Today (as in a week ago) was so lovely that I decided there really is no excuse for waiting any longer to start recording my time here in Leicester.
This morning, I bought a second hand bicycle, rode it around town and got comfortably lost. I flew over autumn leaves, felt the quiet hum of the wheels on wet pavement below me, and wondered why I’d never thought to buy a bike before. Bikes are really wonderful things, you know? I don’t know why I’m so late to the party in regards to cycling, but I think I’ve well and truly found the punch bowl and have settled in to stay.
I think I’ve named the bike Bessie. Too bad I’ll only have her for four more months. I’ll have to locate her cousin back in Melbourne. While I’m here I plan on taking many bike trips to nearby forests and parks around Leicester, and just generally around the city. Zooming around on my bike kind of makes me feel more part of this place.
Although, as soon as I arrived here I felt very much at ease, as if I were a local. I think it derives from the feeling of anonymity in a foreign country, and the realisation that no one actually knows that I’m not a local. I think, also, being an Australian has certainly lessened the feeling of distance. It honestly — and I can’t really avoid the cliche so here goes - feels like home here. I feel very much part of the environment. I walk around and soak everything up: the oak trees, the smell of wet autumn leaves, the squirrels, the endless hedges, the crisp October air, the cloud formations at sunset. There are aeroplane trails in the sky, and I realise that they’re not going to Sydney or Adelaide, but to Edinburgh, to Manchester. Every so often I re-rememeber where I am. It hits me in small doses. An accent, a numberplate, a bank note, and suddenly I’m in England oh my goodness.
Anyway, university has also started, so my four month study hiatus has officially ended. I’m genuinely excited to start studying again though, especially as the content is mostly unfamiliar to me. I’ll be studying Chaucer, Renaissance literature, and Old English (which is fascinatingly familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It amazes me endlessly that just as I speak English today, so too did someone in the 6th century speak English, despite the dramatic variance.)
This, this is why I want to learn Old English:
Þæt betweonweb het me hit gefremman.
"The internet made me do it."
The campus itself at Leicester is lovely, leafy, and not too far from town. The majority of my classes are held in the same building - the Attenborough Tower - which features a paternoster: a never-ending, doorless elevator which you just jump on and jump off as required. While I’m not riding the paternoster purely for fun, I’ve spent many hours sitting in the library on the quiet top floor, which looks out over parkland, at sunlight hitting streets of identical red tile rooves, and at incoming storms.
In a few weeks time I’m going to Dublin, which will be fantastic, and Edinburgh in late November. It’s exciting just being here, living here, coming back to my warm room and planning trips - and importantly - making plans to not plan, to just go wandering and read.
Life here in Leicester is lovely.