Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A walk through Bath..,
Monday morning after three hours of sleep I got up and headed towards Paddington Station. I had a 10am train to Bath to catch and I was very excited. As the train pulled into familiar stations, Reading, Swindon and Chippenham, I was reminded of the countless times I’d taken this route going from TASIS to home in North Wraxell in my sophomore year of high school. Once in Bath I was picked up by my Mother’s close friend and whisked off to her house in Norton St. Philips. Her home is what one would picture an old English home to be- cute and quirky. We then put on our wellies to walk her adorable black lab, Woody. Walking through narrow windy back roads and through fields spotted with cowpats we talked of differences in culture, of life’s joys and its sorrows. While my hostess had to return to work I spent a few hours wondering the streets of Bath. This was the most fun I have had in weeks. It was an unusual experience as well. I felt like a guest in a city that I had once walked daily and knew intimately. I was like the tourists that flood the city every year. I waked every street looking up and down each building while taking hundreds of pictures. Memories came flooding back as I walked through the shops I had once frequented regularly.

Tuesday was again spent walking through the city. We started with brunch at a very cute café my mother and her friend had regularly met at for tea before picking up the kids. Conversation flowed easily as if her friendship with my mother was transferred by association to me. After a few hours of walking through Bath I bought some Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream in the Abby square across the Pump Room, and sat down outside to enjoy the street performer, write some postcards and watch the tourists go by. I found myself surrounded by a mixture of locals, and Japanese and American tourists. The American accent once again stands out as awkward and obviously out of place to me.

When it came time for me to take the train back to London I thought of how I would really like to live in Bath once again some day.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Today I walked into town for a few grocery items. Frugality has been my motto of late, so as I shopped today I selected generic names when I could. As I did this I noticed a familiar slogan on the ASDA (the store) products, “Rollback” accompanied with the familiar yellow smiley face. Warning bells immediately started going off in my head. I did some research upon returning home and found to my horror that my suspicions that ASDA was in fact apart of the Wal-Mart Company were true. I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart because of their (what I consider immoral) business practices. Now I feel obligated, not to mention convicted to no longer lend my patronage to the establishment. This is a darn shame as well because they were super cheap and relatively convenient.

Friday, September 22, 2006


It’s been a long week but I’ve slowly become more comfortable with my new surroundings. There is no list or general rules to follow as to how to accomplish this so the process as been a slow one. I have traveled around East London on my own using public transportation. This was an intimidating prospect at first but with each adventurous exploration I gain a little confidence. Getting lost has been a great way learning experience. Finding banks, grocery stores, bookshops and shopping malls has been one of my many missions over the past week. Yesterday I reached two of my three goals of the past week. I finally bought a cell phone and got Internet in my dorm room, both reconnecting me to the outside world. With these two tools of communication I’ve been able to continue aspects of my daily routine. For example I now am constantly online, I can return from my morning shower to sit in my towel checking my emails, reading the BBC online, all while listening to The Mix.

Last night I was able to video chat with my family. This was wonderful but slightly odd as well. The instant visual and audio communication gave the false sense that I was still very much connected in real way. Almost as If I was in the next room seeing my family through an open door across the hall. I talked with my sister about being asked to homecoming and the amazing events preceding the invitation, I saw her dress, I talked with my Father about trivial things for an ordinary day but interesting because accomplished and or experienced in a foreign country. It was a comforting thing being able to see them. For the most part I had the conversations and reactions I would have expected had I been speaking to them only a few feet away. My sister lowered her voice when speaking of confidential details, she showed me her new shoes and I told her just as I would have had I been there what I thought of them. My father even commented on the fact that it was too late for me to be up at that time, predictable so I might add. All this was wonderful. Its good to know I can count on them to be the people I remember and respond in a familiar way.

Today I hope to accomplish the opening of a bank account. I have done this twice before with absolutely no problem, both times in The States. Here it is ‘a whole ‘nother ball game’ so to speak. As an international student there are more restrictions and requirements that one would have thought possible. Searching for a bank that will not require me to hold a minimum balance of £2,000 (roughly $4,000), give me a checkbook and allow me to open an account without a three week process of filling out papers and credit checks has been a challenge. All require me to have a letter of acceptance from my bank with my intended program of study on it. My mission today is to obtain this illustrious letter.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I start this entry with a very unpleasant disposition. I had just completed writing this every entry when the computer ate it. It disappeared. Poof- gone. Me, not happy. Lots of holy craps said and the like. So to start agian...

Things are slowly getting better. Getting a key to my room, unpacking, moving things around and adding my personal touches helped a lot. Buying a few grociers did as well. Of course upon buying milk, eggs, and cereal among other things I realized that I dont have any silverware, cooking spoons and I remembered why I basically stopped drinking milk the last time I lived here. It's a good thing I stocked up on calcium supliments before I left.

Yesterday I sat through very long and boaring lectures. After which I went on a river boat cruise of London. Personally, I think the Chicago boat cruises are done better, but London sure does have more impressive and older architecture. After our excurstion in the city center I had a 'real British experience'. Myself and three other international students sat in a pub with drinks in hand and watched the Manchester United vs Celtic match on sky sports. Man U won 3-2.

Today I sat through a lecture on the parils of plagerism. This was no revilation for me but seemed to be for the 18 year old Albanian sitting next to me. After the lecture follwed lunch and then "registration" and student ID's. This process only convinced me more of UEL's unorganized and unprepared continual performance. I was once again shown to be a problem for them and had many an issue that needed sorting out. But I managed to walk away registered (which is actually something I realized I had done weeks ago) and with a student ID. I then treated myself to a mini-shopping trip at a near by strip of shops. I have now been in the British Borders. Love it here too.

In ten minutes I leave to go back to my boaring dorm room where I can only hope my newly connected internet awaits me...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Coming to you from London...

The frustrations of the past few weeks have not entirely come to an end now that I'm here-unfortunatly. The flight was interesting as I flew Air India. The flight entertianment consisted of a made for TV movie which probably first aired on ABC Family staring Joshua Jackson, a series of Bollywood flims all in Hindi and an episode of Fraiser. I went through customs without a problem and found the UEL representative waiting for me...well actualy she was waiting for an Indian me, assuming since I was flying Air India I must then be Indian. She was quite suprised when I introduced myself and was in fact not Indian. I soon found the nearest pay phone and attempted to use the American international calling card to inform my parents of my safe arrival. It didnt work. After waiting in the airport for several reasons I finally was able to get into a very mini bus (van with no room for luggage) headed for the campus I'll be living at for the next few months. The ride through London was great. It was fun to see Parliament, Tower Bridge, Westminster and all the interesting sites along the way.

Once arriving at Barkings campus where I am to live I was moved into two different rooms. With each move I was assured it would be the last. I then attempted to use the calling card in my room. This too didnt work. I became very anxious at this point not yet having contact my parents to say hello and all is well. After a short talk with the security gaurde I was directed to a pay phone across the street from the campus gates where I could also buy a calling card.

In a short conversation to my mother I expressed exhaustion, irritation and hunger.

Although the story does not end here I must go catch a bus back to my room where there is no internet...

Friday, September 08, 2006


I knew blogs could be dangerous, and here is why. I now have the ability to broadcast to the viewing world the incompitance of the sallie mae loan company. The process began in late April, now five months ago. I leave in two days and have yet to recieve my loan money. I have been misinformed, forgotten about and ignored. Never able to speak to the same person twice my comments and questions have been passed around from person to person each time causing me to re-explain what is always a confusing issue in a time sensitive situation.

If anyone is ever in need of a school loan DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT USE SALLIE MAE LOAN COMPANY!!!!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tears and Joy...

Over the past few weeks I have experienced stress in a way I had never known before. International travel and foreign enrollment has not been a smooth process to set up. Its gotten to the point where I do not even want to talk about it. I was asked in an email today if I was excited for the trip that is now three days away. I didn’t even have to hesitate in saying no. No I am not excited, I’m too stressed out over all that has not been worked out not to mention the packing of everything I need in two suitcases weighing no more than 70 lbs. I’m not even nervous. I feel so little except frustration and impatients. I’m filled with the kind of raw emotion that people say “unbalances a person”. Anything and everything sets me off. Bursting into tears has become a regular occurrence when I find myself alone. My poor parents have endured the worst of it. Their concern and patients with me is much appreciated but always seems to set me on edge as they ask questions about where things are now and have I verified this and what am I going to do next. Once again my idyllic imagine of how the whole process would lay out is as far off as it could be. The fun has not been sucked out so much as never having been there to begin with.

On a much more joyful note, I went Bridesmaid dress shopping last night. My roommate of the last two years is getting married next summer and I am to be her Maid of Honor! The Bride, her mother, the two other Bridesmaids and I spent over an hour walking around looking at beautiful dresses trying on an assortment of colors, shapes and sizes. It was a welcome distraction from the day’s earlier events. We had such fun picking out the dresses and throwing out ridicules and serious ideas and recommendations to the Bride. My recommendation that we all wear tiaras was not taken unfortunately, for I think I look lovely with one perched on my head. The final color and style of our dresses were selected and sizes ordered. Now I just need to stay the exact same size I am now until next June.

Recent news of slight steps forward in regards to my scholarly plans give little reassurance or relief. I have yet to register or select my accommodations. As I need to live on campus and will arrive their in four days this weighs heavily on my mind. Everything seems to be connected and moving in circular downward spin. Relief will come when all is paid for, verified, settled and I am lying in my English bed with my computer on my lap writing emails.

A couple days ago someone said to me to record all that has taken place. This was suggested so as to not only learn but laugh at the events of the past few months. Then and now I think this is an absolutely ridicules suggestion. No part of this stressful situation is humorous, nor can I imagine it ever being so.

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's official. I was approved for my student visa to study in the U.K. today. Nine more days!!!!