My first month abroad has been filled with surpassed expectations, surprising challenges, and a ton of memorable experiences. Over this time, I’ve gotten comfortable with thinking of London as more of home than a destination. I’m definitely more used to the slang here, meaning I don’t confuse a Londoner asking me “Are you okay?” with them being considered for my emotional welfare. Adjusting to walking on the left all the time has taken awhile, but I’m at a point where I’m almost afraid I’ll continue doing it when I go back home.
I think the first time it hit me that I was really living in one of the world’s most famous cities was my first time on the tube. There’s something about being crammed in a hot, dirty metal train car with some exhausted looking Brits that just says “London.” I also tend to appreciate it whenever I go see a theater production. I’ve been fortunate enough to find some affordable tickets to works such as Macbeth (Sam Wanamaker Theatre) and Antony and Cleopatra (Olivier Theatre). It’s really cool to be able to take advantage of all the theater in this city for relatively low-cost (at least compared to Broadway).
I would describe my entire experience here the first few weeks as culture shock. It was more than just adjusting to a new city with a new culture; it was dealing with new peers, classes, living arrangements, and a new job to boot. Imagine getting on a plane one day and the next your entire life is flipped over like that; it’s exhausting.
Suddenly every routine I’d had over my college career no longer applied. Things I never even really thought about, like places to study or get a late bite to eat, I had to figure out all over again. Besides this, I was trying to give one hundred percent of my enthusiasm to each of the new opportunities I was being presented with, all while trying to see as much of the city as I could. It’s easy to get burnt out.
I think once the initial shock of all that change faded away though, it became easier to immerse myself into the reality of living like a Londoner for four months. I think it’s definitely been rewarding, and it’s brought out an adaptability in me I never realized I had. That’s something I’m proud of.