Studying abroad was never something I had on my college bucket list, but the Semester in London program really caught my eye. Now it’s by no means cheap, but the opportunity to complete a media-focused program in one of the world’s largest media centers was too much to pass up. Plus I’m doing an amazing internship with a radio station while I’m here too.
My intention for this column is to take everyone on this journey with me not only to educate you on what the program is, but also to inspire you to take risks and embark on new experiences during your studies. collegial.
I have finally arrived in London, and my senses have been overwhelmed by the amount of difference there is. Overall things aren’t drastically different from the US, but I’ve certainly taken note of the aggressive bikers who will run over you if they get the chance.
The first thing I noticed right out of the airport was the cars driving on the left side of the road. Obviously I knew that’s what they’re doing here, but it’s different seeing it in person and getting into a car with the steering wheel on the right side. It was such a culture shock that I found myself watching the cars roll across the freeway.
It also makes crossing the street quite an adventure. There are crosswalks, but not as many as there should be, and the green lights at the crosswalk only give you 10 seconds to cross a busy main road.
I have also noticed that the drivers are more aggressive here. Drivers follow other cars very closely and honk their horns as if it was commonplace. They don’t stop for pedestrians and make no effort to slow down if someone isn’t using a crosswalk.
The idea that everything is bigger in America is ubiquitous here. The roads in general are much narrower and there is a notable absence of large SUVs and trucks.
And, even though I miss my dogs and family, I miss the air conditioning even more.
Due to London’s mild winters and temperate summers, this won’t be a problem for most of the year, but when it’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit outside and even warmer inside, c ‘is a little uncomfortable.
Those who say the United States is the greatest cultural melting pot have obviously never been to London.
I noticed quite quickly after getting off the plane that London is extremely diverse. I was shocked at how many accents I heard in 20 minutes or just walking down the street. My ears have detected German, French, Arabic and so many others that I have not yet placed.
Something refreshing that I noticed is how green the city is. There are small public parks – plazas, as they call them here – which are filled with beautiful flowers and trees and often have touching statues or plaques commemorating victims of war, bombing and terrorist attacks. There’s even a Gandhi statue in Bloomsbury Park. For a large city, it is surprisingly well maintained.
In good weather there are tons of people taking their dogs for walks and to parks, and most of them are off leashes. Dogs behave extremely well and do not seem to approach anyone other than their owner, even on a busy street or park, unlike what I have experienced in the United States.
This could be due to the old rule that dog owners had to be licensed. Although it is no longer necessary, the culture and expectations of having a well-trained dog seem to be a vital part of city life.
Some people are also very keen to spot Americans in London. All of us who study abroad thought we could sound like Londoners as long as we kept our mouths shut, but even staring at the tube map for too long or taking one too many photos can make people wonder, ‘Are you- you American? Most of the time it’s a friendly interaction, and we only had a few negative interactions with annoyed locals.
One day a group of students was walking down Russell Square after having a coffee, and we were talking about the beauty of the park, and a few of us were taking pictures with our phones. No one was making noise, we were staying between us, but this woman sitting on a park bench started to laugh at us by pretending to take pictures with her phone and laughing obnoxiously as we walked past. ‘she.
We all turned to look at each other as we were all confused about the interaction that had just taken place, but we decided to dismiss it and continue on our tourist path.
My first days in the wonderful city of London were incredible. I feel so lucky to have been able to take so many guided tours of the area I live in, learn more about the Royal Family and witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. While it is a little hard to get used to some of the changes, I’m sure I’ll be learning the lifestyle in no time.
Contact Avery Goodstine at [email protected] For more content on Avery’s study abroad experience in London, stay tuned to the ‘London Eye’ column every Friday and follow the culture bureau on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.