I know that a lot of people enjoyed reading my blogs while I was doing my Fulbright scholarship and so I thought it would be good to resurrect my blog this week while I am back in the USA again. I might not write it every day but will try and get some blog entries in a few times this week!
So today began at 3.50am for me – my taxi was due at 4.15, and it arrived just in time to take me to the airport. I have to say that the driver reminded me of everything I love about Glasgow – I had a right good dose of the Glasgow banter during the 20 minute journey with him. Immediate I got into the car, it started when he quipped ‘did you get the short straw the day then?’ He went on to tell me all about being brought up in Easterhouse and then moving to Drumchapel. Of course he wanted to know why I was going to Philadelphia and when I told him I was a criminologist you can only imagine what that started … then when I told him I was a Professor, he told me he’s never met a real Professor before and started calling me ‘Prof’. He then told me all about his kids and how they have all ended up in good jobs. He was full of stories and jokes and it got the day off to a good start. There’s nowhere quite like Glasgow!
I had breakfast at the airport and then my flight to London went off just on time, and arrived early in Healthrow which meant I didn’t have to worry about the tight connection for my Philadelphia flight. It was a lovely day in London – clear blue skies – as I got into the terminal bus to go from Terminal 5 to 3. In less than no time, the next flight was ready for departure. When i got on the American Airlines flight I was pleased to see that it was a really large plane with three rows of seats, unlike the small ones I have been used to the last few times I went to America. Plus the fact that it was half empty and so I was able to spread myself out, with no one sitting beside me. Looking around the plane, it was strange to see how quiet it was – most of the passengers seemed to be guys travelling on their own and hardly anyone was sitting right beside anyone else. It made for a peaceful flight, and I managed to get loads of work done on my laptop.
The flight arrived in Philly around 1.45pm, and as i walked into the passport control area in the airport it felt strange to be back on USA soil – the first time since the day I left South Florida on 9th May after my 4 months there. As I looked around I was reminded that this was where it had all begun for me on 4th January – I had flown to Philadelphia to get a connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale, and I remember having buffalo wings and beer in a restaurant in the airport, with the whole Fulbright adventure still ahead of me. Ten months have passed since then and it hardly seems any time.
Having got passed passport control and collected my bag, I was approached immediately I got into the main airport building by a guy asking if I wanted a taxi. He offered me a shared ride and then he asked a woman who had also just arrived from London if she wanted to share with me. She agreed, and we got the taxi together to downtown for $30 each. On the way, the taxi driver provided us with a very different type of chat from the guy in Glasgow this morning – he was from Trinidad, and talked all about the different crime rates there compared to Philly. He also talked about the Black Lives Matter campaign, and the tensions that often exist between while police officers and the African American community. As we chatted, it took me back to all the research I did while I was in South Florida.
I arrived at my hotel around 3pm, unpacked and then went out for a walk. The downtown area is nice – it is busy and quite industrial looking. It has a different feel to it from any other US city I have visited before. I am looking forward to seeing more of it tomorrow. I went to CVS Pharmacy and then Walgreen’s to get some things that Karen and my sister Lyn had asked me to get. Then I went back to the hotel and then went back out to get something to eat in a diner round the corner. I also found i-Hop which is literally 2 minutes walk away, and two Dunkin’ Donuts within easy reach. So I am all set for the morning!
I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting up with James and Simon tomorrow – James Densley is my very good colleague, friend and fellow gangs researcher from Minnesota (but who is actually from London) and Simon is my good colleague and friend who works in London, and is also a gangs researcher (and originates from Scotland). James is staying at the same hotel as me and arrives tomorrow, and I think Simon should also be here tomorrow. We are then all involved in the panel presentation together on Wednesday.
I am now totally knackered since it is 7.50pm (UK time: 12.50am). I think it will be time to sleep very soon!