September 17 to September 20
After a great night of sleep on the concrete floor of the Stansted Airport, I jumped on a bus and headed to the IES Abroad Student Housing in Chelsea London for my orientation. IES Abroad is the program that I chose to study through while here in London and they are the ones who help me and guide me during my time here in London. Since I chose the direct enrollment plan with Mountview, IES is a bit more hands off than they are with some of their other programs here and allow me to pretty much live my time here in London on my own. When I got to the IES Student Housing building I checked into my room and showered. After that I met Claire Kibblewhite, my Direct Enrollment Manager and the person with whom I email during the summer with all my question. It was nice to finally meet her and put a face with the name.
After I met Claire and was heading back upstairs to my room, I bumped in Kelly Reilly, one of the girls I would be studying at Mountview with. After meeting her, she introduced me to another Mountview student, Kelly McCue, one of her best friends and freshman roommate from college back in the States (both of them are currently sophomores). Once we got the awkward meet and greet over with, the three of us ran out to get Pay-As-You-Go Phone planes since Claire said that we had to have a UK phone number during our semester here. My plan is really weird and I totally do not understand how it works. It is a international plan and basically includes calls to the States at 5 pents a minute, calls within the UK at 20 pents a minute, and all text messaging at 15 pints a message…how is it cheaper to call home than call my next door neighbor? Crazy, I know! Anyway, we got our phone plans and then decided to eat at this pancake house called My Old Dutch. They have really weird, thin pancakes (almost like crapes) and they serve them with toppings like ice cream and sprinkles. After we ate, we headed back to the IES center where I met the fourth and final person studying abroad at Mountview this semester and my roommate for the next few days, Evan Faram (currently a senior). Right after we all met we had to go downstairs for a building meeting so that the staff to explain some rules while we were living here. We all walked in and sat down and then this girl, also studying with IES through the Direct Enrollment program, walks up to me and says “You go to Tulsa, don’t you? You are that Refer Madness Guy!” I was like “yeah, I’m sorry, do I know you?” We got to talking and basically there is a girl from Tulsa, Erica Griest, who is in the same year as me back at TU and saw Refer Madness last spring! How weird that we had to travel over 4,000 miles to finally meet each other! Crazy! We talked for a little while and then the meeting started so we decided that we would hang out the next day just to talk. After the meeting the four Moutview students all sat in Evan and my room for a couple of hours just talking about who we were, where we were from, shows we’ve been in, etc. After a little while the girls mentioned that they really wanted to go to the bar and get a drink (since they are both 19 and hadn’t gotten a beer here yet). We all got dressed and found a pub and drank to our time here in London. Watching those girls order drinks was so funny (I now know how Ellen felt when I first arrived and she laughed at me as I bought my first Guinness legally!). After a couple of drinks we decided to turn in since the Kellys and Evan were still extremely jetlagged from their trip.
The next morning we had to be up in time to make it to the only real meeting that we had for ISE Orientation. They described in more detail about our program, what was expected of us, London and the areas we would be studying in, and opportunities to take advantage of while here. After the meeting, we all broke for some personal time and so I decided to hit up the post office right down the street to send off a few postcards and then McDonalds for free internet! Internet around here is not cheap so you find the free spots fast! A little later on in the day all the direct enrollment students, aka those attending Queen Mary and Mountview, traveled to London City Centre to explore! We walked around for a little while and saw Westminster and the bell tower and also grabbed dinner at a nice little restaurant…basically the only one we could find open at the time. After dinner we all headed back home to just relax. Going stir crazy in our London student housing, Evan and I decide that we have to do something and so we make the plan to head to Buckingham Palace because…well why not, we’re in London! So we grabbed the Kellys and the four of us headed off to see the Queen. She wasn’t in. Last time I went (Senior year of high school) it was dark so it was nice to actually see the entire building this time. We all walked around for a bit and then decided that we should find a bar and what better a bar for a group of theatre people to drink at than The Shakespeare Pub! We all sat around just talking and hanging out and having a really good time. (That is what drinking is suppose to be about: social drinking. You don’t have to get wasted to have a good time and so many back in the States…me included at times…just want to get wasted. I wish that America would adopt the European mindset when it comes to alcohol and not drink to get hammered but to drink in a more responsible manner…but I don’t see that happening when so much drinking has to go on illegally while the drinking age is 21…but that argument is for another time. Anyway…) We decide that since we all had a few and weren’t really sure how to get home…but still wanted to stay out…that we would move the party closer to our housing. On the way back, the girls spotted a bar that was allowing girls to get in free and so they decided to go in and told Evan and I it was alright for us to go on without them…so we did. We went to the pub right down the street for just one more drink. After that drink we started headed home and came across a theatre that was playing Rocky Horror Picture Show. Since Evan had just finished a production of the show back at school last semester he said that we had to go in to check it out. It was interesting to see all the people dressed up and dancing…during all the numbers. If only I had watch it more in my youth I could have joined in! After the movie finished, Evan and I headed back to the student housing, checked to make sure the girls made it in, and then went to bed.
On Saturday…I just needed some coffee to start my morning off, that’s all. Today was the day we were all heading for Guy Chester Housing in Muswell Hill and I would finally have a place to settle into. We got to Chester House, were shown around the place, and I finally was able to unload by luggage that had been packed up since I left the States. Chester House is in a really nice area and isn’t such a bad place to stay in London. The house is run by the local Methodist church and provides breakfast and dinner during the week and breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the weekends. I also have a single room so that is a definite plus. The only down side to being here it that since they are run by the local church, no alcohol is allowed in the rooms. A couple hours after getting to Chester House I hear a knock on my door. I open it, hear a laugh, and then Evan says, “I know I’m still a little hung over but do you wanna go grab a drink at the pub?” So off we go to the pub. The local pub in Muswell Hill, O’Neals, is an Irish pub and the coolest pub I’ve ever been in. It is an old renovated church that is just incredible…but closes at midnight (all of their pubs are weird and even on the weekends they close at midnight…but the clubs however just don’t close!). After closing down one bar, Evan and I headed to this crazy club in Muswell Hill that was sketchy! After a shot or two we decided to head out and turn in for the night…I mean, it was almost 3 A.M. in the morning.
On Sunday I finished putting my room together and went grocery shopping in order to make lunches for during the week. I also shopped for school supplies and got ready for my first day at Mountview! I also went to a Mountview mixer at the Duke, a bar right around the corner from Mountview. It was nice to just talk to some of the students face to face and get a feel for what I was about to throw myself into. Oh, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store!
To see my pictures of London so far look on Facebook or copy and paste the following link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2023713&id=1511280430&l=5aa58b0c31