It’s been about 3 weeks here so far and I’m feeling more into the routine of London life. I think the clearest I was able to see this was after my return from Paris.
Going back to the beginning of last week, we had class as usual. On Thursday I spent the day exploring the “square mile” city, specifically the financial district. The joke was on me of course because I wore jeans that day and I couldn’t have felt more out of place. Every single person was either wearing a suit or professional dress. For someone interested in pursuing a career in the financial services industry it was pure heaven, but of course, I was not “dressed to impress”.
The city is clearly still growing and transforming with many different construction sites on each block. The majority of historic buildings are still in place, like the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England Museum, but everything else seems to take on its own shape.
On Friday we left for Paris on the Eurostar. It was an amazing experience taking a train under the English channel into France. This was also my first excursion onto mainland Europe which was very interesting. There was definitely a huge language barrier when we got there as far as navigating the city. Luckily my roommate minors in French and was able to help us all out a ton. The metro (their version of the tube) is much less coordinated and clean than that of London.
Aside from arriving and staying in a hostel that cost 14 pounds a night….the city was amazing. It is quite evident that Paris cares just as much about its history as the English do. Their restoration and preservation of key sites is commendable. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Hotel d’ Ville, Hotel des Invalides, the Palace of Versailles and its gardens were breathtaking. All of the buildings and things I had learned about in history class and books were right in front of me.
It was incredible and well worth the visit. Regardless of all these incredible sites, I couldn’t help but feel fairly excited to head back to London. In my short time here I have grown so comfortable with the English accents, the smell of the underground, the standing on the right side of the escalators and the general acceptance of keeping to themselves that when the Eurostar arrived at St. Pancras station, I was relieved and ready to head back to Kilburn.
I “minded the gap” that was evident between the cultures of the UK and France, and am ready to continue exploring this incredible city and those that surround it.
P.S. My professor for international finance took us on a site visit to the Bank of England Museum followed by a trip to Sky Garden in the “walkie-talkie” building. The featured image for this blog post is the view from the top.