8 Things You Learn From Staying in London

1. There is no such thing as personal space.

A thing I noticed while in London is that people don’t really have their own space bubble. Most places you go such as the tube you will be crammed close to people not caring about your personal space.

2. Beauty is everywhere.

Literally everywhere you look there is beauty. Whether it be a park or a part of history, every single thing in London is beautiful. 

4. Restaurants work a bit different.

Almost every restaurant we went to while in London had a bar inside it. Now we didn’t know at first but quickly found out that you order not only drinks from the bars but also your meals. You go up to the bar and order and pay for your food there and then they bring it out to your table. I think this is a cool way but personally I like being lazy and having the waiter/waitress come to me. 

5. People get drinks after work.

One thing I loved about the London social scene was that people go out with friends to grab a drink after work. People will be outside all pubs enjoying a beer almost everyday around the 5pm. I think we should bring this norm to America personally. 

6. It’s more expensive.

London is a very expensive town and we knew this before going but it really doesn’t hit until your paying $14 American dollars for a meal that seems cheap in pounds. The conversion rates reall get ya. But honestly every extra dollar is worth it because I mean you’re in London! 

7. Water.

Water is very different in the UK. A popular thing is sparkling water. At restaurants you have to ask specifically for tap or still water if you want it, and most of the time they will look at you like you’re crazy. Also if you want ice be sure to ask for it because most places don’t give you ice in your water!

8.  Museums and Churches.

In London it’s kind of funny because you pay to see the churches but most museums are free to enter. That’s almost completely opposite from America. However, paying entry for those churches are 100% worth it. 

Although many of these things are different, they are all the small parts that add to your trip. London was amazing and I can’t wait to go back! 

Hello from Finland!

Week 2, Day 3: Since my last post, several days have passed and several adventures have occurred. Last week, we had Thursday off because it was Ascension Day here in Finland. No one has really been able to explain to me what Ascension Day is, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with those who are getting ready to graduate primary school. Whatever the reason, we didn’t have class and got to relax. It was really needed since we had been constantly going since leaving Kansas. My roommate and I had quite the relaxing day that including sleeping in and Netflix.

On Friday, class was interactive as we went to a Day Care here in town and then had some group work after lunch where we got to design our dream school. Many of the qualities and characteristics that each group came up with give me hope for the future of world education. Then later that evening a small group of friends from Emporia and California went to a local horse race. The race was quite different than those I have seen in the States mainly because the drivers ride in carts behind the horse instead of on the horse’s back. When we first arrived, we were thoroughly confused because everything in the program and over the loudspeaker was in Finnish. After a couple races, we still were clueless so I found someone who looked like he worked at the track so he could explain the racing process to me. He only spoke broken English so he needed to find someone who spoke it more clearly. He found one gentleman who explained the process to me and later my friends and I learned that the gentleman was actually one of the owners of a horse that won a race. As my group was walking to sit inside since it was pretty cold, the same gentleman let us know that there were free sausages around the corner. We were very grateful since we were hungry and the sausages were warm. While sitting inside the indoor viewing area, there was a guy who seemed to be constantly running around. After one of the races, he asked us if we were there because we had bet on a horse. We explained that we were just curious tourists. I later realized that he was actually the guy who was interviewing the racers after they won and he also was announcing comments about how the racers felt before the race. When he came back to the indoor observation area, I asked him if anyone was allowed to go to the area where the horses were kept or if it was for owners and racers only. He explained that after the next race, he would take us behind the scenes so we could see the horses. In other words, we got the V.I.P. Pass to see the horses and even take a picture with a traditional Finnish horse. It was amazing! My group was very grateful that I was someone who was willing to talk to strangers who looked in charge.

The weekend was very relaxing as it mainly consisted of lazing about, Netflix, and hanging out with friends. On one evening, we attempted to go to a local bar/restaurant for karokee night, but there was no singing to be found. Instead we just did karokee in our room. We made the night fun.

This week has begun a new class called National Education Systems. In this class, we have two professors; one from Ohio and one here from Finland. We are spending the time comparing the Finnish and American education systems including their structure, curriculum, etc. We are also comparing the education systems of other countries that the students in the class represent including Brazil, China, and Vietnam. As for evening activities, yesterday we went to a smoke sauna, which is different that the sauna we attended last week because the method of heating the sauna is different. This sauna was located right next to a lake. The process is to spend a couple minutes in the sauna and then jump into the lake, then go back into the sauna for a longer period of time. I chose not to participate in this activity mainly because of the amount of people crowding the sauna and the reactions from those who were jumping into the freezing lake. Although I didn’t participate in the sauna, I did enjoy watching people’s reactions as their skin hit the water and I also enjoy the sausages and marshmallows that we roasted over the fire pit.

Yet again, Finland has impressed me and been immensely fun. I am so glad that I made the decision to study abroad.

Until next time,

Robin Gassen