London, at First Glance

It has nearly been two full weeks of being here in London, and already so much has happened! After flying across the pond and arriving at our residence, a mixture of jet lag, adrenaline, and excitement ensued as I began to settle into my home for the next three months.

Flying into London!

I’ll admit, upon arrival, I did have a few travel reservations, with being in an entirely new country and all. At first, I was a little bit hesitant about what the semester would hold, and I was worried my flight would get delayed or my luggage lost. None of this happened, and I seemed to make it over here all in one piece, so all was well on the travel end.

The days leading up to the start of this trip were definitely a rollercoaster of excitement as well as nerves, but while landing, my thoughts turned towards the upcoming semester, ranging from wondering what my classes would be like, to all the travel spots I want to hit, and even thoughts about all the cool restaurants I would find. It was hard to think too long about any of this, as my friends and I were quickly ushered through the Heathrow airport and hit the ground running with orientation meetings and welcome events as soon as we arrived to our residence.

The first couple of days definitely took some adjustments, as I was not only meeting so many new people, but also trying to figure out where necessary places were in relation to my housing, including the location of my classes, grocery stores, and interesting social spots.

A bird’s eye view of the city from the London Eye.

While I did not start classes the first week of arriving in London, I have already learned so much about being here and the London culture. London is a very fast-paced city, with everyone on the move and in a rush to get from point A to point B. Being in the big city and having to learn our way around has been a process that is surprisingly easier than it seems. The tube, similar to the subway system, is very efficient, easy to learn, and can take you anywhere you need to go. I have found that if you just act like you know what you are doing, it is far easier to adjust to this fast-paced lifestyle.

The bustling street where my classes are held, full of restaurants, shops, and hotels.

Another interesting aspect of the culture here revolves around the idea of “politeness” in comparison to the US interpretation of being polite. Back home, especially in the south, it is very normal to smile at people in passing, make small chit chat, and even compliment people on what we observe about them. Here, however, people are far more private and want to keep to themselves, especially in very public areas like the tube and walking down streets. It is not that British people are being rude if they do not return a smile or opt not to make small talk during interactions, but there is just a different perception of politeness here in London. This has been one of the many interesting observations that I have noticed in my short time here, and I look forward to exploring the London culture and experiences here. Until next time!