the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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Into London

First exam. It can take something out of the normal routine to remind you that you're in a different world now.

For the past 5 years, my UNISA exam routine has been the same. Wearing shorts and t-shirt, hop in the car, stop at a petrol station along the way, buy an Energade and a roll of Super-C's, drive to and write exam at the Walter Sisulu Hall behind the Randburg Virgin Active, where the head invigilator is a nice but firm old Afrikaans tannie who was a drill instructor in a previous life. Everything organised, laid out and planned, and she wields the microphone with efficiency and purpose. Her rules blurb is the same, word for word, every exam, every year, always ending with 'the time is now X, you may begin. Good luck, *baie* sterkte'.

This exam was a little different. The process started yesterday, me in coat and scarf and packed bag, heading off to bus stop, catching bus to Reading, then train to Paddington, then tube to cheapo hotel in Bayswater, where I did my last bits of revising and stuff. Up early this morning, 15 minute stroll to the exam venue in Kensington, juice up on Starbucks coffee, write in small venue where the sweet head invigilator takes about 5 paragraphs to explain the 'no leaving in last 15 minutes' rule, the exam papers are handed out like it's a game of bingo, and the 4/3/2 hour seating started looking like musical chairs.

No gripes, just quite different. The exam went quite well, and it was nice to be around South Africans again, hearing Afrikaans and all sorts of familiar accents, and speaking to someone after the exam and not having to choose my words and pronounce things carefully so she'd understand me. I know that London's full of Sefricans, but I haven't bumped into many in our neck of the woods.

Also, after saying how drab and monotonous I thought London suburbia was after driving in a month ago, I must in fairness say that the city centre is just beautiful, and alive, and cosmopolitan and colourful, and if I was blazingly rich, I can imagine it must be something else to live there.

At any rate, this was my first solo London Adventure, and it was quite a blast.

{2007.01.15 - 16:46}


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