So I’m here…
And let me just start this out with this: I have a lot of anxiety. About everything. Traveling, public speaking, driving, talking to adults, talking to my peers, talking to kids, taking the subway/tube, sitting in the front half of a classroom, flying, being late, being too early, signing paperwork, packing for trips, freeway changes…the list goes on and on. I had weird levels of anxiety about this big step in my life and my education, but I was mostly excited to live in this city I’d been dreaming about my whole life. You can imagine how jittery I was getting off the plane. I could not believe that I had actually done this. Me!
And in the 24 hours since I have walked off that big aircraft, I have felt a lot of emotions. A lot. Excitement, of course, but anxiety, too.
To recap: I followed the people on my plane through Heathrow (following signs as well–I love signs, which becomes an issue later) until I found Customs/Passport Check. I said this to a few people: it was like Disneyland times seven. So. Many. People. So I drank the rest of my water (against my bladder’s better judgment) and texted my friends and family. It may have been three/five (Dad and Chelsea are in California, Mom and Haley and Mitchell are in Texas) in the morning over there but I got replies from my parents.
Through the line and off to Baggage Claim, where I thought they lost my bag. Add that to the list of things that I have anxiety about. The line had taken so long that all the luggage was already off the carousel and sitting out on the floor to be taken. I even saw my bag, but my mind told me it was someone else’s. Hey, it was a long flight, okay?
So bag acquired and off to catch a taxi. I assumed I would wait a while, but I was only fourth in line. And then about six taxis pulled up. No worries! My cab driver, Mo, was very nice and talkative. He gave me some advice and pointers and pointed out a few things along the way. It was a long drive and I was almost nodding off. I was so tired! I told Mo I would probably take a little nap when I got to my new flat, but he said that, since it was Sunday, a lot of places close early. So food would win over a nap–not a rarity.
I found my place (spotting a Five Guys along the way in Camden, yay!), checked in, and finally got to see the place. It is small, I won’t lie, but I was sort of expecting that. It was pretty clean, which was good. Bedding, though included, was not impressing me. I guess I am not surprised about that, but it was another thing I was going to have to deal with before getting to sleep (Disclaimer: they’re not awful, I swear, they are just a little old and I am high maintenance). I googled the location of the nearest Tesco, which was very close. I passed a few places I could have stopped for a few groceries, but I decided to stick to my mission. After buying cereal, some snacks, and a water (keeping it extremely simple for now), I walked back home. Round two of the place was much better. Tiredness got in the way of my first impression.
Then I was off to a home goods store I found on Google! Sticking with simplicity, I bought a fluffy throw pillow, pillow covers, a bed sheet, a blanket, and dish soap. There’s a ton of stuff there for pretty cheap, so I will defintely be heading back there if I need anything like that (like another blanket, probably).
It was 5:30–I mean, 17:30, excuse me–but I was so ready for bed. So I showered and read for a bit. By 18:34 (that is, 6:45), I was out like a light. Aaaaand then I was awake at 3 am. Here’s the thing, I had forgotten to eat before I went to sleep (I know, I am mad at myself, too), so it was time for an episode of something on Netlfix and some Frosties (which are Frosted Flakes). Much needed! It took me a little while to fall asleep again, but by the time 9 rolled around I was making good use of my snooze button.
I was supposed to meet some people in my program for lunch, so I got myself ready and made sure I had the right directions to the tube station. I opted for a station a little further so I wouldn’t have to change trains. Leaving early to give myself time to find the place and figure out this Oyster Card business, I headed off into the late morning with my Maps screenshots.
Here is where my love of signs becomes a problem. There are not exactly street signs here. Sometimes there are signs on buidings, but at intersections? Nope, not really. So needless to say I got very lost and went in the biggest circle. As in, even with my buffer time and young people these days being late to things, I still would not have made it or even been fifteen minutes late. Frustrated and anxious, I texted the group I couldn’t make it, and walked back home (since I was basically there already).
I felt so defeated. Like I’d put way too much faith in myself. My brain told me to just go home and cry because I failed. I failed. I missed home for the first time in my life. I don’t know if I would call it homesickness, but it sure didn’t feel good. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I am all alone here right now. My flatmate (a girl from Cal Poly in my program) doesn’t arrive for another few days, and neither does Amy. I don’t know anyone else in my program, and I don’t live incredibly close to any of them. Lunch was my chance to make some friends before orientation, but I couldn’t even navigate my way to a tube station! I really want to cry.
But I have to remember that this is my first day here. Of course, I am going to get lost. Of course, I am going to have doubts about myself. Of course, this isn’t going to be easy. I am forgetting that when I left my flat this morning, I noticed how beautiful this place is. The houses and architecture are everything I love, the park I live across the street from is so cute and full of families, the restaurants and shops that are within walking distance are trendy and exactly what I wanted to be around. I wish I had stopped to take pictures of everything in my panic. It would have calmed me down, for sure.
So I am taking a breath. I didn’t give up by going home to my flat. I am not giving up by watching The Goonies instead of going out there again. I will try again maybe later tonight. Maybe tomorrow. But again. And I will not get so frustrated. Maybe I will just take a walk to soak in my surroundings: the park, the pubs, the cafes, the brick everything. It’s all at my fingertips! Plus, there is a KFC around the corner, thank the Lord.
I have been blessed with this amazing opportunity, and I cannot let one not-so-great morning ruin what is going to be a wonderful adventure. I mean, when have I ever given up on something I wanted this badly and worked so hard to make happen?
Goonies never say die!
Your Perservering Writer Friend, A