once upon a time, there was a girl named emily. she would prefer to be called woman rather than girl, but that's beside the point. she was sitting on a small plane next to her friend maggie. their plane was flying low over a decently sized green island west of europe. emily was trying not to vomit from exhaustion and motion sickness while the PA system on the small plane was playing a horrible piano rendition of adele's "set fire to the rain".
and that's how i got to england.
the story of how i came to england actually started three years previously to me sitting on the plane while we circled over a field for a while and i tried not to puke. it actually started my freshman year at alma.
my freshman year was a fun time. i was all like, I'M GOING TO BE ON THE SWIM TEAM AND IT'LL BE FUN!
and i was on the swim team. and it was fun. but not as fun as i liked. and i really don't like to talk about it.
the upshot of my freshman year was that i didn't really know anyone except for the swim team. and my boyfriend at the time, who was on the swim team with me. so we set off to this england spring term meeting together in september because, hell, who wouldn't want to go to england?
at the time, i was a chemistry major.
let that sink in, please.
has it sunk? good. it can sink right down into hell.
the meeting was slightly scary. i was still getting used to alma, and here was this professor that i didn't know talking about all of this responsibility and how we'd be in england for a really long-ass time, and of course, preference would be given to junior and senior english majors.
i was an english minor at the time. and totally terrified. so i went back to my dorm room and didn't fill out the paperwork. i was way too scared. and i felt out of my element.
by the end of winter semester of my freshman year, i was a solid english major and i was not swimming again.
the england spring term, actually known as renaissance drama, is offered every two years. in two years, i'd be a junior. and still an english major.
so i waited. you know, strumming my fingers together evilly.
then, two years later, my time had finally come! IT WAS TIME FOR ME TO REAPPLY FOR THE ENGLAND SPRING TERM! i had been told the previous spring that i was going to get into the class no problem. and i was excited. i stole a poster for the meeting, one of the big ones that was covered in england tourist crap, and i tacked it to my wall.
it's still there, by the way. just stored in a closet with the rest of the stuff i leave at alma over the summer.
but it was time! IT WAS TIME FOR THE MEETING!
i missed it. i was in the hospital. for all about that adventure, click here.
i sent a frantic email to dr. aspinall, the professor. he already knew i was in the hospital, i had him in class and had already missed one day of it, and i implored that i wanted to be at the meeting so terribly and that i absolutely needed one of the forms. NEEDED.
jacob, the then boyfriend, brought me one from the meeting, along with some nice notes.
since i went to england, i obviously made it through the application process.
even then it felt surreal, since i'd been waiting so long. i couldn't wait for our other england meetings.
the only thing that i hated; the payments. going to the business office was a fun time. i watched as 4,800 dollars went away through checks conveniently made payable to alma college.
and while i was in england, i had to pay for my own food. glorious.
the england meetings throughout the year began to blur; we talked a lot about the same things over and over again. where we were staying. the working syllabus on what we'd be reading. what we should bring (clothes, general hygiene products) and what we shouldn't bring (hair dryers, which nobody listened to) and how we should dress. how we needed to assimilate to their culture.
how we needed to brush up on politics.
"there will be people in pubs that will ask you why the hell we elected george w. bush. you need to be prepared to answer that question."
i am still not prepared to answer that question. i don't think the country is either.
our final england meeting was full of excitement. it was full of thoughts like, omg the next time i'll be seeing you is in chicago! to fly to manchester! AHHHH!
i mean, i was thinking that. i don't know about anybody else.
chicago, however, presented a problem.
chicago is four hours from my house. people in my class expected that it was close because i live in indiana, but everyone forgets that i live, literally, fifteen miles from ohio. ohio people come our mall. all the time. and i'm not appreciative of their driving habits.
ohio drivers aside, my dad did not want to drive me to chicago. he was very adamant that i would need to find a way there. some of the class was taking a train from lansing to chicago, just like i did when i went to portland with the STD travellers, but that train left before nine in the morning, and lansing is a good two hours away. my parents didn't want that either.
i'd also just gotten off crutches and was adjusting to my new and smaller knee brace. i was worried about handling luggage.
i needed to get my butt to chicago.
eventually, we figured a halfway meeting point with my friend and fellow RA jenny and her dad. we were going to meet in chesteron, indiana, at a mcdonalds.
fitting, the last place i'd hang out in america would be a mcdonalds, right? 'MRRRCA.
that sunday, when i finished packing the last of my suitcase, i had a little hyperventilating session, and then i decided to drive there to calm my nerves. i knew that if my mom drove and i sat in the front seat, i'd be an absolute basket case of excitement and nerves. so i drove and talked my mom's ear off.
when we got to mcdonalds, i went across the street and ordered jimmy john's with my new credit card (the one full of my dad's money) that was coloured like a union jack. i was super proud of it and i couldn't WAIT to use it in england. (spoiler alert, i didn't get to use it there.) i then snuck my vegetarian jimmy john's sandwich into the mcdonalds and ate it there.
TAKE THAT, MCDONALDS.
my mom and my brother and i ate super awkwardly while we waited for jenny and her dad, who rolled up in this super slick VW beetle, and honestly, my first thought was, how does jenny's dad fit in that car?
jenny's dad is a seriously macho dude. we'd met before at an RA inservice. but i wasn't sure if he remembered that.
jenny and i fumbled around with our luggage, which obviously didn't fit in the trunk, while jenny's beefy dad and my tiny mom made awkward small talk and my brother just kind of stood there. i kept thinking about how my mom could never remember jenny's name.
"emily, have you talked... what's her name?"
"emily, what time are we meeting... what's her name?"
"emily, we're meeting that girl at mcdonalds!"
JENNY, MOTHER. HER NAME IS JENNY. AND SHE IS WONDERFUL.
|jenny and i on the thames. :)|
so after we managed to get all the luggage in the car, it was time to say goodbye to my mom. i'd said goodbye to my dad at home before he went to church. he just kind of... appeared in my room and said, "uhhh bye have fun in england."
to which i squealed, "AWWW DADDDDYYYYY" and i hugged him for like, ten minutes until he said, "uh, emily, i'm going to be late for church."
so now my mom and i were hugging in this mcdonalds parking lot and i kept thinking, i'm going to england for a month and i'm saying goodbye to my family... in a mcdonalds parking lot.
the drive to chicago was fun. traffic! jenny's phone being awkward! sitting in the front seat with jenny's dad, who intimidated me greatly!
and going to the completely wrong terminal and having to stop a random airport security guy to get directions.
when we got to the right terminal, it was like all of our class was there at the same time, which was early. there were at least ten of us trying to use those stupid automated kiosks to get our boarding passes. my passport wasn't scanning and everybody got a really good look at my passport picture.
chelsea told me i look like an angry oompa loompa. i do, in fact, look orange. i'm not putting the picture on here because although i don't have much dignity on this blog, i have some.
when we finally got our boarding passes and we went through security, which involved a very long and public pat down on my part because my knee brace decided it wasn't going come off (seriously, this lady had her hands between my boobs and my butt cheeks) we were heading to the gate to fly to the motherland.
the entire class was sitting in a huge group. we talked about what we had packed. who had actually started to read the shakespeare plays. what groups we were staying in at the hostel in york. how excited we all were. i was nervously texting adam and sitting next to andrea, who wasn't saying much. i was trying not to stare at jacob, the recent ex-boyfriend of two and a half years, and thinking about what a fun trip this was going to be, spending a month in another country with him.
it was fine, by the way. i think we spoke five words to each other the entire trip: "bless you." "thank you." "cheers."
(not that i was paying attention. but i totally was.)
we sat in the terminal for three hours. longest and shortest three hours of my life. it was also the fastest i ever drank a starbucks drink. seriously, that mocha frap was gone in ten minutes.
just what i needed for my nerves. COFFEE.
then it was BOARDING TIME AND I COULD NOT CONTAIN MYSELF.
i was sitting next to maggie in the aisle seat. she was sitting next to an elderly british gentleman that was hard of hearing and i assumed that he was heading home. i was expecting a really big plane, but it was smaller than the one that we took to portland. i worried about it getting us safely across the atlantic.
once the plane took off, i almost peed my pants. the next time the plane was going to touch the ground, it was going to be... in england.
the flight to england was relatively exciting and at the same time completely uneventful. the dinner had a vegetarian option, which i enjoyed immensely. when it was time for everyone to start falling asleep, the cute old british man needed to use the bathroom, and he took about half an hour. so i stood in the aisle because i was already tired of sitting. i tried to figure out what was going on in the in-flight movie, which was some awkward action film with justin timberlake and olivia wilde, and they had strange countdowns on their arms. spoiler, olivia wilde's countdown ran out and she died and i guess justin timberlake cradling her in his arms in a dark alley was supposed to be heartwrenching or something.
when the cute old man came back, i sat down and attempted to sleep. i put on bon iver nice and soft because what else is more soothing than bon iver?
nothing. the answer is nothing.
i thought i didn't sleep at all. and then suddenly it was six thirty in the morning and we had an hour left in the flight.
there's a text post on tumblr that says this: "what a great nap, now i'm totally disoriented and frothing with hate."
AND THAT WAS ME.
when i travel and i get hungry, i get motion sick. and boy was i motion sick. the flight attendant gave me breakfast, but when i'm motion sick, i only want weird foods. like stromboli. if you don't know what that is, i feel bad for you.
i'm picking through my breakfast and maggie and i are discussing exactly how pissed off, sick, and hungry we are. we watch as our plane nears this giant island called england. and i'm not even excited anymore because i feel like i haven't slept, i'm hungry, and god do i feel like vomiting.
the plane touches down in england.
how i thought it was going to be: the plane touched down and i was so excited! i stared eagerly out at the beautiful countryside and i was just so overwhelmed. I WAS FINALLY HERE!
how it was: the plane touched down and i closed my eyes and seriously considered throwing up my vegetarian entree from six hours before.
and then... the music started.
as the flight attendant was all like, "welcome to manchester, united kingdom, make sure you fill out your customs form or we'll think you're terrorists" they started to play this piano score over the PA. and i sat there and i listened to it. and i could hear some of our class begin to mumble. and then brandon finally said what we were all thinking.
"is... is this set fire to the rain?"
oh man. it totally was.
the plane is rolling toward the gate and we're sitting on it, in england, while "set fire to the rain" as a bad piano score is playing over the PA.
and i could not stop laughing.
you know, i feel like there's a lot more than i could say about how i sat in my seat and just laughed my ass off at how absurd this entire thing was. i'd been waiting for this moment for three years and i was finally in england, on a plane, about to be here for a month, and they were playing a fuggin' piano score of "set fire to the rain".
what a perfect way to start out my month long adventure in the land of hope and glory.
oh, here's set fire to the rain. if you have no idea what i'm talking about.
GET IT, ADELE.