London – Part 1: The Trip There & Orientation

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The Hobbit plane from Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand at it’s finest

It is 8 pm on a Monday evening in London. The rain has been coming down off and on all day, I spent a good chunk of the day on the tube and walking around, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have been in London for four days so far, and I still am mentally pinching myself, waiting to wake up and realize this is all a dream.

Wednesday, Rich saw me off at the airport, and for the first time in my life, I went through an international terminal. I had a $16 fuzzy naval at the bar, meeting up with a couple of my fellow students, while we waited for it to be time to board. I think I did a fairly good job of reining in my excitement.

Being Air New Zealand, we – of course – flew in a Hobbit plane, Martin Freeman’s face proudly displayed on the side. (Being the Martin Freeman and Hobbit fan that I am, I had to take the above photo.) Alas, our safety video was NOT one of the Hobbit-themed ones, but rather one with Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. I was in the middle of the middle, so I had no opportunity to look out, and the seats were too tight to be completely comfortable pulling out my laptop. As the plane started to rumble and go off the tarmac at LAX, I admit I got a little teary at the realization that yes, this was actually happening, and yes, I was actually going to London. No one was going to burst in and tell me I couldn’t go at this point.

The UK border via Heathrow.
The UK border via Heathrow

Thankfully, they had a wide range of entertainment options, and after a palpable dinner (I took the chicken choice), I tried getting some sleep – but had no luck, and gave up about an hour before they served breakfast. And I had to take a deep breath of calm when we finally got the announcement that we were at Heathrow. We met up with the contact with Accent (the educational aspect of the internship), and went outside to wait for the coach – where, being the London geek that I am, I did a bit of a squeak at seeing my first official London black cab.

We then went to our housing, which is dorm style. The only issue I really have (outside of not really understanding how to operate the oven) is that the beds are super high, and I am somewhat terrified that I will roll out of bed one night and hurt myself. After a short break, our contact took us on a bit of a tour of our immediate area: found the nearest Tesco (yes, I got excited about a Tesco – thank you, Sherlock, for that), and Boots, and I did a legitimate fangirl handflap when I saw the London Eye on the horizon. The tour ended at the nearest Waitrose, where we all got a few basic food items for the next couple of days, and then headed back to the flat. After unpacking and Skyping Rich, I headed out with my roommate and a few others to try and find a SIM card for my phone (haven’t unlocked it yet). When I got back to the flat, I finished unpacking and accidentally blew a fuse trying to plug in a surge bar. So, the day ended on a bit of a down note, but I was still doing good.

Friday, we went over to the Accent home base, via a coffee shop where I tried my first coffee since I first tried it (got a mocha, and it was a touch too bitter for me). We went through a basic ‘London orientation’ in the morning. We were on our own for lunch – me and three other students went to a French place called Gail’s Kitchen, and I took a photo of my very frou frou lunch, which was somewhat eatable. (The pear sorbet dessert was wonderful, though.) We then went back to Accent, where we met up with our intern contact, and we talked about what to expect and what not to, as well as getting a vague idea of where each place is. We then walked over to the British Museum for the Cream Tea, which was brilliant. (Thank you, Cabin Pressure, for making that my go-to word for describing these things.) I tried the English Breakfast tea (again, not a tea drinker, but knew this was something I had to do). I then headed back to the flat, where I caught up on e-mails and did a few errands.

Next up, our trip to Stonehenge and Windsor Castle. You can see photos I’ve taken so far over at my Flickr account.