Hi. Welcome back! So when I last left you I was at the bus station in New York City. With no idea where I was or where I needed to go, I began feeling less confident and more worried by the minute! Thankfully, I was hit by stroke of luck and a random person noticed that I was lost, probably due to the very confused and stressed face I was pulling. He asked where I needed to go and took me all the way outside where the sign for the shuttle bus was. He asked me for a tip seeing as he’d helped me out and that it was Christmas time, I was so relieved to find where I needed to be I didn’t care and just gave him some money!
Now that I knew where I needed to get the bus from, it was time to have a little wonder around the city. My main goal was to get to the Rockefeller plaza to see the Christmas tree and ice rink. It felt a bit weird carrying/dragging a suitcase around the city, but after a while I didn’t really care and just found the whole situation rather amusing. Home Alone 2 has never felt so real until now! The Christmas tree was big, but not as monumental as I thought it was going to be. There also wasn’t anyone on the ice rink, just the ice cleaning machine thing. But I can now say that I’ve been there and seen them both with my own two eyes!
I now had to find my way back to the bus station, without any internet on my phone and just a screenshot I took of the route I needed to take. I hadn’t paid into my American Phone account as I wasn’t going to use it for a month and didn’t want to spend a months’ worth of internet for just one day! I ended up overshooting the street I needed by one, but that was easily remedied and I was back at the place that guy had taken me to before.
I gave the ticket person my printed ticket and told him what terminal I needed at JFK, he then gave me a small receipt and now all I had to do was wait for the bus to arrive. It took no time at all to arrive and then we were off! I initially didn’t think much of the receipt’s importance, but after making a stop shortly after leaving to pick more people up, someone came down the bus asking for our tickets, which turned out to be the tiny receipt! Thankfully I kept it and didn’t toss it or I have no idea what I would have done! At this stop two middle aged British women got on and sat behind me. It may sound weird but it was really reassuring having them talking about random British stuff behind me (like how T.K. Maxx for some reason is called T.J. Maxx in the U.S. (I’ll get more into that shortly!)), as this made me look forward to what was to come when I arrived in the UK!
As we were leaving the city, I caught a glimpse of a random dance battle happening outside of the Metropolitan Museum with a massive crowd surrounding it. It was very random but very cool. I also saw a firetruck all decked out in Christmas decorations which I thought was a bit impractical but I can’t help admire their festive spirit. Also on the bus journey to JFK, as we were on the outskirts of the city, we passed a MASSIVE graveyard with a ridiculous amount of tombstones. For some reason it reminded me of something, then all of a sudden it dawned on me! This was the graveyard that (SPOILERS!!!) Amy and Rory from Doctor Who died/were buried at!
This scene still gets me 😦
The bus journey to the airport took way longer than I expected it to, this was mainly due to the traffic. Thankfully though I had left with plenty of time if a situation like this presented itself. My flight wasn’t until 10:10 pm and I think we got to the airport at around 5:30 pm so I had tons of time. I was a bit intimidated by the number of check in desks, but quickly managed to find the help desk, where the person politely told me where to find the security queue. I was worried that they were going to be really strict, but it turns out they were anything but that! I didn’t need to take anything out of my bags or take much clothing off and the whole things was done very quickly.
Now I’d finally made it all the way to the waiting lounge and could actually relax for a bit. I had my gate information on my boarding pass so I didn’t need to worry about finding it on the sign. Time passed, I bought some lemonade and a cookie. Then I decided to just check the flight board to see how my flight was doing. To my horror, I couldn’t find it! It was only after a frantic panic and scanning of the board, that I saw that my flight had been moved to a different gate than what was written on my boarding pass.
More time passed and the time to board my flight had arrived. As I was in the queue I glanced over at some of the people still sitting down, to my utter shock I found a familiar face. It was Lara Thomas, a girl I’d gone to secondary school with. Of all the billions of people and all the places in the world, we just randomly happen to be on the same flight! She came over and chatted for a bit and I yet again got excited about going home, as she reminded me of all the people I knew and would see in Wales.
Boarding the plane was a bit of an issue, something I thought would be easy compared to all the other stuff I had done today. My seat was right at the back of the plane and by the time I got there, the overhead locker was already full! The flight attendant told us we needed to go back and ask someone in first class if could put our bags in their overhead lockers. This involved going back down the small aisle whilst people were still coming down the other way. It was a mess! I had to awkwardly get past people whilst still carrying my suitcase whilst trying not to accidentally hit someone with it. After all that, I had to now ask a well off first class person if I could put my suitcase in their special overhead locker. Me and another girl were having quite the hard time, but eventually we found a free one! Pretty much everyone had sat down at this point and I was very put off after an already very long day. When I got to my seat, I found the same girl who was having bag troubles like me in the seat next to me, which was funny.
I was really excited for the in-flight entertainment and ended up watching Suicide Squad, Hot Pursuit and a random episode of VEEP. Then finally at around 10:00 am UK time, I had landed safely at Heathrow! I got off the place and like everyone else coming off the flight, awkwardly approached the ‘EU arrivals’ and ‘Non EU arrivals’ wondering which one we go through. It turns out we were EU arrivals as I guess the UK still technically hasn’t left the EU yet.
Then it was finally time for the moment I’d been waiting for, for week now! I walked through the arrivals and eventually found them. My mum crying her eyes out whilst trying to film me on her IPhone and my dad wildly waving a Welsh flag. You have no idea how happy I was to see them. After 4 months of hard work, 4 exams, 4 long essays and over 24 hours of travelling, the moment I saw them; I knew I was home!
So ends semester one state side, and I can certainly say I’ve learnt a lot in those 4 months. So much so, that I’ve prepared a little list of all the differences I’ve noticed between the UK and U.S. whilst living in America:
- (UK) Everything is on the left (I also learnt that Japan is one of the very few counties that also has things on the left) VS. (U.S.) Everything in the U.S. is on the right, as in roads and what side of the ‘sidewalk’ you walk on (this took me a while to get used to)
- (UK) People say “cheers” as a way of thanks VS. (U.S.) People do not say “cheers” as a way of thanks
- (UK) People greet each other by saying “Alright?” VS. (U.S.) People greet each other by saying “What’s good?” (and I still have no idea how to reply to them)
- (UK) People only mainly wear sock with sandals in the summer months (and usually this is the older gentleman) VS. (U.S.) People wear socks with sandals WAY too often all the time, everywhere!
- (UK) Young people’s first cars are usually rather cheap, old and second hand VS. (U.S.) Young people’s first cars (that I’ve seen) are really flashy, nice, new and probably cost a lot of money
- (UK) Bonfire night exists and is celebrated VS. (U.S.) Bonfire night does not exist (This was really sad for me for some reason, although I know full well why it doesn’t exist here)
- (UK) At University you have your own bedroom VS. (U.S.) At College you have to share a room and have a roommate
- (UK) At University you call people you live with ‘Flatmates’ VS. (U.S.) At College you call people you live with ‘Suitemates’
- (UK) We have this amazing thing called ‘Squash’ or ‘Cordial’, it is the best and is amazing and is delicious VS. (U.S.) They do not have ‘Squash’/’Cordial’ AND IT IS A TRAVESTY! (I HATE THAT IT DOESN’T EXIST HERE!)
- (UK) We spell things correctly, including the ‘U’ in words VS. (U.S.) Americans spell things differently without the ‘U’ (This was so annoying in the beginning, I had no idea which one to use in my essays. Examples include: colour, labour, harbour, flavour, honour, behaviour, demeanour and saviour (notice how I spelt them the right way))
- (UK) We can get money out of ‘cashpoints’ for free VS. (U.S.) You get money out of an ‘ATM’ and you are charged a fee for doing this!
- (UK) We have moderate amounts of salt and sugar in food items VS. (U.S.) They have a LOT of salt and sugar in food items
- (UK) There is a shop called T.K. Maxx VS. (U.S.) There is a shop called T.J. Maxx
I hope this little list of comparisons has been interesting and you’ve learnt something (and that I’ve not offended anyone).
I’ll quickly go over what I did over the winter break to fill in the blank between the two semesters. Okay so the winter break was good, it was probably the most I’ve relaxed in ages. Sleeping in my own bed in my own room was the best and I miss it dearly already! We did a lot of family walks when I was home and got to enjoying being back home in Pembrokeshire to the fullest! We played the board game Catan loads. We went to the movies 4 times in about 3 weeks and saw Rogue One, Passengers, A street Cat Named Bob and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Out of all of them I think I enjoyed Passengers the most, it helps that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are 2 of my favourite actors.
This was one of my favourite parts of the movie, this scene just looked really cool
Christmas was a quiet one but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Just being at home with my family was enough. It was however our first Christmas in a long time without our cat Dobbin, who sadly passed away on the 27th of December 2015. It might sound odd, but you don’t realise how much of a presence a pet has on your family until their gone.
The weekend before I was due to fly back to New York, I went and paid a visit to my Swansea Uni housemate and best friend; Rob. He’s currently doing a year in industry at the university and will be finishing it the same time I finish my year abroad. So we’ll both be finishing our time at Swansea at the same time which is nice. I got dropped off at his house in Swansea and we went for food and a catch up at a pub nearby. It was really great to see him as I’d missed him and many of my other friends back home in the UK. Plus, it was even more incentive to get through this upcoming semester. As then I could go back to living in Swansea with people I’m WAY more comfortable living with than the ones I’m currently living with at Albany.
So after an amazing winter break, it was time to return to the U.S. for my second and final semester on the 20th of January 2017! This also just so happened to be the day of Trump’s inauguration, so I’m back in the U.S. for the beginning of this sh*t show and then I’m going to peace out of this country around May/June. Good Luck everyone else who actually lives in America and has to live with this for the next 4/8 years!
Like the last time I flew to the U.S. we stayed the night at a Premier Inn, as I needed get up early the next day to catch my flight from Heathrow. Which I will tell you about in the next entry! Yes, once again I will leave you waiting to find out what happens next, and until next time…