I’ve been in Leeds for over a week now, but my life in the US seems like months ago. Still, I’ve learned quite a lot since I’ve arrived.
Lesson number 1: Always pack deodorant in your carry on. I know that sounds gross, but it gets hot dragging your luggage around, going through security. When I finally arrived at my gate to Manchester, I felt like I just finished an extreme cardio workout! I was certain everyone in the airport was talking about me, so I cracked. I went to one of those overpriced “we’ve got everything” stores and bought a $7 deodorant. Whatever, it was worth it, for I could sit “comfortably” on the plane, knowing that I smelt unbelievably fresh…
When we finally touched down in England, it was 7:30 am (1:30 am Wisconsin time). I’d been up for far too many hours, and I was ready to just be there. I found no trouble in getting through immigration, or finding my luggage. I thought it a bit suspicious because traveling is never supposed to be that simple. We were only in Manchester, and needed to take the train to Leeds, so we started searching for the rail station. That’s when my suspicions were confirmed. My hands were blistering from pulling my suitcase around, and my back was near spasming with that lug of a backpack. I was sticky with sweat, as I tried to keep up with the rest of the pack. I figured we must be close. Finally, we found the sign that pointed us in the right direction. Train Station: 15 Minute Walk: Straight this way! Lesson number 2: never pack more than you can carry. (Added note: see lesson number 1).
Once in Leeds, it took me a few days to get settled, but honestly, it didn’t take long. I have 3 awesome flatmates* and the residences* are are nothing like that at UW. No tiny dorm rooms with 2 people, no sharing toilets* with the whole floor, no dinning hall food. Instead, I have a whole room to myself (it’s quite large because I live in the handicapped room, which I feel a bit guilty about…) and only share the bathroom with one other person! There’s also a spacious kitchen in the flat. Too bad I don’t know how to cook…
Like I said, it was pretty easy to get settled in. I had been to the store several times to pick up food, and pillows, and sheets. Even had a beer or two at the pub. Things didn’t seem that expensive: 2 pounds, 3 pounds, 15 pounds. Whatever. Then I went to the ATM to get some cash. I thought I’d take out about 60 pounds because using a credit card doesn’t always work. A message popped up on the screen; 60 pounds is the equivalent to $98.75. WHAT?!!! Lesson number 3: Do not think of the pound is the same as the dollar.
My 4th and final lesson I knew before I even learned it. Still, I wanted to test it out for myself. Stupid, I know. You know how they say never plug an American hair dryer into a European electrical outlet? Well, I thought maybe I’d give it a try; I didn’t want to buy a new hair dryer if I didn’t have to! There have been plenty of horror stories about people getting electrocuted or starting their rooms on fire because they tried to do this. However, I ignored those stories, hoping for the best. I plugged it in and nothing happened. Okay, this might work! I thought, ready to dry my sopping wet hair. As soon as I turned it on, however, there was a loud POP! and the smell of burning plastic filled the room. My hair dryer was completely dead. I figured that would probably happen, and didn’t think much of it. I thought I’d run into town the next day and buy a UK-friendly hair dryer, and let my hair run wild for the time being. However, about 3 minutes later, my flatmate knocked on my door. She asked if any of my electrical sockets were working. Turns out, none of them were. In the whole flat. I burned out the whole electrical circuit with my bloody* hair dryer! We had to call the warden to come fix the circuit for us. I hid in my room while he was here, and told my flatmates to blame it all on me-the stupid American. Lesson number 4: DO NOT plug in your hair dryer!!!!
I’m sure I’ll have more lessons to learn. Uni* started on Monday, so perhaps the lessons will be a bit more formal. I have a lot of free time though, I only have class on Mondays and Thursdays. So, for some unexplained reason, I signed up for the Leeds Half Marathon on May 13th, and have started training with two girls that live in my block*. I’ve run 2 half marathons before, back when I was fast, fit, and 14. We’ll see how my 20 year old body can handle the distance training. Though, it’s pretty easy to run 5 miles when this is what you get to look at…
Anyway, I love it here. Though, there are a few things that I miss dearly, like snacking on Sun Chips or Gold Fish or watching TV on an actual television. But I can do without all that stuff for 5 months. For the time being, I’m enjoying myself in Leeds! (:
*bloody=term used to emphasize anger/surprise
*Uni=class, school, college, short for University
*block=college dorm floor