Upon arriving in London, one thought popped into my head immediately as I walked out of Heathrow airport: “Wow, this place is big. Like really, really big.” From the start of this holiday, I knew there were some things in this city that I would adjust to only with time. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I’m no stranger to big cities. I’ve always enjoyed the convenience of being able to travel to New York City in under an hour whenever I felt the urge. Still, London has quickly proven to me that its size and scope are unlike that of any city I’ve been to before. Mastering the art of London’s public transportation system has so far proven to be feasible, but its definitely going to take some time for me to gain my bearings here – after all, just yesterday I got helplessly lost while looking for a place to buy band-aids. I was only 3 blocks from my apartment.
This program marks the first time (aside from going to Uni) that I’m living on my own. For this reason, even the smallest cultural differences between Britain and the good ol’ United States have impacted me considerably. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been caught of guard by cultural irregularities more times than I can count. To keep this brief, I’ll simply list some of them out here: 1.) I’ve almost been hit by a taxi. Why can’t people in this country drive on the right side of the road, like the rest of the world? 2.) I’ve almost been hit by a man on a bicycle. Ok, maybe this one was my fault. Did I mention I haven’t gotten used to the fact that these people drive on the wrong side of the road? 3.) People say odd things like, “Hi!” and “Sorry!” …The first time I heard this, I thought I’d surely misunderstood the gentleman that greeted me. This just doesn’t happen in New York City. People are nice here. I like it. 4.) People dress neatly and with style. And no proper European will be caught wearing shorts. 5.) Everything is clean. The streets. The tube. The pubs. Even the public restrooms are spotless. I think NYC can learn a thing or two from London, no? And, 6.) The people of London have not yet discovered the advanced technologies of water fountains, ice cubes, or air conditioning. Garbage cans are also extremely rare, which begs the question: how in the world does this city remain so fresh and so clean?
Thus far, my experience in London has been brilliant. I’m looking forward to further exploring London’s streets, people, and culture, provided I don’t get hit by a car or bike by then.