Monday, June 13, 2011

Adventures in Departure

I'm home. But how I (and the rest of my travel party) got there is quite a tale.

I guess I have to start off with the fact that my school is not always so great with stuff. This time, that stuff was a date, namely the date that my fellow Arcadia students and I were to make our way home. We had been told since the beginning that the last day of the term, including the exam period, was June 11th. From this, we concluded that the last day of test-taking would be June 11th, and therefore, to avoid being stressed during an exam we might have on that day, we should leave on the twelfth. As many people have pointed out in the last few weeks, the eleventh was in fact a Saturday, and they wonder why we thought we might have an exam on that day. To this, I give the explanation that we were entering into a foreign exam system. Who knows if they had finals on Saturdays? They do that in America occasionally.
However odd our judgement might have seemed, those of us who decided to stay the entire term booked our flight home for the twelfth. This was all fine and dandy until Laura heard from her flatmates that all students were to vacate the residence halls on the eleventh. She e-mailed a few people and the answer that finally came basically said that, though it was our fault and not theirs, QMUL would allow us to stay on campus an extra day. Good job, Arcadia.

Thankfully, no matter what decision was made, I had a place to stay. Adrienne did, as well, since, because she was on the same flight as me, she was staying at the flat the night before and then coming with us to the airport. We had collected one of her suitcases earlier, but the plan for her and the rest of her suitcases was to take a taxi to our flat and then all would be well. Unfortunately, another cab service proved themselves worthless, as I mentioned in my last entry. Adrienne texted me at 8:30 saying that she was still waiting for a cab. We texted back and forth, me offering to come and get her and her saying that it was fine, she'd manage to get a cab. An hour later though, she still hadn't found one. Even worse was the fact that she used up all of the money on her phone calling the crap cab service, which left our conversation without a conclusion. I didn't know where she was, whether it was at the school or outside of our flat, and she couldn't tell me if she had gotten a cab or not. Of course we didn't want her waiting for a cab all night, especially since the East End is not exactly the bext place for a girl with many suitcases to be waiting alone. So my dad and I decided to go and find her. If she made it to the flat, Mom could let her in. If she was still at the uni, then we could help her take her stuff to the flat.
But the universe was not on our side. Two of the closest tube stations were closed, and we had to get a bus, which is slower (though, at least in our case, not much.) I had thought I would go by myself, but I was grateful that my dad had come along. When we finally got to the campus gates, we hopped off the bus and across the street I saw Adrienne waiting with all of her bags, Laura at her side. I shouted over to her and my dad and I crossed the street over to them. They had been trying to flag down a cab (which generally involved Laura running into the street and waving her arms around), but no one had stopped. We all tried to flag down the next few cabs, but not only were they few and far between, the ones we did see had their lights off. Eventually, we saw one coming down the opposite side of the road and Dad put his fingers in his mouth and whistled. Amazingly, the driver heard him, pulled a U-turn, and picked us up.

That, thankfully, was the end of that night's drama, and there wasn't really much surrounding the airport, either. When I saw the sign for Heathrow, I started getting a little teary, as it meant I was really leaving my adopted country. After some rearranging, all of the family bags passed the weight inspection (even my carry-on that held at least fifteen books and a teapot/cup.) Because I had booked my ticket separate from everyone, I was sitting on my own. Of course, I had seatmates, and the two people sitting nearest to me were an older Japanese couple. They were very angry. Besides being displeased that they were sitting in the middle of a four-person row, they were also livid that they were put next to an apparently teenage girl. If looks could kill, I would be dead from the glares they were giving me as they muttered to each other in Japanese. They did this until they realised that I, sitting quietly reading, was not the problem passenger- they were. It was after they made me get up and down to let them out several times and dropping their belongings on my head that they started to warm up to me. After that, they didn't bother with me except to try to watch what I was watching over my shoulder, apparently unaware that they could watch the same thing without craning their necks on their own video screen.

Besides that, the flight was quite nice, and while it was long, there were some good documentaries offered, which I watched the entire time. After we went through all of the security and baggage claim, we came out the arrivals gate to see Adrienne's family with a GIANT "Welcome Home" sign. I'm very happy that I'll at least get to see one of my friends from England at school :)

After a three hour drive home, we pulled into the driveway at 4 a.m. GMT (London time.) We all pretty much collapsed into bed, but we all woke up before seven. I, however, am not fooled by jet lag's evil ways. I've heard it take a day for every hour difference to recover, and if that's the case, then I'll still have a cold medicine buzz feeling until next Sunday. Today I fell victim to a nap- I hate sleeping period, but sleeping during the day is something I avoid at all costs. However, since I was afraid I might fall off the steps when I descended them, I thought it might be best. As of now, I am very tired and feeling incredibly nostalgic about London.

It's funny the things I got used to without realising it. For example, I didn't think the English accent had become so familiar to me. Obviously, I was hearing it more often than usual, but between my constant exposure to British movies/audio books and the fact that ninety percent of the people I regularly hung out with were American, I didn't think my situation had changed much. That is, until I was shocked that both the bus driver and the lady behind the counter at the hotel had American accents. I genuinely did a mental double take at the sounds of their accents. I guess I was just used to everyone around me speaking a certain way, even if those I was conversing with didn't sound like that.
I was also surprised to see the side the driver's seat was on. This was another weird observation, as up until my very last day in London, I still hadn't gotten used to the driver sitting on the right. Yet when I saw the seat on the left, I was momentarily confused. Also, random observation from the drive home: we have so many shopping malls/outlets here. It's really ridiculous.

Besides combating jet leg, today has been spent unpacking as much as possible. I'm nearly done, but in addition to unpacking from London, I also have a bit left over from fall term at Arcadia. I will not be tackling that today. In other news, my laptop has grown very tired from all of the traveling and has decided not only to refuse WiFi, but also to present a myriad of other problems that are resulting in it being sent away for computer surgery... again.

Now, my bed is calling my name. Sadly, it's covered in stuff...


Kathy S said...

Don't worry, it's never taken me nearly that long to recover from jet lag. Hopefully you will be feeling better soon :)

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