So, it's been a long while since I made a post here, and it's high time I did, since today marks the end of my sixth day here in London. The experience so far has been extremely positive for me. I love the host family I'm staying with, my roommate Richard, and all the people I have met here so far. I'm living here in the neighborhood near Pimlico station, which, incredibly, is in Zone 1 of London, and close to almost EVERYTHING. I've been able to get out and see Westminster Abbey, the Globe Theatre, the Roman Wall, and a few other scattered attractions with the group last Thursday, but I haven't ventured out much since. Now that things are settled here at the flat and I feel better organized in terms of my classes and project, I feel like it is time to hit the streets on my own.
I had a cool experience on Saturday. I had some free time during the afternoon, and there was a group of guys (I guess they would say "chaps" or "blokes" here) who were playing football in the cement area outside the apartment building. I watched them for a while from the kitchen window and realized they were playing with essentially the same rules as I used to play in Brasil. After a few minutes I couldn't stand to watch any longer, and with some encouragement from Carol (my host mum), I changed into basketball shorts and went outside and asked them if they would let an American play. They said yes, and I was surprised to find out only a couple of them were actually English. Most of them were immigrants, and they switched a lot between speaking in Arabic to each other and yelling out swearwords in English. Although it was foul, their language didn't bother me so much as it could have--they really didn't use the words for anything else except to have something to yell out when they were upset or excited about something.
With regards to the actual gameplay, I learned that using a large, very pumped-up football is quite different from using a small, half-flat ball like the ones we would play with in Brasil (new balls were a rarity there). This unforgiving ball tended to bounce off my foot at a random trajectory just as often as it would go where I intended it to, and I'm afraid I was unable to convince any of the players who were there that I had skills worth mentioning like I had been able to do with my Brazilian friends. I tend to play aggressive and run around a lot, but ironically I was the most help to my team while I was in goal--in the field I just got creamed. Still, many of the guys were very welcoming (including one nice guy in the group named "Osama"), and a couple of them invited me back to play with them the next Saturday. I think I'll take them up on it. While of course it's a ton of fun for me to play, it's also a way to be a part of a group of people I would never have access to otherwise. Lucky for me the field study is in London--if I was in New York City they'd have been playing basketball, and I would have been hopeless!