London at first glance

When I initially booked by flight to London, I’ll admit that I hadn’t given much thought to rush hour traffic in Chicago.  Consequently, my blood pressure was probably running a bit higher than normal when I realized the security lines at O’Hare were some of the longest I had ever seen.  With quick Berkemeier-length* strides, I made it to my gate with 3 pre-boarding minutes to call and remind my bank that I’d be leaving for London… today.  Nothing like that last minute for getting things done!

(*I have long jean genes.  At 5’10”, I’m in the shorter half of my family.)

This was my first time on board with Virgin Atlantic, so the flight attendant’s British accents and red suits (complete with red heels & lipstick) were quite novel for me. The safety video especially put a smile on my face. 😉

Inline image 1We arrived at Heathrow early, which gave me a beautiful introduction into British queuing. (After just 3 days here, I’m convinced this is an innately cherished pastime for the Brits.)  I was ushered to a “special” queue for international students, which I later found out was security’s way of concentrating the more time-consuming cases so the general “non EU passport” queue didn’t get out of control.  Other than the difficulty of remaining awake during EDT (Michigan) wee hours of the morning, no trouble was had.

Before long I was gathering my luggage, meeting representatives from King’s College London (KCL), and learning how to navigate the Tube, London’s underground rail system.  Friends, this is no AATA route map. While I’m not a complete novice with public trans, I was glad I had warmed up in Chicago.

The Tube system

The ride was pretty straight forward from Heathrow– a little better than an hour and only one transfer at Piccadilly Circus.  (<— Just got to love the British language haha.)  It was at said transfer that I became acutely aware of just how much luggage I had packed, and consequently, was very thankful that I restricted my luggage to one large & one small suitcase.  My trapezius– after sleeping on a plane and then incorporating a shoulder shrug on the last flight of stairs to compensate for tired arms– did not demonstrate quite as much gratitude.

My apartment was just a few minute walk from the Waterloo stop– the best possible location I could have imagined.  In true London style, it is about half the size of the double I shared during my freshman year in MoJo, complete with the roof-line-slanted-wall that you get from acquiring a room on the top floor.  I must admit, I think my view of The Shard trumps Observatory Lodge with its eyes closed. (I’m hoping to score a good window picture for a later post.)

My neighborhood (with my apartment circled). Noteworthy neighbors: London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London Bridge, The Shard, King’s College London (yes! for being able to walk to class!), and many others.

I’ve spent a great deal of time pinching myself as I walk with wonder. THIS IS REAL LIFE.

I’ll be taking classes on KCL’s Strand Campus which is a 12 minute walk from my apartment, just across Thames via the Waterloo Bridge.  Classes don’t begin until the week of September 22, but you can expect a few words between then and now pertaining more toward my courses and field of study.

I am incredibly humbled to represent University of Michigan and am ready to seize the opportunities as a resident of London, student at KCL, and RMJ fellow.

Until next time, Cheers!