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The Days Studying in England
In December of 1985, I met my first winter vacation in Bath. Since almost all of local and continental students went home, only some overseas students from Asia, Africa or Latin America had left. For management convenience, the university authority integrated all students scarcely located around whole campus in one dormitory, Wessex House, where Mr. Fang currently lived in. He got a thrifty idea and asked me to hand back my room in Eastwood and move to Wessex to share his room. It was a real economical way, because the accommodation expense was so expensive and almost cost half of our scholarship. As decent visiting scholars, we didn’t want to damage our dignity by illegal laboring, such as served as restaurant waiters, station porters etc. Therefore, to cut down our daily expenditure as much as possible was our only mean to save money.
Thank to his help, I completed all necessary procedures and moved to his room successfully. In this way, we not only had saved a considerable amount of money, but also had pulled out the loneliness and homesick crisis during the Chinese New Year period.
It was the late morning of Christmas Eve in 1985. Mr. Fang and I went down the campus hill for Christmas shopping. After about one and half hours’ selecting to meats and vegetables, we dropped in a famous electronic shop, Gatewick to see my favorable camera. For unknown reasons, the shop assistor did not allow us to bring our shopping bag in. We had to leave it beside the display windows. To our surprise, when we returned back, the bag having already disappeared! “Oh, dear!” we shouted with intensive dismay. “I never imagined the thief would be interested in vegetables even in England!” Mr. Fang kept complaining. It was true; no any theft case had ever been reported by local media since we settled down in Bath.
In that evening, a horrible TV broadcast spoiled the joyful fete of Christmas Eve. A live report was shown on TV screen which snatched thousands people’s hearts. There were dozen of heavily armed policemen lying on snow ground. They seemed to be besieging a strange subject beside the steel bridge nearby Bath Railway Station. Obviously, it must be a terror case occurred. From the thrilling TV scene on-site, we found an explosive expert with a strange bag running wild. This legendary hero took no care to his own safety and had a hard time on the icy field. The fete air was frozen. We could not help admiring those brave people who were going sacrifice their lives, their festival pleasure to our society. However, at the agonizing moment, the story had a dramatic turning, when the expert reached to a shelter place far away from the bridge. We found, from the focused camera lens, he was cautiously opening the parcel. “Why is the bag looked so familiar?” I asked. “Oh, my God! It is my shopping bag!” Mr. Fang cried out in start.
Then, the screen was switched to a funny scene when the reporter had deliberately shown what were on the expert’s hands. That was nothing but a bundle of discounted vegetables with yellow tags! A thundering laugh blasted out everywhere, which recovered the festival happiness to all residents in Bath, except for Mr. Fang and me, since we were so regretted to our negligence which caused so many policemen lying on snow almost whole afternoon for nothing.
After that, we’d managed to get the details. In that morning, one unemployed fellow was wandering nearby electronic shops and worrying about the Christmas gifts to his craving kids. He suddenly found a deserted bag lying under the display windows of Gatewick. He considered it was the very gift given by Santo and hastily went back to give his kids a surprise. In midway home he opened the parcel in anxiety. But the finding really disappointed him. He threw it away in despair.
It was wartime when a territory dispute between Great Britain and Argentina had been escalated to a fight, which disturbed people’s peaceful lives so much that even a minor event might trigger a huge crisis. That was why a finding report to the peculiar parcel nearby the railway bridge would have caused such panic.
For same reason as last Christmas vacation, Mr. Fang moved to my dormitory, Eastwood in summer vacation of 1986.
Different from Wessex, Eastwood is a 3 stores mansion with 3 flats in total. In each storey, 3 students share 1 flat and all students shared the only kitchen and bathroom.
Except for us, all my other neighbors are from the countries of West Asia or Middle East in this building. Since the space was so limited, we were able to meet each other from time to time.
Found us sharing one room, they all had considered it remarkable simply because they might have not seen it yet before. I always felt several strange eye sights came to my back, when I cooking, washing or even walking. Sometimes, they even grimaced each other. I really was repulsed by it. But I did not know why? After a while when we got along well, I asked one of them what’s the reason? “ Oh, yes,” he told me frankly “we thought you were guys before. But, we were also puzzled who should play the female role between such 2 vigorous gentlemen? Now, we fully understood it is your custom.”. His explanation shocked me and made me sick.
Because in early 1980’s, we never got such concepts as homosexual, ADS in Chinese dictionary, even in some west countries it was a new phantom appearing and wandering in horizon. His words deeply hurt us even now when we recalled this scene, we still fill sick. We sadly realized that was the real meaning of “poverty means humiliation”!
In the early February of 1986, the icy wind were frequently sweeping through whole islands, just like the descriptions in famous novel <Wuthering Heights>. The chilly wind had not only frozen the environment, but also our hearts. In this case, no one dared to open the door, needless to say going out for traveling. However, just at this very moment, we decided to travel to middle England and north Scotland, simply because it was a slack touring season. Just little more than 20 pounds spending would make you travel as far as to Edinburgh in Scotland. Plus the transfer service, you might get off and have sightseeing all the way.
In this way, we started from Bath, then visited Manchester, York (Shakespeare’s hometown), Leis, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, where we visited our Chinese friends, colleagues and ledged there to save accommodation fees. Sometimes, it was too cold for shopkeepers to open the shops. Whole street was deadly silent. We found no where to shield ourselves free from the coldness and had to hide in a help-yourself photo-taking booth for a while to warm up our numbed toes and fingers.
We had a thrifty cross-country journey but with a lot of funs. Nowadays, when we are recalling this situation, we have still felt very excited and worthwhile.
Yes, without such legendary experiences, how can we get such vivid topics to talk about today?
It was getting dark, when we were racily talking and sipping the fragrant tea. Our memory to those experiences arose us lots of fun and excitement but deeply affected our wives, as audiences who were fully absorbed in our misery with tears.
If we said the past life in over seas study left us some grieved memory, than the reality has multiply rewarded us already. After our graduation from the University of Bath, we all returned home and dedicated to our motherland’s economic reformation. Fates had driven us to leading roles in different but famous JV companies respectively. Our kids had all been brought up and had pursued their higher degrees in some developed countries. Therefore, we had jointly drawn a conclusion: the change of our fate beneficial from the advanced study was well worth the hardship during the days in England.
** It is a sort of Chinese courtesy. Standing up means to show a respect to who is coming to you. Holding something with two palms means to show the favorite and seriousness to something given to you.
[ Last edited by wenzili at 2006-6-3 11:54 AM ]