Hello from London, England!
I’m writing from my hostel near King’s Cross. It’s a giant hostel, it’s got lots of different, awesome people staying in it, and I’m really enjoying it here so far. When I finally arrived here around suppertime my first night, I could have kissed the floor (I didn’t – bad idea for many reasons), but the lead-up to arriving is the more interesting story so, ladies and gents, I present to you: Sara’s Seriously Tiring (But Brilliant!) Trip To London.
Air Canada, God bless them, offers direct fights to London during a certain section of the year, and my departure date happened to fall in the first flush of those dates. The unfortunate thing about these direct flights is that they’re all overnight, meaning my flight took off at 10pm NL time and landed at 6:35am UK time. A 3.5 hour time difference doesn’t seem that daunting a prospect when you’re thinking about it months before it actually happens, but let me tell you: it sure smarts when you have a full day in London ahead of you!
After my flight landed, I was faced with getting into central London with a 40 pound suitcase and a full backpack, sitting through a 2 hour orientation session, finding food, and finding my way to the hostel. This, you might think, doesn’t seem like too much, BUT! think about what it might be like on no sleep, no coffee, and little food. YIKES! I updated my Facebook that night to say that I was so tired that I could see through time. You can add to that the fact that I was so exhausted I could feel through time, too (though I imagine feeling through time would actually feel far more impressive and excellent if you actually WANTED to do so). Add to all of that a few unfortunate wrong turns, a lot of stairs, and having not showered for almost 2 days, and you’ve got a cocktail for disaster on your hands.
It wasn’t all exhausting and terrible, however: I met some lovely people on my flight, had a smooth experience on the Tube on the way into town, was warmly greeted by the wonderful staff at BritBound, and met and chatted with a bunch of out-going, friendly, fellow BritBounders. Not to mention that the girls in my room at the hostel are stellar and I will miss them all when I leave (Note: I love Aussies and Kiwis. Just plain love).
I am beginning to get settled and such: my phone is all sorted now, and I had my first work-related meeting with BritBound’s “CV Therapist” (my term, not theirs) Justin (who is from Montreal and is fabulous), yesterday. I used my Oyster card for the first time, and was able to navigate without worry. I’ve started looking for flats in earnest, and I’m starting to get a sense of what I would like to do and see over the next little while. Things will feel a little bit crazy and up-in-the-air for the next couple of weeks, but there are also lovely quiet moments, too: I stumbled on a cemetery yesterday morning while I was strolling around waiting for an appointment and had such a peaceful little stroll through it. One of the remarkable things about London is: as busy and loud as it can be (especially in the city center), it also has excellent, quiet little pockets of history and green space that make the noise and haste of the city totally bearable.
Today was a combination of “Sara edits her CV and furthers her job search” and “Sara heads to Oxford Circus and is a tourist for a while”. It seems I’ve also developed a pattern of going through moments of “Oh my God, I definitely made the right decision!” and “Oh my God, I want to be home in Shoal Harbour, in my own bed”. Going from Shoal Harbour, NL to London, UK is… well, I’d say it’s like going from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds, but it’s more like going from 0 to 120 in 1 second – the change of pace of life is INSANE and incredibly tiring, and I’m making a concerted effort to take it easy in order to not overwhelm myself. Central London can be serious sensory overload if you take on too much and I figure if I’m not careful, I’ll burn out before I even get started. Before I left, a friend of mine pointed out to me that it seemed I was coming to the UK more for the immersive experience than for the crazy European and world travel opportunities, and he was completely right – I’ve got 2 years here if I want them, I’m in no rush, and I’ll do a lot better if I take an efficient, measured approach to my work and travel life.
And so, there you have it – my first (somewhat all-over-the-place) update from London. The next update will be a bit more coherent, I hope, and may include pictures! Because, ya know: pictures or it didn’t happen, right? Right.