Inaugural Thoughts

So there’s this flight out of New York City. It leaves JFK at 10pm and lands in Manchester at 9:55 am. The airline keeps the plane super cold, so even the woolen blanket doesn’t seem like enough to keep the passengers warm. Dinner was a tomato and mozzarella sandwich chased by a Sara Lee brownie. Despite the fact that the flight appears to be 12 hours, it is actually a closer to 5 hours. The wait on the runway was around 30 minutes, but the flight was unbelievably smooth. I arrived in Manchester with about 3 hours of sleep under my belt and having skipped the very dry breakfast the airline provided.

I had the good sense to use the head before the plane landed. I didn’t realize at the time how smart that really was. When you get off the plane, you have to go through customs before there is a bathroom. So after about 45 minutes of standing in line, and then I get to talk to a customs officer. I’m sure it was a pretty normal conversation for going through customs, but I was not prepared for the custom’s officer to ask me what I was coming to the UK to study. I’ve been so used to giving my quick elevator speech or to answering officers with short concise answers. I didn’t think twice before telling the officer: I’m here to study the proximal femur.

Of course, the officer responded with the typical “what?” reaction. I quickly had to back pedal and explain that I’m studying mechanical engineering and applying it to biomedical problems including things like older people breaking their hip. She finishes asking me questions and I get cleared to go into the next room and claim my luggage from the baggage claim. It turns out that it is cheaper to withdraw cash from the ATM than to exchange currency with the people at the desk. Also, you need a cell phone number to be able to access the free wireless internet. So the train takes me all the way to Sheffield and I take a taxi to where I am staying. All the time hoping that my host is home to let me in despite not being able to email her and let her know my transportation was working out as planned.

My host is AMAZING! She was friendly and made time to show me around on Saturday. We met up with some other researchers from our lab and went for breakfast. I started to laugh internally as I saw we were headed to the “Rude Shipyard.” I’ll have to tell you about it some other time as they didn’t have enough open seating for our group. Instead, we walked up the road for a “traditional American breakfast.” I had not yet unpacked my camera, so I will repeat and post a picture at a later date. But, in the hopes that words will suffice in the meantime, a “traditional American breakfast” is 3 strips of bacon, 2 poached eggs, a biscuit, hash browns, 3 slices of avocado, a slice of orange, a slice of water melon, a tea (or coffee), an orange juice and two pancakes. The best part was that the portions were small enough that I could easily eat the entire breakfast.