The plane landed in London Heathrow Airport at 11 a.m. Going through immigration was a peace of cake! I thought they would make a lot of hassle (given my country of origin) but the guy just stamped my passport and told me to register for the police within 7 days (which i already knew because it was written in CAPITAL letters in my visa). I went to collect my luggage and passed through customs where a man asked me it I was coming from Beirut. I answered yes and he started asking me: "Do you have labneh?", "No" I said... at this time another customs officer came dragging a black dog which immediately started sniffing my bags while I was still being asked if I have "labneh", "jebneh", "samak" ... (and I am using the words of the customs man!) . I laughed and said: "They will get spoiled anyways!"; the man finally said "just go!" and I did.
I directly found the representatives from university, they greeted me and checked my name and took my luggage and asked me to do whatever I want but report to them at 1:30 p.m. because the coach will head towards Southampton at 2:00 p.m. I wandered around a bit, bought a sandwich and ate it, read a bit in my book, wandered some more, read some more ...
A girl approached me and asked me if I was from Turkey, I replied saying No and that I was from Lebanon. It turned out that she was from Turkey and had met a girl online who was also from Turkey and the other girl was also gonna study in the University of Southampton and was supposed to arrive on the same day of our arrival. She then introduced me to a guy who was from Malta and was going to Southampton to study Civil Engineering.
When it was finally time to leave the representative from university divided us into groups based on where we will be dropped off. The Turkish girl joined another group and another girl approached me asked me whether I was going to the same destination as she was. She was from Germany and her name was Verena - pronounced Veghena. She was going to the University of Southampton to study Computational Fluid Dynamics. Anyways we queued in line outside the airport and it was a bit chilly and then it suddenly started to rain. I was kind of happy with the rain because it produces a certain smell in the air, the same smell of the rain from back home!
We finally got on our buses and I sat next to Verena and we chatted for about an hour. The coach ride was for almost 3 hours and after the first hour we were tired and sleepy so we kind of kept quiet for the rest of the journey. We finally reached the halls of residence a bit after 5 p.m. where we queued again to be handed our room keys. Luckily for me I was the first in line and I was handed my room key quickly. I had been hoping all the way on the coach that my room won't be on the ground floor; so when I asked the reception guy what room my floor on and he replied the ground floor I was very upset. I asked him if I could change rooms and he said I have to wait for two weeks then inform then because by then all students would have arrived and they can check the availability of other rooms.
A girl from the 'Meet and Greet Program' walked me to my room. She was very nice and showed me around everything. After I put my stuff I remembered that I forgot to take my bedding pack from the reception. I walked back to reception where I asked for a bedding pack. As I was waiting Verena walked in because she had also forgotten her bedding pack. After we both got our bedding packs she asked me about my room and I said it was OK but she said her room was awful and offered to show it to me. I walked with her to her room and it was actually awful. We were standing there and talking when another girl got out of her room and said she was glad to hear some noises because it was very quiet. She introduced herself as Fleur from Holland. She also showed us her room and it was also awful. So, I offered to show them my room and we all walked back to my room. We then decided to go get some food and water. A guy who Fleur met on the ride back home also came along with us. He was Peter from Poland.
We went to Burger King and ate some food then we passed by a small shop and got some water and fruits. We then walked back to the dorms and agreed to meet the next day in the morning to walk together to the presentations held for the International students.
I went back to my room and I made my bed. It was a weird feeling getting the pillow, pillow cover, duvet, duvet cover, and bed sheet out of a pack and putting everything in its place. Putting a duvet in a duvet cover is a somewhat tricky task hehehe. I took a shower and I checked my emails for a while and then I went to sleep. However, the pillow was very squeezed so I put some t-shirts under it and went to sleep.
Thomas Friedman at the Saudi regime lobby
4 hours ago