Three months ago, I arrived in this city at 10 pm, exhausted after a long flight (with a heavy backpack and a duffel bag to be carried and a super-heavy luggage to be dragged around). I couldn’t sleep at all during the flight, which made me sleepless for 36 hours, more or less.
I checked in at the reception and found out that my room was on the 4th floor. I carried my backpack and duffel bag first, ready to make several trips back and forth to get all my stuff (because there was no way I could carry my luggage to the 4th floor in one trip, it was 30 kilo, no less). Fortunately there was a guy who insisted to carry it by himself, despite my effort to offer to carry it with him. When he reached the 4th floor, he looked like he was just beaten to death and struggled just to breathe (thank you, nice guy).
I took a quick tour around the floor, and when I was back to my room I realized that I didn’t have water. None. I tried to find the kitchen so I could drink the tap water, but couldn’t find it. Exhausted and sleepy, I decided to sleep and find the water the next day.
The next day, I woke up at 9 in the morning, washed up and went down to the reception to ask the nearest supermarket (I bought a big bottle of water and finished half of it in some big gulps). In the afternoon I took a stroll at the campus and saw it for the first time. After that, things were okay. It wasn’t as hard as my first day, for sure!
In my first week, I met some people (who later become my closest friends here). It had been only a week when I started to miss eating rice (a true Indonesian, aren’t I?), and thank God I met a really nice Indonesian couple from whom I could buy Indonesian meals. After that, food wasn’t much of a problem for me. I still can eat soto, urap, ayam balado, you name it.
In my first week of October, I went to a trip to Cornwall with my friends. Then I spent my birthday in the library (which wasn’t as pathetic as it sounds), and the next day my friends and I went to the Hobbit, where they bought me Jaegerbombs (which I really liked, but made me sleepless all night, thanks to the Red Bull in it). I think that was the time when my love for Jaegerbomb started.
I also went to Sea City Museum, which has a really great display of Titanic. And I really like it since it isn’t like any other Titanic museum (if any) that tells the story only as a fact. Being in this museum made me feel… attached, somehow. For one thing, the ship sailed from Southampton, where most of the crew’s families resided. But another thing is, this museum tells the story personally. From the family point of view, from the people who were affected, and so on and so forth. There were personal stories of the crews with their photo, their job, and their background. There are yellowish pages from the newspaper about the tragedy. And then there’s a Southampton map with red dots which mark the addresses of the crew who were lost in the sea. It was really touching.
Then there was a time at the end of October when I felt homesick for the first time (please note that when I say home, I mean Bandung. Jakarta has never been a home to me), but after a few messages with some friends, I felt quite okay.
My classes didn’t start until October, so I had lots of free time at the beginning. My friends and I made a potluck dinner one Saturday, bringing our home food and introducing it to the others. I made the easy dish, fried noodles. It certainly didn’t do justice to the great Indonesian cuisines, but that’s all I could cook at that time and I didn’t wanna risk it.
Early in November I made a day trip to London to see my friend, and set foot in it for the first time. I made a plan for going back by the end of November, but I got caught up with school work so that plan has to wait until December. In the middle of November, I went to Winchester and saw the Remembrance Sunday mass.
And from then on, it’s been blurry with classes and assignments.
Another thing is I began a love affair with autumn, which I couldn’t get enough of. Too bad it’s going to an end.
And there’s one more thing that changed here. Everyone at home knows I’m such a heavy sleeper. It’s always been hard for me to get up in the morning (‘I’m a night person’ is how I polish this fact), and I could never resist a nap. My friend Timothy even said that I spent 2/3 of my life sleeping. Of course, he was kidding… a bit. Well, since my first day here, I’ve been quite adamant to change this habit. And thanks to the universe, I always have morning classes. I manage to get up in the morning, but I still have difficulties sleeping on time, despite my effort to lie in bed, even for hours. At first I bought a cup of coffee in a stall outside my class. Then I realized that the caffeine really kicked in, making me focus and energized. So since then, I’ve developed my addiction to coffee. It’s so warm and perfect to fight the cold days in here, while helping me a lot to resist the urge to go back to bed at the same time. I’ve never skipped a day without one cup of that, sometimes two, when I have a long class and lots of assignment. So that’s another love affair, I guess.
As Christmas break is coming, I’m preparing myself for a short trip after Christmas (which was intended to be longer than it is, but I can’t get rid of the anxiety of assignments and exam preparation that I decided to make it short). It’s looking really festive here, and I really hope that could at least help me feeling less lonely celebrating Christmas alone, as all of my friend are going home.
And as it’s been for years, I can’t wait for Christmas.