Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Longest Post Ever, but I HAVE A HOME!

I am no longer living out of a suitcase. And it is wonderful!!!!

Steph and I packed her car to the brim 2 Saturdays ago and left for Canterbury. And it took roughly a year to get there. A lane had closed on the M5 which meant traffic, then we were fine and then I don't know what else happened but it caused more traffic, so a1.5 hour trip turned into 3 hours. Eugh.

We moved Steph in first. She lives in a town house very close to the city center, and she's on the 3rd floor. She definitely has the best room in the house--it's nice and big with an ensuite sink and a window that overlooks the main street.

After unpacking most of Steph's car, she helped me check in and get my id (international student=no queue!) and move to my place. I live off to the side of campus in the Parkwood community. I lucked out location-wise, my court is right behind the parkwood pub, essential store (kind of like a c-store) and laundry, and pretty close to the path to main campus. My house has 5 bed rooms, 1.5 baths, and a kitchen, so I have 4 housemates: Matt from England, Madeleine from France, Sandra from Spain, and Alessandro from Italy. They are all really sweet. So we got all of my junk out of Steph's car and when we were done it was like having my mom drop me off at IU, only waaaay less daunting because I was due to see Steph again in an hourish for dinner.

My first dining experience in Canterbury was at Cafe des Amis with Steph and her friend Laura. We ate paella (ps they pronounce the l's here) and had margaritas and piña coladas--which were strong, tasty, and expensive. I have learned my lesson. Then we rode a bus to campus to hit up the uni pubs. IU's welcome week has pep rallies and free food events...Kent's welcome week starts with a campus pub crawl--each college (basically dorms) has its own pub, and they take the freshers around and then to the campus club, the Venue. We skipped the crawl and went to the college bar Mungo's, where Steph works, then to the Venue. It was fabulous, we just danced and went crazy.

I went to get room supplies and a few groceries with Steph and Laura, and rushed back to decorate. TADA:

Then Alessandro and I went to Oli's for Mama Haynes's lasagna and strawberry rhubarb crumble.

Psych orientation. I went and toured the building and met people from the psych department, but this was clearly for freshers. At one meeting, they were discussing schedules and taking questions, so I asked about my second term schedule because I'm double booked. I said maybe 4 words--long enough for my accent to become apparent--before the entire group turned around to look at me. British babies. It was funny but weird. Anyway that night though I went out with a group of other international students--Parkwood is basically the international community--and we went to a couple of campus bars.

Me and the roommies went into the city center to get shared supplies--pots and pans, knives, etc. All of us met Steph at Café Boho. The name is pretty descriptive, it's funky with clocks and fringed lampshades all over and it's exactly the kind of place I'd love to work in. We did lunch then shopping, and I left early to make a meeting but I got lost in the city center, which was truly pathetic, and Steph found me and we walked back to hers. She, her visiting friend Ben, and I hung out and watched Hot Fuzz (good movie!). Then we went for sushi, but THERE WAS NONE. Needless to say I found this incredibly upsetting. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself, the one sushi restaurant in Canterbury no longer exists. There's store bought stuff but we all know that doesn't hold a candle to anything fresh.

We settled for Wagamama's instead (still Asian), before getting ready for the Silent Disco at the Venue.
IU has the silent rave, where everyone brings their iPod and listens to their own music, but the Venue gives everyone a pair of headphones with 2 channels for 2 DJs and you just switch to whatever you feel like. It was crazy fun, if you had your headphones off you could tell which channel the majority were on because everyone was singing with it. The fire alarm went off in the club and everyone had to go outside, but no one wanted to leave because it was £5 deposit for the headphones, so as soon as the trucks left, a dj went back in and we restarted the dance party from the outside while we waited to file in.

I got back from Steph's, cleaned my room, went to sort my psych schedule, then chilled for a while. Wednesday night was the school disco--they wear school uniforms through the age of 16 in England, even if the school is public, so pretty much every uni does a mock school dance where girls are encouraged to dress like sluts. That being said, my outfit was tasteful--plaid skirt, knee socks, chucks. I went with my friend Pete and his house mate. We hung out at mine, found out Pete's friend lives literally across the court yard from me, and went for drinks at his place before going to the bar. When we got to Mungo's I found Steph and got drinks, and 15 minutes later the fire alarm went off. We walked around then sort of went back in, but we avoided the main hall and stuck to the Mungo's area. Honestly the school disco was a bit built up--the silent disco was way better. I still had fun, though.

Thursday was the first truly grey day I've had since I got to Canterbury, so I wore bright colors and pink lipstick to make up for the weather. Oli, Steph and I went to lunch, then we met another IU psych major, Roxanne,  and hit up the fresher's fayre to check out the different societies.

That night was meant to be chill--mini pub crawl around Steph's, then a Dexter marathon--but both of the pubs right by her were kinda dead, so the group of us (all Steph's house mates, me, Ben, and Roxy) went to a pub in the city center, the Cherry Tree, and got their Thursday special, the Pig F*. We stayed and hung out until closing, then it was back to my futon at Steph's.

Roxy and I went to the sports fayre and signed up for a bajillion different societies--Kick boxing, equestrian, badminton, lacrosse, and a bunch more that I know I won't join but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I got back and passed out for an hour (I'm smart, so I set an alarm). Alessandro and I hung out a little bit and I ended up going to a party at Oli's house. It was very fun. I learned that you can get alcohol delivered here. Straight to your door. At 11:30 at night. What is this place? Anyway I took it easy and got back for a skype date with Carli. Then Davis. Then Steph came and got me and we slept at hers because we were leaving for London in the am.

We overslept and missed the first 2 trains we had meant to take, so we went to the farmer's market for brunch before the next one. Canterbury farmer's market is so cute. There's a cafe in there that uses all the local produce for its meals, so 95% of the menu is from the surrounding vendors. Steph and I ate life changing sandwiches and beautiful cupcakes.

When we arrived in London we had to go to Islington so Steph could take pictures of a theater for a project. After that she took me Oxford Circus, which is like the Times Square of London. It really was a circus, super super packed. We went to TopShop, which was 3 giant floors of beautiful barely affordable clothing. We also went to Urban (you'd think it'd be the same as the states...it's not, their clothes are better). Then we met the Moore fam and had dinner before going to see Sweet Charity. Such a cute musical! And they all put on really good New York Accents.

After the show we rode the tube to Steph's friend Emma in south London. We stayed in and drank a cider before bed.

We got up, drank tea, and tubed it back to King's Cross. We got sushi (!) at one of those places that has a rotating belt with color coded dishes, so you just take one and the color says the price. It was over priced, but it could be weeks before we get sushi again so I don't feel that bad.

When we got back to Canters Steph went to work and I sat around, then Steph, her housemates, me, and Roxy went out for pub roast dinner before going back to the house to watch Taken (such a perfect movie for two American girls in Europe).

I only have class Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I slept in. I met Oli for coffee in the library, then Roxanne and I went to the city center to buy umbrellas and other stuff. We didn't have time to find any decent umbrellas because we got there at 4:30 and everything closes at 6, but we did get some stuff at poundland (bless that store) and we ate crepes for dinner.

We came back to Parkwood and I went to the first kick boxing meeting with Oli--it was mediocre,  I don't know that I'll join. Then Ale and I went to Woody's for a bit before coming back and watching Glee and Grey's Anatomy.

Today! It was my first day of classes. The first one was Child Development, and the teacher is Scottish--it's funny but I've gotten used to the British accent, so now Scottish and Irish are the novelties. Anyway Dr. Forrester was funny, I think I'm really going to like that class. I don't know what to do about Cognition in Action though. I like the subject matter, but it was a bit of a slow start. And I was super hungry, these classes are 2 hours each and back to back. So I bolted home, inhaled the last of my pita and hummus, and here I am. I don't have the right to be this exhausted, it wasn't exactly a taxing day. I'm going to a comedy thing at a pub tonight with Steph, but until then I will continue to lounge in sweats and maybe make ramen for dinner.

It's been an excellent week and a half, I'm loving Kent. And I'm looking forward to my next two classes on Thursday. But I'm still waiting for this to feel real.

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