4.55a.m. 11/09/2007 or should I say 9/11. The alarm clock rings once, rings once more and rings again. It's time to get up, take a shower and start the engine of Vicky's car. Before stepping out of the apartment I check once more for my passport and credit card; then we leave for Graz International Airport.
5.45 Arrival at Graz International Airport. Check-in for my flight to Düsseldorf has not started yet. Nevertheless the Lufthansa flight attendant accepts my suitcase and puts it on the scale. I can read myself 26,1Kg. That’s 6,1Kg more than I am supposed to have. The lady behind the check-in desk looks at me, somehow annoyed that I bring such heavy load to her so early in the morning, then she tells me to put my hand-luggage, a nice little trolley, on the scale as well. Again, too heavy. Somehow, maybe because I looked at her so ruefully, she let me get away without any additional charge. Lucky me! (1Kg is approx. 8€, I had 9Kg overweight, do the maths yourself…)
7.05a.m. boarding has started. One long last look to Vicky, who is standing on the other side of a 3cm thick glass wall, and here I go. Boarding the small Canadair (this is not an airline but a type of aircraft) machine I don’t know if I’m really ready for this semester abroad. Anyway, the pilot greets us and a bunch of business men, three women and me take off for Germany.
10.05 or 11.05(MEZ) a.m. landing at BHX, Birmingham International Airport. Luggage arrived safely (not always happens…). After a short look at my passport I am allowed to leave the restricted area. Standing in the arrival hall of BHX I wonder in which direction to go. As expected nobody’s waiting for me at the airport so I look for the Skytrain which brings me to the main railway station. From there I take a train for 25 minutes to finally reach Wolverhampton at 12.35.
1p.m. Arrival at the Halls of Residence. Somehow I managed to share a cab with another international student from Sweden who also arrived in Wolverhampton with the same train as I did. Together we enter the reception where we are welcomed by two office workers. No long explanations or questions, only a short form to complete and a passport photograph to hand in.
1.20p.m. I get to see my room for the first time. Small, carpeted floor (at this point it looks old and smelly to me, actually I got a new one compared to all the other rooms I’ve seen by now), prison style bed with soft mattress. That’s the first impression. Taking a deep breath I open the bathroom door and can’t believe my eyes. Filthy floor (hair, dust, sticky substances), a loud ventilation, a dusty old ceiling lamp and the traditional two piece taps present in front of me. At least the shower looks nice, until I open the door to see mould on all four corners of the wall. Anyway, it’s not for a life time, it’s only for a few months.
1.30p.m. I have taken my shoes off to inspect my room more carefully. Looking out of the window I first realize that it was quite noisy in my room (especially because I was supposed to get a “quiet room”) due to the constant traffic on the street just a few meters away.
2.p.m. Leaving for down-town Wolverhampton or should I say leaving for the town centre of Wolverhampton. Actually I had no clue where the city centre was, so I dared to ask a security guard standing in front of another student residence house. My words were something like: “Excuse me Sir, would you mind telling me where downtown is?” He looked at me and responded: “Where do you want to go?” I repeated “Downtown Wolverhampton, which direction do I have to go to?”, again he answered, “What do you want?”. Remembering my last reading on the Brits it came to my mind that “downtown” was American and asked him “Which way do I need to take to get to the city centre?” A second later he gave me some brief instructions on how to reach the urban centre of Wolverhampton. (By the way: Thanks to Chris who gave me the book (I can’t remember the name right now) on the Brits)