Safe and Sound
Today marks the first day of the rest of my life. (But then again, doesn’t every day? If one wishes to be accurate, there is nothing particularly special about today that differentiates it as being remarkable from any other day.) For those who are just tuning in or who didn’t particularly feel like reading the endless moaning and worrying that has dominated my posts for the past eight months or so, let me welcome you and fill you in.
I, a 23-year-old American from the Washington DC area, after spending months fruitlessly searching for a job in the US, decided to take advantage of the fact that I attended grad school in the UK, and started applying within England and Scotland. Fast forward a few months and I applied (and was granted) my Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa, one of the last people to do so before the programme ended on 1 April. And yesterday, I left the US for London, a one-way ticket in hand and nothing to drive me forward but the promise of something better. As of my departure, I had no job, no flat, and just enough funds to see me through the end of the year. (This last factor, of course, being entirely dependent upon my ability to budget. You will know things are rough if I start posting about my immense pleasure in being able to stretch out 49p powdered soup mixes with canned corn.(This totally happened when I was in Edinburgh in 2010.))
No plan, no problem, right? Well, for me it was a problem, which is why Wednesday night saw me crying on the phone to my friend Alex about how scared shitless I was. By Thursday evening, I had pulled myself together enough so that I completely avoided crying at the airport when I had to say goodbye to my parents. Indeed, as I descended down the escalator towards security, my parents fading from view, the nervousness disappeared and I was instead filled with a steely determination unlike that I have ever experienced before. This lasted for all of two hours, but what a glorious two hours it was. \ Unlike every other time I’ve flown to the UK, yesterday’s trip was broken into two parts. Presumably gearing up for tourist season and the Olympics, British Airways was charging roughly £800 per ticket one-way. (Considering that you can get a round-trip ticket for slightly less than that in the off-peak times, this was ridiculous.) And so I found myself sitting on a 5-hour IcelandAir plane (named, somewhat dubiously, Eyjafjallajokull, after the volcano that caused so much trouble in 2009/2010) bound for Reykjavik.
I had heard good things about IcelandAir and, to be fair, the flight wasn’t all that bad. But considering that I have grown accustomed to the luxury of British Airways, I found it lacking. The seat was hard and uncomfortable, and the cabin was burning up. I didn’t sleep at all during the 5 hour flight and felt like the walking dead as I staggered through passport control. I even believe that I answered all questions with a zombie-like grunt, but cannot be entirely sure. It could have just been my imagination.
Iceland, at least what I saw of it from the terminal window, appeared to be a country of contrasts. Where the airport is located is flat and barren, but I know from the numerous documentaries I watched during the flight that the wasteland gives way to stunning lakes and mountains in the north. I would love to go back and see it in person, but will have to save that for the future. After an hour’s wait in the terminal, I boarded yet another IcelandAir flight named after a volcano for the 3-hour flight to London. This one was considerably more comfortable than the previous flight, and I blacked out in the middle of watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. One moment I am watching the sexiness that is Daniel Craig and the next thing I know I am waking up to Rooney Mara tattooing ‘rapist pig’ on some guy’s chest. At least I got some sleep!
After landing in London and grabbing my bags, I navigated the Tube to my hostel at London Bridge. It is not an ideal situation as I am currently staying in a room with 5 Latvian guys, but it will do for now. I am hopefully viewing a flat in North London tomorrow and have an interview on Monday morning. The next post will probably come sometime on Monday evening, assuming that things don’t go so badly at the interview that I spend the rest of the day under the duvet.
Addendum 1: I ran 7.5 miles around the Thames Path today. Although crowded beyond belief with tourists, it was wonderful. I felt like I was coming home.
Addendum 2: There was apparently a crisis or hostage situation in London today. (I saw it on the news and there were cops everywhere today.) I wasn’t involved. PArents: don’t worry.