Today was a very caffeinated day for me.

I journeyed to the University of Sussex, in the nearby town of Falmer. The bus I took was loaded with students. It seems like quite a few live in Brighton and then commute to Falmer, where the campus is located. It seems so common that when I meet people here, the first question I am usually asked is which university I go to.

My family’s close friends, Maureen and George, have a good friend who teaches at Sussex. Maureen and George got me in touch with their friend, Mick, so I went to go meet her on campus for coffee. Their campus is much different than the University of Brighton. Sussex seems like the traditional college campus, a close cluster of buildings. Brighton, on the other hand, has different buildings for each department spread throughout the city. I haven’t spent much time around large universities, so it felt strange to navigate through all their various buildings. I didn’t take any photos while I was there, but here is one I found online of the first view when entering the campus:

very university-ish.

So Mick and I grabbed coffee, then headed back to her spacious office to have a chat. It was very refreshing to have some good conversation, and with someone who is so knowledgeable about art history. It would be absolutely marvelous to have the chance to go to a museum with her someday. Now, since I’ve gotten here, I’ve had some trouble with figuring out doors. I never know whether to push or to pull, and the handle is often misleading.  I learned from Mick that, after some great fire at a ballroom or nightclub or something in the States, all doors there were made to open outwards. When the crowd panicked and rushed to the door (that opened inward) they were all trapped inside because there was no room to pull it inwards. The crowd was too frantic and pushing towards it the door the people nearest couldn’t get away enough to open it. After this incident, most doors in the States were made to open outwards, which I’d never consciously noticed but certainly explains why I get confused so often here.

We couldn’t meet for long. The beginning of the semester is obviously a very busy time for everyone. I’m just fortunate that mine doesn’t start for another week, so I’m not feeling that yet.

I’ve gotten very little information from my school so far, which has been beginning to worry me with the start of the term being so soon. I had gotten no information from anyone in three weeks, hadn’t heard a word from the school since I’d arrived, and had no replies to my emails. So, I decided to visit my own school when I returned to Brighton. There were students everywhere, which made me very nervous that I had somehow been given the wrong date for the start of my term. At the school offices, I found the very lady who hadn’t been responding to my emails.

She assured me that my term indeed did not begin until next Monday, and explained that the students who were here were still completing their first semester. There is no break between semesters here. However, she could not tell me who my instructors were, what courses I would be taking, where my studio was, or what my schedule would be. Nor could she issue me a student ID/key, tell me whether I was taking any classes besides painting itself, or how I could register for other classes. Her advice was to come back tomorrow, at 10. I hope she can figure it out before then. I’m skeptical.

When I walked out of the building, I asked the very first person I saw whether he was a student there. His name is Jaakko and he turned out to be a very nice philosophy professor. Disconcertingly, he informed me that the second semester had definitely already started for him. He was headed out for coffee at that point, and I went along with him to find out where the best coffee around campus was. It turns out that the Frankie, very nearby, has a delicious cappuccino. We chatted for a while about philosophy, art, and America. It was very nice to calm down and clear my head after the bizarre and frustrating experience I’d just had with my new University.

I spent the rest of the day walking around, the Lanes again. The temperature dropped significantly in the early afternoon. I found some fabulous shorts that might have taken care of my problem (that people don’t know right away I’m and American) but they were the wrong size. It’s a shame, too. They were awesome.

America, oh yeah!

America, oh yeah!

Oddly, I’ve seen other things like that around here… so I’ll keep an eye out. If all goes well, I’ll have a very patriotic wardrobe by the time I make it back in June.

I also made it to the clock tower, which is the city center and near the train station, and BACK without getting lost. It may not have been the quickest route, but it is definitely more efficient than what I’d been doing. Note the TK Maxx in the background… I know you’d never guess, but that’s the UK equivalent to TJ Maxx. I might have to pay them a visit soon. My riding boots seem to have sprung a leak, and my socks were soaked by the time I got home today.


I grabbed an early dinner/late lunch and headed home. I think walking all day, every day is starting to wear me down. My left foot has been giving me trouble for a few days now, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it before too long. It’s better than having to depend on the bus to get to school… at least I’m on my own schedule.



One thought on “Universities

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