So I left for England on Monday at 6:45 pm. My flight was rather long but it wasn't too bad. There were delicious meals.. Just.. Oh, so good. And I had over 100 movies to pick from. I settled with Harry Potter 6 and The Time Traveler's Wife. Warning: the latter was not good at all. The worst part about this flight was that the man in front of me decided to swing his chair back and practically lay in my lap. So my long legs were squished and stabbing the chair for about 6 hours.. Kind of uncomfortable. Needless to say, I didn't sleep a wink on the plane.
After I landed in Amsterdam at around 8:30 am (2:30 am US time). This airport was like a mall--multiple levels and shopping stores left and right. I had to walk about 15 minutes to the other side of the airport to catch my second flight. After I had gone through security and reached my gate, I waited for an hour since boarding began at 9:55. Just as this plane began to board, I looked up at the computer scheduling screen and noticed my gate had been changed without an announcement. So I had to run to the other side of the airport with all of my luggage and go through security all over again. I barely made my flight, but it sure was an adventure.
On the second flight and was fortunate enough to have the window seat. How cool is it to be on a plane when it lifts off?! I don't think there is anything comparable to it. I did end up getting an hour of sleep, which was definitely needed-I was dead on my feet in Amsterdam. I woke up right as we were landing and I can't tell you how big my smile was. This is the first time being out of the country and it felt so good to finally be on foreign soil.
A family friend, Neville, picked me up and drove me to his house in Derby, about an hour away from Birmingham Airport. At first driving on the wrong side of the road was a little terrifying, but after driving around a million round-abouts, I got used to it. Note: round-abouts are convenient, but not in traffic.
When we got to his house it was like a musuem. It has tons of Derby artifacts and cat memorabilia. Cats are like children to Neville. I've never seen someone get so excited about them before! Their names were maxi and mini, after the cars he owned.
He then showed me around Derbyshire and the city of Derby, which became a city in 1971(as I recall). We went to the Rolls Royce and Train museum, which was actually interesting. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce created their first airplane engine in 1914.
We went to the Dolphin Inn, which is the oldest pubs in Derby. I was going to try the corn beef hash but they were all out by the time we arrived. Since it was windy and raining, I settled with a spicy bowl of chili and tortilla chips. Not very British, I know.
However, for dinner, Neville made his famous Yorkshire pudding with lamb, carrots, beans, and potatoes. Not too bad. The texture of the food is a little different and while it tastes just fine, my stomach still questioned it!
I went to another pub for drinks with Neville and his friends and had my first legal drink. That was cool! And his friends gave me one of the local trashy newspapers to entertain myself with. Warning: page 3 on the Sun Times is a men's only page. Yikes.
For breakfast, I had British bacon (which comes in slabs rather than thin strips), black pudding, biscuits, some kind of tomato that was a little too cooked for me, and some seasoned mushrooms. Again, not too bad, but still unusual textures.
For a surprise, Neville made an appointment for me to meet the mayor of Derby, Sean Marshall. There he told me about all of the traditions of local government. It's a very ceremonial culture. He actually had me get down and dub me a Dame of Derby with the sword the Queen Elizabeth dubbed the previous mayor a sir. Nothing scarier than having a sword held close enough to nick your ear. I got to wear his chain and sit in his chair too! In his office, he has the very same chair the Queen Victoria sat in. Talk about history!
After that and a trip to see the Royal Crown Derby, I left for Sheffield. We drove up through Peak District. It's so unbelievably amazing! Everything was covered in frost and snow. I want to take another trip back up when it gets a little greener.
We arrived at Sheffield University, after being a little lost within the city itself, and I met up with Arielle, Marin, and her dad. We went into the city centre and had lunch at a pub, then bought our mobile phones as well as some things for our room. The prices here are very reasonable even with the exchange rate, surprisingly!
Today was the first day of orientation and it was pretty awesome! After the tour guide abandoned a small group of us, we had to fend for ourselves on navigating through the city. Nature vs Nurture, I guess. I met some people from New York, Australia, Finland, Holland and France. There are over 136 countries represented at Sheffield though so I have a lot more people to meet! There is great diversity here. The Australians said things like "far out" which I thought was pretty cool. The Brits say "wicked" a lot. I got a chance to speak a little French today and was pretty impressed by what I remembered. It was poorly pronounced but the guy I was talking to was very patient with me. His English was poor so he was thrilled to understand something!
Everyone I've met here seems to have something different to offer. I've really enjoyed getting to know the other international students.
SIDE NOTE: Okay, ladies. Come to England. Cute boys everywhere. I certainly appreciate the sights, if you know what I mean.
I tried Fish and Chips for lunch today and thought it was okay. I'm trying to get over being a picky eater and I've also never been a big fish fan so this was a great feat for me.
My group went on a tour of Sheffield city as well as Sheffield's Student Union. This place is out of control amazing!! There are tons of pubs, clubs, theaters, concert halls, activity centers, and coffee shops. Our group of Aussies, Frenchmen, and Americans went there and had mochas and cappuccinos. Sorry, America.. the Brits put your coffee to shame.
On my way back from orientation, Marin, Arielle, and I took a wrong turn and almost walked out of the city limits. This city is the fourth largest in England so.... we walked for awhile without realizing where we actually were. A great deal of the buildings look similar so it's hard to differentiate on the second day of the city life.
I have a dinner tonight with the orientation students and I fancy getting a drink afterward in the uni pub. :)
There is so much to do here! So I will report back within the next few days. It's hard to make myself sit down and write EVERYTHING I did. One, it's boring for you to read every detail and two, it's boring for me to write everything.