July 10th 2004 Sat. Fine
The plane finally touched the ground. It was around 5:00 p.m. local time, that is, London time, which is eight hours behind Beijing time. After a fuss at the luggage claim, we mixed into the crowd of people with different colors and styles. My eyeballs kept jumping from one alien to another. What a sight!
Then we were met by someone from the university, who, we later learned, is called Barbara, our course director. It was about an hour’s bus ride before we finally reached Brighton, where we were picked up by different English host families. My host family is a couple with a five-year-old daughter. On the way to their home, the hostess said that we (Xu Huishang and I) were lucky because they had just moved to the new house. We each have a separate room. The bathroom is OK. What we had for dinner was something like pizza and some vegetables.
It was only after the shower that I realized I had been up for almost 24 hours. It was the longest day I had ever had. I will have to get over the jet lag.
July 13th 2004 Fine
In order to save money, Xu Huishang and I decided to walk to the university, but we never expected that the pavement only extended to the end of the town. We ended up walking on the edge of the highway with cars whistling by.
Sandra was highly tensed, complaining all the way. Luckily, it was our idea, not mine alone. I tried to appear more calm while quite aware of the danger we were in. We could have been knocked down by any of the passing cars! Thank God, this didn’t happen.
July 19th 2004 fine
There are several interesting things that I’d like to write about.
1. When it is almost nine o’clock in the evening, the sun is still shining high above the horizon.
2. Drinking water is available in the toilet !
3. My teacher Barbara wears so many fancy rings on her fingers and even one on her toe!
4. There are metal boxes attached to some of the poles on the campus. They are meant for the students to put in the cigarette ends.
5. Cars marked with L at the back tell people that someone learning driving is driving the car. Cars marked with P means someone who has just passed the driving test is driving the car.
6. Words in large letters are painted on the road to give signs and warnings, such as, “BUS LANE”, “BUS AND TAXI”, “LOOK RIGHT, THEN LOOK LEFT”, “KEEP CLEAR”, “NO PARKING”, “STAND BACK” etc.
7. Almost all the houses have chimneys on the roofs.
8. Most of the bus-drivers are people in their fifties, who are very kind and helpful.
9. In the university cafeteria there is a large rotating shelf on which students put their used trays after eating.
10. Almost all the houses facing the streets have got beautifully-woven white curtains which are out of date in China but to me they are very romantic.
July 21st 2004 fine
After dinner, Xu Huishang and I took a walk to Rottingdean. When we drew near, we took a different path which leads to the windmill on top of a hill. Once we reached the windmill, we found ourselves in the middle of a golf course, and the English Channel spread before us with the sun setting. What a splendid sight! We were very excited and Sandra began to shout (I made sure that there was no one around). We took some photos and came back by bus.
July 22nd 2004 Fine
To be frank, I don’t like the computer lesson at all. Lily speaks in a very faint voice and she is always on her own. I figured she is not a native English speaker. This afternoon, during her course, I began to feel a severe headache. I am computer-illiterate, feeling like a complete idiot. Then on the way home, Sandra and I dropped in at a DVD shop. I was very much focused looking at the DVDs when I saw in my eyes’ corner that Sandra was already standing outside the door. So without much thinking, I headed for the door. Bang! I bumped my head into the glass window! The embarrassment surpassed the pain. Luckily, I quickly located the right door and fled the shop, knowing that people must be laughing at me… What a day! The thirteenth day of my being in England!
July 27th 2004 Fine
This afternoon towards evening, my English friend Ben came down from London by train to Brighton and we met at the train station ( just like in a film ). Before I could see his face clearly, he gave me a “huge” hug (obviously he has put on some weight) and a kiss on the cheek. Then we just looked at each other and laughed heartedly! He took me to a pub and we had a few drinks. I behaved myself and we didn’t fight! We talked about the time when he was teaching in my school in China and all the fun we used to have with friends in Pinghu. He kept saying, “It is like yesterday…” Then we walked to the beach and had a photo taken. The old couple who helped with the camera said that we looked perfect! I was very rejoiced and of course very sad as well because finally came the time when we had to say goodbye. Hug and kiss again, but this time I felt myself really so small (as Ben put it) and totally lost!
That’s my “romance” in England. Next Tuesday he will come to see me again.
July 30 th Friday 2004
Damian Slee is another teacher who also gives lessons on teaching methodology and introduces different ways of teaching the English language. His first impression on me was that he was not a native speaker, but a Spanish, and I was bold enough to tell him so. Luckily he didn’t kill me----he is English.
I’m absorbed in his interesting lessons and his way of teaching, which is seemingly loose, but very flexible in fact. He can bring out my inspirations and many times I found myself uttering words and expressions that I hadn’t used for a long time. I like the background music he played for us. I like to hear him singing familiar songs and wished I could sing with him. I’m looking forward to the lessons when he will do some songs and poems.