Friday, September 26, 2008

International Students Welcome

I have the funniest friends! You guys are all a riot. Equanimity, I totally forgot about that implication of "dazzling"! Awesome! Joderita, I remember Laura, okay? She's blond and tall (taller than me, anyway). If you really want me to contact her, I will, but everyone stop worrying about the absentee ballot! I'll be fine! Jax: Puh-lease. I can only just barely be bothered to care about politics, and now you want me to care about financial stuff, too? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Hm. Well, I had a big day yesterday. Huge, really.

Yesterday was the International Students Welcome. It was absolutely fantastic. I met so many people! I'll be amazed if I can remember 50% of their names.

I rushed out the door of the hostel with wet hair, and only just barely made it to the school in time. Because I arrived at the last minute, I didn't meet anyone beforehand. The school leaders and the student adviser introduced themselves, then had us talk to our neighbors about how London was different from home, and what our expecations were for the city. So I met the girl sitting next to me. She was from the Basque Country, and I could not for the life of me figure out how to pronounce her name, nor could I remember it all day. Luckily, this morning I woke up and there it was on my tongue. Spelled phonetically, it would be "Oi-yan-ah." Now I won't be embarrassed when I see her again!

We had a 15 min break, and I thought I might meet some people then, but I was too shy...and so was everyone else. It was okay, though, because at lunch, "Oi-yan-ah" and I met an Irish girl (gorgeous accent), then another Irish girl, who introduced us to a Canadian girl, and the circle just kept growing from that. Probably 50% of all the international students are either American or Canadian. The other 50% are literally everything else: many countries of Africa are represented, Pakistan, India, Spain, Italy, Germany, etc.

I had a really great time. It was both a grounding and an energizing experience. I feel like I've been living the youth hostel life for ages, and it's a weird environment to be in. It's like limbo, and everyone else here is in limbo, and I feel unattached to anything. But meeting with my fellow students, I felt like I was able to attach myself to something. Here were people like me, with similar goals and aspirations as me, and in similar situations.

We had sort of mini-lectures until 4pm on topics such as transportation, bank accounts, and safety. Then we had a two-hour break before an optional social event at the school's bar. Now, the school is relatively small, so the word "bar" is to be applied loosely here. Yes, there was alcohol and a bartender and even an actual bar. But the bartender was totally miffed by my request for a "vodka cranberry." My explanation of "It's half vodka, and half cranberry juice" didn't help much. Anyway, like I said, I met lots of people (mostly girls and mostly North American), but at the social event, everyone had a chance to introduce him or herself, and then we played a "get to know you" game that involved finding people who fit certain descriptions. It was stuff like, "Find someone who has a dog. Find someone who can sing."

All of the people there are following 1-year Master's courses, like me, but there are a range of different topics. Some people (the largest contingent) are doing public health, but there's also medical microbiology, reproductive and sexual health, and much, much more. I actually met a girl who is doing the same course as me who is from Seattle! And before coming here, she lived on Capitol Hill! Small world! There are a couple other people from Seattle, as well (one from Mercer Island), and a girl from Berkely. There's a girl from Pennsylvania named Karen (though she's not in my course) and several others from the east coast. I ended staying and chatting with a small group until the "bar" closed. And that's where I learned about the residence halls...

So. A Canadian girl was telling me that she applied to the same residence hall as me back in June, and was rejected (just like I was). When she got to London, she frantically searched for flats/rooms, and then, as sort of a last-ditch effort, she walked into the residence hall and asked if they had anything available. Turns out, they did! She was given a double studio (my second choice on my application after a single studio). I asked her if she did the re-application thing on September 11, and she said no, but that didn't stop her from getting a place. But then I was remembering all the reasons why I didn't want to live in the residence hall anyway: no oven, no freezer, no space, shabby looks. She said the studios were actually really nice, lots of storage space, there is a tiny freezer inside the beer fridge, and the microwave is a combination microwave/convection oven. She said I should show up first thing in the morning and see if they had any left.

So I did. I hoofed it over there this morning and was there at 9:10. I was told by the man at reception (I suspect he may have just been a security guard), that there were no rooms and they weren't accepting any more applications. Poo. I was very disappointed. I knew from the beginning that I shouldn't get my hopes up, but I couldn't help it! I walked back to the tube and rode it back to the youth hostel dragging my feet and with my head low, Charlie Brown music playing in the background a la George Michael from "Arrested Development" (the thought of which made me laugh a little, but I was still depressed.)

But I got the impression that the guy I talked to didn't really know what he was talking about, so when I got back to the hostel, I called the hall. When they established that I did in fact have an application on file (from June), they said there was a possibility I could get a place. The woman said she would call me back later on today. So I'm hopeful! Crossing my fingers and praying, "Please please please!" If I get in, I'll be within walking distance of my school. And I'll be around other students, in the center of London, close to everything, in a fairly posh neighborhood. And though the price is high, it covers all bills, internet, and TV, and I think it's worth extra money to a) live so close to school, and b) live among students while still having my own space, my own bathroom/shower and kitchen.

So now I wait. I would ask you all to wish me luck, but you're all asleep. Poo on you for sleeping at such an important time for me. So selfish.


  1. Is it too late to wish you luck, or did you get the place yet? :-)

    Shame on you for assuming I'm asleep! Of course, I'm *supposed* to be asleep and I *wish* I could get to sleep, but that's not the point.

  2. At first, I was thinking "Why is Kusems going to an International Students event? Aren't those things for foreigners?" Then I realized you ARE a foreigner. Ha! (I'm not laughing at myself, mind you; I'm laughing at you for being a foreigner.)
    Oh -- the guy who said you can't get any housing -- I could tell he was wrong. Assertiveness bordering on aggressiveness will get you what you want. Your response should have been, "Oh yeah, guy? What the hell do YOU know??"
    Anyway, it sounds like you are having a fantastic time! Soon, very soon, you shall have a permanent place to live.
    I have a question for you, Kusems (or anyone else reading this). I know that the neighborhood you mentioned has little to nothing to do with this, but where does Posh Spice live exactly?

  3. HAHAHAHA!!! From what I understand, John, Posh Spice currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David Beckham, who was signed to L.A.'s soccer team a couple years ago.

  4. What is a double studio? Is it a studio for two people?

    I am drinking tea right now. I just thought I would share that with you because you live in England. Cheerio! Tut tut! Jolly good! Brilliant, what what?

  5. (Ms. Petey, that makes me chuckle:D)

  6. And you use poo twice in this blog. Are you constipated perchance? Tea can have that effect, you know...