So, London. I hate London.
I mean, it's cool all the attractions it has, but it's just so congested and crowded. Not my cup of tea (haha). By the way, EVERYONE drinks tea and coffee. It incredible. Oh, they also all drink. Haha.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, London is gross, but I just realized I totally skipped over Liverpool. Let me brief you on that and then we shall continue!
I got into Ormskirk (the station that my friend lives nearest too) around 4pm (I think) on the 11th. I was so exhausted, having only slept about 2 hours. My lovely friend, Sara-anne, came with her boyfriend and picked me up from the Ormskirk station and we headed back to her place. It was so cute! You wouldn't think it, but in America everything is just so much, well, bigger. The hallways, the rooms, the houses, bigger. Oh, the roads and cars, too! It's lovely, though. Anyway, got to Sara-anne's place and dropped my luggage off in the guest room they'd let me stay in, and then we had some dinner. I can't remember what I had, maybe prawn curry (oh yeah, very English, just kidding), then attempted to watch Inception, but I kept nodding off, so I went to bed around 6 pm. Slept until 8:30 or 9am the next morning! It felt great. Haha. That day Sara-anne and I didn't do much, just walked to the shopping centre which was maybe 1/10 of a mile away from her home. It was so weird being surrounded by all the accents and pounds though! Oh, by the way, here most people have chips on their credit/debit cards and without those chips your card will not work. Bring cash when going to the United Kingdom. Luckily I had plenty of cash with me! So I bought a hairdryer and some sheets, and was good to go! The next day we took the bus to the rail station and then took the train into Liverpool. I love Liverpool!! It's magnificent. Albert Dock is just lovely, all the ships and the ocean. I love the ocean.
While in Liverpool we went to The Beatles Story (the museum). Bit of info: I LOVE THE BEATLES!! They are my all-time favorite band! Oh gosh, it was like being a kid in a candy shop! We went through that museum and then headed to the pier where there was a little museum with a 4D ride and a gift shop. The ride wasn't really about The Beatles, but it used their songs, and afterwards I bought this brilliant Beatles bag for carrying things around in London, and well, everywhere. Haha.
Oh! And here's a view of Albert Dock from the pier Beatles Museum:
After the museums, Sara-anne and I just walked around a bit, checked out The Cavern Club, had lunch at Nando's (a fantastic chicken place), and then met up with a couple of her uni friends to head to the Liverpool Museum that had just opened. It was great.
Now here comes the wretched London:
Wednesday (the 14th of September), I had to catch an early train back to London for the Arcadia University orientation. This is where all of the students going to London universities and Wales universities met and got briefed on everything. It was a complete mess. We were supposed to check into our rooms at The Thistle City Barbican hotel at 3pm, but none of the rooms were ready. There were 100-200 of us, mind you. So we're all lulling about the lobby area until they slowly got us all settled. It took about 1 1/2 hours. 4 of us weren't even in the computers and didn't get rooms, including yours truly. Luckily they fixed that mistake so I did have a place to sleep! I got a single room, and it was quite nice.
While in London we did a bit of orientation, like culture differences, healthcare, academic differences, transportation, those types of things. We got loads of free time to kill, though. I went to Westminster Abbey, the Eye of London, Buckingham Palace, The British Museum, The Natural History Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, the Globe Theatre, Platform 9 3/4 (YES!), all over the tube (London's underground metro system), and just a bunch of random walking around the city. If you're interested in free, both of the museums we visited were free and fantastic. Two of the best museums I've ever been to, especially the British Museum!
I think I would enjoy London more if it wasn't so much of a city. Haha.
Anyway, after spending time in London we (me and the other 2 Bangor students) headed to Bangor yesterday, the 18th of September. Arcadia, being their intelligent selves, told us we needed to catch a train that went straight to Bangor from Paddington Station, no transfers. They also told us a member of staff would take us there. Ha, we had to book our own cabs, make it to Euston Station (what our tickets they'd bought us said), then catch the train to Crewe (where we transfered), and then caught the train to Bangor. Everything went grand after we figured it all out.
Anyway, when we got to Bangor there were minibuses to take us to the dorm sites. Apparently this campus is spread all throughout Bangor, which I absolutely love. Bangor is this gorgeous small town, population approximately 20,000 when school is in session, 10,000 during holidays. Everything is green, it's right on the coast, and it's very hilly/mountainous (depending on who you ask).
Here's a picture from the road I take to my school buildings:
More pictures will come eventually, I assure you. This is just a shot of the Menai Strait.
It's impossible to describe Bangor; it's just too incredible. However, I can say this: it's September, and their weather feels like winter weather in Austin! Chilly, cloudy, and drizzling. I love it, though. I do need to buy winter clothes before winter hits, though.
So once I got to Bangor and unpacked, I headed to the grocery store, Morrison's, to pick up a pillow and a towel because, lo and behold, I had neither. I get to Morrison's at 4:10pm, it had closed at 4. Keep in mind, ladies and gentleman, that Sunday is indeed a day of rest here in the United Kingdom. People take off early and some shops may not even be open.
After showering, I had to air dry. That was not fun. At least I have my own room and shower! Check it out:
This is a view of my dorm room, and the little handle on the right hand side leads to my teeny tiny bathroom.
That little curtain next to the toilet is my shower. It's this small pyramidal shower where the curtain actually touches me while I'm showering. I love it though!
So, on my floor, they divide it into two halves, and you must have your key to get into your building, your floor half, and then your room. Each half of the floor has about 8 people, give or take a couple. I've met, I believe, all of my flatmates. They're amazing. I love them all! Haha, today, after I came back from an international student dinner at the campus pub, a few of them were sitting out in the hallway just chatting, so I joined them. Here we're not allowed wireless internet (they shut you down), but one of the guys, James, is brilliant with computers and set up a wireless connection without a router. We all connected and were sharing videos on youtube.com that we loved. Unfortunately, about an hour later, the guys who keep a look out for wireless connections spotted us and shut us down. It was fun while it lasted!Anyway, each floor half has one hallway with about 8 rooms, and at the end of the hallway is the communal kitchen/common area. We all have our own cupboard (though somehow I ended up sharing half of mine...) to store food, or whatever you may please. It's quite different from the dorms at UT-Austin, and I think in a much better way.
Let's see... oh, so my school, the School of Sports, Health, and Exercise Science, is located at the Normal Site, which is about a 20 minute walk from my dorms. At least it's got a breathtaking view (see above picture)!
This whole week is Welcome Week, so classes don't start until Monday (the 26th). I'm really excited for tomorrow because I sign up for my classes. I'm really hoping I get the ones I want (and desperately need): Psychology of Sport Performance, Sport and Exercise Physiology, Intro to Sport Science for Coaches, Physical Activity & Health, and Expedition. Cheers!
Wednesday and Thursday are Serendipity, which is when all of the clubs at the university put up tables in the sports centre to campaign for your membership. I can't wait! I'm hoping to join BUMS, the rock climbing club. I also get to meet my fellow Bangor Mormons tomorrow, which I'm very excited about!
So far I suppose that's all I've got for now. However, a quick note before I end this entry:
It does happen in the U.K., ladies and gentlemen! I figured it wouldn't be so bad since the U.S. can be quite similar to the U.K., but I did have quite a bit of it getting on that train to Ormskirk. First of all, the accents. It's like a whole new language at first, and it can totally throw you off. Beware of the accents. Second, the money. 1 pound does not come as a bill, it comes as a coin. They do not have bills until you get to 5 pounds, then you've got a 5, 10, 20, 50, etc. They also have a coin for 2 pounds, although most people tend to just give me two 1 pounds. Third, slang. Pants = underwear and trousers = American pants. Do not mix that up. Fourth, driving. They do indeed drive on the left hand side of the road, so don't want to the right hand side of a car expecting to climb into the passenger's seat. It won't work. Fifth, the chocolate is amazing. Sixth, Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi do taste different.
I could seriously go on for ages, but I mainly just wanted to get this point across:
Do not underestimate culture shock. It will most likely happen to you.
For anyone planning to live or study abroad, just keep that in mind.
I think I'll go ahead and end my post there.
Bangor is amazing and I can't wait to see what else it has in store for me!