Well, I’m finally in London. It hasn’t been the journey I was expecting yet. It’s weird being 3,000 miles away from everyone you love, know, and care about. This week I stayed up for more than 30 hours traveling and I’ve had to figure out how to adjust when most of the stuff you brought with you doesn’t make it.
FRIDAY, EAST COAST Woke up this morning a little earlier than I probably should have. Finished the last-minute packing that always comes with trips. I had the last real meal I would have for a while it turns and then headed out to the airport. I was happy it was a snow day because that meant I got to say goodbye to both Mom and Miranda at the airport instead of at home.
By the time I said goodbye and checked into my flight, it had already been delayed by several minutes. Turns out that would be a theme throughout the day. So, I settled down with a book in the waiting lounge outside the gate. Well, my flight time came and went and still there was no plane at my gate. Turns out having a layover in Boston wasn’t the best choice in the world.
About two hours after the flight was scheduled to take off, we finally began boarding the flight. I got the window seat and got to see the sunset as we began to jet off up the East Coast. By the time they started handing out the snacks, I’d struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. We swapped life stories over the two hours we were in the sky. While I never did manage to get her name, I learned all about her life as an IBM executive from Cary raising two kids by herself. She, in turn, learned all about my life. We both started talking a mile a minute on the descent into Boston because it was the most turbulent decent I have ever experienced.
By the time we landed in Boston, it was already time for my next flight to depart. So, I grabbed my carryon bags and ran. On my run, I met Montana. He’s a Carolina student studying at King’s this semester too. We exchanged a few words and thankfully made it to the gate as some of the last passengers to get on the flight.
SATURDAY, ICELAND Now the plan was for me to get some sleep on my overnight flight from Boston to Iceland. That did not happen. I ended up not being able to get a wink and watched two inflight movies because it was dark and I hoped one of them would put me out. Five hours and five time-zones later I landed at 6 am in Iceland. Turns out my flight to London had also been delayed and I now had till 9 am to lounge around the surprisingly small International terminal. Montana was flying into a different airport in London and his flight left pretty soon after we landed so I was alone for a while. After paying for a disappointing coffee and Cinnamon buns, I broke in the journal Molly bought me for Christmas and looked to see what Netflix had to offer. Trigger Warning: Parks and Rec is not offered overseas on Netflix apparently. After this crushing blow, I ended up watching a random episode of Star Trek.
I made an important cultural observation in Iceland. I think the amount of sunlight one sees is directly tied to a person’s happiness. The people of Iceland I met were not the kindest in the world. While impressive for being able to fluently speak two languages with apparent ease they had a general air of rudeness.
By 9 am the plane had arrived and I managed to escape the dark, hellish international terminal in Iceland. I didn’t plan to sleep on this flight because I knew sleep at this point would not do me any good, but nature took over. I was out off and on throughout much of the two and half hour journey. It wasn’t a good sleep and I woke up more tired than I was when I went to sleep.
SATURDAY, LONDON HEATHROW Landed in London around Noon and made it through Customs with relative ease. In line, I met a guy from the West Coast who was stopping in London for a few days to stay with a friend before he went on tour with his school’s glee club across the continent.
Now, this is where my first-day story gets a little more interesting. Turns out my checked bag that just happens to have my bedding, shower things, and the majority of my closet did not make it to London with me. My best guess is that it got stuck somewhere in Boston.
After filling out a bunch of paperwork with the airline and basically begging for them to find the thing, I hailed a cab and set out to the dorm. The cabbie was nice, but not the most talkative. Of course, I was pretty quickly outed as an American. Donald Trump was brought up within five minutes. He took me through central London so I got to see all the sights, Big Ben, The Tower of London, The London Eye, on the way to the dorm. An hour and 100 pounds later, I was at my new home.
SATURDAY, STRATFORD Got into my dorm relatively easy. The guy who checked me in to the front desk was nice. We had a good chat as he showed me around. The guy apparently never sleeps as he works three jobs to make ends meet. The room I’m living in for the next couple of months is nice. I have plenty of space and a decent little bed and bathroom. I have yet to meet any of the other 7 people living in my apartment yet. I think I’m living with a few Asian exchange students based on what I’ve found in the kitchen considering half of the machines and ingredients are labeled in Asian scripts I can’t make out.
Lacking any food, I headed to the mall next door and picked up some bread, peanut butter, and chips to make dinner. I browed a knife and plate from the kitchen and ate around 6 pm. After that, I called home and put up a few pictures. I quickly crashed from pure exhaustion.
THURSDAY, BENSON Well on my last full day in the States I got snowed in. It was nice to have one more day with Mom and Miranda and it gave me no excuse not to pack. I had intended to get lunch with a couple of old friends from West but couldn’t thanks to the weather. I spent several hours packing and unpacking trying to get everything into the three bags I was taking. In the end, I think I did a pretty good job.
WEDNESDAY, BENSON Visited Neyman at West today to catch up. Then I began the packing experience. I didn’t get all that far. I managed to gather my clothes and tag all of my bags. That’s about it.
TUESDAY, SMITHFIELD Met with Tracey Peedin Jones and her team down at the central office today to see about an internship. It was a good meeting and hopefully, something will come of it in the following months. It would be nice to get some communications and PR experience close to home. Plus, I already know the school system pretty well.
I stopped by while down at the central office and talked with my old principal for a while. We caught up for a while and learned what each other had been up to. I got all the latest news about the county and she heard all about my studies.
SUNDAY, JOHNSTON COUNTY Met up with Ally today for coffee and to catch up. We talked for a good while. I spent the last couple of hours of 2017 not doing much of all. Rang in the new year with Mom and Miranda. Missed out on that famed new year’s kiss for the 19th year in a row. There’s always next year!
I’m not going to lie, it’s been rough. Nothing goes as planned they say. I have to say that it is the truest thing I’ve ever heard. While it’s been hard for the past couple of days, I’m sure it’ll get better soon. I always do better on a schedule and that starts Monday with all of my orientation events. I’ve gotten a new number (+44 07399501311) if you want to drop me a line (just watch out for those international fees and a five-hour time difference). I’m also on WhatsApp if you’re tech-savvy enough for it. Well, I’m about to head out to meet with a couple of UNC people closer to campus, I’ll see you Sunday.