Whew, it already feels like I’ve been here forever. Now the hallway of our gross dorm has a damp mildewy smell, like they tried to shampoo the carpets but did a terrible job.
I woke up at 5 AM to bright sunlight – my blinds don’t work well – and couldn’t fall back asleep, not even wearing the blindfold Virgin Atlantic gave us. Worried that I’d have to wait for the shower and already starving, I got up at 6:30. Luckily I didn’t have to wait. Someone was finishing up just as I came in.
I also went over to breakfast early since I needed some alone time after socializing so much the days before with people I don’t really know, which I find more tiring for some reason. I skipped the regular sausage and tried the vegetarian one, which was actually pretty good, almost like a falafel.
After breakfast I walked around a bit taking pictures, then stopped in Tesco for some instant coffee. I still had time to kill before class so I went back to my room and read. I was suddenly very tired, even after two cups of coffee, and could have fallen asleep.
Today was all lectures. The guy who runs the program knows a lot and has tons of experience, but he sort of rambles when he lectures. The woman after him, who talked about marketing e-journals, was better once she got warmed up.
By lunch I was still feeling need for alone time so I took off and wandered around. I went to the Muji store, which took me a while to find again, though I’ve passed it a billion times since I’ve been here. I wanted to see if they had any cool mugs, water heaters, or sneakers. They did not. At least there’s a microwave in the kitchen, though it might be disgusting. I ended up getting a cheapo mug from a random supermarket, where I also had a sandwich and chips for lunch.
Very common seems to be sandwiches packaged like the Pret sandwiches – in a cardboard box. They’re absolutely everywhere. There’s also this chain called Eat, which looks almost exactly like Pret.
For the afternoon session, there were three speakers. The first was okay, the second so boring I wanted to gouge my eyes out, and the third pretty good. They were from this company that provides services to publishers and libraries on electronic resources. For instance, they received a grant to provide 30+ e-books of key texts available for free to students in the UK, and they measured and monitored how and how much students used them, and if the availability of the e-books affected print sales at all (it didn’t).
There is someone in the class who’s not a student but involved with academic journals. She kept asking questions that were already addressed in the presentation, which got really annoying by 4:30 when I was totally wilting and itching to get outside. Take it off-line people!
It’s been really beautiful here in London. Today was partly sunny and cool. I decided to take advantage of the weather and walk to London Bridge. Well, tried. I got lost a billion times. The frigging streets go around and around, and turn into other streets without warning. I kept getting out my map. I did end up in some cool parts of town though by mistake, like SoHo.
Eventually I ended up at some bridge. Not the London bridge but it went over the Thames and so I crossed it and ended up on the South Bank. Yay! The Royal National Theater was right there, as well as the Hayward Gallery. In the near distance I saw the London Eye, which my brother recommended.
What is essentially a giant ferris wheel ride is kind of pricey – 17 pounds – but really the first touristy thing I’ve paid for. As I was waiting in line to give my ticket, this large woman and her little son behind me kept trying to cut. I think they were Russian. The woman was big with clothes that were two sizes too small, long dyed black hair, long fake red nails, and tats all up and down her arms. I didn’t want them to cut me, but I didn’t know if I’d have been able to take her.
When we finally got on the car, they and this older Chinese woman all basically pushed me out of the way to get seats. I was not a happy camper.
The ride itself was nice. I took a bunch of pictures. It was much slower than I expected. I kept thinking it was going to be like the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island.
Next door was the Salvador Dali museum, which MB recommended. Unfortunately it was closed so I took pictures of the statues standing outside.
In the distance I saw Big Ben and Parliament, and I headed over to the bridge nearest to that area.
When I got to the other side, I wasn’t sure where I was. It seemed to be lots of government buildings, but unlike in New York, they were really old and ginormous, and where I was at first no one else was around. I felt like I was in an ancient building graveyard.
Eventually I ended up at the Household Calvary Museum (I think), then somehow the right direction back through SoHo, found Oxford Street, and Tottenham Court Road, which leads back to my dorm. I was so proud of myself for figuring it out without a map! I just kept moving away from where I was, following my instinct, and of course the signs pointing towards the roads I knew.
I was starving by the time I got back. I avoided all the touristy eateries and went to Goodge Street, which is near my dorm. There’s a lot of variety at reasonable prices. Feeling a little homesick, I ate a Korean place, not that I’m Korean, but MB and I do that often enough. The bibimbap was 7.50 pounds. With a soda and tip, it turned out to be 9.50. With lunch and dessert (a Beard Papa cream puff), I spent less thatn 20 pounds for the day. Yay!
When I got back, I found some of my classmates chatting and laughing in the kitchen. It seemed they got take out pizza. Wanting to be a little social, I joined them for a while, which was fun. Proud of myself again.
Though I’m having a good time, I miss New York and its perfect grid streets. I miss having my best pal MB to talk to every day. Ah well, it will only make our reunion sweeter.
Tomorrow we’re going to Oxford, hence the early departure. I need to get up at 5 in order to meet some of my classmates at 6:15 downstairs. Ugh.