My First Week in England

I’ve been in England for a week now.

I have spent one fantastic day wandering around central London with my good friend Ceri.

I have trudged up the hill from the High Street to the university more times than I can count, usually weighed down with bags of goods, such as one plate, one bowl, and one cup (because space is limited, so my flatmates and I each own one of every necessary kitchen item and no more than that).

I have navigated the local bus system to and from the next town all by myself.

I have taken a taxi all by myself.

Speaking of that, the fantastic day in central London also involved me navigating the rail system all by myself.

I have somewhat put my room together so that it looks like I actually live here.  (Who knew there would be so many things I’d have to buy before I could actually put things away properly?)

I have spent several days sacked out on my bed, recovering from a cold.

I have met my fellow Medieval Studies students and a number of my future professors and officially enrolled for the year.

I have discovered why British people are said to have “read for” a degree.  (Hint:  A LOT of reading is involved…)

I have met a handful of fellow students outside of my program, both undergraduate and postgraduate, both British and international.  (And I liked them, which is even better than just meeting them…)

I have been told several times that the other person likes my accent.  I have also been told that I’m doing a good job of picking up British slang.  (What they don’t know is that after only a week, my thoughts are already starting to have a British accent…)

I have attended an Anglican church service – and enjoyed it – and met an honest-to-goodness English vicar.  (Yes, I know that he’s essentially the same thing as a pastor.  But he’s called a vicar!  My British-loving heart almost can’t handle the awesomeness of that.)

I have been invited to “pop round for tea.”  (My British-loving heart also can’t handle the awesomeness of that non-American phrase.)

It has been a good week for me – despite getting that silly cold.  But more than all of these things, I have been reminded over and over and in so many ways that this is where I am supposed to be.  I don’t know what this next year will look like, but I can’t wait to find out.

Now, for those of you who have been dying to see photos of London, here are a few from my day with Ceri:

Christine & Ceri’s Selfie Tour of London

Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square
Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square
The clock tower and part of the Houses of Parliament
The clock tower and part of the Houses of Parliament
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus
We met the Queen!  Okay, so she was made out of legos...
We met the Queen! Okay, so she was made out of legos…
We found Sherlock's headquarters
We found Sherlock’s headquarters!
The London Eye
The London Eye

P.S.  Looking at these photos reminds me of one more thing for my list:  I realized that I still remember my way around central London.  (Well, mostly.  We definitely used maps, but there were certain places where I knew exactly what surrounded us, and it was a good feeling.)

The First Day

I’ve been in London for nearly 36 hours, and…wow.

Some friends of a friend graciously picked me up at the airport yesterday and opened their home to me for the night, since I couldn’t move into my hall of residence on campus until today. They also took me for a 2.5 kilometer walk along the Thames (to get some exercise after the long flight), gave me my very first ride on the top deck of one of the famous red double-decker buses, gave me a loaner mobile phone and helped me to set up a basic phone plan, took me out for my first pub visit, introduced me to everyone at their church, and gave me a box of enough food to get me through the first 24 hours on campus so that I wouldn’t have to track down a store immediately. Oh, and they gave me a set of sheets, towels, and a quilt cover for my dorm room so that I wouldn’t have to spend money on those things if I don’t want to.

They also explained how to get to their house from my university and invited me to come back for weekends if I ever need to get away from campus.

I don’t think I could have planned a better introduction to this year in London if I had had all the time and money in the world. They even had my photo waiting in the entry of their home, above a framed welcome poem:

image

The best part of this first day, though – keeping in mind that I was constantly thinking about how I’m going to be living here for the next year – was the fact that I instantly felt at home, even while driving through the streets from the airport. Part of that was due to the Bells, part was due to the fact that some of my favorite memories are from London, and part was because I felt so sure that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now, and that God has been carefully putting pieces together to make it happen.

I moved into my dorm this afternoon and met several of my new flatmates, as well as a few other students. Everyone is on their best behavior, but they also seem to be nice people.

I’m off to central London tomorrow to play tourist for the day with a friend…

…If You’ve Got Enough Nerve

I’m sitting in the Minneapolis airport with an hour or so before my flight boards, and I can’t stop thinking about one of my favorite quotes from JK Rowling: “You can do anything if you’ve got enough nerve.”

I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight to London, and I’m trying not to think about tomorrow. About setting foot in a foreign country and starting a new life on my own. “So don’t worry about tomorrow…”

I’m sitting at my gate for my London flight, and I’m trying to calm the excited-out-of-their-minds butterflies in my stomach. Butterflies that can’t believe they’re about to be on their way to London.

I don’t know if I mentioned that I’m sitting at the gate – in the airport – waiting to board my flight to London.

It’s go time, y’all.

Change Your Stars

While walking down the street for coffee the other day, feeling the brisk wind on my cheeks and smiling at the rosy leaf tips above me – so different from the 105 degrees in Los Angeles right now – all I could think was, “I’m doing it.  I’m changing my stars.”

Yes, I’m that person – the one who can’t carry on a full conversation without sprinkling in at least one or two references to a favorite book, film, or television show.  I’m a storyteller at heart, and I process my world by fitting it into stories that I already know.  It helps me to step back and see what might really be going on, and it helps me to (hopefully) make a decision that will be right rather than simply emotional.  And sometimes it gives me hope.

Since leaving California on Monday, the film A Knight’s Tale keeps popping into my head.  In the film, William’s goal in life is to change his stars – or fate – and do more than what the world around him thinks he should be able to do.  I may not be surrounded by a society that thinks I can only do what my parents did, but that’s the story that is filling me with hope this week.  Like William, I’m changing my stars.  I’m doing the thing that was so outside the boundaries of my life that it seemed like I would have to change my fate to make it happen.

Let me recap for anyone just tuning in:

My name is Christine, and for the last six years, I have lived a pleasant live in my hometown of Los Angeles, California.  It was a good life, but last spring, I applied for and received a place in a Master’s degree program in England.  What kind of program, you ask?  I will be studying for a Master of Arts in Medieval Studies, which is so far removed from my Bachelor’s degree in Media Communication that it took me nearly two months to tell people about it without giggling at the craziness of it.

I left California on Monday.  I’m in Minnesota right now, visiting family and friends, and I board a plane to London tomorrow night.

I’m making no promises right now about how often I will write, but I do promise to write – to document this crazy adventure that is this California girl/bookworm/Anglophile/storyteller moving to London for a year.

Home Sweet Home

My visa is approved.

My plane ticket is purchased.

And now I’ve officially accepted the offer of a place to live.

I still can’t quite believe that this is happening.  I’m moving to London in one week.  I’m so excited, but in order to be functional at all, I have to keep shoving that little fact aside and ignoring it.  Because it’s too big for my brain to comprehend right now, except in quiet moments when I’m alone and I can’t stop smiling…

OH. MY. GOSH!

I did it.

I really did it.

I just bought a one-way plane ticket to London.  England.  In Europe.  And did I mention that it’s one-way?

I’m sitting in a chair at my mom’s house with my computer balanced on my lap, listening to the fan blowing on the other side of the room, and wondering if I’m crazy.

(I mean, I know I’m crazy.  I just bought a one-way ticket to Europe.  If that isn’t crazy, what is?!)

The strange thing is that – in the middle of the delirium that is my life right now – I am completely at peace.  I know that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, even if I don’t have any idea what is going to come next.

I know that I should do a formal introduction to this blog o’ mine . . . later.  Right now, I think I need to put the internet away and dwell on the fact that I just took the biggest step in this radical years-long dream of mine.  And that in three weeks, I’ll be living in London.

As the fangirls say, “OH. MY. GOSH!”