I have been in London for almost a week now and my experience here so far has been incredible. Even in just a short 7 days, I have learned so much, from navigating the tube to beginning to understand British culture.
I arrived at my flat in the Earl’s Court area of Kensington on Wednesday morning lugging my two heavy bags and my excitement for what was to come. After dragging my luggage up 3 flights of stairs, I entered my flat and began to get settled. I was surprised by how small it was despite the warnings I had received beforehand. I also noticed how old my flat seemed since the floors and doors creak and even the walls and shower look like they are decades old. I had to get used to the fact that there are no dryers here, so the transition into using only drying racks for all of my clothes was definitely an adjustment. Later on in my first day in London, I was taken on a tour of Earl’s Court and admired its beauty and diverse culture and history. Just like my flat, all the buildings appeared to be very old, as well. In addition, my first few days in London were very rainy and it rained almost nonstop for three days. This was another thing that I was warned about prior to departure, but I was still surprised by how much it truly rained. However, it did not affect anyone living in the city at all. The streets still continued to be filled with people despite the nonstop rainfall. I’ve learned that whenever I leave my flat, I must always have a rain jacket or umbrella with me. One minute it might be sunny and beautiful but the next it could downpour for 10 minutes.
One thing that I have observed about London is how diverse it truly is. So many of the restaurants on Earl’s Court Road right by my flat boast a different type of ethnic food at each storefront. Last week, my friends and I wanted to get breakfast and we found a delicious looking restaurant that we thought served typical breakfast food we were used to, such as eggs and pancakes. Once we were seated we learned that we were actually at a Lebanese restaurant after looking over the menu and not recognizing many common dishes that we had expected. This was a culture shock to me because as I looked outside at the other restaurants, I saw Thai food, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, French, Mediterranean, and more diverse food types all down the street. I also took note of London’s diversity while traveling on the Tube last week, too. As I looked around at the other locals, I saw so many people of different descents and speaking languages I could not even pinpoint. It was in these first few days I realized that London is a true melting pot filled with a countless number of different cultures and backgrounds.
I spent the rest of my first several days in London simply exploring my new city and seeing as much as I could. I took the tube to Westminster and walked around the Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, and the Westminster Abbey. Although I have visited these attractions on my previous trip to London a few year ago, it never ceases to amaze me how rich in history this city is. I also took the tube to Notting Hill, a much quieter area, and walked around smaller shops and enjoyed lunch in a nice cozy cafe. On Sunday, we walked along South Bank and enjoyed seeing entertainers out on the sidewalk, ice cream trucks, and looking out onto the Thames River. It shocked me that just a few tube stops apart appear so different from each other. This opened my eyes to the magnificent size of London.
My first week in London has taught me so much, but especially how much I still have yet to learn and see. There are so many parts of the city I want to explore during my short time here, including a visit to the Camden Market, spending time in Soho, and taking advantage of the green space in Hyde Park. I also yearn to travel as much as I can outside of London and explore other parts of England. I enter my second week in London wanting more and to do as much as I can. I look forward to the next 6 weeks to come and I hope I can take advantage of every single day I spend here.
Until next time!