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!
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!
Name: Heather Miller
Year: 2nd Year Graduate School
Country visited: London, England
Why did you choose to participate in study abroad: I chose to participate for the chance to step outside my comfort zone and experience something new. I’ve wanted to travel to London for years and this was a perfect opportunity since I would be able to not only do things as a tourist, but also a professional. I made some great contacts and through the University was able to experience things and visit libraries I would no have otherwise had the chance to learn about.
Share one memorable experience from the trip: When I went with a group to the British Library, we were amazed at how open and inviting all of the displays were–there was much less glass or other barriers between visitors and the art as you might find in a US museum. We found openness to be a very important concept to British museums and libraries as they wanted to share information and make it accessible rather than lock it away. While we wandered through the Asian section, admiring the extensive collection of carved jade and ceramic works of art, a friend asked me if I had “touched the fish”. When I asked what she meant, she explained that in the middle of the exhibit was a presentation where you could see ancient artifacts and actually hold a 3000-year-old jade fish. It was a small carving, but it was amazing that you were allowed to interact with the art in this way, encouraging people to think about it as an abject rather than a piece on display.
What were your expectations about the country compared to how things really were when you arrived: I expected it to be a lot more crowded and inhospitable. I was picturing New York with lots of crowds, hustle and bustle, and an environment that felt uncomfortable and unsafe. I was happy to find that the opposite was true. London was much more welcoming and slower-pace than I expected. In areas of high tourist traffic there was some crowding, but I never felt unsafe, even with a group at night. It was much more homey and happy than I expected.
Is there anything you learned studying abroad that you don’t think you would have otherwise: Independence as a person and professional. While I was with the group, I was encouraged to ask questions, provide input, and make connections that I could not have made anywhere else. I also did a lot of sight seeing and traveling on my own outside of the group, which, while fun, also helped boost my confidence. I have been hesitant to put myself out into the world, relying on the familiarity of friends and family to hold me back, but abroad I had to make my own decisions and plans and that was a very rewarding experience for me.