Overwhelmed vs. Underwhelmed.

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be ‘whelmed’?” “I think you can in Europe.”

If you can name that movie, I will give you nothing except bragging rights. Any takers? No? Well it is one of my personal favorites: 10 Things I Hate About You. The lovely Bianca is conversing with her friend Chastity as they stroll through their high school campus. Bianca poses the question and Chastity adds the bit about Europe to make their small brains think harder.

The reason I started this post with Bianca and Chastity’s discussion is because it perfectly sums up my first week of classes. As I sit in the common room of the dorm that I don’t live in, waiting for my laundry to finish its go in the dryer, I am left to think about how completely underwhelmed I am at this simple activity. I guess that maybe I was thinking that washing my socks and underwear while in London was going to be some completely different and exciting experience; that I would be jumping up and down to push worn out buttons on a dingy machine because the water here is “English water.” Well, as I’m sure you all guessed, this is not the case. Doing laundry in another country is just as boring and tedious as doing it back home. First of all, I don’t have laundry capabilities in my own dorm, so I had the fun luck of draggin it up a ten minute walk to the other dorm. There are only six washers and six dryers, making it difficult to snag an open machine (and I already pulled someones finished clothes out of the dryer so I could use it). How totally not exciting. Now, I suppose that I am excited about clean underwear (since I am wearing my last pair right now) and socks, but that is about as excited as I get about doing laundry.

Another prime example of being excited, only to be let down, was when I decided to go clubbing on Friday. The “Start of the Term” party was being held at a club in Piccadilly Circus called “Cafe de Paris.” This club hosted the London Fashion Show afterparty, hence its pretentious name and atmosphere. I am normally not one to go clubbing, and in fact was very close to not attending this party even though I purchased a ticket already (10 pounds by the way!), but with some persuasion from friends and the okay from my boyfriend, I donned a short dress and thigh highs and made my way downtown.

We arrive at the club only to have the awesome time of waiting in line in the cold London air. Wearing just a simple dress and stockings does not protect much from the 43 degree weather, so I was already pushed into a poor mood. Thankfully, the line moved and we got inside. Only to stand in another line to check our coats, which was another 2 pounds each. I handed over my coins after waiting for twenty minutes, clearly needing a drink.

Which brings me to the other underwhelming part of the story. The drinks were 12 pounds each! This is roughly $17! For one semi-good, but mostly just regular alcohol. I was expecting pure gold. Between my two friends and me, buying three different rounds, we spent 92 GBP which translates into roughly $140. And that was just two shots and one cocktail each. It was absolutely ridiculous, along top of checking out coats and paying a cover charge just to get in! I will never be going back and am actually pretty disappointed that my first time “clubbing” was such a travesty.

Finally, this brings me to my last underwhelming experience, which is the one that I am most upset about it. However, this one does have a chance to right itself. Classes started a week ago and one of them, the one that I was most excited for, was a very large let down. Shakespeare and His World II was a very underwhelming experience. I suppose it was my fault for choosing a theatre class and expecting it to be literature based, but when I entered the room, high on the idea of studying Shakespeare in London, I was crushed by the reality that I was the only literature major in the room. Surrounded by theatre majors, my professor being one of them, we would be reading seven or eight plays by this master, but looking at them and their performances instead of dissecting his words and analyzing what the Bard has to say. As I said, this class does have a huge chance to change itself because I have only experienced one day of class, and all we talked about was the simple housekeeping business. Today we aren’t even going to be in class, instead we are trekking across town to the Barbican where we will be seeing the first part of Henry IV, which is pretty cool I will admit.

You might be wondering why I would include being “overwhelmed” in my title if all I have talked about is being underwhelmed. Well, I would like to end on a positive note and reiterate how there have been many, many experiences where I have been overwhelmed. Some negative, but many positive. Like traveling to Bath yesterday and stepping foot into a very historic city, rich with old stories, dirty water, and laughter. It was awesome driving past the bright green English countryside and seeing sheep grazing on the side of the road. So there is a good balance of overwhelming and underwhelming experiences, as there should be, I suppose that I was just expecting no underwhelming times and only overwhelming experiences. However, having these underwhelming times means that I can appreciate the overwhelming and excited things I see so much more.


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