Playing the Part of a Tourist
Since arrival, I have been pretty busy. Monday was my first day of waking up in London, so I took advantage of my free morning to go out and explore the city a bit. I really had no destinations in mind, so I left my dorm and went to the Baker Street underground station to add a 7-day travel card to my Oyster and then saw that the Westminster stop was right on the Jubilee line, so that's where I decided to go. I think Big Ben was a good choice for playing the tourist again.
It all of a sudden hit me as I was walking across the bridge amongst all the tourists that this is something I am going to be able to see all the time. I soon won't be a tourist in this city, but an actual resident. I got emotional as I realized that this is going to be my home. I am alive and thriving in London! Many people visit this city, but few get to stay and live there. I was so happy at this thought until a woman pushed a flower in my face and tried to make me take it and give her money as charity for the children. I was proud of myself for saying no and pushing through until she got the hint and left me alone. In the past I would've given in and paid her to stop annoying me, but I've grown a bit in my aggressiveness towards street people.
I spent the rest of my day walking around towards Westminster Abbey, St. James Park and Horse Guards Parade, tried to sneak a peak at Number 10 Downing Street (which was closed off, I thought it was easy to get a look... the Prime Minister must've been in his office with maximum security in place). I was getting a little tired of this area, so I stood at a bus stop and took the first bus that came to wherever it was going. Turned out it was going to Camden Town, so I got on and took a very long, traffic-filled ride to the Camden Market area. I got a bit annoyed at how many people tried to shove their CDs in my face here as well, and after walking around there, left to area to head to the shopping district.
I was so happy to be back taking the Tube again. It had been so long since I last got to use my favorite form of transportation. I can't wait until I get my student Oyster card so I can ride them at a discount. In the shopping district, I was a bit bad and went immediately to Primark. At first I wasn't going to buy anything, but after getting sucked back into Europe's version of Forever 21, I got out of there spending a little under £20. This was enough to satisfy for me awhile until my financial aid money comes in.
I headed back to the Marylebone campus for enrollment and to get my student ID card. At this point, I finally got to meet Allison and Taylor (check out her blog, it's lovely!), two girls who I've been chatting with online before coming to London. It was a major weight off my back to finally be an official student at this school, and get to claim the perks of being enrolled, which include getting my student Oyster card and a bank account.
Today was the first orientation day and it was much more relaxed than I was expecting. I was glad there wasn't a lot of annoying icebreaker games and obvious information thrown at us. It was very interesting stuff that was good to know, and the meeting of new people was less intense than I'd assumed it would be. After the sessions, there was a walking tour of the Marylebone area, and it was great. We didn't even really walk that far, but in that 1.5 hours, we walked down a lot of side streets and parts of London I had never been to. I learned a lot of history about the hospital where the royals are treated, the church poet Robert Browning was married in, a former home of Charles Dickens, and a tiny flat where a major sex scandal happened. The day ended at the International Student House, where there was some food and socializing, but I was ready to head back to the dorm to relax.