Journal Entry #1

25/09/01

    I'm finally here in Glasgow.  The trip to Glasgow began on Monday, September 17.  We woke at 2am in order to be out of the house at 3am.  All of our bags were packed the night before.  We only needed to add the last-minute toiletries to our luggage.  It was a sad moment around 3am that I had to say good bye to all my pets.  I hugged the cats and dogs and bid them farewell.  Cosmo never got to say good bye, but would not have understood anyways.  The previous Saturday I had given Topper (the chicken) away to a good home (NOT to be eaten).  That was sad, too because I had raised her from 1 week of age until nearly 1.5 years of age. 

    After arriving at the LAX airport at 4am or so, we had to take a shuttle bus to the terminal.  It was pretty quiet at that time of morning.  The airlines suggested we arrive 3 to 3.5 hours ahead of our scheduled flight, so 4am was a good time to arrive for a 7:45 am flight.  Dad, Mom and I struggled with the 7 pieces of luggage!  Everything was so heavy and bulky.  We finally rented a luggage cart outside of the terminal to save some time and hassle.  The check-in counter was closed when we arrived!  We had to wait in a line for 2 hours and 15 minutes before it opened!  Why on earth were we supposed to arrive so early when the check-in counter wasn't even open?  After checking our 4 pieces of luggage, we hauled the carry-on pieces up to the security check point.  There, we said our good byes to Dad.  It was very sad to think I wouldn't see him for at least 3 months. :*(  The security guard checked our passports and let us through.  From then on, it was like any normal flight.  We weren't stopped at the x-ray machine for anything.

    Mom and I arrived in Vancouver with only 30 minutes to catch our next flight!  However, we were informed that even transfers had to go through customs!  We had to stand in a long line to go through customs and then collect our luggage from the return conveyor belt.  I was very pissed that we were forced to miss our flight.  Then we had to wait in another huge line just to board an elevator.  We were told to go up and outside where we were to wait in another line.  A storm threatened outside and we sat down ready to wait.  Mom decided to check with the officials to make sure we were in the right place -- good thing she did!  We needed to go back inside to the check-in counter -- yet another line!  The lady at the counter put us on stand-by.  We had to wait inside (at least we had chairs and luggage carts) until our name was called for the next flight.  By the time we got assigned to that flight, we had missed our chance of catching our next flight from Toronto to Glasgow.

    The Vancouver to Toronto flight took 4 hours and it was horrible!  It was very boring and I was quite tired and my eyes burned.  In Toronto, we had to switch terminals (exit one building and enter another by taking a shuttle bus).  We had indeed missed the Toronto to Glasgow flight.  We stood in line at the check-in/ticket counter again and were put on stand-by for a flight to London Heathrow.  Once again we were able to get a stand-by flight.  The flight left at 1:30am Toronto time (EST) and we arrived in London at 1:30pm!  Again we were fed yucky airline food.  It was a nicer flight in a way -- we were given blankets, pillows, and the movies were OK (not horrible).  We were able to sleep some on that flight.

    London was cold and rainy.  We had to go through customs and I had my passport stamped to enter the UK.  At the baggage claim, there were absolutely NO luggage carts available!  This was quite devastating, because we had 1 hour or so before our next flight (to Glasgow).  We finally had to "purchase" the service of a porter at 7!  Then we found that we had to take a bus to Terminal 1!  We missed the London to Glasgow flight.  Finding out how to get into stand-by for another flight was difficult -- the airport was crowded full of people in lines.  After being on stand-by for an hour or so, we were able to obtain spots on the flight.  FINALLY we arrived in Glasgow!!!!  Flying over it was wonderful -- everything was so green and I could even see the river Clyde.

  We took a taxi out of the airport to the Kelvin Hotel (B&B).  We were happy to find a quaint, clean room.  After settling for a bit, we went out to Byres Road and bought a pizza at Little Italy (I highly recommend this restaurant).  For the next few days, we went everywhere!  Shopping and exploring Glasgow and the main university campus, taking a train to Edinburgh, hiking with our 2 pieces of luggage up to Edinburgh castle, finding and staying in a new B&B in Edinburgh, finding food in Edinburgh, taking a train to Inverness, finding accommodation in Inverness, taking the Loch Ness Monster Tour, finding food in Inverness, taking a train back to Edinburgh and then Glasgow, finding more accommodation in Glasgow, and shopping in Glasgow again. 

    Monday the 24th of September, Mom and I took our 2 suitcases down Woodlands Rd. to find the University.  Eventually we found it (using maps), only to find that the office we wanted to go to was closed for the day!  Then we hiked to the Kelvin Hotel (near the Byres-Great Western Rd. intersection).  There, we picked up the stored luggage and had a taxi take us to Wolfson Hall.

    My room here at Wolfson Hall is very cozy!  Sure, some others have larger rooms...but mine has all the necessities.  I will post some pictures of it soon.  Today I went to the Hogshead (a pub) on Woodlands Road at 2pm for a vet meeting.  There were tons of people there!  Luckily, I knew Steve W. a bit already and he introduced me to others.  Now I know all the other Americans!  They are: Brian, Rebecca, Courtney, Gina, and Michelle.  Brian, Courtney, Michelle and I are all from southern California.  Rebecca is from Florida and Gina is from Maryland.  It was nice to hear of their experiences so far.  We're all having to deal with a different culture and it can be stressful at times. 

    We "Americans" and our parents/others went out to dinner tonight to "The Canal" -- a microbrewery with a restaurant on the 2nd floor.  The food was OK, but still better than most I've found here in Scotland so far.  Afterwards we went back to our respective residence places.  Brian, Rebecca and I all live in Wolfson Hall.  Most of the other Americans are still trying to get a place at Wolfson. 

    The most challenging thing at this moment: transportation!  It takes a lot of planning and time to get from one place to another here.  Wolfson Hall is far away from the main campus (where we have some activities and will have some classes).  I bought a bus pass today.  It gives me 10 weeks unlimited bus usage and cost me 90!  I guess that's good considering I don't have a car payment anymore (or gas). 

    I'm feeling better now that I know some people!  It's sad that we're not all in the same hall, but that may change eventually.  Tomorrow I plan on matriculating (that's "registering" in American language).  Mom and I may also visit Kibble Palace and do a bit of grocery shopping.


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