Coming (Back) to America
I can’t believe the time has actually come, but I’m flying back to America tomorrow! I’ve seriously had the craziest three months of my life, and I’m so thankful for this experience. So this is my post reflecting on my favourite and not-so-favourite parts of living in London (notice the spelling?):
- Style—I love walking down the street in London and seeing people with purple/green/bright red hair and wearing crazy outfits (although those are usually black or neutral colors).
- Melting Pot—I hate to use that cliché, but it’s true! Kind of building on what I just said, I feel like London has a very accepting attitude and you won’t get a second glance if you’re wearing bright red lipstick, a burka, or speaking in another language.
- West End—The theatre nerd in me LOVED living near so many amazing shows, especially because a lot of them had student tickets or other discounts. I ended up seeing Wicked, Rock of Ages, Loserville, Matilda, and Les Mis…twice.
- Public Transportation—Navigating through London is so much easier than I was expecting! The system is so organized and well set up, and because we were able to get student Oyster cards, we paid a flat fee for a month’s use and could take the tube or bus as much as we wanted. We usually took the tube to class (which is only three stops away) and then the bus when it was an even shorter distance, or it was past midnight and the tube had stopped running.
- Location—Even though London isn’t in Continental Europe, travelling to other countries was super easy…I’m still amazed that I took a train to Paris (apparently you can see underwater for ten minutes or so on the ride, but I fell asleep on both train rides and missed it). Lots of my flatmates also visited places like Madrid, Budapest, Dublin, and Vienna, because you could buy round-trip tickets for something like 80 bucks if you planned ahead.
- People—Interacting with Brits is great, because they can usually tell you’re American as soon as you start speaking and then they’ll tell you that they love your accent…and then you’ll be like, but I love your accent! It’s great. But really, talking to other students in classes and even at the campus pub was always fun because you could compare viewpoints and see just how different your lives had been. Not to mention that bonding with the other Americans in the program has been great. I’ve already warned the Vandy boys that we’re having monthly (if not weekly) dinners to catch up, and my two best friends here, Toby and Marissa, are planning on visiting Vandy during their Spring Breaks at Duke and Connecticut College.
- Celebrities—My biggest disappointment from this semester is that I never met a celebrity (haha I realize how stupid that sounds)! More specifically, I never ran into One Direction in a café and shared our life stories over coffee…a girl can dream.
- Money—It’s not really London’s fault that it’s so expensive, because the dollar/pound ratio just sucks right now. Also, since I didn’t have a meal plan, I noticed every little pound I spent on food, which definitely added up. Let’s just say I’ll have to be very frugal next semester.
- Smoking—I think it’s just more socially acceptable to smoke cigarettes here, but that’s kind of one of my pet peeves. It’s just annoying when you’re walking down a crowded street and stuck behind someone smoking.
- School library—I liked studying at the UCL Science library for the most part, but they didn’t allow any food or drinks! I could understand not allowing food, cause that could get messy, but not allowing coffee? That’s just cruel.
When it comes down to it, though, the Not-So-Favourites don’t even compete with the Favourites. Even when thinking of making this list, I had to limit the Favourites category just so this post was a reasonable length. As corny as it sounds, I’ve learned so much about myself—whether it’s about meeting new people, my navigation skills, or just how badly I can butcher a word in French. I’m really excited about seeing my family and getting back to Vandy, but I’ll always love London and would love to come back one day.