24 September, 2013

Day One: Customs by Sara McCloskey

We're fast approaching the middle of Week 5 here at the Ithaca College London Center and finally I present to you our FIRST student blogger of the Fall 2013 Semester!!
Sara McCloskey is a Junior who majors in Journalism with a Politics minor and she is also currently interning in London, carrying out marketing projects for a charity. In this blog post she speaks of her experience arriving in the UK and how getting through the UK Border Control isn't quite as scary as she had anticipated...

This day could have been much worse, I thought while fighting the urge to pop the Mount Vesuvius sized blister on my heel. Who thought it was a good idea to buy the shoes that were slightly tighter than the ones that were blatantly too big? Oh yeah. Me.

The line for customs seemed endless. I stood with half a trees’ worth of paper, praying that the customs agent wouldn’t give me a hard time. Facebook had been blowing up all week with questions from other students about Visa papers.

Sweating, I went up to desk 18. A gentleman with gray hair stood there, smiling. How can you smile when you’re supposed to interrogate me about my “work placement,” not my internship because that would be a paid job, or why I am staying here for four months?

“Hello, how long will you be in England?” He said smiling. Why are you smiling?
“I’ll be here for four months, I will be studying at the Ithaca College London Center and I have a work placement with the charity Attend.” Did I really say that all confidently? Do you need any papers? Please, trust me.
“Where will you be staying?” Oh goodness.
“I don’t have a flat, yet, but the address I have for you if for the London Center. It is in Kensington. I hear it’s a very poshy neighborhood.”
“You’re very right, it is very nice there. What are you studying?”
He could tell I was nervous.
“Well, my degree is in journalism in politics so I am taking a few classes in that but I am also taking Shakespeare.”
He chuckled. Stamp. Stamp.
“Alright, you have a wonderful time. You’re all set.” 
“Thank you, sir.”

I found my bag and met my driver, Simon. He is a friend of my stepmom’s. Whenever she comes to London he drives her. Simon handed me his card before we even reached the car.
“I told Michelle I would do this, but if you ever need anything or find yourself in an area you do not know, please call me.”

He gleefully told me everything about London that he knew, from why the English drive on the correct side of the road (knights on horses drew their swords from the left side, so they could fight on the right when another horseman came. Also it was a Papal decision as well; the U.S. and France rebelled after the Revolution), England’s “most undemocratic democracy” as Simon put it (their politicians are actually real people, and are put in their place constantly. They’re also not technically “elected” – the party is elected at the leader of the party becomes Prime Minister.), and how the unexplainable loyalty to the Queen during times of trouble.

It was absolutely breathtaking to see his love for his country. Simon dropped me off at the hotel earlier than the other students were transported from Heathrow. I curled up in a hotel lobby chair, my feet just beginning to burn.

I expected traveling to be the must difficult part of my day. At least, that was what I thought before I had to find a place to live.

To check out Sara's other posts about life in London, check out her very own blog: http://newscityliving.blogspot.co.uk/ (blog posts are not in any way endorsed by the ICLC)

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