The following is an assignment I had to do tonight and thought you might enjoy reading. I was supposed to take an actual event that happened while travelling, and relate the story in a humorous style like the author Bill Bryson. These are actual events, but not necessarily the usual sense of humor of the author (that would be me…) Enjoy:
I have had the unfortunate luck to come down with an ear infection while being here in Britain. I spent a few days hoping it would go away on its own, but it just kept getting worse and I knew the time had come to see a doctor. I must admit, this filled me with apprehension. I am not a fan of doctors and hospitals on my own turf, seeing one in another country terrified me. A friend recommended a walk-in clinic near the city center, so I headed there Sunday afternoon expecting the worse. When the automatic doors of the clinic opened, I heard the unexpected sound of chirping crickets. Ok, it was rap music, but what really surprised me was that there was only one person sitting in the entire waiting area. I went to the reception desk, answered four questions, and then took a seat to wait. I wasn’t sure how to pass the time waiting; I had expected to have forms to complete and crying babies to stare at angrily. The other girl waiting disappeared, and I read the posted signs informing me that I should cough into my tissue rather than my sleeve. Suddenly, I had the feeling of eyes upon me and looked up to find both the receptionist and a doctor staring at me. Apparently they had called my name, but with this bad ear I hadn’t heard above the noise of the crickets. I followed ‘Sara’ back to her office, and she kindly inquired about my ailments. She checked my throat, which was lovely, then checked my good ear, which was also lovely. Moving on to the infected ear, she simply said, “Oh my.” I later learned this meant that I did, in fact, have an ear infection. Next, I needed to explain that there had been some waxy buildup in my ear, and I explained that I had discovered this using a Q-Tip. Sara just stared at my mystified. “Cotton swabs?” I tried again. “Oh, ear swabs. Right then, here on no prodding, love,” she replied. Prodding? I agreed to keep sharp objects out of my ears, as well as her ear swabs, and we moved on to the discussion of medication. The dispensing of antibiotics must be very serious business in Britain, because a very large medical volume had to be consulted before it was decided that I was a candidate for Amoxicillin. At home, antibiotics are passes out like candy, but this was akin to the prescribing of morphine it seemed. When I finally had my drugs in hand, and a few more reminders not to prod, I was escorted back out to the empty waiting room. I returned to the reception desk to pay for the exam and prescription, but was met by yet another mystified stare and told that I was cleared to leave the building. I had expected a difficult experience, but was surprised to find that seeking health care treatment in Britain was, well, just lovely.
1. Culture shock can be pretty serious business. I’d suggest starting your travels in an English-speaking country (England, Ireland, Scotland) before moving on to those that speak other languages. Yes, in most countries you can get by with the basics (hello, thank you, etc.) as they will probably speak English to you, but for me just hearing the other language all day and feeling foreign can be mentally exhausting.
2. Get good shoes.
3. Break in the good shoes. (Not a month, really break them in).
4. Get good maps of the places you are going and spend some time looking at them beforehand.
5. Look for any discount passes that can save you money on admission charges AND help you avoid long queues. The London Pass is great if you plan on doing a lot of tourist sites, plus you can get a Tube pass with it. Paris has a Museum Pass that also includes Versailles.
6. Bring any medications you like with you. Having been sick, it was quite a challenge to find some of the name brand medicines I wanted here, as most go by their drug names and I don’t know them.
7. Don’t sleep until nighttime the day you first arrive, it will really help you to avoid jetlag.
8. Plan out what you want to do before your trip, and plan on doing things that are near each other the same day. In London this past weekend, there were major delays and closures on the Tube so we lost lots of time getting between places. This sort of thing happens frequently, and a good itinerary can help make the most of your time.
9. Dress is layers and carry an umbrella. In Scotland, it would start to rain so I’d duck into a church for ten minutes. When I cam out, it was dry again and the sun would be shining and warm. Then I’d need a sweater an hour later. This is nothing like what I’m used to in Arizona where it is just hot all day, everyday!
10. Travel with people you like. This study abroad experience has been very trying at times since I didn’t know anyone before I came and I have found that some people are certianly not my cup of tea. I have having missed my usual travel partner, my sister!
11. Go! Don’t wait to save more money, or whatever other things are holding you back, book that trip and GO! You won’t regret it :)
I left London this morning and am back in my flat in Nottingham. I was never able to shake this ear problem I’ve been having, so first thing I went to urgent care. It is indeed an ear infection and I am now on antibiotics. Let’s hope they work quickly so I can make the most of my last week and few days here! I am off to do some homework and unpack, but will try to post some photos from this weekend later tonight.
Well, I made it to London! I’m still not feeling myself, but have been able to enjoy myself. I’ve done the London Eye, Thames Cruise, Tower, St Pauls, and three museums in two days. Nothing can slow me down! Thanks for the well wishes, they helped me rally!! Photos soon (sadly can’t be done from over the iPod using McDonalds wifi)
From London with love, K
PS I bought the lovliest tea cup today…. :)
Went to Piano and Pitcher(former church turned into pub), had several pitchers, pouring rain, found the tram, home
I have decided to say to hell with my homework and go out pinting tonight! I have spent entirely too much time in this dreary flat. Yes, I know you all loved my school bag, but did you take a good look at the stack of homework sitting next to it?!?! I’ve spent several hours each day slaving over it. But no more! I am in England, and bloody hell I am going to enjoy it!
Ok, rant over. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in school and it’s been a challenge balancing the workload and the temptation to explore my new home. I only have two weeks left and I am determined to make the most of my time here. So I’m off to find a pub where I can enjoy a jacket potato and a pint of cider!
Thank you! Glad to hear you are enjoying the posts and photos. I wish I had more time to share all the ups and downs of this experience, but they are just keeping me too busy. In addition to the stack of homework, I am working out my itinerary for this weekend’s trip to London. I can’t believe I am already in the last half of my time here in Britain!
While in Edinburgh this weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Rosslyn Chapel. This has always been a fascinating place, but when Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code made the Chapel central to his Holy Grail mystery, tourism boomed. Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 by the St. Clair family and has seen much damage over the centuries, most notably during the Reformation. In 1997, convervations began to restore the Chapel and it is now covered by a metal canopy to let the stone dry out naturally. Though we were disappointed not to see the facade, the restoration work is very important as they are also using the project to teach specialized stonemasonry techniques to a new generation of conservationalists. The highlight of a visit to Rosslyn Chapel is the magnificient carvings covering the interior walls and ceilings. These detailed carvings include biblical allegories, references to the St. Clair family, and pagen symbols such as the green men which represent fertillity. This wide range of imagery gives the Chapel a feeling of mystery and leaves scholars (and authors) plenty to debate over. I enjoyed trying to find all the hidden green men, locating the horned Moses (the result of a mistranslation of the Latin word for light), and also finding the corn and cactus (carved before Columbus ever discovered America). Here are a few exterior photos, as we were not allowed ot take photos inside the Chapel.