But overall, so much was new to me – the language, the course, the city and people – but there was an excitement to it. I was the only Polish on the year, which may seem alienating, but for me it was a good chance to learn the language. Even though English students had a tendency to keep up together and not allowing anyone else in, there were plenty of international students that I could talk to when I wanted to.
There was also so much excitement with a new place. People were always crossing streets at the red light, and I presumed that law enforcement was pretty lax. It was only after some time that a friend told me that there was no penalty for doing so. Another thing I hadn’t realised is that texting is the most popular mode of contact. Food, too, was unfamiliar. I couldn’t understand why everyone in England wanted to eat it mashed, like potatoes and mushy peas. (I did like jacket potatoes and vinegar on chips though.) I took the fact that all electrical appliances have fuses in my stride, which I found only a minor inconvenience, but I completely freaked out when my housemate told me that this is due to the high voltage, sufficient to kill a horse. What she didn’t warn me was that there are two types of light bulbs. Unaware, I bought a desk lamp in Tesco and tried to fit the wrong bulb to it. This made it short-circuit, and my brand new lamp caused the fuse to blow.
Would I finally form a relationship? Did people know about my past? I wanted to be open but my nature didn’t allow it. Neighbours and passers-by could hear music blaring out from my bedroom – classic rock, like Jeff Beck, with his naked, precise, vibrato-less sound; and loads of eclectic, alternative stuff that formed some sort of kettledrum of cacophonous sounds.
There were periods when I didn’t sleep. My body would speed up and my mind would click-clack like a plane on a runaway. That days, I opened myself for the other experiences, the solitary ones, which people go through alone, in the recesses of their houses, in their offices, whilst walking the streets of towns or the parks. Then I could read all night long and I read everything: manuals, cases, newspapers, magazines and novels.
When reading current affairs, violence blared out on the pages; terrorists attacks; wars and truces; children and women abused. This brutality of the world encouraged me to turn to fiction and create my own imaginary world. There were times I could read a novel in few hours. The colours, the dialogues, everything was much more intensive and inclusive. The scenes and characters are invariably more vivid and vibrant. Enigmatic beautiful blondies entangled in life-threatening mysteries, facetious conversations and colourful descriptions. In life, I always felt like an outsider. Sometimes, I think I can only belong by reading books or watching movies. So I kept driving myself into more books, movies and texts, not necessary literary. And with every text, I learned more about life and myself.
Of course, there were days when I wasn’t functioning, but I fought them off. I also knew that at school I had a status of a freak, but here everything was changing. My wits got sharper. I held court. I was a star in my seminars, had great results. I was particularly good in my essays, invariably getting a first for them. I provoked lots of interest, both positive and negative. It was like a dream where loose parts are joined together unbidden to create a perfect unit. I had almost all the necessary talents to become a good lawyer and do well: a desire to study, sophisticated taste, a flare for languages, an interest in current legal affairs