So I have told you about my triumphs and a few of my mishaps here in London. Well, now that I have been abroad for 53 days and have made it through the entire month of February, I still don’t have the hang of it. I am going to share in some of my hilarious adventures over the past week.
So I have been taking Nutritional Anthropology and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford every Friday for the last 7 weeks. To make it to Oxford by 10 am we have to leave London Paddington Station at 8:22 on the Express Train. It takes one hour to get from London to Oxford and if we miss this train we have to catch the next train at 9:22 which means we miss the first class from 10-11. According to our professors, the students from last semester missed the train and were very late. Needless to say it is not acceptable to be late at Oxford or miss class and they were not pleased. The people in my program and I have done a great job on getting to the train on time and we didn’t understand how it was even possible to miss the train. We spoke too soon.
From my student living building, we take the Circle or Hammersmith and City line at 7:40 to make it to Paddington by 8:15. There are 9 stops from Liverpool Street Station and Paddington Station which takes about 20 minutes on the tube so it’s important to catch an early train. Now the story begins.
On 22 February the Circle and City lines were “severely delayed”. That is not something you want to wake up to on Friday morning when you have class at Oxford. So we make our usual trek to Liverpool Street Station and wait for the tube. It couldn’t have been that delayed right? Well at the last minute I remembered I left my train ticket back in my room… Needless to say I was stressed. I ran back to my room praying I would still make it on time. Now I was in a state of sheer panic. When I finally made it back with my ticket, the tube had just arrived. Yes, I had time to run back to my room and grab my ticket before the train arrived. I think they were right when saying there were severe delays. This is about 8 am at this point and we still had hope to make it to the station on time. Unfortunately for us, we made it to the station at 8:23 as the train was departing. WE HAD MISSED THE TRAIN. Now I had exceeded panic and went into hysteria. I couldn’t miss Oxford!!! We were supposed to take the 9:22 train and get to Oxford by 10:30 and to our building by 11. Being the bright students we are, we negotiated with the ticket office to let us on the 8:50 train. Since it was not our fault for missing the train but the unreliable public transportation, we made the next train without having to purchase another ticket. We got to class by 10:15. It was a miracle. I guess it worked out but dear goodness my heart was racing the entire day. Morale of the story: public transportation is unreliable and only wonderful when it works.
My other humorous story comes from my day trip to Eastbourne. Eastbourne is a lovely city on the coast of England (South East closest to Europe). Midterms were over for most people and many people in the program took a trip to Scotland or Paris, so only a few of us were left in London. So a few of my friends and I planned a day trip to Eastbourne and to see Beachy Head, a cliff overlooking the ocean and a lighthouse. It was going to be a perfect day. And it was, but it did not come without it’s struggles.
We left London Victoria Station at 12:17 pm on 28 February and arrived in Eastbourne around 1:30 pm. We knew we would need a bus to get out to Beachy Head so we asked the ticket office where to find a bus. He informed us that we could catch a bus from the pier. Not knowing the pier was a 5 minute walk from the station, we asked 3 different bus drivers if their bus would take us to the pier. After many strange looks, one bus driver sold us a full day bus pass and took us on our way. Well we stayed on the bus for longer than we were supposed to and ended up 10 minutes in the wrong direction. It was rather silly of us but then decided to walk back towards the pier. We took a detour to the ocean and decided to make the most of our bad decision.
When we finally made it to the pier, we found a bus who agreed to take us part of the way to Beachy Head, since that was the purpose of this trip. We drove through town and made it into the countryside of Eastbourne. We were overlooking the town when the bus stops. The driver tells points us in the direction of Beachy Head and we are let off in the middle of a sheep pasture. Seriously. We head in what we thought was the direction of Beachy Head and then finally asked a park ranger if we were anywhere close. He informed us this is not normally the tourist season and no buses went up that way. Our best luck would be to walk and then take a cab back. After finally receiving some helpful advice, we began our walk to Beachy Head.
Now from where we were it looked like the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy can see miles of Yellow Brick road over rolling hills and mountains. That was us minus the yellow roads. I’m sure people in their cars were quite curious as to why 3 girls were walking through pastures, hills, and roads up to the middle of nowhere. It was about 2 miles from where we were dropped off to our “Emerald City”.
Side note: Eastbourne is known as the sunniest place in England. We did not come on a good day. It was very cloudy, windy, and COLD. Just like it always is here in England, but it certainly did not make our journey any easier or more comfortable.
Needless to say after about 30 minutes of wondering aimlessly around the countryside of Eastbourne, WE MADE IT! And it was worth every minute. It did not even matter that it was freezing and windy. The view was spectacular.
The view from Beachy Head!
After our photo shoot, we went to the Beachy Head restaurant and called a cab to take us back down to the pier. Since it was not tourist season, most places to eat around the pier were closed. So we asked a bus to take us back into town because we were too cold to walk. It was there we learned there are multiple bus companies in Eastbourne and our ticket would not work on every bus. So we toughed it up and walked through town to find something to eat. We ended up eating at a fish’n’chips place and made friends with the waiter who has spent a lot of time in America. He had actually visited more states than I have, which made me a little sad. But regardless, we were actually early at this point for our return home. Our train left at 7 pm from the station and we finished dinner by 5:30. So we stopped for tea and hot chocolate and relaxed a bit before heading out. I was exhausted. I felt like a child worn out from a full day of playing, so I slept on the train back. Moral of this story: I should plan my trips better. But hey spontaneity works well for me!
Now that these adventures are over, I have the pleasure of 1 formative assessment, 1 2000 word essay, and 2 presentations for midterms this week. The sad thing is everyone else finished midterms last week and I will have to be locked away in my room for the next week. But after this week my course at Oxford will be finished and I will have more time to explore London. Just in time for some warmer weather! I’m not exactly sure how I get myself into these situations, but it comes with the study abroad life I reckon. To say the least it has been a hard day’s night.