27 September 2013
The day before I had managed to get my internet fixed, find the archaeology building, meet a fantastic group of friends, and Trish and I had gotten our passports verified and our mobiles. My To Do List was getting shorter. I still needed to open my UK bank account and today was medical registration.
I got in touch with Charlotte and Trish and went to their flat fairly early in the morning. Trish, Sophie, and I needed to register. We headed over to the Howlands building and were among the first to arrive. I was exhausted from the President’s reception the night before. It had gone on for a long while and I had ended up staying the night at Charlotte’s. I managed to wake up early enough to grab the first bus back to my flat, shower, change, and head back to Howlands before ten. I was glad for the busses. I had no desire to repeat my death march from the previous day. My back was still aching from the heavy bag and the close to six miles I had walked.
We sat in the front row and watched the nurses set up the tables for our registration. They pulled out blood pressure machines and those bins for medical waste. My companions tensed and began to speculate about having blood drawn. We joked that with all the celebrating last night, our blood would probably come out ninety percent alcohol. Their fears were allayed however. Registration consisted of filling out a form, having our blood pressure taken, and that was all. I ran into some trouble however, because I couldn’t remember what vaccinations I had had. I sighed and realized this would be another thing to add to my To Do List: get medical records.
We left the Howlands Building and strolled over to Fisher House. I picked up my bank letters and Trish and I headed into town so I could hopefully open my bank account. Lloyds was packed. It seemed everyone else had the same plan. Trish had been lucky in that she had managed to book an appointment a few days ago and she would be seen the next day. I would have to wait until next Thursday. It seemed like months in the future. I had to tell myself there was no use worrying about it.
We wandered around town and into Wilkinsons. For my American readers, think of a tiny Target store. They have home goods, beauty products, and stationary, but no groceries. We picked up a few items and it was then that I began to hit my tolerance levels. I knew I needed to get back to my room for a lie down. I was feeling exhausted and in need of some recharging.
I helped Trish find her way back and I set off in the opposite direction toward home. I grabbed the bus and once in my room I collapsed on my bed and slept for two hours. I woke to my phone going berserk with notifications.
Sophie had brilliantly started a Facebook conversation and added the girls from our group. It was alight with messages about what everyone’s plans were for the evening. I groggily began typing. There was a DJ event that night at Howlands but I felt utterly incapable of going. I was exhausted. Instead I spent the night curled up in bed catching up on the newest season of Downton Abbey. Now when I say newest I mean, dear reader, that it hasn’t aired in the US yet. It felt so illicit sitting there watching the intrigues unfold knowing that my friends at home would have to wait a few months. It couldn’t be helped though. It had to be done. After I watched the first episode, I went on to watch some Doctor Who.
I finally did what I came to England to do: watch British TV.
September 28 2013
“Green Move Out Sale, pots and pans, kettles, etc. left by last year’s students are available in exchange for a donation to charity.”
Trish and I had decided to head over early in order to see if we could find anything we could use. Being international students had meant it was difficult for us to bring a lot of the supplies domestic students might have packed into bulging cars and driven up to college. It was a battlefield. Students crammed four or five deep reaching onto tables pulling off pots, silverware, kettles, purses, luggage, stuffed toys, printers, electronics, books, EVERYTHING.
Trish and I looked at each other. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Neither of us was feeling particularly aggressive that morning. They were all welcome to it. I would get what I needed in town or online. There was one thing we could take care of though. Tickets for the formal dinner on Friday were for sale at the Graduate Common Room table. Charlotte had given me a tenner to buy her ticket. Trish and I ran into Elena and we all together to purchase our tickets. We were allowed eight at our table. We quickly filled six of those seats, me, Trish, Elena, Charlotte, Sophie, and Sophie. Later we found our other Sophie and told her to get onto our table. We were now the Magnificent Seven.
That night was a Traffic Light party. I had never heard of such a thing but it turned out to be an awkward affair to say the least. You dress in either red, amber, or green to denote whether you are taken (red), uncertain (amber), or available (green). I opted for ambiguity. I had mistakenly worn a turquoise sweater that morning and so Sophie from Cornwall supplied an amber scarf. We stood together and chatted and met even more archaeologists.
That night I walked home. I had planned to get the bus but I found I hadn’t the patience to wait forty minutes for it to arrive. At that rate I could make it back home by the time is arrived at the stop. I headed north and when I entered town I was greeted by an entirely unexpected scene.
Durham had thus far presented a calm and civilized mask to me. It was anything but at midnight on a Saturday. The three or four clubs in town were pumping loud dance music. There were people everywhere dressed in clubbing clothes. Women in five inch heels navigated the cobbled streets and I waited to see one of them take a huge tumble. Beer bottles were strewn on the streets. It was like a whole other place. One I couldn’t have imagined could coexist with the Durham I had come to know.
As I made in north of town, the noise and crowds died down. I made it home and once again, in a routine that was becoming familiar. I collapsed on my bed.