The Week I Survived the Beast from the East

Day 59

When I was packing for London, I was told it wouldn’t drop below 40 degrees. That was a lie. Somehow, I managed to pick the coldest winter in over 30 years to come and live in London. It’s been a little chilly, to say the least. It was also the first time in over 5 years the capital has seen snow and usually I love snow, but I’ve found city snow to be not as fun. It turns to black sludge pretty fast. So, for most of the week, I’ve been snowed in. The good news is the University is on strike and all my classes for the first part of the week were canceled anyway. I’m just happy the Beast from the East, as it was called, is finally crawling back to Siberia.

SATURDAY, HIPPODROME CASINO Tonight actually went semi-according to plan, well of course until we lost the game that is. Everyone actually made it to the Casino on time surprisingly. The alumni club in London had reserved a great room to watch the game in with multiple flat screens and projectors all showing the game. By tip-off, at least 60 or more tar heels had gathered around to catch the game. The only drag on the night was the presence of the Dook alumni club in the same room. There were far fewer of them and they were mostly quiet until the end of the night. I have to say riding home at 4 a.m. after a hard loss is far worse than I thought it would be.

THURSDAY, DRURY LANE Today was the first day all week I went to class. This strike thing is really freeing up my schedule. However, I was one of only six people who showed up to class because most of the overground trains were canceled and there was still a decent amount of snow covering most of the country.

Tired of being snowed in for most of the week, I went out with a bunch of study abroad people to an adult ball pit. Yes, you heard me right. A ball pit just for adults. It was fantastic. Being in the pit was a magical sensation. It felt like being hugged and happy all at the same time. Plus, the pictures are priceless.

TUESDAY, TATE MODERN Yet again I set out to further my cultural education. Today I decided to check out the Tate Modern on the South Bank of the Thames. Now I’m not the biggest fan of modern art for the most part. Most modern art looks like it can be completed by a five-year-old. It’s just a bunch of shapes and colors. Yet, I was impressed that the museum had more than just colorful shapes. Several installations actually looked like an adult made them. Some of the more impactful pieces concerned race and urban life and were rather profound.

The museum also had an observation platform over the river. It was a fantastic view of the middle of London’s skyline. It was great even though it was about four degrees below freezing.

As I was starting to leave, I looked out a window. Somehow in between me walking down from the platform and getting to the ground floor a small blizzard had broken out. Not wanting to get caught in the middle of London with no way home I set out in the snow. Now, it probably was not the best decision I’ve ever made. I wasn’t wearing a heavy coat or anything so it was rather terrible. The funniest part is that it stopped snowing about ten minutes into my walk. So, my snow journey was for nothing. Beast of the East: One, Erik: Zero.

MONDAY, STRATFORD Luckily for me, today was the first day of the strike action by the lecturers which gave me time to edit and clean up my essay before submitting it. I don’t know if there’s a better feeling than turning something in and just being done with it, no matter what you got on it. I decided to take the rest of the day off and celebrate my singular academic accomplishment thus far in London.

SUNDAY, STRATFORD Well I spent most of the day doing the one thing I haven’t done much of since I got here. Yes, that’s right I worked for the majority of the day and then the night writing my essay. Realizing the thing was due in under 36 hours seemed to kick me into high gear.

Around 1 am I realized I required caffeinating to keep up the work. So, I marched down to the lobby to grab a cup of coffee (which I hadn’t had since I left the States). Then I saw a terrible sight. The coffee machine was “broken” meaning someone hadn’t replaced the cups and filled it with water apparently. Knowing I had to act fast or face imminent defeat at the hands of sleep, I sprinted over to the vending machines and did something I would never do. I bought a can of Red Bull. Now I’m not a fan of Red Bull, but wow the stuff works. About two hours later I had the meat of my essay finished and called it a night. Today was the first day I really felt like a student again and I have to say I’ve kind of missed the feeling weirdly.

The snow is finally gone and the temperature is back to a balmy 40 degrees. I’ve spent most of the day sleeping thanks to last night’s game. So far, the week ahead looks noticeably free. Without any classes to attend until the end of the week I’ve found myself with quite a bit of free time. I think I’ll have to do something spontaneous. And on that note, I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you next Sunday.

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