Hello again from London!
We are almost two-thirds done with the program now, and I have come to love London as a city. However, there have been various aspects of London that have proven difficult to adjust to. When I originally imagined my triumphant return back to the United States, I thought that I would be most excited (apart from seeing my family and friends) to just see cars on the right side of the road, and to have some good ole American BBQ. I did not expect that what I would be most excited about would be to do laundry, eat Goldfish, and absolutely demolish a bowl of queso.
The first obvious difference in London is the commute time. Almost every place I am going has about an hour long commute on public transportation, and I have come to consider a 30 minute commute extremely short. While a bit stressful at first, I adjusted quickly to this aspect of London life and think that it will help me with travel times when I return back home.
I noticed that back home in the States, strangers are generally more friendly. I had not come to this realization until my dad asked me if I had any friends at the gym, to which I replied that everyone strictly keeps to themselves there. He was surprised to hear that, and I began taking notice that there are no friendly exchanges on public transportation or in public either. The Underground, despite being extremely crowded at rush hour, proves to be so silent that you could almost hear a pin drop. While this was odd at first, I soon appreciated those long periods of quiet time to unwind and have time to myself, ironically surrounded by hundreds of other people.
Those two changes have been the most apparent and obvious of all the differences. However, the ones that have proven most challenging for me are the smallest changes of all. The portion sizes in England are much smaller, both at restaurants and at grocery stores. While it might seem nice that your grocery bill is only about 10 to 15 pounds, you have to go back a handful of times each week to restock. The snack food is truly lacking here, with no Goldfish crackers (my personal favorite) or pretzels. Most unfortunate of all, there is absolutely zero queso. I have done my research, as well as a class project, on the lack of queso here in London. I truly wish I had hit Moe’s one last time before coming abroad. The laundry, also, has proven frustrating. The washers are very small, and there are no dryers. We have to use a clothes rack, and while this does not seem so bad, the amount of lint on all my clothes has become abominable.
On a more serious note, I have struggled to keep in contact with family and friends back home. Since there is a five hour time difference, my schedule is so different. The fact that I now have a UK phone number and must communicate over Whatsapp with my family and friends has proven to be another challenge, since many of my family and friends do not have the app, or even smartphones to access it. This has definitely made London a little lonely at times, but I am happy to say I have been able to adjust to all other aspects of life here (besides the queso, of course).
I included some little TikTok vlogs I have made below, so you can get a visual on what life in London, and on my European travels, has been like. Cheers!