, on account of being shoved into the middle of plane. I did get to enjoy the company of Ginny both flights, which was a highnote. The in flight movies, for those keeping score, were Shrek 2 and City Slickers. Did you know Jake Gyllenhaal is in City Slickers? Weeeeird.
After far too long in the plain we arrived at Manchester, England, England (and I’m a genius genius). Dr. Roos, the program coordinator/Honors head, gave every one of us a hug and greeted us by name when we got off the plane. That was really nice. We eventually got onto the coach to ride to Birmingham, which was surreal. It was raining of course, and everyone was wearing dress shoes. I became slightly paranoid. On the drive I realized how much more beautiful English countryside is than SD or MN. First of all, everything is incredibly green because of the rain. Secondly, all the houses are much much older and made of brick, so they have prestige about them, and also, cows here are so much fancier. The horses have raincoats. For some reason I kept calling out Boxer when I saw a horse. I was extremely cracked out the entire time (signs like “tiredness kills! take a break” became extra humorous). The cracked outness really only went away a day or two ago.
In Brum we were drug about tiredly from room to room to talk about things I can’t even pretend to remember anymore. We eventually ended up at Manor House where I discovered I win life. My room has a balcony and is quite large in comparison to many others. The bathrooms and kitchen are right next door. It is quite amazing. I don’t remember much else of the night, as it was Wednesday and I’d not had a good night of sleep since Sunday or so. We kind of had a day stolen on the way here, but that is the price of living in the future.
I recall now what happened that night. Mike, Greg, and I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood before everyone headed out to the Pub for the first time. We became horribly lost in suburbia hell. It wasn’t hell truly, but all the british townhouses made of brick look exactly alike, and it is impossible to walk in a direction you think is right, as the streets curve at random. Some helpful locals directed us, as well as other UMD students we came upon. Half of the directions we recieved ended up being wrong. Memories of jet-lagged Amsterdam came to mind, but it was much more entertaining to be lost in a dimming Bham with Mike and Greg than it was to be in Amsterdam with an angry father and moody mother and sister. I was moody too. beewop
Thursday began orientation which consisted of speakers on various things like American Football and meeting the needs of International Students. I’m an international student. Heh. We registered for student IDs and went through the lottery. I came out with crappy speakers and some clothes hangers. That night Heather, Bethany, Mike, Greg, Ginny and I went out exploring to city centre, the main shopping district. The bullring, giant mall of doom, is wrought with consumerism and fashionable brits. The architechture was impressive and the prices are intimidating. I kind of dislike city centre as we always seem to end up there. After the bullring closed, we naturally became lost again and walked aimlessly without a plan. We managed to catch the right coach back towards campus, but stopped off halfway to eat. We found an amazing Balti (indian) house and had some amazing curry and the world’s biggest piece of naan. greg bought two bottles of wine from the liquor store next door and the waiter poured for us. It was awesometastic. Afterwards we ran across the street to a cheapo gas station/grocery store in which I began to notice more British formalities such as on food packaging when it says “fat- of which saturates…”
Post-curry Heather experienced her first authentic fish and chips. Then it was on the bus and away to the giant mansion in mansion land we live in.
Early Friday we headed off to the Lake District. We stayed at the Priestly Center on Coniston Water between the village of Torver and the town of Coniston. It was an amazing few days which included some of the best food ever, as well as the mustiest six person rooms ever. It was prep for Hostels as we helped cook the meals and clean up, but it was way nicer. Over the weekend I did a lot of walking–that’s when I found the internet in Coniston (huzzah!). I also canoed for the first time, which brought our small group to a lovely little lakeshore cafe. The lake that Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin lived on, incidentally. I also went to the Pub for my first and second times. Torver had a very cozy placed called the Churchhouse Pub. I tried a pint of Guiness, but had to trade with Greg for some Strongbow which is now my drink of choice. It’s like apple cider, but with booze! Can you beat that? Heh. Being slightly tipsy in front of Mike is making me feel dumb as he is total s.X.ee.!!1111one (he had wine at the Balti house and is a vegan…when not eating). Night #2 at the pub I was really tired so Mike walked me hope which occasionally involved him pulling me out of traffic. We had to beware the local Scoeder monster as well as werewolves out on the moors.
The events of Sunday at the lake district were probably the coolest. In the morning I went on a ropes course which was by far better than the project adventure stuff at BHS, even though it was in the middle of nowhere kind of. Ziplines are hardcore. Other people have pictures of this stuff, so I’ll see about that later. In the afternoon, after I napped a bit, Mike asked if I wanted to go canoeing. We ending up being driven to the other end of the lake, where we were given four canoes, four logs, three sails, and some rope. We were instructed to create a craft. Mike, Ginny, Bethany, Heather and I ended up with two boats tied together + a mast for the sail which could be raised and lowered. This was mostly due to our competent overseer. None of us could tie a knot worth a damn, so our guide had to do it all for us. Hehe. We then raced the other craft across the lake back to the Priestly center. They used both logs to fasten their crafts. That left them with a mast… named Cindy. She’s a cute little red headed girl who got punk’d. Needless to say, with ginny and I at the sail, Mike securing our own personal wooden Cindy, and Heather and Bethany steering; we kicked their arses. It was freaking hardcore. I likes me some sailing.
The coach ride back to Birmingham was freaking long, but involved a stop at a travel center (they also seem so crazy and fancy in other countries). Mike got juice all over him. I must make note that he’s the one that started the damn punk’d thing. I determined Ashton was going to punk Africa. In the end would be a very simple title card saying “many people have died.” It would be beautiful. During this entire time I was very loopy. Lots of laughter and insaneness was had. Did I mention our sailing craft had the name of the Black Eyeball? Arrrr!
Once in Birmingham Mike and I asked Dr. Roos if we could register our internet, which is an entirely tedious process. We managed and thus I became responsible for registering lots of other people and assisting with their computer troubles. Augh. I only pretend to know things about things. That night much wandering was had, which involved unending searches for record stores. I became angry about a lack of thumbtacks in my life. so it goes!
Who spends an hour of their life in Europe installing drivers in Windows 95 and trying to find old versions of Internet Explorer? Me!
Tuesday was a mostly free day so I did a lot of shopping, mostly by myself and in Northfield, which is the opposite direction from city centre. I like it a lot more because it’s way cheaper and more homely. I mean.. homey. There’s a great Wal-mart-like place where I purchased some pots and pans and then I went to Sainsbury’s which is an awesome grocery store that hooked me up with some pasta, grilled cheese materials, and carbonated apple juice (Apple Sidra standin, HUZZAH!), and some Strongbow. hehe.
Tuesday night was quite nice. Greg, Ginny, Mike, and I searched for an international students party which turned out to be a dj and dance music, so we ditched for a giant alt.freshers event. Allegedly there was music, a British boy named Matthew even asked me as if I would know something. That turned out well because we ended up in the main pub of the student guild at the main University of Birmingham (which is fucking beautiful). Greg was feeling social so sat next to Matthew + his posse and three girls. I was without a seat and ended up kneeling on the floor. One of the three girls was kneeling as well, so we spent the next few hours talking (screaming over the noise, really), which was cool. it was several hours before i learned her name was lyn. her two friends were goth (one was her roomie, methinks), and she was not. i got total lesbian vibes from them, and I got gay vibes from Matthew, so I kinda wish I could have talked to him more. Though, I did get to hear about Lyn’s trip to a great Piebald show (Hey!… something), a seeming dislike of Flogging Molly (she laughed when I asked about them), and social darwinism. We also talked about fairs. She warned me against travelling gypsy fairs here, but it sounds kinda fun to me. hehe. It was just kind of an odd experience. I had a pint of Strongbow by my side (“don’t get addicted,” she said. “we all get started on cider”). She also told me about the time she had absinthe. I don’t think she drinks anymore. unrelated, though. she just throws up a lot.
Where did my capitalization and linebreaks go?
Today I wandered around Northfield with Mike where he continually asked about jobs at volunteer based thriftstores. teheheh. At some point I made him grilled cheese for lunch. I had tomato soup with mine. mmmmm. After that I went to talk to Dr. Roos about classes. I am taking two from British profs, one of which is an independent study art course. I create a body of work? I’m freaking terrified. After that I walked to main campus and found a shitload of people at the freshers fair and job fair. No new life decisions were made, sadly. At the poster sale I ran across Heather and we went up to the Student Guild fair together and I somehow managed to sign up for the Rock Society. Their sign was naturally the \m/ painted silver on a black banner. I’m a bit frightened. I talked to someone else about the art society. I really want to join the LGBT group, but they table tomorrow when I will be walking around castles. MY LIFE IS SO HARD! I think they’ve got a decent sized area on campus, so I will have to check that out later.
Following that Heather and I went to city centre (grr) to meet some people at a phone place. I kind of wandered off and got last, even after the mast, I mean Cindy, told me not to. After getting lost however (!) I found China Town. It smelled a lot like Taiwan. I didn’t go in any stores, but at least I know where it is now. Then I found my way to a familiar road and I was about to give up, but I found a street that seemed promising… Guess who wandered their way into Birmingham’s gay district more or less on accident? It’s an entire street with a lot of very dreary looking rainbow flags. I’m terrified of what it must be like at night time. There’s a cafe/bar type place called Angel Cafe that I’ll probably check out for lunch someday. After that I became lost again and eventually found myself to the main drag where I found a bus stop, decided to walk to another one (through one of the scariest intersections ever) when I then missed the bus after running for it. I was going to keep walking when someone pointed out another one had come immediately.
On the ride home I almost fell asleep several times, which would have been terrifying. And then… I came to my room and started typing a deadjournal in which I wrote, “this will be long. longer if i continue to put it off. if you don’t want to read all of it, here is the summary:
i am in england…”
n.b. i purchased a mobile this morning. the number is 07910 223787 but in order to get to me, you have to dial 011 + 44 + 121 and then 07910 223787. Now you kind of know what it’s like to use a damn calling card over here. eck. actually… what the hell.. try this: 011 + 8944231 07910223787 8
erk. 011-44-07910223787 8? maybe no 8 at end? maybe suicide? heh…
i’mjust going to go listen to oasis now