Early on September 17th, I took off from Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport and made the long trek over the Atlantic ocean (with a short layover in Charlotte, NC). The trip was uneventful and I arrived safe and sound in London’s Gatwick airport at 7 am on September 18th. I took a train into Brighton (which was an easy enough task even though I had been worried about navigating that part of the trip) and took a cab to the hostel I was staying in that night since I couldn’t move into my residence hall until the next day. I’d never stayed in a hostel before and was a little nervous about the proper etiquette and procedures. I arrived around 10 am and was told I could not check in until 2 or 2:30. This was the last thing I wanted to hear after being up for almost 24 hours. I dropped my bags and wandered to the pier. The Brighton pier and the view of the channel and the shoreline is beautiful but I was still a bit frazzled and called one of my English friends to defuse my distressed state. I took out a deck chair on the pier and read a magazine for a while then went to explore the shore line. After what felt like an eternity I finally checked in to my room (an 8 bed dorm room shared with 2 German girls, 2 South Korean guys, and a handful of English party girls) and fell right to sleep. I have never had trouble sleeping the day away so I pretty much slept until the next morning with the exception of a 5 am wake up from my party girl roommates (which pleasantly reminded me of late nights at my sorority).
The next day I took a cab to the University of Brighton-Falmer Campus and checked in to my flat. The Falmer campus is a short bus ride from Brighton but in order to do anything (eat, socialize, shop, etc.) outside of 9-5 Monday through Friday you have to go into Brighton. The flats are very similar to dorm rooms at UND except there is a shared kitchen space and I have my own bathroom (this was a very exciting discovery as I have never had my own bathroom!). After unpacking and trying to set up my internet I started to worry that I would have to spend the night as the lone occupant of my three flat building. Fortunately, 2 other USAC students showed up and I was no longer alone!
Since then the rest of the USAC students have shown up and life has been one big adventure. Although I speak the language here everything I do is still a new experience and takes some getting use to. We’ve made one big trip into London to site see and today a few of us took the train to Lewes, a small picturesque town just outside of Brighton and full of history, yet some of the best adventures have been grocery shopping, finding a meal, and navigating the bus system! For example, at the grocery store (or in British: “the supermarket”) I had no idea what to buy and when I went to get a cart (British: “Trolley”) I couldn’t get it to come out… turns out it costs a pound to use a cart! Finding a meal was a challenge last Sunday evening as most pubs put on Sunday roast meals in the afternoon and once they run out they don’t have anything else! We wandered around Brighton for an hour before we finally found a place with food! We learned our lesson though and tomorrow we all plan to go very early and officially experience English Sunday roast!
Things I am loving: My own bathroom, Drinking Cider with meals, Going on new adventures everyday, Knowing that with my class schedule I’ll have plenty of free time to travel, Watching Netball and Soccer (British: “Football”) outside my window, Exploring the Brighton pub and club scene, Fairly inexpensive drink specials and my favorite drink (Vodka Redbulls) coming in a pitcher!
Things I am not quite loving: Never being full (Portions are smaller here and I’m failing at cooking for myself), My hair straightener not working, Not having sorority sisters to help in moments of mishap (like curling the back of my hair or choosing the right shoes for an outfit) especially since most my flat mates are guys, missing the big fall events at UND,
Things I am learning: I do not like to travel and site see alone (I have friends who can do this for weeks but I definitely need some companionship to enjoy my travels), Never see the movie “Hostel”,
I should be finding out my final class schedule with in the next few days (classes don’t start until Monday October 4th) but it looks like I’ll be taking mostly social science classes and French, just for the fun of it! I’m very excited for classes to start and along with that is a welcome week called Freshers week! Apparently most universities have this week which is more like one big party as opposed to the American version of welcome week which is a sort of orientation. Also, on Monday I am heading to Scotland for 3 days to visit a friend from camp! I’m pumped to see what her University is like as well as site see in Edinburgh and Stirling.. Not to mention spending time with a great friend!
Peace, Love, Cheap Flights and Freshers.
Testing out the Icy Brighton Waters
The Brighton Pier from the Shoreline