Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

Britain, Britain, Britain! or Wednesday Woes

At Lancaster University there is a free bus throughout Wednesday taking students into and back from town. This is when all the international students with half a brain go shopping because we get free transport. Why? Because the buses are run by Sainsbury’s (a supermarket in Lancaster) in the bid to get us to shop there.

Anyway, so this Wednesday, my two American flat mates and I went into town on the free bus for a shop. We had planned to spend about an hour shopping and get back again. Instead we were in town for five hours. There were many reasons for this;

a) we got lost in the arcade trying to find the one pound store and refused to give up on the principle of being povo exchange students who couldn’t afford another store
b) in the centre of the arcade there was a patriotic lobbyist group set up. Photo below but not great because I was trying to look like I wasn’t taking a picture.

I can tell you there is nothing more awkward than having a bunch of people seemingly enveloped in British flags coming up to you demandingly and saying “Help our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan! THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR YOU AND YOUR COUNTRY! SUPPORT THEM TODAY!” followed by “Would you like to donate and support our country?”

My American buddies and I were so shocked by the randomness of the situation (but… but… your troops arn’t fighting for us? and this is not my country… and we are povo exchange students who can barely afford to eat let alone donate money to lobby groups) that we stood there like idiots for what seemed like ages before my friend said “um no…” and I said “Not really,” and then we walked off as quickly as we could before we got lynched for being unpatriotic citizens or something. The result of this encounter meant that we were all too afraid to go through the centre of the arcade so we had to keep taking the long way round to get to the shops we were trying to get to.

c) Finally, we finished our shopping and went back to get the Sainsbury’s bus. We waited there for ages, and ages and ages… the line of students grew and grew and still no bus…


Again, we insisted upon waiting for the bus on the principle that it was free and we didn’t want to pay to get back to College. It became a kind of contest. Who would out wait everyone else? After an hour and fifteen minutes and still no bus, five of us remained. It was cold and we were tired so we gave up together, walked to the bus station, paid for a bus, and begged the driver to go via university even though it wasn’t on his route.

Ha. Ha. I love Sainsbury’s and their evil, evil sense of humour. Won’t it be really funny to watch all the freezing exchange students stand there waiting for a BUS THAT IS NEVER GOING TO COME. Ha Ha Sainsbury’s. Thanks for looking out for me while I’m in Britain! *cough* I just so appreciate it.

Ahem. Anyway, we climbed the four flights of stairs to our flat and decided to make hot chocolate because we were tired, grumpy and cold… only to find out that my flat mate had bought coffee by accident.

My flat mate has decided she is now sleeping through Wednesdays.

On a more positive note, I am seeing Hamlet tomorrow… and thank goodness I didn’t book my ticket for a Wednesday 😉


One response

  1. Jan Gothard


    Couple of reminiscent moments for me in this one!

    My family and I spent a semester in South Carolina – my girls were in primary school – and they found it extremely odd having to pledge allegiance to the flag, hand on heart every morning. They found the overt patriotism very unfamiliar. And they were also required to write in class an essay on ‘why I am proud to be an American’ – no acknowledgement on the teacher’s part that in fact they weren’t! The results – which I still have at home in the family archives – are funny in the extreme! But they felt culturally conflicted having to say that pledge – one got round it by not saying the words out loud…

    Re queuing in Britain – I have long and now fond memories of waiting, waiting, waiting, for buses that never came – or if they finally did, they came two at a time, with the first one too full for everyone in the queue to get in, while second one (empty!) zipped past on the outside without stopping!

    And every year (I lived there for five year in the 80s, in the Thatcher era – it was a grim time) British Rail would grind to a halt in autumn – because of leaves on the track – as if that is not THE most predictable thing in the world about a northern hemisphere autumn! No strategies in place to deal with it, enormous confusion and delays – every year! Only in Britain! But whereas the sojourners from places like Oz (and I remember some very irate north Americans!) expressed their incredulity, the Brits just – waited. My recurrent image of Brits (a stereotype, I know) is of people waiting without complaint for a bus that will never come…

    But maybe my views are out of date now?

    How do you deal with it?


    October 18, 2010 at 2:30 am

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