Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“I’m Going to See These Guys On, I Just Have to go to the Loo First” – Marc, the Boat Man at the Pier

What started out as what promised to be a wonderful day turned into the biggest roller coaster of emotions I’ve yet to face in London, and I for one am so glad the day is almost finished. I woke up at nine, and began the search for wifi in my room. I had my one-on-one meeting about my schedule later today, so I had to look up classes that I might want to switch out, send e-mails, look at a map of where I was going and such. Since everyone’s schedules are out of sync this week due to different appointments and times, meeting as a group has become rather difficult. Myself and three other people had later appointments (around 4 and 5) but Daryia had hers at 11. So, instead of meeting up earlier in the day and letting Daryia meet up with us, we decided to meet up after her appointment. This sounded like a good idea in theory, but being a realist, I knew exactly how it was going to go, and I’m sorry to say I was right. This gives me no satisfaction.

The plan was to meet at the Tower Bridge Tube stop at 12, get on a ferry to Greenwich and then come back around 3, enough time for me to get to my appointment. These appointments are ‘compulsory’ by the way, so you can’t be late, change times or skip them. You simply have to show up at your given time. (Personally, I think the compulsory sounds so much harsher than mandatory. Why so menacing Britain?) Well J, Matt, Laura, Jeni, Trang and I show up on time. Tom is about 10 minutes late. And Daryia, why by 12:15 she still hasn’t shown. Haskett of course has other things he wanted to show us around the area before we got on the ferry, so I convinced him to start showing us around and Daryia could just catch up with us before we got on the boat. I should also take this time to mention that by deciding to go to Greenwich I was missing out on another one of my ‘meetings’.

At the student orientation, in yet another effort to get us to mingle, Westminster had devised a sort of scavenger hunt around the city of London. They brake you up into groups of four or five (six in my case), hand you a two page paper packet filled with questions that can be answered only by going to different areas of the city, and tell you to turn it in before Thursday. The prize is an amazing day trip somewhere abouts the city. Sounds fun right? Well when my group first got together two of the girls clearly didn’t want to have anything to do with it and said they were busy the rest of the day. One girl was from Germany and seemed a bit lost as to what was going on, one guy seemed up for whatever and the other was super keen on winning this trip. Naturally, they picked 12 as our time to meet up the next day in Leicester Square, handing me the paperwork and all agreeing that we’d see each other tomorrow. Later on in the evening when Haskett said that we’d be meeting up at 12 I knew this wasn’t going to go so hot. I didn’t know anybody’s name in our group, I didn’t have their phone numbers, I had the paperwork and I sure as hell didn’t want to be ‘that girl’. I'm never that girl. I hate that girl. She never shows up and does her part. Fanfreakingtastic. But my hands are tied, what can I do? I have absolutely no way of contacting these people, my choices are Greenwich or disappointing people I just met, half of whom didn’t even seem amused by the idea. I mean, in a school of 20,000+ what are the odds that I’ll see these people again? At least the scavenger hunt isn’t compulsory.

By 12:30 Daryia finally shows up and Haskett showed us the Roman Wall, and gave a quick walking and pointing tour of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We buy tickets for the ferry that supposed to come at 12:52. I’m thinking get there around 1:15, take some pictures at the Meridian, grab a quick bite and still be able to leave at 3. An hour and a halfish, no problem. Well silly me, I’m forgot what happens when you have to rely on other people to make stuff happen. I should take this time to mention that these boats stop at the dock only long enough to load people on and take off immediately again. I’m talking 45 seconds to a minute at the dock max. These sailors are on a schedule people! So we’re standing at the Pier with our boat guy, Marc. He seems pretty cool, joking with us and all, but he keeps mentioning how bad he has to go to the loo. He kept saying that he was just going to ‘see us on’ and then go to bathroom, but I guess he just couldn’t hold it any longer and splits. (I think you can see where this is going.) While he’s gone, the ferry comes. We tried to get on, but since there was no little boat guy around, the man refuses to let us on and takes off again. Joy. The next ferry is in 20 minutes. Did I mention my meeting is at 4:20?

I’m listening to my iPod with Laura, trying not to stress out and Marc comes back. “Oh sorry, mates, sorry. The next one will be here soon, I’ll see you on. I’ll see you on.” No thank you Marc, I do not want you to see me on. I want to you to be fired from your job! The British man behind us didn’t seem to have a care in the world, “oh no drama mate, no drama.” Gahhhhhh! We get on the next ferry and get to Greenwich by 12:35. The place is absolutely breathtaking! I’d say it’s probably one of my favorite places we’ve been so far. It figures. I love it and I can’t even stay to enjoy it. The scenery was soo green! It was just perfectly picturesque, looked like a scene straight out of a period piece. I was so sad I didn’t get all of the pictures I wanted to of the hill and of the Queen’s little Roman pillars she had going on. (There is one particular shot I had in mind that I am still very sad I didn’t get. Phooey!) I just kept imagining how nice it would be to picnic here. And you know how I love to picnic. In Greenwich. Can you imagine? Mmmmm…

Somehow we manage to get to the top of the hill by 2 and 20 minutes later, the majority of us had already taken all the pictures we really wanted and were hungry for some lunch. I say majority because Daryia is kinda strolling along, taking pictures of this and that, getting in line to take pictures at the Meridian at the very last possible moment, and then wanting just ‘one more’ with all these different people. Gah! I couldn’t do it today! I’m sorry I just couldn’t. My patience was dwindling. I hadn’t eaten since a breakfast bar at like 10 and I needed to keep going. So finally she’s finished, we start down the hill and find our selves among many restaurants by 2:40. I’m still thinking I can make it all happen! Haskett was talking about getting fish and chips so I figured I could at least get chips or something and get to the train station by 3. But of course, this doesn’t happen. Instead we decide to sit down at this French bistro. Restaurants in Europe are not at all like restaurants in America. They take their time here and can sit you and not come ‘greet’ you for a good 5 minutes, and sometimes it can take as long as 10 just to get your drinks. I knew as soon as we went in that this wasn’t going to work. I mean, I already was going to be leaving the group early, but to not even get my free meal in? This was too much. I got my menu, saw all the mouthwatering options I could have had, and politely excused myself from the table wishing everyone a good meal. Trang also had her meeting at 4:30, so she came with me.

Now Trang is a very nice girl. She’s sweet, but a little lost at all this big city metro thing. I have learned my way around the tube pretty well, but here we are in Greenwich, and I have no earthly clue how to get back to the city other than Haskett’s advice of “get on this train”. Bloody brilliant. I’m stressed, I feel guilty about abandoning my scavenger hunt group, I’m hungry, I’m sad I had to leave my TCU group and I’m more than a little pissed that we had to work our whole day around Daryia’s schedule but Trang, J (his meeting was at 5:30) and I had to just make it work. Not cool. We get turned around on the way to the train station, but end up finding it within just a few minutes. This whole time Trang is looking over my shoulder asking me every few minutes if I know what I’m doing. As if I’m not trying to make sure of that myself. We get on the train, check. That part was easier than I thought. But we get off at a station and now have to connect to the Underground. Sure, this part should be easier, right? I know the underground, I can do the tube, I’m not at all worried about this part. Bahahahahaha. Shouldn’t I have known how this day was going?

You get off at the little station and I’m following the signs pointing to the Jubilee line. Hmm, that’s interesting, these signs look like they’re pointing out of the station into this shopping mall it’s attached to. Hmmm. I see more concrete across the mall, perhaps it’s through there? I start walking and Trang is kinda flipping out. We can’t leave the station! Surely the connection is at the station! We spend a good five minutes looking like idiots going to a bunch of different platforms before I convince her that I was right, and the only way out is through the mall. Turns out you have to walk through the mall, all the way outside and across the street. It is in no way connected to the train station AT ALL. Cheers Trang.

At this point, all I’m thinking is that I’m so glad I paid to replace my iPod before this trip. We have like a 15/20 minute tube ride and my music is the only thing keeping me sane right now. We get off at Oxford and of course, the place where we have our one-on-ones is in a completely different place than where we met yesterday. I have my map, and we make it there with 10 minutes to spare. Thank the Lord. As I’m sitting there, waiting for my meeting, who walks in but the German girl from my scavenger hunt group. SHIT. And guess what she’s here to get? Another scavenger hunt paper packet. What the hell is happening to my day? So I’m sitting there in my chair, trying my best to become as small as possible and hide my face with my hands, bangs, papers, anything and Veronica calls me forward. Now you know how good I am at hiding my emotions, my face is the most readable thing on the planet. I sit down at the little computer desk thing and Veronica immediately asks what’s wrong. How do you say I just want to get done with your stupid meeting and go home, politely? You can’t. So I’m trying to shrug her off and say I’m just tired, but she keeps pushing it and suddenly two other Study Abroad people are interested in ‘wanting me to settle in comfortably’ and are ‘worried about me’. How the hell am I supposed to explain everything that’s happened? It’s just too much. I finally somehow convince her to get back to the schedule talk the whole time just doing my best to not have a mental break down.

This wonderful meeting that caused so much drama is done in five minutes. 5 freaking minutes. I simply have no words. I walk out the door to the nearest sandwich shop and enjoy my first meal of the day at 4:45. At this point I want nothing more than to go to bed. I stopped to buy a diet coke and some oreos (I think I deserved them!), told myself I was just going to figure out the internet situation, take a shower and sleep. The worst is over, right? Hahaha, as if!

When I walk in the lady behind the desk was just about to get off at work as was just plain rude. “Wait till my partner gets here.” Fine. I mill around the lobby for about 10 minutes till he comes and then, when I finally ask him, all he says is “Have you checked the notice board? Go look at that. It’s all on there. Go!” Such a nice man. I want him to be fired, too. So ok, I read it, figure out how to sign up for the service, ok. After EVERYTHING that happened today, surely I can fill out a few blanks and get my internet up, right? Wrong. You have to fill out all these blanks, and I’m stuck on the ‘county’ of London and the screen won’t let me go any further till I fill it in. What. The. Hell. How am I supposed to know that? I can’t check on the internet, that’s what this stupid form is for and it’s not in any of our papers (why on earth would they mention the county in a Welcome packet anyways Devon?) You just didn’t want to make this easy for me, did you Westminster? At that point I lost it. I just started crying. Uncontrollable sobs. This day could not get any worse. I finally just put ‘UK’ thinking they’ll just think I’m a stupid American who thought it said country instead of county and change it themselves. Whatever. I could care less at this point.

But my internet now works! Skype on! I uploaded pictures, went back and added some pictures and video to some of my past blogs, so if you’ve managed to read this far (hahahha, sorry) you should go check that out. I then realized that internet meant TV once more! This made me feel much better. I’m sure the carbonation and sugar helped a bit too. A shower and two IT Crowd episodes later and I feel loads better. Tomorrow is going to be another interesting schedule shuffle but at least it’s all in the city and I KNOW where I’m going. Let’s hope…




  1. I've decided to just point out all your British-isms every time.
    -bloody brilliant (really. really?)

    btw, today Eamon asked me if you were home when we were pulling into the driveway and I told him you were in London. He said, "I wanna go with Dae Dae in Wun-day!". He thought about you all on his own. How London sounds like Wunday I don't know, but there you have it!

  2. What a day! I hope that you really ARE settling in comfortably now.