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Whatever It Takes - Season 1 - Episode 26
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Source: coolval22
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We landed at London Heathrow airport and we all slowly alighted from the plane. I went through
terminal 5 and presented my landing card, passport and visa as well as the scholarship grant letter
from the university to the immigration officer at the point of entry. I then joined a queue going
through immigration control where the officer scanned my visa and checked my landing card. She
then asked me a few more questions which I answered quite well and honestly. She later stamped
my entrance clearance and advised me to proceed to the baggage collection area to collect my
baggage. They searched it thoroughly and after discovering I had declared all my items correctly
allowed me to pass through the green customs channel . I then walked to the nearest public phone
and called Sheridan and Amber to notify them of my arrival and they told me that they were
already waiting for me in the waiting area and that I should look for my name placard with a symbol of the sun to locate them. I easily located them and they were in the company of two other
ladies and a gentleman who happened to be student ambassadors from the university. I looked frazzled by all the traveling. Who couldn’t be? I had literally spent almost the whole day airborne. I
was glad they noticed that I was jet lagged so they didn’t waste any time as they quickly
welcomed and greeted me and led me to their car. I felt chilly and they advised me to wear something warmer with Amber suddenly offering me a spare coat that she apparently carried


specifically for me.


” Welcome to London. You need to keep warm here most times but I’m sure you will soon get
used.” She said handing me the coat
” Thanks.” I said and the three of us got in one car while the student ambassadors got in another.
” From here we go to our apartment and the student ambassadors are here because of the special
arrangement we made with the school so that we can show you around since you don’t report till
next week. Normally they pick you up from the airport straight to the university and help you settle
in. They will come and pick you up from the bus station near our home in four days time so that
you can equally get acquainted with the university.” Sheridan announced and I nodded in
affirmation.


The drive to their apartment wasn’t so long and in no time we entered a beautiful apartment.

” Welcome to our apartment. Please feel at home.” Said Amber
” Thank you !” I responded sheepishly. I was nervous and excited at the same time.
” Please call father Muma to notify your family about your arrival and ask that they arrange a time
when you can personally speak with them.” Amber told me as she led me to the phone
I successfully called back home and arranged to speak with my family the following day. I later
took a bath and was served some food.

The food was different from what I mostly ate so I only ate
what I could identify.

I was later showed my room and they left me to snooze…..



The four days of getting acquainted with London were over and I was beginning to appreciate the
place although I couldn’t say the same about the weather. Talking about the weather I remember
the first time I felt the snow. The morning after I arrived we woke up to some snow it wasn’t much
but I was shivering so I had an extra coat causing Amber and Sheridan to laugh at me. “You
should see winter perhaps then you will have to go in hibernation” they joked and I was terrified of
such cold. For our London tours, we used the hope on hope off bus to visit some of the most
famous places which included the tower of London, big ben, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s
globe, St Paul’s cathedral, coca cola London eye, Buckingham Palace to mention only a few.
Did you know the queens official residence has a whooping seven hundred and seventy five
rooms? Yep I was shocked to know of its grand size. Most of the times outside the summer
opening, tourists are allowed to see the iconic exterior and watch the famous changing the guard.
Changing the guard of course is a famous ceremony also known as guard mounting which takes
place outside the palace and depicts the actual changing of the Queen’s guard. It’s an event full of
pomp and pageantry as a group of soldiers dressed in red tunics and bearskin hats change shifts.
The Buckingham palace old guard forms up in the Palace’s forecourt guard and is joined by the
St James’s palace old guard. The new guard then arrives from Wellington barracks in a formal
ceremony accompanied by music. It’s nothing less than spectacular and most locals come out to
watch proudly.
I was lucky the palace was open for interior tours at the time and so we had an opportunity to see
the Nineteen magnificently decorated state rooms which are usually open for public viewing during summer . I got to appreciate Britain’s most treasured arts such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Van
Dyck of course I was only hearing of them at the time as Sheridan and Amber proudly shared their
British heritage. I was spent just by going through those rooms I wonder how frazzled one could
get or how long it would take to visit all seven hundred and seventy five rooms. Even if I was a
princess I would frequently get lost in such an enormous place.
Anyway we wrapped up the tours with a free boat cruise which was part of the package. It was a
whole different scenario with a hint of adrenaline rush especially on the Coca-Cola London eye.
As arranged the student ambassadors picked me up from the bus stop four days later and drove
me to the campus which was just over a mile away from Camden Town with a drive estimate of
around nine minutes via Bayham Street and A400. I then understood how and why it was easy
for Amber and Sheridan to organise the four day holiday bit.

Three days later , the centre for multidisciplinary and intercultural inquiry organised the induction
week for various programs which was superceded by an induction party. There were a lot of
foreign students with a few from Africa such that I couldn’t help but feel out of place.

I wasn’t a party person so I sat or stood in isolation most of the time. I was thinking of walking out
to my room when a young African student approached me.

” Hi there!” She said as soon as she drew closer
” Hello” I responded shyly
” I’m Ifeoma Richards.” She said extending her hand. It felt so great to have someone notice me
for a while. Other than the student ambassadors I had no one I could call a friend at the time. ” I’m
from Nigeria.” She added
” Kasuba Mwenya from Zambia.” I answered and took her hand which she shook rather vigorously
scaring the crap out of me. She was most definitely a hard nut to crack.

” Heading out?” She asked and I nodded. We then both walked out and found a perfect quite spot
where we sat and spoke a bit more about our countries. Ifeoma was quite loud and blunt
reminding me of my Sally back home and would often slid into the pidgin English which I found
rather amusing and interesting at the same time. We clicked right away and promised to have
each other’s backs.

But we forgot to share the actual courses we were doing so I was surprised to see her walk into
my class on Monday. I thought she had just come looking for me till she found a vacant table and
chair and settled in. The class began with personal introductions including countries we hailed from. Most students were European and Asian with a few German and only the two of us hailed
from Africa. We looked at each other and gestured to each other. Grateful that we had met earlier.


The first few lectures in that week were warm and friendly but the following weeks were quite
hectic. I found myself getting more and more absorbed into the modules despite being so good at
the first year modules which basically included mathematics, statistics and computing.


I knew the reason why I was there and so I had to do what I had to do in order to make my family
and sponsors proud. It was even more gratifying that Ifeoma was just as focused because then we
would study more and chat only after studies….

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