Blimey! I can’t believe that after months and months of planning my semester abroad in London the time has finally come! The weeks prior to my departure were filled with loads of excitement, frantic preparations for all aspects of my journey as well as the occasional hint of nervousness about the adventure that lay ahead. I suppose it is normal to be a little anxious prior to packing up your life and leaving all you have ever known behind for a whole five months! Rather than dwell on what I was leaving behind, I chose to spend as much time as I could focusing on the fact that I was given an amazing opportunity: The chance to study for five months in London! After skillfully packing a ridiculously heavy suitcase, saying my goodbyes to family and friends, and taking care of last minute details, I was all ready to go!
I decided to spend a little extra money and take the group flight option offered by IFSA Butler, this way I would be traveling with dozens of other students all studying in London as well. Everyone else was equally as excited, and after much chit chat, movie watching, and 7 hours spent desperately trying to fall asleep, we had arrived in the UK! Unfortunately the day we flew in was stricken with London’s famously awful weather, so we got a taste of the dreary rainfall right away. I was not about to let the clouds cloud my excitement, and the second the bus arrived at our orientation site, me and a few other girls from the plane decided to set out to explore our new surroundings. The first thing I noticed upon my arrival was that crossing the street in London is actually terrifying! Not only are the cars all driving on the other side of the road making it hard to remember where to look, but they also do not stop for you at all! In the states you must yield to pedestrians, but here it seems the cars (mostly the taxis and busses!) don’t even think twice about keeping their foot on the gas! J-walkers beware!
One of the first things I had to do was take money out of the ATM, or what the Brits refer to as a “cash point.” After admiring how much better looking the money is in London , it was time to start spending it! I bought toiletries and a mobile phone, and before I knew it my beautiful bills had become a huge pile of change weighing down my wallet. The smallest bills here are five pounds, meaning the majority of change you receive from purchases is coins. They have 1 penny, 2 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, 1 pound and 2 pound coins, all made of very heavy metal! I am going to need to study the coins, because it screams tourist when you stare at them trying to remember how much money they are worth at the register!
Day one and two were largely spent participating in various orientation activities, including seminars about how the British school system differs from ours and safety tips for the bustling streets of London. The speakers were extremely informative, and the orientation as a whole made me a feel a lot more educated in what to expect for the next few months. I finished the night off with grabbing a pint at a pub near the hotel, where conveniently they were showing a football game on the televisions! The match was between Manchester City and Liverpool, making for a very exciting atmosphere in the pub as everyone cheered on their team! It was at that moment that it really hit me that I was in fact in London! It is all just beginning, but I already know these are going to be amongst the greatest months of my life!