Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First reflections.

My time has been an anesthetizing mixture of familiar and unknown. City is something I recognize, and yet the buildings and streets around me are not quite what I know. Tight buildings together, going up about four or five stories, with street corners and cross walks are familiar. However, on street level you get an alternating mixture of internet cafes, ethnic food “take-away” restaurants, afro-euro hair salons, and convenience stores. At night, they all have those metal pull-down curtains, like you see in New York (on TV). I still get that small jolt of panic when I am walking down the sidewalk on the right side of the street and double-decker buses are barreling down towards me. I recognize tuna fish and baked potatoes, but not together. Hair dryers, yes. Hair dryers with over 10 feet of cord…. who in the what now? Perhaps the British multi-task while drying their hair, and need the travel radius. Oh, and when the crosswalk starts to flash, in American it may say “Pedestrians, you better walk a bit faster if you want to cross,” but if you listen carefully here, you hear a British accent say “Oh, pedestrians, you are so in trouble” as the cars start creeping towards you, clearly irritated because your right of way has already expired.
These days I feel like I’ve spent more time stuck in the web of academic bureaucracy than unraveling the mysteries of the United Kingdom. But this morning, I will receive my golden key into normal life. My student ID card will not only give me access to the University’s wireless network (internet, yay!), but allow me to open a bank account which will enable me to get a cell phone, register for the gym, buy a bus/metro travel pass, get into the Library, and have access to cash (cash, yay!), not to mention get into every building on campus. Luckily, the word “queue” sounds so cool, you don’t notice you’ve been standing in line for an hour and a half.


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