Cambridge: First Days

Well, this is it.
I’m really here.

We flew from Vancouver into Heathrow, arriving in the afternoon of January 5th. Following a fantastically simple customs processing (little more than a quick flash of my UK Visa before being given the all-clear) and the never before experienced occurrence of having every one of my pieces of checked luggage waiting for me on the carriage upon my arrival, we boarded a coach bus to take us from the airport up to Cambridge, a trip lasting approximately 3 hours.

Sleep was an optimistic fantasy at best, our bus driver doing his damnedest to fly around each roundabout we encountered on only the inside tyres. (Yes. Tyres. Best to learn now.) By the time we’d arrived, I was absolutely thrilled to be a) standing on solid, unmoving ground, and b) not dead.

A short cab ride and luggage haul later, and we were home. The flat is lovely, located on the top floor of a newish building on a quiet street just south of the main city centre. (Exactly here, for those who are interested.)

Much as I would love to say I ran out and embraced my new home immediately, the first few days were rough, and one could safely suggest that I was living in initial denial – a claim supported by the fact that I was in no rush to explore the town on my first night, choosing instead to spend the first two evenings happily locked away at home watching episodes of Corner Gas and basking in the quirky goings on of small-town Saskatchewan while drinking several glasses of a particularly tasty Mission Hill Shiraz.

Clearly, acclimatization will take a bit of time.

Today was the first day I really felt comfortable walking out and about – and only later in the day at that. I’ve decided that my main cause of discomfort is disorientation. Nothing is familiar anymore. Not the accents, the street signs, the traffic, the stores… Without a familiar point of reference, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the newness of it all. (I did refuse, however, to enter into the downtown Starbucks, I am happy to report.)

My initial step out into my new surroundings have been tentative at best, and my reluctance and frustrations are not ones shared by Alison, who has already spent time in Cambridge, knows her way around, and has friends here. Still, bit by bit I’m taking it all in, and accepting my surroundings as real. The later part of the afternoon was a lot of fun – I dressed myself up in my cool-jacket-and-scarf combo (the ultimate fashion for wanting to make myself feel cool and confident) and Ally and I wandered around downtown on a Geocaching mission. The afternoon ended with a half-pint at The Mill, just one of the many fine pubs Cambridge has to offer.

It wasn’t much of an adventurous day, but it still felt like a big first step. Also, I was out enough to snap a few pictures of my surroundings:

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