Before venturing over to London for the weekend, I had many thoughts about the city. I did not understand the “hype” behind a place like London – an English speaking, tourist trap that seemed like a European New York city. Oh, and did I mention expensive? I had these preconceived notions about a place that I had never been, nor have been educated on. Reflecting deeper on these, I realized that studying abroad and traveling while I’m here are exactly what I need to grow from stereotypes and preconceived notions such as these.
Oh how wrong I was… I absolutely fell in love with the city of London! We arrived from the Heathrow airport on Thursday night, thanking the flight attendants with a “gracias” and realizing their “you’re welcome” back was a sign we would not be needing our Spanish language skills for the weekend. (How weird is it that I am now instinctively speaking Spanish? The wonders of study abroad!). We meandered through the Heathrow airport until we found the metro – or the “tube” – which would take us to our hostel. I have heard wonders about the Underground transportation system in London, and its speed and efficiency of connecting the huge hub. I am a public transit girl through and through, so this tad bit boring piece of information was quite exciting for me.
We bought Oyster cards, loaded pounds onto it and were on our way to the center of London. During the entirety of the trip, we were conscious to the exchange rate between pounds and euros, and used this to figure out if something was too expensive or not… except everything was too expensive. I realized as much as I loved London and hope to work there someday soon, studying abroad in London would eat my bank account before I could even travel out of the city. I will no longer take the cheap cost of living in Madrid for granted. And after finally arriving at our tube station, we came up to the city of London (!!) and were immediately greeted by a cold wind and a red telephone booth. My travel buddy and I were so excited by the telephone booth that we hopped in for a dark, blurry picture complete with large travel backpacks. We stayed at the Strand Continental Hostel, which was a bit interesting for someone who has never stayed in a hostel. The next day, we woke up early and sight-seed much of London. Everything was larger than life and beautiful. The changing of the guards was fantastic, and reminded us of a Disney movie. Big Ben was disappointing since it is under construction, but the Westminister Abbey was above and beyond my expectations.
Overall, it was a great (and quick!) weekend trip to a city hub full of bustling people, royal history and amazing food. We even had scones and tea (!) as well as caught ourselves imitating the accent. To all those studying in London, I am jealous of you and I wish you the best in the budgeting area. To those thinking of studying abroad, I can not emphasis that your eyes will opened wide and your stereotypes shattered.