Today I have been in England for one week and three days. I travelled to Newcastle filled with fears, hopes, dreams, and big plans, all in one suitcase and body. I wanted to write my first post Tuesday, when I was in England for exactly one week but sometimes it’s not that easy. I tried my very best to write something but I kept deleting everything after only a couple of paragraphs. I wanted my post here to be smart, witty, funny, and inspirational. Instead, I think I will just go with honest. So here we go…what I honestly did in my first week in England (ever).
My flight went well and uneventful. Upon arrival, while waiting for my luggage to appear, I kept repeating the words “ please don’t lose my stuff, please don’t lose my stuff, please don’t lose my stuff” like a mantra. I guess it worked since they didn’t lose my stuff. They lost my colleague’s.
That day I also learned that I should always read the fine print. The Meet & Greet service that promised me someone from the University would come and pick me up was apparently available only for the students who arranged accommodation in the University owned rooms and houses. That, as you may have guessed by now, was not my case. Fortunately, I have the best housemate and landlord ever, and she was more than happy to come pick me up from the airport. When we got home she told me I had mail waiting for me. “Well, that’s weird” I said. But weird was not the right word to describe it, since amazing is a much better fit.
The mail was a small package from my best friends in Sweden, in which they each wrote a letter with all their good wishes for me as well as baked me 4 cookies. I’ve read the letters my first night in England thinking I have the best friends ever. I will miss them terribly but I was happy to know they were glad for me and thought it was a good idea to spend a semester abroad. This small package made of paper, cookies, and good thoughts, is a memory I will always have of my first night in England, when freezing in my bed, I learned how much I am loved and missed at home. Oh, and the cookies are gone. Yum!
Last week was just filled with introductory meetings meant to give us, international students, an idea of what to expect, where to go if we need help, etc. I can honestly say I can find my way around the campus with ease. Everything seemed overwhelming the first few days but after a while you see the logic in things and start to function just like any other student. There are maps of the campus and signs everywhere; and, if that fails, the people are more than happy to give you directions. Which leads me to my next point….
Geordies! Geordies are the people of Newcastle, the friendliest on Earth, the most funny, the best. They speak a very distinct dialect of English called Geordie. It’s Scandinavian influenced (those Vikings…), which makes any Swedish speaker go crazy about it (Ok maybe not every Swedish speaker but it sure interests me).It’s frankly quite fascinating and I hope I will have time to learn more Geordie and write something about it here. The people here are very proud of their heritage and I think they should. Geordies are very funny and welcoming. As a matter of fact, this region is well known for the hospitality of the people here and I sense this every day: when I shop, when I ask for directions, or when I go to a lecture. It’s just a natural wittiness and friendliness they have about them that I love. Sure, people are very nice in Sweden also, but this is another kind of nice- this is a funny, cracking jokes kind of nice. Lovely!
I got to go a bit in the toon, as Geordies affectionately call the town. Newcastle is extraordinary. There is something for everyone and I have a long list of things I want to do. The Millennium Bridge and the Tyne Bridge are amazing, and I want to go see them at night, since they apparently give a spectacular view. Tons of lovely shops and pubs everywhere, and I like to take a walk before going home through the main street, Northumberland Street, and just window browse or go in and take a look inside a bookshop.
Teaching starts next week and I am looking forward to start my classes. Being a tourist is very nice, but I didn’t forget why I’m here in the first place and I’m so excited to see my teachers, hear the first lectures, attend the first seminars, and generally get into the skin of a student abroad.
Looking at this page, it seems my student-abroad-writer’s-block thing passed, so I am looking forward to report back from the lovely Newcastle Upon Tyne. See you soon!
P.S: My colleague’s luggage has been found and sent back to her. We both have winter clothes now and are having a terrific time.