Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Last London Days...

My last few days in London were spent experiencing the UK healthcare system. I became very ill after 5 days in London. I returned to the US after a grand 9 days in the UK.

I twice visited a General Practitioner, Dr. Peter Rowley. I visited with him first and last in a series of 4 medical visits. Dr. Rowley's office is located in this flat on Thurloe St. The doctor, himself, retrieved me from the waiting room and took me to his office. His office is half medical examination room and half business-type office with a desk, computer and stacks and stacks of paper held down by beautiful glass paper weights. He led me to his desk, not the medical half of the room. I sat in a chair on the side of his desk while he asked me what was wrong. No "let me check your blood pressure, breathing, pulse, etc etc" like in the US. I had to explain what was wrong. He did not wear a white coat, but a full 3 piece suit - including cuff links and snazzy glasses! He didn't wear gloves when he drew my blood and did a few other tests right at his desk! He also liked to tell side stories about when he had the sicknesses I potentially have. He would get back on track by saying, "But I digress...," which has become a new saying between my mom and me. Dr. Rowley was by far my favorite doctor I visited in the UK.

My second visit was to an eye doctor, who was in this building. He was very harsh, and I was feeling so awful he made me cry! He gave me a lecture when I mentioned that my eye doctor in the US thought I might need antibiotics: "Well, that's the difference between your country and mine. Yours gives out antibiotics willy nilly and the microbes become resistant to it! So when you actually need the antibiotics they won't work! In the UK, we give antibiotics only when they're needed - so they work when they need to. And you do not need antibiotics so you're not getting them!" And then he proceeded to yank my eyes open (which were swollen almost shut) and poke them. That was my worst UK healthcare experience.

My third visit was to the Western Eye Hospital, housed in this old building. While we were waiting, I asked for a glass of water expecting a paper or plastic cup. The nurse brought water to me in a cut crystal glass! When the *nice* eye doctor was examining my eyes, she did not use plastic gloves and just washed her hands between patients. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme in the UK: they use less disposable products than we do in the US.

During my last visit with Dr. Rowley, he determined that I was too sick and needed to return to the US so that I'd receive a complete diagnosis and care. The next morning, my mom and I were on a plane home. I've been home a little over a week and have been to the doctor almost daily. My diagnoses are a viral eye infection, a bacterial sinus infection, and severe mononucleosis. I spend most of my day sleeping or laying around... speaking of which, it's time to a nap!

Signing off,

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Coach Tour

We went on a 3 hour coach* tour of London today. They showed us the main attractions and our guide Colin was great! Below are some pictures from our trip!

*coach=the English version of a traveling Greyhound bus

Emily, Allison and I in front of the statue of Queen Anne outside St. Paul's Cathedral. She's surrounded by figures representing the British Empire's colonies. We're standing in front of the one for the US, a Native American.

Jessica and I in front of Buckingham Palace.

For the amount that the British seem to hate the French, they've bedazzled their city in fleur-de-lis! The fence around Buckingham Palace and the Parliament Building are just two examples.
Buckingham Palace Fence

A Japanese restaurant near our flat that I'm determined to try!

Longridge Rd.

This is our kitchen, which also has a washer and dryer in one!

Our dining room, kitchen and family room are combined as one big room! It's a lot bigger space than any of us expected. It's also the only place we can get our internet signal so everyone hangs out here.

This is our bathroom and it's taken from the doorway. Because the shower has no shower curtain, if you forget to lock the door while showering (which thankfully hasn't happened yet), the door-opener gets a free view!

This is our bedroom! I sleep in the single bed, which is next to the radiator so my feet are never cold when I sleep! We have 3 armoires that have a hanging space and a few drawers. We aren't allowed to put anything on the walls, which is disappointing because the room is pretty colorless.

Harrods and Hyde Park with a side of Bangers & Mash

Yesterday, a group of 6 of us ventured to Harrods. The evening gowns were beautiful and there was an opera singer in the Egyptian Escalators! The Food Halls were amazing so we got some sandwiches to go and enjoyed them in Hyde Park! We explored Hyde Park and the lake was frozen over! Naturally, we had to test the thickness of the ice but luckily no one fell in (and I didn't participate!).

We found the Princess Diana Memorial, which is a fountain that streams water from the top in spirals and comes to rest in a calm pool at the bottom. The water comes up from an aquifer 100 metres underground!

We also found a red telephone booth and had to be American tourists for the moment and take pictures!

We had a police safety talk in the afternoon and everyone was dreading it. We figured it would be more boring rules about how to not to get in trouble (which we've heard about 8 times by now). Instead, the police officer had a sense of humor! Our first topic: alcohol. He promptly told us that he was still hungover (it was 3.30pm) and was chugging water because he had another party to attend tonight! He told us that his mom told him he has an alcohol problem, and he agreed saying that his problem was that he had 2 hands and only 1 mouth! Also, he talked about drugs, weapons (mace, guns and knives are not allowed in London), and how the English police (who don't carry guns either) get a gun-weilding person under control (8-10 officers run to him and put him in a big bear hug, hoping none of them get hurt).

Then we had an Arrival Dinner at the Prince Regent Pub and Dining Room. Most of us had our first taste of bangers (sausage) and mash. Then we headed out to experience our first taste of London nightlife with Zoo Bar. They played all American music that was new about 6 months ago and no Euro-music!

Until next time,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More than 3 Streets

Flatmates: Kristin Cassidy, Emily Ponder, Allison Tripolitis, me, Emily Reno, and Hillary Mullin

We started our day with a London orientation and received explanations of the public transport systems, how to behave in the Tube ("Don't Talk") and how "not to tip because customer service hasn't made it's way here from America yet." After a break for lunch, we had an internship orientation. Most of the information was self-explanatory about how to act at our internships so it was hard to stay focused.

The neat part about the orientations was they included all the kids in the CAPA program from the State of Missouri. Missouri State U, Northwest Missouri State U, Mizzou, etc etc were all represented! I met these two girls and we bonded by commiserating about our rock-hard beds and how jet lag made us go to sleep at 8 or 9pm and wake up at 3 or 4am. We'll probably be seeing them around the CAPA campus.

After a trip to Sainsburys (almost like Walmart, but majority grocery) to stock our fridges, we headed home for a quick rest before cooking dinner. I was excited because I found my comfort food, Oreos, but I decided to try Dark Chocolate Digestives, a cookie Joanna recommended. They're delicious and will be great with my peanut butter! Jessica & I made dinner for our 13 program-mates and it was like a big family dinner!

We split after that with some of us heading off to see Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey (myself included) and others off to the pub. It was our first Tube experience and we didn't do half-bad, except for not following the "Don't Talk" rule... but hey--we're students/tourists, not Londoners, at least until the working week starts! It was also our first experience off of the 3 streets that we use to get from our flat to the Tube, food and CAPA! So now we have about 6 streets under our belt!

Pictures will be coming soon!

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Arrived Safely!

After a nice old British man traded me his aisle exit row seat for my aisle seat so he could sit next to his wife, I had a very nice flight! Including being able to stretch my legs out!

We descended into clouds and fog so thick that I didn't know it was time to land when we hit the ground!

When we finally got to our flats (after waiting 2 hours at Heathrow for our coach), we had just enough time to unpack a little before taking a snowy walking tour of our neighborhood! A lady from CAPA showed us some restaurants, where to find this or that, and most importantly, the neighborhood grocery store! Then we had a quick lesson with everyone from my flat block (18 girls, 10 boys) on how to use the appliances. It turned into a rules lesson: linens changed and flat "hoovered" one time per week, the washer is also the dryer, and don't break anything!

Then almost everyone headed to dinner at the Earl's Court Pub for a bit of dinner! The locals seemed quite surprised to have 20 or so American students walk in! We ran a few errands and we're all heading to bed (even though its only just past 8pm)!

Tomorrow we have orientations and grocery shopping in our plans! Pictures will come soon!

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I leave for my European adventure tonight! Surprisingly, everything fits into 2 suitcases!

Now I just have to go finish my last minute to-do list!

Until next time (in London!),