I’m here…well sorta.
After almost leaving my passport at Changi airport in Singapore and waiting at the wrong gate followed by a ridiculously long wait at Doha airport and waking up on the plane to find that I had drooled into my own hair thereby fusing it altogether I am here!
I got off the plane excited like the little Aussie battler/immigrant that I am, ready to face the world when the crowd of people in front of me came to a screeching halt and so began the longest line through immigration ever!
It felt like a Disney line except not nearly as entertaining, what I wouldn’t have given for a little music maybe they could’ve dressed up actors like the Harry Potter characters to entertain the waiting crowd. Above all the murmurs you could clearly hear an American woman chatting about her illustrious career as a photographer. We had just gotten off a 14 hour plane ride the last thing we wanted to hear was her life story. So my very first experience with the country was waiting for 2 hours in the immigration queue – fun!
Jet lag has rendered me a bit baby brained and I have forgotten how to do simple things like opening doors and speaking English! My suitcase (although regulation size has become like a regular ball and chain that I have been forced to drag around the streets of London for the first few stressful days)
I never thought I was the kind of person to get attached to material things but to come off that flight and not be able to reach Kathleen or Sam or to confirm that I was here and organize subsequent meet ups was awful and left me stressed as soon as I arrived. I managed to make my way to Paddington station and tried to use a few payphones only to be bitterly disappointed by the idea that the payphones were merely there for some sort of decorative purpose or to make travellers like me look stupid. I managed to remember the name of the hotel and had no problem getting to Earls court. As I dragged my suitcase up those stairs at Earls court station I couldn’t help but wonder how many Australians before had done the very same thing. I showered and changed in a flurry and managed to jump onto Facebook at the hotel to arrange to meet Sam briefly at Oxford circus before my very first interview in the UK, I sheepishly asked the train conductor where Top shop was as Sam had asked me to meet her there. As I stood there I kept catching sight of redheaded people and kept thinking they were her. It wasn’t until I saw that all too familiar beanie that I knew it was her. As I had not even seen Kathleen since arriving by this stage, the sight of Sam’s beanie was the most comforting and familiar thing I had seen in a while especially on that crowded street in the middle of London full of anonymous faces. We briefly caught up on her adventures around Europe before I made my way into Done and Dusted – a production company responsible for the coverage of the Olympic opening ceremony which is a huge accomplishment for an independent production company.
This was a part of London I had never seen before, the busy thriving offices behind all the tourist hot spots, in fact in my first few days in London I didn’t even so much as pass a tourist landmark.
I sat there in one of these uber funky IKEA chairs which ended up being quite ridiculous for me because it was too low and that combined with the terrible choice of interview attire (I had decided to wear a pair of black leggings and black skinny jeans and the leggings were pulling down the already loose pants) so when I rose off the chair to shake the ladies hand I had to pull my pants up with the other and she just looked at me in a curious manner. What a great first impression to make showing you arse! It wasn’t a particularly long interview it was with her and the Executive Producer who spent the majority of the time on his computer while I was talking to them which made me feel that I had to really work to get his attention and keep it for the duration of the interview. I quickly found out that they didn’t really know what they were looking for – which always seems to be the case in production interviews. As it was a first round interview they didn’t ask too many questions, it was almost a way for them too see whether I was human, they said they would be in touch after they had finished interviewing everyone. Then they gave me the whole ‘sink or swim’ industry speech, I desperately searched his eyes for any inkling that they might consider the little Aussie battler, as I have now named myself.
Not sure how but I managed to stay awake until about 10pm that evening, we had dinner in a pub nearby and as I stared into my cider the weight of the past 24 hours sunk in and my eyes began to droop.
The next day I awoke early as I had another interview lined up this time for work experience at a place called WAGTV who are responsible for reality shows like My big fat gypsy wedding. And it was in the Islington area where Tania had once lived – so she offered to meet me at the station and help me find the place.
We were to meet at Angel station at 10am, at 20 minutes past 10 she hadn’t showed up so I called her and still nothing…as my interview was at 11 I started to panic and decided to call her, she didn’t answer so I set off on my own. I had purchased a crappy Samsung prepaid phone but didn’t have the number for the company and so began the stress and the unraveling of my mental state. I don’t know what you have to do in this town to get a cab because I practically walked out in front of one before it stopped and even then there was someone already in it so I couldn’t get in!
If I had my iPhone I could’ve called the company or Google mapped the area or emailed the guy. For some reason my prepaid phone refused to work – so technology was turning against me so it seemed – all of these things contributed to me walking up and down the high street crying like a mental patient for the next half hour. I finally managed to find an internet cafe and wrote to the company pleading jet lag however I have not heard back and am concerned that I may have lost my chance with this company.
My next appointment was a London orientation at 3pm so I made my way to Putney (and to the wrong office!) I feel a bit like a newborn baby trying to find my way around, and speak and interact in this new world of mine. Luckily locals have been most helpful especially the bloke at Putney Bridge station who on a number of occasions helped the most stressed out Aussie find her way to various locations in the area.
I went for an appointment for my UK bank account today and that was much easier than first expected but in true amazing race style I had to get to the airport for my flight to Belfast within the next few hours and so again a simple exercise was made stressful, that and when asked by the bank manager setting up my account not knowing my own mobile number and not being able to call it due to lack of credit and not yet having an address in the UK to send my bank cards to.
Kath and her Mum and Dad were nice enough to send out these parcels for me that I had made to be sent out to various production companies who had expressed interest in seeing me, it was a real team effort and luckily they did as I was really out of time by that stage.
So I am currently on the plane to Belfast **I was on the plane when I was writing this in shorthand but right at this second I am retyping it on my laptop sitting on Kathleen’s uncle Sean’s lounge in Belfast **confusing much? After running around London and going through a huge amount of security check points I finally feel like I have a chance to stop and breathe and take stock of the first few whirlwind days of my new life. Even though I still have things to arrange whilst in Belfast I am happy that the majority of the next two weeks I will be able to just relax and enjoy myself a bit. I am hoping by the time you read this I will be hopelessly drunk in a pub somewhere in Belfast and making friends with some charming barman. I cannot wait for the fun to start, and I know it will – I am ready London I have arrived!