Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Excerpts from CHILDREN'S MAGAZINE (Part 8)

A unique experience by Sorina Ristea (Lexis Mozart)

I had never been abroad or flown before. I had never been away alone before. Everything started on July 25th 2005 when, at 4 a.m. we boarded the British Airways plane that took us to England. After a three-hour delightful flight we landed on Gatwick Airport, we got on the coach which was waiting for us and were driven about fifty kilometers south of London to the campus of Reading University where we stayed for seven days.

Once arrived there, we were provided accommodation in a hostel called Winchcombe in cosy single rooms overlooking a nice meadow, each one with its own shower room. Lunch was served soon afterwards, then we were tested concerning our English level and finally the groups each of us belonged to were displayed in front of the canteen.

What impressed me the most during our seven-day stay in Reading were the diversity of the programme and the very efficient use of time so that, during the day, there was enough room for these classes of English, three meals, plenty of sports, not to mention the terrific dancing evenings in the Junior Common Room – the students’ club for the campus. Another thing as impressive as the ones mentioned above was our safety protection assured twenty-four hours a day. During this period, one-day excursions to Brighton, Stonehenge, Stratford-on-Avon ( Shakespeare’s birthplace) and Oxford were also organized, where we covered as many sightseeing objectives as possible, What a pity that the days were so short! If only time had been more generous with us! If only the days had been longer so that we could have seen and visited more lovely places!

Unfortunately, the last day in Reading came and ended up with the Diploma Awarding Ceremony and with an artistic programme whose two peak moments were the General Knowledge Quiz – when the students vied with teachers, and the teachers’ singing Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. They were dressed up like students and were conducted by the director of the University who acted as their teacher. It was terrific and absolutely exciting and everybody was exhilarating. Everybody felt like saying: “stay for ever moment, you are so beautiful!” At the very end of the festival we took pictures, swapped addresses and phone numbers with our newly-made foreign friends, and said our farewell to them, We were really sorry it was our last evening there… But, anyway, the best was yet to come – that is the unforgettable extraordinary London experience.

After a pleasant journey, the final destination was reached and nobody could believe their eyes – we were in front of the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square, waiting to receive accommodation. After a short while, this happened and, because it was too late to visit something that day, we just took a stroll in the surrounding area. Not vainly does it keep on being said that “he who is tired of London is tired of life”. I felt it myself during the two-day sightseeing tour in this marvellous cosmopolitan city. There was so much to do and see that you couldn’t even feel the time passing by.

On the first day we visited the British Museum – a real treasure of culture, history and civilization – Trafalgar Square, where we admired that huge statue surrounded by lions, Covent Garden with its famous Odeon Theatre and caught a glimpse of the Prime Minister’s 10, Downing Street residence. The climax of our first-day London tour was walking along the road that links Trafalgar Square to the Queen’s Capital City Residence – Buckingham Palace. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye – a big wheel on top of which a panorama of the city can be seen – were other tourist attractions we couldn’t definitely miss.

On the second day, our visits to Madame Tussaud’s the wax works museum – and to the Planetarium – a kind of cinema having its screen on the ceiling and where we were shown a fifteen-minute documentary about our solar system, not to mention visiting the inside of Westminster Abbey – the most impressive cathedral in London, where the most important events in the royal family took place, as well as shopping for souvenirs and presents in Regent street were some of the most attractive points on our itinerary. Not only was I impressed by being in London – the city of my dreams – and by everything I had seen and visited there, but what really tugged at my heartstrings was the Londoners’ kindness, generosity, helpfulness, innate politeness.

My unique experience ended on August 3rd at Windsor where we made a tour of the city and visited the inside of the Royal Castle. On the next day, we landed on Otopeni International Airport, but even if everybody was happy to see their parents, friends and relatives after a ten-day absence, we looked like waken up from a ten-day wonderful dream. I was in the same mood myself, and it was only after a couple of weeks that I realized I had been in England indeed and, unfortunately, everything was over. It’s been over half a year since then now, and whenever I look at the photos taken their in England – assuredly this happens very often – they remind me of the very best of my unique English experience. I do hope I will visit England again one day.

Lexis Barbu Vacarescu

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