I will admit, going into this whole study abroad experience all by myself really made me nervous. But, one week in and I am so happy I am here and never talked myself out of it. I would have missed out on so many opportunities and experiences by now.
Yes, traveling by plane alone to a foreign country was definitely my top concern, but sitting in Glasgow, Scotland a week later, I am happy to report everything went as smoothly as one would hope. Heathrow is definitely a big airport, and having to be bussed from my plane to a whole other terminal was a new experience, but it was an experience. I was also lucky enough because my first flight that left from the Newark airport and arrived at the Heathrow airport was in the same terminal my flight to Glasgow was in. The only downside was that I had almost five hours between my two flights, and trying to get myself to stay awake after being up for twenty-four hours at this point was my biggest struggle. Fortunately, I ran into some others from my study abroad program, and I waited with them while they waited for their flight. We had different flights and I had to wait another few hours until I arrived in Scotland.
To pass the time and to keep myself awake, I browsed the candy store in the Heathrow airport. It was interesting to see all their different candies. I wish I had tried some, but it was way too early in the morning for something sweet and I needed something substantial. However, in the candy shop, I had my first experience making a transaction in a foreign country! I only used a credit card because I had no pounds on me, but the process was easy and let me get a look into how it is done.
Now that I have been in Glasgow for a week, I know how the process works! I am still not an expert in the conversion of U.S. dollars to the Scottish/English pounds, but I think I am handling it all pretty well. An interesting thing I noticed from the first day, is that the pounds do not have a one dollar note like in the States, but instead a one pound coin. So, when I handed a cashier a ten pound note for a five pound purchase, it was definitely surprising at first when I only got coins back in exchange.
Like any other city, it can take time to learn how to navigate Glasgow. I am not an expert on the city yet; there are definitely some streets and places I would still not recognize, but that is to be expected in a new city. Although, I am not too sure I will ever get a hang of how the lights signal when cars and pedestrians can go. Like in Philadelphia, there is a clear stop and go for pedestrians, but whereas back home I would get a countdown to know when the light will switch from walk to stop, Glasgow does not have that. It just switches from green to red without any yellow or countdown in the middle.
I am excited to see what new things I will discover with my remainder of time in Glasgow. When I get to London, I know there will be plenty of new things to learn while I am there. Hopefully, by then, I will be used to cars driving on the left side rather than the right!