Day 1 | July 24th
I need to leave my house for 7:30am to make it to the airport for 9am, and have decided that sleep isn’t something that’s going to happen tonight. It’s an 8-hour flight, “I’ll just sleep on the plane” right?
Four hours later I am sat in an over-priced Uber on the way to Heathrow airport. I hear an announcement on the radio that says there have been hour long delays, on the TFL routes to Heathrow. Thank God for this overpriced Uber! I am still a human ball of progressive butterflies and excitement, tired enough to fall flat asleep several times in the car.
This is my first time going to Canada, my first time delivering at an academic conference and tomorrow I will be turning 20 years old. Woo! Upon arriving to the airport, passing through security and checking in was the smoothest of experiences I’ve had thus far. This is something me and my Zimbabwean passport are not used to, especially in the face of the UK’s relentless border force.
I’ve begun to write about the struggles that we “immigrants” face here, and will continue to document as I write this diary. The obvious contrast between someone who has a British passport, and someone who doesn’t (me) became ten times clearer to me during this trip. It took me four weeks, 10 pages of forms, just under £100 and the sending away of my personal documents in order to be able to pass check in today.
Despite the stress that this came with, I must acknowledge that I had the privilege of having my university’s backing in my application. My university is a credible institution, and it’s name definitely contributed to the credibility of my application. Proving my purpose for travel could’ve been much more tedious, and often is for many.
Anyway, there is no point in currently dwelling on it because at the end of it all, I am still on a plane to Canada. I’ll skip telling of the actual flight – we landed in Toronto. Although I will say, plane food is not for the sensitive stomachs, I learnt a physically painful lesson.
The Pearson International Airport isn’t particularly striking, nor does it differ much from Heathrow. The only thing that stood out to me was the French signs everywhere (another country that once ruled Canada), at times I felt like I was reading more French than I was English. Did you know Montreal is the second-largest primarily French–speaking city in the world after Paris?