Arriving in London was a bit of an overwhelming experience. Seven students in the program including myself are from the Cleveland area, so to cut down on prices we all decided to fly out to London earlier than everyone else and stay in a youth hostel for two nights. While this was probably the best decision in the long run, it’s hard to look back on it and see the intelligence behind it. We flew out on a Wednesday night, and arrived in London on Thursday at 6:30 AM. By the time we went to sleep that night we had been up more than 24 hours. Hostels aren’t exactly the most luxurious places to stay, but ultimately it was a great experience. We met so many people from so many different places, and it was a great way for all of us to bond before the program started. We even made friends with a couple of Australians who we have already met up with once we left the hostel. It’s experiences like that I never dreamed would happen to me. With extreme jet lag and no idea which direction to explore first though, it was a difficult couple of days.
After the long and exhausting time at the hostel, we were able to move into our flats, and get into the swing of things here. Having been in London for a week, I can say that the jet lag is behind me, but the new and daunting task of walking every day around a city that is spread over 600 miles has created a new kind of tired. Luckily, once my head hits the pillow at night, I fall asleep instantly. Plus, I’ve convinced myself that maybe I’ll leave with extremely toned legs.
The city itself is massive. It was shockingly massive actually. I wasn’t sure what to expect before I arrived, but I definitely had a different image of the city before I got here. London is much more metropolitan and populated than I thought it would be, and I’ve found a lot of similarities to New York City in the way the city blocks are congested with people and taxis, and the buildings are crammed together and reach toward the sky in an effort to create more space. It was definitely different than I expected, but so far I love it and it’s exciting to be in a city so large. The local people don’t seem much different than us aside from the obvious accent differences, but we have heard from many that Americans are louder than the average Brit. They also have a different sense of fashion, which we’re all hoping to soak up while we’re here.
We are now finally in the swing of things. We’ve located the closest grocery store, attended our first classes, and are getting used to the differences between the American dollar and the British pound. As an introduction to the program, we were able to take a bus tour of central London where we saw the main tourist sites such as Big Ben, Parliament, and the Tower of London. We’re already planning on visiting each of these over the next couple of weekends so we can really soak up all London has to offer. Professors from Ohio University teach the classes we’re enrolled in so there isn’t too much of an adjustment to make. The most difficult part of the trip has been just learning how life works in England, and making sure we’re making the most of being here.
All in all, I’m very excited to continue my life here in Europe, and learn even more about British arts, culture, and life!