I was just about to leave the house when it arrived. The parcel I had been expecting was finally here. With quite a bit of apprehension, I tore open the envelope, then felt relief literally wash over me. All the prayers and hard work were not in vain. It was official. LSHTM here I come…
A week later I arrived at the airport feeling quite flustered. I had had to go back to the house to pick one of the bags I had inadvertently left behind. That unfortunate incident put paid to Plan A, which had been to get to the airport an hour before check-in time. But nothing prepared me for the unbelievably long, serpentine queues that I met in there. A little investigation revealed that there had been a fire outbreak at the airport the night before, so our flight was delayed for about six hours. I remained optimistic though, holding on to a glimmer of hope that I would somehow settle in and make it to school in time for the International Students’ Welcome the following day. This, however, is how it all went down:
• I arrived London after midnight, managed to get to my pre-arranged accommodation, then woke up still disoriented at 7:30am. In my haste to get to school, I forgot all about the advice in all those pre-registration e-mails I got about transportation in London.
• Got myself a one-week bus pass from the off-license shop around the corner (even though I was staying as far away as zone 4).
• Hopped onto the bus, found a comfortable window seat with a good view, then relaxed, prepared to enjoy the trip I was blissfully unaware would take about 3 hours.
• Watched with a sinking feeling as the minutes slipped into hours.
• Finally got to my bus stop feeling really ticked off, but trying to put up a cheerful front.
• Without making use of the strategically placed street maps (for reasons I cannot begin to fathom right now), set out in the general direction my gut feeling was telling me must lead to the school.
• Made my way relentlessly through a labyrinth of streets for what seemed like an eternity.
And then… I felt a smile light up my face as I caught my first glimpse of my destination. There it was. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It was all I always thought it would be and more. Even though I only managed to catch the last 15 minutes or so of the talks, the warm welcome that awaited us at the reception in the courtyard was well worth all I had been through. And the food? The buffet spread was so irresistible that I neatly tucked away any private plans I had of not gaining more weight if I could help it.
As I mingled and got acquainted with members of staff and my future classmates, I could not help but marvel at their individual uniqueness, wealth of experience and cultural diversity. Could this be the beginning of an incredibly awesome and unforgettable year? I guess all that is about to come to light…