Jenna S. - London, England - Fall 2013
I started off my trip by heading to Edinburgh on Tuesday to meet up with my best friend who is spending a semester at the University of Edinburgh. Her classes hadn’t started yet, but her orientation had, so we had a lot of time to hang out that week. We went and toured the Castle, tried out our new found ability to buy alcohol at a jazz bar, took a Ghost Terror tour which was legitimately terrifying, and just explored the city. We had a wonderful time and met a lot of really awesome people. The leader of the terror tour, Ewan, was hilarious. He had been working in the ghost tour business for six years, he always wears big Doc Martin boots and a swishy coat, he’s 6’2” and had the thickest Scottish brogue I’ve ever heard. I met two people in my hostel who were travelling Europe for a month. The year before they had travelled the length of the west coast of South America and next year they aimed to spend a couple of weeks in Costa Rica. We talked for well over an hour in the common room one night and it was fantastic!
I had taken the train up from London to Edinburgh and so I took it back down on Saturday. Note: it is a five hour train trip. Be prepared if you decide to go up there. I arrived in London around noon, so I found a hostel for a couple of nights and explored London. I mostly walked around on Saturday, but I went to the British Museum on Sunday. That place is so cool, although the whole time I had a nagging voice in the back of my head that insisted that the British should give all the stuff that they stole from other countries back to the original owners.
Monday was orientation day where I moved into my flat and met my roommates and the rest of the kids from the Arcadia study group. I made a few friends too! They’re all American students, but they will be attending UCL with me and it’s nice just to know people here, British or not. But anyways, I moved into my flat and met my roommates. There are six of us living in one flat, which is a serious adjustment. My roommates are…..very different from me and I’m almost positive that two of them don’t know my name. But my flat is in an ideal location. The tube is a two minute walk down the street and there’s a bus station that goes straight to my college if you walk the other way for a minute.
Because the tube is so close, I have been exploring the city. I’ve gone on the London Eye, seen Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tardis in Earl’s Court, and the Sherlock Holmes museum along with a bunch of other stuff. After exploring for a few days, I feel like I know the city better now and can get around mostly without the use of my phone!
Basically, the UK is an incredible place. I’ve rarely seen a city as beautiful as Edinburgh and I’d love to spend another week up in Scotland seeing the places I missed. London isn’t as pretty, but it’s got a soul all its own. It’s a city of contrasts. There’s massive, brand new, shinning skyscrapers right next to medieval ruins and ancient cathedrals. There’s constant juxtaposition of the historical and the contemporary. It’s absolutely amazing.
By the way, everything Alice says about culture shock is true. The day week two hit, I got a cold. It was the worst and I had to figure out what cold medicine to get and where to get it and it was pretty stressful. Add on some more stress induced by my lovely program and a mess that they got me into regarding housing, and I was a bit of a mess. But, the cold is gone now and I’ve made some friends and things are once again looking up!