An alarming first trip to NCL

Lenka tells us about her trip to Newcastle where she became terrified of fire alarms

Lenka Minarovicova
23rd February 2021
Let me tell you a disastrous but amusing movie-like story of how I travelled to NCL and my first moments here.

It was a lovely December morning; my alarm set off at 7:02. It was time for me to get up so that I’d easily catch the plane to London. I had cried out all my feelings the nights before, so I didn’t feel anxious nor excited anymore unlike my family.

I arrived at the airport, said my last goodbyes, and went through the security. Waiting at my gate, I summarised my plan for the day. I did a great job; everything was planned out perfectly. I knew exactly how much time I’d have at each stop. It was just enough. Who would want to wait for too long? Then it all started.

My plane was supposed to leave at 10:50, but at that time, there was no plane to be seen. All of sudden, my emotions returned and I started freaking out. What about my perfect plan?! I did add one extra hour but who knows how long the flight will be delayed? Finally, a plane landed. People rushed out, which scared me. Will the staff have time to sanitise it? Isn’t it dangerous in the current circumstances?

We took off at 11:50. I’d lost the extra hour so it’ll be very close, but I could still make it. I calmed down. To my pleasant surprise, we even landed 30 minutes earlier than expected. YES!! I rushed through London airport. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for my luggage, as I’d sent it to my accommodation. I frantically looked for the train station. I couldn’t see any signs. A train should leave every thirty minutes and it was 12:55. Then, I found it! And the train left ten minutes ago. The next one will be in half an hour. Every thirty minutes, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. The only thing left to do was to keep waiting and recalculate how much time I have left. If I get to Tottenham Hale at 1:04, I should be able to get to King’s Cross by the time my train leaves. Okay then, let’s go!

Then another problem occurred. I wasn’t sure how to buy tickets for the tube. Running around with my suitcase and extremely heavy backpack, asking everyone I bumped into including employees and no one could give me proper instructions. Moreover, I was losing time; every minute was precious! The train ticket was expensive; I can’t afford to miss it. With the help of one kind lady, I got to King’s Cross in time. The train left two minutes after I sat down.

In the evening, I got to my room where I was supposed to self-isolate for the next two weeks. Finally. All’s well that ends well, right? Ha.

I met my flatmates for the first time. Some of them were planning to party all night and they kindly invited me to join them. After such a day, I was happy that I had the energy to prepare instant noodles and I still needed to unpack.

I looked at the instructions for self-isolation that were on the desk. There was a section about how to evacuate. I thought to myself, how do I know if it’s a fire alarm if I had never heard it before? What a bold thought.

I fell asleep despite the noise from the kitchen. At 3 am, I was woken up by a weird loud sound. Funnily enough, I knew exactly what it was. I grabbed my key card and ran out with a bunch of strange people. Freezing in my pyjamas, I was waiting for the security to turn the alarm off. Apparently, the party was so wild that it got really hot in the kitchen, which set off the alarm. When I could go back to sleep, I noticed a weird beeping sound. But at that time, I was so tired that I could not care less. Another mistake.

At 5:30 am I woke up to someone banging on my door saying we had to evacuate again, as there is a suspicion of leaking carbon monoxide. This can’t be real! So our flat was sent to a common room in a different building. We were waiting for almost an hour. That day I had four seminars – the highest number I have in a day. I felt dead and I’m not sure whether I’ll ever recover from my new fear of fire alarms.  

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