My first week in London, ehm, Egham

So what happened in my first week in London?

Well… I landed at Heathrow at around 6 in the morning, the 13th of September…

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So that’s me at Heathrow near this restaurant, oily faced, I needed a shower.  The airport is so beautiful and clean and organised and efficient.  I was tired from the flight and I felt cold!!  It was so different and cold.  I had to look for the bus and I found the place to be thanks to friendly by standers.  But …

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The bus timetable as they call it was so confusing! I had no idea how to actually get there, so I just waited for the bus which had a route to Egham and hopped on (more like lugged my luggage on and the whole bus ride since the bus and vehicles there in general accelerate to top speed and stay there, I was struggling to keep my luggage from flying around in the bus).  I thought I was in London, the city… center, but then I started to see cows and fields… was I at the correct place? haha.  Luckily, it was overseas-student-coming-over time (you know, locals were used to being nice at this time) and I remember quite clearly, a middle aged Caucasian blonde kind-of-too-healthy but friendly lady asked me where I was going since I must have looked worried, I said I was going to my house near Royal Holloway at The Crescent, but since none of them knew where The Crescent was she told me to go down at the front of the university and the bus driver (who rudely, well to me it was too frank, told me he only drove and didn’t give information of what road was where) agreed.  So I went down and voila! There was the school as I remembered it from pictures on the internet.

But lo and behold I was carrying luggage maybe twice my weight and I was a good 600 meters away from where I should have been and Royal Holloway was on top of a hill (Egham Hill).  So going down terribly unfriendly-to-luggage steps to go to my house at The Crescent was an ordeal indeed.  I remember thinking, it’s a good thing the university was quite empty, just a scattering of blonde headed people, because I must have looked stupid lugging my luggage which were almost the same size as me.  Well that wasn’t the end of that, worse was when I got to the house nobody was answering! In panic I called this real estate agent I listed down in advance and was told there was still an extra room in a house that was my second choice (but it was single rather than double), so just when I was about to book that appointment since day was just about to begin (good thing I chose an early morning arrival) the door opened.

I thought Wendy Lee Foon would look Korean, but I was wrong she was from Jamaica or something (sorry Wendy I forgot!). But she was the most friendly person I met and a good thing too because I was tired!  She let me in and explained to me that she and the other PhD student were changing residence!  Therefore I had to take the house alone and pay the whole rent alone…. I had less than a week to find someone else!  But I’m soo good and in maybe 2 days I already had a new housemate an awesome housemate I was the luckiest in the world, a spy named Geva de Luciano (last name is not realbecause he is a spy).

But anyway, Geva stayed in the den while Wendy and Tizzy were still moving out.  I was surprised to find out that my room was bigger than expected and my bed was king sized!   But back to my first full day in the UK.  I was quite hungry by lunch because my last meal was on the plane so I ordered a pepperoni pizza from Papa Johns! The first time I ate Papa John’s ever and my first meal in the UK haha.  I remember it being so very very cold, and then when dusk came and then dark I was freezing!  But the next day, oh it was bright and so clear, it is funny how mornings are there, feels so cold but invigorating like you want to go outside but then inside your house is warm so you’d rather not… confusing!  Anyway, I mostly just fixed my things and got some rest the day I arrived.

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On the 14th, the next day, I went shopping for food in the early morning at Tesco. Oh I remember seeing so many Caucasians hahaha, it’s like when I came back from living in the US and coming home I was still young I said to my mom “There are so many Filipinos here!” The selection was amazing considering Egham was a small town.  I was told this Tesco branch was newly renovated and it was like twice to thrice the size of the old one.  I was indeed lucky! Newly opened just in time for me. haha.  Anyway, there’s a picture of the living room and the kitchen.  I always kept it spic and span.  Those beef burgers, I wonder if they have ostrich in them, that Jamie Oliver thing – ugh, terrible tasting.  I bought nectarine and juice and hotdogs and lots of stuff.  It was relatively cheap, depending on what you buy of course.  I read a lot from this website: MoneySavingExpert and if you believe what he says the technique is to buy the second cheapest product and work your way up to the standard you like.

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So after I made sure I had something to eat and a place to live (for now, I had no contract signed yet), I looked for the nearest way to school.

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There’s a gate at Spring Rise, I call it the back gate and for some reason nobody can understand me (good thing was that by the time I was about to leave a year later, people finally were getting what back gate meant… maybe I had something to do with it).  So it had a schedule and the only time that the schedule wasn’t followed was when we became an Olympic Village…  I don’t remember much but in my files I don’t see a picture of the geography building, I must have only went up to the library area… odd.  But of course I went to the castle.  Since my next thing on my list was find the church.

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I had to walk quite a while but I found the Catholic Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, I felt like I was in Mexico with the architecture.  Going back home I passed by RHUL again and I heard some singing in the Chapel so I took a peak! It was gorgeous!  I also went looking for Queen Victoria, my favourite British monarch, I found her statue and the time of day was perfect for a photograph.

I think on the 15th I just stayed home but the next day I went to Staines for shopping.

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Truly such funny names for places, Egham and Staines.  I made my way to the train station which was almost equidistant from my house as the school was (I made sure it was that way, my house was perfect haha).  I bought my first train ticket (I also inquired about student discounts already, but I needed my RHUL papers).  Took my first train ride and went down Staines!  I shopped for a lot of things, mostly clothes, a local cellphone (which I later sold in the Philippines when I went back early January).  I found a Topman store and bought there, but when I found out later the outlet store at Slough I rarely went to Staines!

I think Geva arrived the next day or something because my first visit to Staines was alone.  Second time was to accompany Geva and also buy other stuff like mattresses and what not, I also bought a table and other stuff, Geva was kind enough to carry a lot of my things because he was way taller than me.  He also did kick boxing, woke up extremely early to jog, religiously go to the gym, and was taking a cyber internet security course – total spy.  Anyway the high street of Staines is quite far from the train station, you walk a long distance from the station along a straight road down to an intersection across a parking lot and then cross the street and your there.  I thought hmmm when my mom is here should I use the bus or train (I used both so my mom could experience both).

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On the 19th me and Geva went to Sunningdale to visit our realtor (I forgot their name lol) to pay our deposit for the house let.  We passed by a Waitrose and I found the a yummy-yummy and posh brand Duchy Originals (owned by Prince Charles).  On the way back we took the wrong train, Geva’s fault!! hahaha. Ended up in Bracknell or somewhere near because I remember seeing my maps tons of water storage lakes.  We waited for an eternity, the station look so small and desolate, and finally a train arrived.

My first week was indeed exciting and I learned and explored and had fun.  It was really good that Wendy was very friendly and accommodating and that Geva was an awesome housemate.  If not for those two I wouldn’t be as happy.

I’ll write again in a week to tell you what happened next when I went to London… I think I visited London the following week.. stay tuned.  AML

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