Thursday, January 06, 2005

Here I am, or I am here

I'm typing this from a computer cluster on the campus of the University of Birmingham. Getting here was much too exciting!

First, I was to fly United out of Nashville at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, and then have a 6 hour layover in Washington before departing for London. However, the flight to Washington was delayed.... first 2 hours... then 5. We landed in Washington at 9:10 pm, 30 minutes before my British Airways flight was to leave. Washington Dulles is a HUGE airport, and I just jumped on a bus and went to another terminal, not knowing where I was going. God must have been with me, because I just so happened to enter the correct terminal, at the wrong end, and after a near sprint, I made it to the BA desk 10 minutes before departure. No sooner had I gotten my big, cozy, comfortable seat than a man came up telling me that I was in his seat. We compared tickets and his was exactly the same as mine. Luckily, he was in a different seat and the problem was solved.

The flight over was fine, for me that is. My luggage apparently lacked the skill to make it across the Dulles airport like I did. So I dashed into the streets of London, after filing a missing bags report, with only my carry-on luggage (one set of clothes). Actually, I bought a Tube subway ticket from the airport to near my bus station. Somehow, I underpaid, and when I tried to exit the subway, the turnstile wouldn't let me. One of the workers there told me that I was supposed to have paid double what I did. When I told him I was not aware of what I was doing, he let me go with a look of amusement. I found my megabus with about 10 minutes to spare. Nothing worth noting on the trip (other than I just don't see how £3 per passenger can come close to paying for the gas in that big bus.

I got a call from Mom and Dad, then Mary while on the bus. Nice to know that the phone works. Free for me, but apparently pretty expensive from the U.S. (at least on the calling cards we have).

I found my hotel rather easily. Not the best place in the world, but the cheapest... including a small, old color TV with the 6 BBC stations. After dropping off my carry-on luggage, I made my way to find some food. Along the way, I found 3 real estate places and made appointments to see 2 properties. Then it was treat time -- Tennessee Fried Chicken-- really, that was the name of the place. I had to go in. I was interested to see who there knew how they cook in TN. Much to my surprise, an Indian family ran the place. When I told one of the ladies that I was from Tennessee, she said "You mean the country Tennessee?". I wonder how they came up with that name. I suppose it was an attempted ripoff of KFC. But who here knows that TN borders KY? And who here likes real fried chicken anyway? Anyway, the chicken was fine, similar to the Colonel's, but the fries. though they were many, were less than gourmet. The entire meal was £2.99 (BTW, for you Americans, £ means pounds, much like our $ symbol).

After retrieving some money from the ATM, it was back to the hotel for the night. I slept well and awakened at around 7:15 am. At 8am, the sun was just barely above the horizon. I washed up and ate a breakfast of cornflakes and toast. Enjoyed a good theological conversation with the innkeeper. He attends the Church of England regularly (which puts him in the 5th percentile). He had a few provocative things to say, but was mostly confused about certain New Testament events. For instance, he seemed to think that Paul made Christianity into a thing for Gentiles, when Jesus was only concerned about Jews. While there is some truth to this, it misses the point that is frequently addressed in the gospels, namely that Jesus foresaw a future day in which gentiles would be welcome in God's kingdom. I told the innkeeper about the conversion of Cornelius in Acts, and he said he'd never heard of it. Anyway, the conversation was not dull.

At breakfast, I got a call canceling my first appointment to view an apartment, so I went on to the University. I came across another letting (real-estate) agency that had 2 properties I wanted to view. I was whisked there, and liked the second of the two. I wil most likely wind up choosing it. While viewing it, I got a call from BA telling me that my bags were found (Hooray!) and would soon be in route. I gave them the address to Internal Office at the Uni. Hopefully that will do. I'm blogging right now as I wait to hear if they have arrived. I've got an appointment in an hour to see some more proprties. No rest for the weary. How will I ever survive without a car?

Overall, I'm having fun and the people here have been very nice. It feels weird to be a foreigner, but at least I know that I have more British blood than many of the people I meet, for whatever thats worth. And its not worth enough to get free medical care here. But I digress....

More later.