London Travel Blog› entry 4 of 47 › view all entries
May 21st, 2008 – by: xxwishnonstarzz
David and I had to wake up early to figure out our way into the city for orientation. At first, Ali's brother was quoting 2 hours travel time so, of course, I panicked the entire morning. It took a bit of time to get our travelcards and then we ran into the first bad omen of the day - my bank card wasn't working when the cashier tried to run it. We paid with David's card and went on our way, to worry about that later. Having never really used a public transport system (Orlando's sucks), it was a bit of a challenge to figure out but luckily David is much better with directions than I am.
Made it to the Orientation with time to spare, thank goodness. I was surprised how many people were there as they do the orientation 3 times a week... The girl went over all the basic, boring things that there are to go over in this sort of situation. Don't get me wrong, it was a useful presentation for the most part, but boring none the less.
After that is when the trouble really started.
We were able to get almost immediate appointments to set up our bank accounts. It really is a difficult thing in this country and you've got to have a reference letter from both BUNAC and your home bank, as well as 100 pounds to deposit. Well, we get to the bank (NatWest) and I'm just a bit worried about my card not working earlier, and also very hungry. There was a Krishnah (sp?) on the street handing out free vegetarian meals to everyone and they smelled so good, but no time, we needed to settle this bank thing. So we step up to the cash point (ATM) to get the 100 pounds and after I insert my card and enter my pin, the machine tells me that the "Service is temporarily unavailable." :x David tries his, different bank but similar card, and it works. I try again and nothing!! I'm freaking out because David hadn't transfered enough money from his savings to his checking to loan me the money, and besides, I'M IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY AND NOT ABLE TO GET MONEY! But David needs to go into his appointment so I sit in the bank entry-way, crying, and trying to call my bank at home. After making probably a $20 phone call because I still have my US phone at this point, my bank tells me there's nothing wrong... WELL THEN WHY CAN'T I GET MONEY?!
Then a lady from the bank comes over and sits beside me, asks whats wrong, and gets me a cup of water. She was absolutely the sweetest thing ever and offered to help. She said she could set up the account without the 100 pounds and I just needed to bring it in within the week, but that she would also try to force the transaction on my bank card once my new account was open. Even though I knocked over my cup of water (TWICE) she was super friendly and really helpful, and we ended up being able to get the money from my account!! I went ahead and took out quite a bit to transfer into my NatWest account just in case I can't get more money from my US account. Samantha at the Aldwych branch you are my hero!
That settled, we had a traditional English lunch of Subway sandwiches. FYI - their "works" as far as toppings includes corn, and I saw a guy in front of me put ketchup on his meatball sandwich (its a sauce option right at the counter!). I kept thinking today that I'm sad I haven't yet been to a real English pub... but then I realized I've only been here two days. It already feels like a week!
We then walked around, got a little confused and had to constantly check the London A-Z (this really handy book that even people who live here need to navigate some of these streets!). Walked quite a ways to check out the Tate Modern museum, which was pretty interesting. The building used to be an electrical plant or something like that... Some of the works were pretty cool, but there was this one projection installation that had a warning sign outside because it dealt with a sexually explicit subject. Of course we went in but it was rather disappointing. Not that it wasn't explicit, it was just that it was being so just for the shock value. And it wasn't even good shock value. It was just trite and contrived. :/ Boo to artists who are just simply attention wh-res.
After getting back to Richmond, we went to get some new cellphones to use here. Had to spend a bit because of course our phones were locked to cingular and thus we can't use them here. However, we've got a great rate to call home now - 4pence a min!! Strange thing is, however, that it costs 15pence to call around the UK! What?!
Came home and had another lovely supper with Ali's family. They've been so sweet! Also watched the Man U vs Chealsea game, which had been the big subject of the day in all the papers because it was the finals. I'm not too into football, and was rather bored, but watched just for the sake of watching. :D
Now its time for a well deserved sleep!
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