I have been slack about posting, but for good reason!

To be fair, I have been a busy, busy bee! I got all moved in to my dorm/room in the residence hall last weekend. I’ve spent all of this week trying to settle in, as well as attend a week’s worth of workshops, seminars, etc… for the international students. I’ve also been running around trying to take care of things related to finalizing my visa, getting ready for my classes/getting fully registered, and just basically gearing up for this school year. In addition to that – let’s face it… I’ve moved to a new country AND am in a part of London that I didn’t know very well (I’ve visited Greenwich once,) so I have been trying to get out every day and explore and familiarize myself with my new “hood.”

Let me just go on record as saying that I am completely blessed beyond measure to be here – and this place is absolutely beautiful. Just a few steps from my residence hall lies one of the oldest parks in London – and one of the Royal Parks at that! Greenwich Park. It’s huge, lush, green, and gorgeous. Oh, and there’s this little ‘ole thing called the Royal Observatory up atop this pretty steep hill where there lives a thing called the Prime Meridian… but also, it’s one of the best vantage points to look out over all of London. And this is literally at my back door, people!!

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View from atop the hill at the Royal Observatory, overlooking Greenwich Park and showing a view of London near sunset.

Then if I walk the other direction towards downtown and the Cutty Sark area, I can get the most splendid views of the Thames… where I can sit and watch the boats glide past. It’s really quite calming for me! I have a feeling that will be my “go to” place when I am feeling stressed!

Sun setting over the Thames as I look out over the water, and out at London.
Sun setting over the Thames as I look out over the water, and out at Greenwich, London.

The campus itself is, of course, strikingly beautiful. The history one feels when one strolls along past these buildings… some of which were designed/built in the 1600’s… well… it’s pretty awe-inspiring for sure! I’m beginning to get a handle on which building is what, and I feel confident about where my classes are to be held, so that’s a good thing!

University of Greenwich campus
University of Greenwich campus

And I’m really loving my actual residence hall, this old building has a lot of charm. I have an exposed beam in my ceiling, as well as some brilliant storage up in the rafters over my en-suite for my luggage. Even our mailboxes are adorable! 🙂

If anyone ever mails me anything, this is where it will go!
If anyone ever mails me anything, this is where it will go!

I’ve even begun to personalize the place a bit – make it look a little more like home. 😉

It wouldn't be Janni's room without a little geek/nerd culture!
It wouldn’t be Janni’s room without a little geek/nerd culture!

And I am learning ways to save money. For instance, I can use a kiddie bowl to have my cereal out of in the mornings and it makes a box of cereal last a WHOLE lot longer (smaller portion sizes.) I can also look for meals/food that’s near its expiration date at the supermarket and get it REALLY cheap (just have to be sure to eat it in time!) I have to find every way I can to cut costs!

Breakfast of frugal uni students!
Best breakfast for this frugal uni student!

And speaking of money – I am hard at work perfecting my CV so that I can get it out there and try my best to find a part-time job. I am only allowed to work up to 20 hours a week on my Tier 4 student visa, but I need to work every bit of that if I can. I’ve got to earn as much money towards next year’s tuition as possible! I am also still looking into any scholarships that might be out there that I haven’t found yet, so if anyone finds any – please forward the information my way?

I’ve had a lot of start-up costs – many of which were unexpected (I guess I SHOULD have expected some of them, but just didn’t.) Any time one moves to another country though, I guess one will run into things they didn’t count on.

I still have my GoFundMe campaign going if anyone wants to help out there – it will go towards next year’s tuition, etc…

I could also REALLY use gift cards! Especially to places like Sainsbury’s, Waitrose… I get groceries from those places. 🙂 ALSO – THIS IS A BIGGIE: Gift cards/certificates from Amazon.co.uk are also quite useful! (One can find darn near anything on Amazon, and I know I will be needing more books for school in the coming weeks and months… Amazon’s a GREAT resource for those because I can get them cheaper than I can in the school bookstore!) I also shop at ASDA (which is like Walmart here, it’s owned by them, actually…) but sadly, you can’t get gift cards for ASDA online anymore, according to their website. So… anyway… I’ve had a few people ask if there were ways they could help, or which particular gift cards might be handy – those are all good ones! One other gift card possibility might be Argos (they pretty much sell anything and everything… reminds me of the old Service Merchandise types of stores we used to have in the states years ago, where you put in the catalog number then go pick it up at a counter…) I have bought things like my printer, and my small desk fan from them. Argos is right next door to ASDA, and just a short bus ride away, so it might be handy now and again. But the other places (like the grocery stores and Amazon for my textbooks) would be much higher on my personal preference list. 😉

Many of you have asked about a mailing address for me as well. I don’t really want to post that here on the blog, but if you know me and would like to send me something, just drop me an email and I will be happy to give it to you!

Well, I guess I will close for tonight. It’s been a busy week and I plan to kick back tonight and get some rest. I will be working on my CV this weekend, and hoping to try and find a part-time job as quickly as I can. That will be the focus for this next week for me. It will be Freshers Week (and since I have sort of already had my own kind of version of that with the international students welcome week, I think I can skip a good bit of it. LOL!) Right now, I need to focus on the job hunt so I won’t have to worry about it as much when classes begin.

Until next time… signing off from breathtaking London!

Janni

 

I’m here! London, I have arrived!

Flying over the UK at dawn...
Flying over the UK at dawn…

After about a 24 hour travel marathon, I’m now safe and sound in my London hotel room. I started out leaving the house around 6:20 am on Sunday, then a friend took me to the local airport shuttle place, where my bestie surprised me by showing up to send me off as well! The shuttle left around 7:00 am, and we were off from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport. We arrived around 9:00 am and my flight was to leave at 11:25 am (which it did.) It was a smooth flight to Boston’s Logan Airport where I had about a five hour layover (and yes, I found a place with some GREAT chowda! No WAY would I leave Beantown without some chowda in my belly!) until my flight from there to London’s Heathrow Airport departed just before 7:30 pm. Once again, it was beautiful weather and a smooth flight – I’m SO thankful! We arrived SUPER early this morning (I was still on EST, so my internal clock was hating me… it was like 1:45 am in my head, but it was 6:45 am local time here in London!) After standing in a pretty swift-moving line to check passports and visas for non-citizens, I was off to collect my obscene amount of checked luggage. Thankfully for international flights, your first bag is free. The next is $100. I was able to check my carry-on at the gate for free as well, so that was a bonus! The hard part was loading up three suitcases and a very heavy backpack (loaded to the gills with laptop, tablet, chargers, books, personal belongings, etc…) onto the luggage cart, and then getting it out of the airport and out to the taxi stand. The line for that also moved quickly and I was blessed with the most courteous, compassionate driver! He loaded all of my luggage (wouldn’t let me touch a thing) and then when we got to my hotel and he discovered there was not a porter AND they had a revolving door… he simply turned off the cab and said he would bring my bags inside for me! That’s going above and BEYOND the call of duty right there!!! And trust me, I tipped him nicely for it, too. I so appreciated him!

The fun part was getting all of those bags to my room. I am on the first floor, but it’s up one floor from the lobby and the lift is very narrow. The front desk clerk gave me a trolley to put them on, but it barely fit. I had to squeeze my way in. It was hilarious! Then when I got up to my floor, housekeeping was up here doing their thing, so there were trollies all over the hall and not enough room to bring mine through. I ended up just taking them off one at a time and walking them down the hall to my room. Haha! Got in a great workout too, because each of those bags weighs just under 50 pounds! 😉

When I got here, I soon discovered this room’s heater isn’t functional, but the desk clerk made arrangements for a space heater for me (which I use in the winter back home anyway, so I am used to them) and now my room is quite toasty. 🙂 It’s not a huge room, but it’s clean and it’s just fine for me to stay in for a week until I can move into the residence hall. The front desk clerk has been most helpful too! She printed out maps for me to get to places to check into getting a SIM card for my phone, and I was able to get there with no problems. I got a SIM card, and I’m now on the EE network. So far, so good! The girl who helped me in the EE store was also just as nice as she could be. It was the store up in Hampstead. She was most helpful and I enjoyed talking to her. (British people are just the NICEST! I love them so much!) I then had a lovely lunch in a cafe just around the corner (one that I stumbled into on my last visit here and really enjoyed…) and afterwards, I came back to the room. First thing I did was to call my Dad and talk to him for a bit. I wanted to reassure him that I was okay – had arrived safely, and to give him my new phone number. It was great to hear his voice. I wish I could have just brought him with me! (sigh) It’s hard when you’re a Daddy’s girl and you have to leave your Daddy. 🙁 I’ve decided to just stay in and rest up tonight since it’s been a long stretch of travel for me (and I don’t sleep on planes…) I had a hot shower, put on my jammies, and am lying in the bed here – and it’s only just 6:30 pm! Haha! There aught to be a rule against THAT! I figured this would be a nice night to have some tea, read a bit, and catch up on my rest so that I can be in top form tomorrow! We are going to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet tomorrow night at the Barbican!!! I can’t wait! We got tickets over a year ago for this!

I plan to go EARLY tomorrow morning to Primrose Hill and watch the sunrise. Just because I can. I love Primrose Hill SO much, and have missed it. It will be nice to enjoy that view. Hoping the weather will cooperate. It has been nice here today, with temps in the mid to lower 60’s (or, I guess I should say… around 18 Celsius… I really need to get used to using Celsius here – but I DID download an app on my phone for that, so… I might be cheating. My Math is not the greatest.)

Since I got my local phone service activated, I’ve been texting with one of my friends here already this afternoon, and… Facebook messaging with others. I can’t wait to SEE them all! It’s been too long!

London… Janni’s back… and she’s ever so grateful to be here!