After all the work and planning for it, it’s hard to believe I’m actually in my new home in England! It feels surreal, like stepping into a book that you’ve read, as so many things are familiar from all the research I’ve done and photos I’ve seen. Everything is going great! The house I live in is glorious and the neighborhood is spectacular. My room is at the top of a three story octagon-shaped tower from which you can climb a winding staircase to a viewing cupola with 360 degree views of the beautiful English countryside. It takes less than one minute to walk to the Fleur de Lis pub where I had fish and chips and mushy peas for dinner and met a number of the locals. My landlady and I are already starting to bond, as we have quite a bit in common. She took me to the supermarket where I bought some food and a hairdryer, so I feel ready for anything! My new car, a 2004 Mercedes-Benz hatchback, sits in the driveway ready for me to learn to drive on the left-hand side of the road. I did have a few bumps getting here, including a real stickler at the Sacramento airport who made me repack and repack my bags (he was just sure I would have to pay to bring my bookbag which I didn't want to do) so one moment he would say one bag had to be eliminated and I would move things to another bag which then would be a pound or 2 overweight so he would make me take things out which went on for some time, but eventually I made him happy. (I think it ended up that things were right back where I had them when I came, as I weighed my bags on the nurse’s scale at school and knew they weren't overweight, and the United Airlines website said you could bring a "reasonable amount of reading material and an overcoat" which would not count as carry-on luggage). Then there was the drama of almost missing my flight from San Francisco to London. The flight from Sacramento was delayed and didn't get to San Francisco until after boarding time. I had to take a shuttle and then a bus to the international terminal so I was about 45 minutes late and was sure I would miss my flight, but fortunately, the London flight was delayed as well. They had already called my boarding group but I got on with the final group, again having to do some repacking at the gate, which was really stressful and also I had lost my boarding card as I ran through the airport, but they printed me a new one at the gate as the plane was about to leave. Once on the plane, it was great, as Fulbright booked me a business first class ticket. It was amazing!! You could actually lay your seat down flat like a bed, so I got some good sleep on the plane. My head teacher, who is also new to my school and is really nice, was right there to pick me up and drive me around the area a little. My landlady was gone to Brighton with her daughter but she had a worker doing some construction in her garage who let me in and showed me around. He's really sweet and I guess he does a lot of work around here, including tending the beautiful garden. Such a garden!! It has lovely winding paths and little benches here and there that I plan to sit on and read if I ever have time. (I will take photos soon.) All the homes in this neighborhood are beautiful brick homes with lots of character. I walked to the train station from which I can get to London. It’s only .3 miles from the house! I'm told there is also a bus station at the Fleur de Lis, which, as I said, is one minute's walk, so transportation will be really simple. Tomorrow I'll go to school then try to get a few more things done, but things are off to a BRILLIANT start!
|Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas at the Fleur de Lis|