Orientation and other shenanigans

Ok, so it’s been a while since I posted, but I figured I’d accumulate some sort of backlog of events before I posted anything else. The period between new years day and orientation has been for the most part, extremely uneventful. The most exciting thing I did was open up a foreign bank account. Still took them over a week to activate the account, but at least its free. But I digress.

On Monday the 9th of January, I took my first steps into the University of Westminster. I think from this point forward, it will save time and make it easier if I describe what happened in each of three days individually.

Day 1:

I tried to navigate from the Baker Street Tube Station to the Marylebone campus of University of Westminster. Naturally, I’d prepared in advance and looked on Google Maps to find the location. Unfortunately, their is also something really close by known as the Westminster Business School. At first, I thought this was the name Google gave the building, as it is ALSO the name of the University of Westminsters Faculty, however, upon arriving, I realised this was not the case. As it turned out, they are separate, entirely unrelated entities, curse you Google! After walking in various different directions, I found it in the most obvious place imaginable; across the road from the station. Not one of my shining moments. In my defence, the street signage over here is actually rather poor; they don’t use them at smaller intersections, and place them on the side of buildings. There also seems to be a lack of standardization when it comes to indicating which sign belongs to which road. I arrived 15 minutes late to orientation and missed the niceties and getting to know you. Instead, I sat there for 2 hours taking in information that was, at large, already given to us via email. I was definitely off to a great start. Made no friends, went home. On this day I did however get a shock, as the units I was enrolled in at Westminster were not ALL the ones I had wanted. Panic mode was activated. I was informed that Business units at Westminster were almost full and that it was highly unlikely I’d be able to change into them. At that moment, the words “summer school” rung in my head, as without the specific units I wanted (and thought I had a chance of getting), I’d have to do summer school in order to graduate on time. That night, I went into a mad frenzy trying to work out alternatives to see what I could get credit for back at QUT, and researching how much space was left in each unit (and as suspected, each of the units I wanted to enrol in had a limited amount of space left). I was up until 2 am trying to sort these matters.

Day 2:

I woke up feeling like the embodiment of death. I didn’t need to be at Uni as early as the day before, but staying up late is never a good thing when an alarm is involved the next morning. Despite this, the day turned out A LOT better than expected.

Firstly, I had superb luck with public transport. Someone the day before suggested I got off the train at the stop next to the one I normally do. Normally I would get off at St Pancras station, but on this day, I followed the advice and got of at Faringdon station. The reason for this was to reduce the amount of time it took to get on the tube. At St Pancras, there is easily a 250m+ walk to the tube tunnels, whilst navigating a mass of people. By the time you’ve gotten onto the tube, you will have taken 10 mins. This is actually the way Transport For London, Google Maps, and other automatic journey planners suggest. Getting off at Faringdon however, meant there was only a 10 metre walk to the tube train, which arrived almost instantly. I saved 15 minutes on my journey like that. The luck continued however, when I reached the University, and reached the room where enrolment was taking place. My purpose that day was to make sure details were correct for enrolment, adjust any unit choices we wanted and to get ID cards. I arrived the moment the doors were opening, 30 minutes before the advertised time. Despite my initial thoughts about not being able to get my unit choices, it turns out, spaces were still left in ALL of the units I needed. I didn’t even consider the fact that arriving early would be a good thing, it was very much a first come first served basis. Because of my luck with transport, I no longer had an issue with units. I no longer had to do summer school. This was a good day. Made friends with an American guy(Andy) and a French girl (Agathe); met fellow QUT student, Melissa, who is also studying at the University of Westminster this semester.

Day 3:

This day wasn’t truly a day of orientation. This was the day of the amazing River Thames Boat Party. At first I didn’t want to go, but I’d feel bad not going to a boat party that someone had obviously put in a lot of effort to organise + give us free tickets. 45 minutes before boarding the boat I met another Australian. This is a big deal for me, as in the 3 weeks I’ve been here, I’ve been the only Australian I’ve known to this point. Food wasn’t being served on the boat, so my new friends (inclusive of the American I met the previous day) and I had delicious Subway. Fun fact: they only have 4 kinds of sauces, none of which are sweet chilli. They also only possess 2 types of cheese. Amazing how much difference there is between the Subways in nations. When the boat departed, it was straight to the bar. Most expensive drinks I have ever seen. I was particularly impressed when a new French friend (Estelle) ordered the same drink as I did. Seriously, I’ve never met a girl in Australia who doesn’t drink Vodka like it was going out of fashion. We both had whiskey. Classy. The DJ must have felt pretty horrible, because no one was dancing. That being said, the DJ looked old enough to be my Grandfather, so its quite possible he just isn’t in touch with todays generation. The boat cruised around the River Thames for 4 hours. All in all, it was a swell night.

I start actual classes on Monday the 16th (3 days from now). I look forward to studying in this new environment. It’s supposedly going to get colder, yet I’ve been told this for weeks now and I’m still waiting for snow. Until then, I’m still wearing singlets inside.

I hope all of you back in Aus aren’t suffering in the hot temperatures. I do feel sorry for you all, being located in nice 15 degree weather and all.

Stay classy Aus,

Thomas.

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