My first day started out with me packing at home, fairly early in the morning. I was able to get all packed and ready to leave in only a few hours. Our group planned to meet at the Sioux Falls airport by 1PM to catch the 3PM plane to Minneapolis. At 11:30, my grandparents and I left for Sioux Falls. My grandparents wanted to drive so they could spend some time with me before I left, talk about the trip, and say their goodbyes. Once we got to Sioux Falls, we had to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies — socks and a foreign power converter for my laptop. It took me awhile to make it through Wal-Mart and find what I needed, so we didn’t make it to the airport until slightly after 1PM.
I had never flown out of Sioux Falls and was curious what it was like. I had only flown out of Minneapolis because the ticket prices are usually a lot cheaper. Because of Sioux Fall’s super-small size, getting through security was a breeze. Well, almost….
Although it was really quick to get through security (no long queue lines), I ran into some problems at the security check. I had some liquids in my luggage that were not acceptable. I also had a lot of batteries in my backpack for my camera which they were also alarmed about. I was able to keep the batteries, but I needed to put my liquids with my checked luggage. So, I went through security once more, and they checked me again… and once again I got pulled aside for my batteries. Even though they knew about my batteries from the first time I went through, they had to ruffle through all my luggage again. Eventually, I made it through and didn’t have any problems the rest of the trip.
While waiting for 3PM to roll around, I got to know some of the guys. Living off-campus, I didn’t really know anyone. I only knew of two people on the trip and they were only people I had “heard” of before. Dan Wise was in my freshman success seminar in Fall 2005 and Kristen Grimm was in my Information Architecture class in Spring 2007. So, I talked to everyone about where they lived, their majors, etc.
On the flight to Minneapolis, I sat next to Megan and Dan. It was a short plane ride (45 min), but we talked about plenty of interesting things on the way. At one point we were talking about about relationships. Dan shared his experience with a past girlfriend who was a “witch” (literally, I guess), and suddenly left him for some other guy — totally out of nowhere. Megan talked about her boyfriend — a 29-year old that recently went through a divorce and has 3 kids. She said she knows how strange that sounds. Next, Dan went on a tirade about his “6 billion people” philosophy — how he can’t handle people that get so upset about losing their girlfriend because there are 6 billion other people in the world to choose from. One of the stewardess’ was sitting across from us, and I could tell she was listening in on everything — she kept smiling and almost laughing about some of the things Dan was saying.
When we made it to Minneapolis, I grabbed a bite to each with Marcus, Dan, and Megan at the airport’s Burger King. After some more chatting with the guys during our layover, we were air born!
On the flight to London, I sat next to Megan. We talked a bit more about school, work, etc The flight took around 8 hours. During that time, I tried to fall asleep, but I couldn’t. Every time I was about to sleep, they gave us more food to eat. I couldn’t complain. However, we got to London at 8:30AM — nearly 2:30AM according to my body, and I had to stay up another 10-12 hours. Later during that day, I wish I could have slept.
When we landed, I was itching to hear an English accent. It didn’t take long. Shortly after we landed, a lady said over the intercom with a classic English accent, “Welcome to London-Gatwick.” Next, after clearing the passport check, one of the airport employees began to talk to me. It was just like I’ve heard on TV, hah! I had to go to the bathroom, so after looking around (and seeing they used the term “toilets” rather than “bathroom”), I said to the employee, “Can you tell me where the toilets are?”
Next, we got on the “London Gatwick Train Express”, a train that brought us from the airport to the “tube”. During the ride, I had my face peeled to the window. Everything was so green and it was interesting looking at the house architecture.
After we got off the train, we rode the “tube” (or subway). That was definitely an experience, especially hauling luggage around. It was pretty busy. On the tube, I could see all the English folk, how they dress, and act. Most everyone seemed so quiet and serious.
Eventually, we made it to hotel. I roomed with Marcus and Dan. The room was fairly small and we had to shower down the hall. We also had pink beds, which was very different. The TV in the hotel was also very small, maybe 13″. After settling in, we headed out to lunch…
For lunch, we ate at Marlborough Arms. I wasn’t too hungry, so I had a small meal — “topped chips” (or fries) with cheese & bacon with a J20 drink. It was pretty good.
After lunch, we headed out to Trafalgar’s square. Again, we went through the tube — we used public transportation for almost everything. I thought Trafalgar’s square was okay, there wasn’t too much to see. There were some interesting statues and decorative ponds.
After Trafalgar’s square, we saw Big Ben, which was a lot more exciting. It was fun to see it after seeing it in pictures for so many years. On the way to Big Ben, we went past Downing Street and saw the gates. That was pretty neat. It was heavily guarded by police holding guns across their chests.
Next, we went to Westminster Abbey, which is an old church with many burials and memorials to most of the Kings/Queens of England. It was almost chilling to walk over their graves. However, I was soo tired by this time that my brain had checked out. At one point, I sat down in the cathedral and almost fell asleep.
For supper that night, our group went down to Tesco, a large supermarket in the UK, to buy whatever we wanted. I bought a prepackaged chicken, bacon, and lettuce sandwich, a V8 drink, toffy, and a Dr. Pepper. While eating, Dan and I watched some British TV — a game show and The Simpsons! After eating, we went to bed at around 7PM.
Here’s a funny story: About an hour after I fell asleep, I woke up again. I heard people talking outside and saw it was light outside. I checked my iPod and saw it said “8:00”. I started to freak out because I thought we had overslept. We had to meet our group at 8 in the morning! I thought the people talking outside was our group about they were about ready to leave. I woke up Marcus and told him I thought it was time to get up. He checked his watch and said something like, “Hmm, no, I don’t think so… it’s 8PM, not 8AM.” Haha! I woke up a few more times that night. Getting adjusted to a 6 hour time difference is tough!