Hello from across the pond! The second week of being in London has come and gone and I am now in the first week of actual classes at university! I like keeping this thing updated as much as I can (minus trips I will go on) because it gives people a chance back home to keep up with the latest details about my life in London.
There are a few things that have just taken me by surprise but also that I'm getting quite used to. I'm going to share a few of those with you and then tell you a bit about what I have planned for the rest of the semester!
First of all, driving here is ridiculous but once you watch them and are in traffic (on a bus) with them, it all makes sense. Little tid bit of information for you - do you know why they drive on the left hand side of the road? Up until the 1700s everyone drove on the left side of the road because swordsmen, mostly right-handed, preferred to keep to the left in order to have their right arm closer to their opponents. Pretty cool huh? Makes SO much sense and so my question is: what happened America? Quite honestly, drivers here are 100X's better than drivers from back home. There are hardly any car accidents and really the only thing that you have to worry about is parking (which is an arm and a leg).
The english way of traveling is actually one of the most efficient forms I've seen yet. The busses are always on time and get you to where you need to go when they say they will. The trains are never late and if they are they apologize profusely. If only things ran THIS smoothly in the states - just imagine for a minute what that would be like....yeah, I don't know either!
Let's talk about school a bit though because that is, after all, why I'm here. This past week we went through what is called "induction week". Sounds a bit ridiculous but it actually makes SO much sense. Essentially, they tell you a bit about your program (scratch that, they tell you A LOT. So much so you will probably get a migraine just from listening!), they tell you where your classes will be, you will most likely meet your professors but most of all it's like syllabus week. You know how in America, you go to class and usually on the first day it's just a rough outline of the syllabus and then you leave? THIS IS THAT WEEK. It makes so much sense. You go to most of your sessions and you learn whereabout your classes are, meet your professors, get your syllabus and then have a celebratory, welcoming dinner! It's the perfect week. I also think, however, that this has to do with the educational system over here. It seems to be much more advanced and they don't really have time to play around. One professor even tried to jump into a lecture during induction week. Another professor gave us a presentation to do that was due the first day of classes. CRAZY. It's also just a good feeling knowing that you are learning at a higher level than before, quite honestly, and it makes me want to push myself to be the best that I possibly can be.
I remember in my undergraduate years I would settle for a B (or a C if you are the devil known as math) and it wasn't until my senior year that I really got into my major & tried my hardest. I think it's also inspiring though to be around people who are greater than you or who come from such diverse backgrounds. I think it's something the US could work on a bit - bringing people together from such various/diverse backgrounds and learning from one another's experiences. They say that if you surround yourself with greatness, you become great. I thoroughly believe that. Does anyone else feel like in the US they weren't pushed to their greatest potential either? It's quite sad actually. We pay all this money to go to school, only to go and be "lectured" at by an instructor who doesn't always want to hear your opinions or sometimes can't handle when someone opposes their viewpoints. Here, it's much different. They welcome a different viewpoint. Opinions are strongly encouraged. And we aren't just being lectured...we are contributing to the conversation. We are creating the conversation.
It's empowering, honestly, and I can't wait to see how the rest of the year will play out.
Sorry to go on a bit of a tangent, but when you are put in an entirely different setting for learning and you just see how great it is - it changes your viewpoint a tad on the American educational system. NOT THAT IT'S BAD. That's not what I'm saying in the slightest because I know teachers/professors over there work hard so that we get a strong education. There are just certain aspects of it that I believe should be revisited in order to secure the success of students nationwide.
Now, there are a few things I've grown to love about the city I'm in..
1. You have to walk everywhere. Even if you want to get on a bus/train, you have to walk to get to one. It's such good exercise and it's been mostly pretty outside so the walks haven't been terrible.
2. The Thames river is gorgeous and photogenic, but you don't want to fall in or swim in it. We were told a story about a guy who jumped off a boat to save two girls who had fallen in - two days later he passed away due to (more than likely) the river that was too unsanitary.
3. Everyone drinks/clubs/pub hops here. Everyone. Oh also - day drinking is a serious thing here. The trains shut down at midnight so it's harder for people here to get home safely - so they apparently get drunk/tipsy/whatever earlier. It's quite a sight to see actually.
4. There is ALWAYS something going on. We stumbled upon a festive in the city center that had tons of booths & entertainment. There's never a dull day in London, that's for sure.
5. Their burgers are fantastic - if you are traveling over here don't let anyone tell you otherwise. They are pure magic and I am hooked.
6. Spiders here are ridiculous and I'm over it. They eat silverfish (apparently) and so where you see silverfish - spiders are bound to follow. Over it. I hate them.
7. The bread is out like it would be at a legit bakery. It's kind of refreshing to know they make it fresh on the daily. I picked up some pastry's for breakfast this week and they have been amazing!
8. Fresh flowers are everywhere................and I love it!!
I have settled in quite a bit and know my way around this city more and more each day. I've figured out the phone situation to make calling a bit easier (what'sapp is a lifesaver for those who want to study abroad!) and it's been less stressful conversing with family/friends/boyfriend back home. I've met quite a few other Americans who are excited to travel and are homesick so we've all been just supporting one another. We have tried to study with one another, had tea/coffee, go to dinner, walk along the Thames and just generally explore the city we are in!
I'm excited for what's ahead though! This has been a whirlwind two weeks and it's only getting crazier from here now that I have assignments/projects/etc.
What's coming up:
-A trip to Morocco (November)!!!!
-A trip to Oxford & Cambridge
-A trip to Brighton
-A trip, for me, back into London
-Visit Richmond park (there are deer everywhere!)
ALSO, I get to buy my airplane ticket for Christmas Monday which I'm super excited about!!! I love being here and seeing the world but it's also good to get a taste of home and be with the ones you love!!