Today I learned, that I need to get an umbrella. Or, as the British slang would say, a “brolly.”
Finally had the traditional English day. Woke up to a gloomy, rainy, chilly day. Which meant my outfit planning needed to be careful (did not think about waterproof shoes when I was packing, naturally). Not to mention I needed to look stylish for INTERNATIONAL ORIENTATION!
To add on to the style thought, I have no idea how to keep my black jeans from fading. I was wearing five different shades of black today. Beatniks would judge me.
Back to the rain – I have a ten/fifteen minute walk to the train station depending on how peppy I am feeling. Today I trounced it with protection only from my oversized, man jacket. A relic from my trip to D.C., where some guy left his John Wall jacket in the bar and I… accepted his generous donation. Needless to say, I did not look cool, and while I was mostly dry, my jacket was wet. And wet stuff stinks. So there I was at orientation: alone, smelly, and in an oversized, unstylish jacket. Frump city.
To top off my delightful appearance, I learned dropping a muffin all on yourself and the floor is a surprisingly good way to meet people. Allowed me to meet a nice girl from Hawaii. After a chat with her, I learned that everyone apparently is confused. It makes me feel so much better because it isn’t just me. We are all equally lost; secretly wishing King’s had a magic packet of information neatly put together for our convenience.
The official greeting to our orientation went as most would, I think. Vice Principal came and gave a little speech. I noticed she said “there” at least once every two sentences. That is not an exaggeration, there. It was just a strange habit she seemed to have rather than saying, “um,” there. She was full of school spirit and greeted us with a congratulations for being the best of the best. Which, of course, made me incredibly uncomfortable. This portion of the VP’s speech went something like,
“Congratulations. We have a very competitive program. Not everyone gets into King’s, but you all did. You all beat out other applicants and are the best of the best. We hope throughout your learning you continue this way and grow.”
That is not an exact quote but the idea is there. I am not competitive and still quite confused that I was accepted, so this speech made me think, “who the heck did I beat? Was competition low this year? Scraping the bottom of the barrel in the Classics?” Regardless, she was very much pumping up the prestige of the school.
Fun fact: King’s is the fourth oldest university in England. It was founded as a reaction to University College London. UCL was a secular college, so King George IV and Duke Wellington decided to found a college based on the church. It’s why there is a chaplaincy at King’s. *the more you know*
Then, the student union VP came to talk and give us a super amped-up speech about getting involved. He had this professionally done video (admittedly very cool) and was so excited, he was fist pumping (I am quite serious) in the background while it played on the projector. I’m on the fence as to whether or not he was on cocaine.
During the small group session, I learned that Cockney was built as a rhyming slang. The speakers would leave out words that rhymed. Let’s see if I can make sense of the example he gave via text…
A Cockney person would say, he’s telling “porkies.” Short for pork pies, and used because it rhymes with lies. Or he might say, “I’ll take the apples.” Short for apples and pears, which rhymes with stairs. I don’t understand it, but it makes me laugh. I mean, who was the official creator of what words would work? There are a lot of rhyming words. And having stairs called apples just because it rhymes with pears is strange.
While the day wasn’t bad, I couldn’t help feeling like the stinky, unpopular kid. I sort of shuffled from group to group. No one really stuck with me, while most others were buddying up and staying together. It is so weird to start over in this way again. Lunch was terrifying. I felt like I was in a generic high school film, where I have to weigh the options of what table I can sit at – or whether I will be forced to eat alone in the bathroom. Instead of doing that (though it was a close call), I once again attached to two girls and sat with them. They were also Americans. One from Atlanta, the other from Boston. Conversation was not bad… but it wasn’t stimulating, either. It was very awkward and I did not stick with them after we left the cafeteria.
The person I finally ended up spending the day with was a girl from Toronto, who was in my small group session. She sat off by herself and I made a point to talk to her, and asked if she was shy. She said she was, but I have no idea why. She was very smart, very pretty, and funny. A bit awkward like me, though. Her face reminded me a lot of my middle sister’s. I think if anyone else saw her they would disagree, but something about her features just reminded me of Mindy.
Anyway, we sort of just created our own loner group and it was nice. After the main orientation was done, we walked over to the Strand campus to search for our department sections. It took us awhile. Lots of walking through narrow corridors and stairwells. The inside of the Strand building makes me think of Hogwarts. So many staircases and twisty off sections leading to who knows where. We FINALLY found our department sections (mine, Classics; hers, Philosophy) which were near each other. And both equally tucked away in the far corner of the building. I have zero confidence in being able to find my way back to wherever we were. Whoever designed the dang building needs to provide me a map. A very detailed one. Preferably with arrows saying, “Go here, idiot girl.”
When our expedition was over, we went our separate ways. She was going to catch up with her mom, and I was going to… Wander. There was a session with drinks and hors d’erves (did I spell that right first try? Whaaaaat?! Go me) that I could go to and rub elbows with people, but I just saw it as a potential repeat of lunch. Only this time with alcohol involved, so even worse. My luck, I’d start bawling in the middle of an empty dance floor, clutching my half-drunk glass to my chest. Instead, I came home and napped. Such a better idea.
My evening was spent once again not having a complete meal (I’m existing off of random carbs and pastries) and chatting with my roommate, Eley. I’ve decided I really like her. A lot. She is just really down to earth and funny. Example: she talks in her sleep. So she has an app that records her sleeping at night (I know, I was surprised this app exists, too). We listened to one of her sleep sessions and it was weird, but hilarious. She was constantly mumbling. The app also has a section where people can upload their own recordings for others to listen and laugh at. They are ridiculous! One was titled “jibberish song” and was really just some guy singing jibberish in his sleep. It was hilarious. Kerron (Jamaican roommate) joined us later, and we talked about accents and slang. Eley taught me a few Scottish words that she also recently learned (jakey bastard = cheeky bastard, swelly = drunk, sesh= drinking session, beamer = ashamed person).
I need to sleep now, but I’ll leave you with this incredibly British bathroom sign: