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Welcome to London

May 9, 2011

Summer in London 2011 has finally arrived – two months of culture, accents, travel, writing, tea, the Tube, tea with milk, fish ‘n chips and adventure. Not to mention an amazing opportunity. My goal for the next eight weeks is to learn and to experience. I want to take full advantage of the opportunities I am given because I don’t know when I will ever have this chance again; to be in this place, young and carefree.  I’m not trying to “Eat, Pray, Love” you all, but my plan is to start every day with a goal and try to learn something new throughout the day. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, but also that there is no set plan for our lives. Instead, we are presented with situations that allow us to make a choice and create/construct our own “working plan.” I cannot wait to see what paths these create and what lies behind every door. Robert Frost suggested that we all take our own path and make our own trail. I am so ready to start. Cheers!

——

So, day one was actually two days. After a long and bumpy 7 hour flight to London, the group and I had to endure an amusement-park long line to get through the border and customs. Upon realizing that my blackberry did not even get any signal and I had no internet connection I had an inner and mini panic attack. I was in a foreign country without any means of communication, and worrying every second that I forgot my passport somewhere or that it fell out of my backpack.

However, once we drove out of the airport area and began to pass all of the Privet Drive-esque houses I couldn’t help but smile. All of my worries faded once I realized, I am in England. The area we are in is not quite Privet Drive, but better. It is posh and cosmopolitan, and feels exactly how I grew up believing England (and Europe) would feel – especially the street fashion and bold, trendy and hip statements of the 20-somethings. I will be taking notes. And our flat is adorable and quaint, and having our own kitchenette makes me feel so “grown up.”  Oh and we have a pull flush toilet, with the chord that hangs from the ceiling. How British is that?!

Exploring the city the first day (about 6 in the morning our body time, but noonish in London) I acquired two necessities: a UK go-phone and an Oyster card. After both of those accomplishments, I felt so comfortable in this foreign city.

Everything here is also so close together – the adorable townhouse flats, the boutiques, the sandwich shops, the coffee cafes, and the roads in general – that it really is a community, and one of such a diverse culture.

The jetlag finally hit around 8pm London time. We picked up some necessities from a grocery store (so many organic things!), like Special K cereal, peanut butter, milk, fruit, bread and Nuttella.

So after my first afternoon and night in London I have learned some important things:

1. Street fashion is awesome.

2. The traffic flow is so efficient, there are barely any stoplights.

3. It would be so challenging to drive here, mainly because of the double-decker buses.

 3. When walking on the sidewalk, the rules of the roads still apply (right-hand side, not left-hand).

 4. It is so Green. There are recycle units and bins conveniently located all around.

5. There are not a lot of “neighborhoods.” Townhouses and flats in the city are so tight together but it works!

6. The Indian cuisine is supposedly amazing.

7. Sandwich shops and cafes are everywhere. The amount of Petit a Mangers rival that of Starbucks in the states.

8. Band-aids are called Plasters and the Cockney way of saying thieves is tea-leaves.

9. The “Tube,” underground subway that travels throughout the zones of the United Kingdom, is the exact hustle and bustle of the ministry of magic.

Many more Harry Potter references to come and it is only the first day!

I promise I don’t really believe in the magic world…but I do wonder sometime…

Time for some quality late-night, British “reality television”: The London version of The Hills.

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