Pictures, from left to right:(1) Oxford, Christ’s Church College (2) Archery at Warwick Castle (3) The famed red telephone booths (4) Stonehenge (5) Warwick Castle
Week one of my adventures came to a close yesterday. I say one one week, but it feels as though I have done more in this one week than I have in my lifetime! I have been all over London, and even ventured beyond it. Outside of London, I have visited: Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Salisbury and Stonehenge. I have also traveled to various sites in London, using the underground rail system. I even went on a London Plague Tour! (Check it out)
Before I came to London, I was not expecting that much would be very different, other than the accent and people driving on the opposite side of the road. However, much more has surprised me; I am definitely in a foreign country. One of the first differences that I noticed is that everyone here dresses very nicely. The men wear suits and women wear slacks, skirts or dresses. It is not common to see people dressed in jeans and t-shirts; even some of the grocery store employees wear suits. I really like this professional attitude, however it makes me feel kind of out of place with my jeans and backpack. I wish that I would have packed some more nice clothes.
Another difference that I have noticed is the portion sizes and the expiration dates on the food here. In the United Kingdom, a lot of the chemicals that we use in our food in America are banned. This means that the food here is smaller and expires quicker, and tastes 10 times better! The portions are also the perfect size for one person; I can shop for food without worrying that everything will go bad before I get to eat it. This, along with the fact that people walk everywhere, means that people here are a lot more fit: I have already lost weight in my first week here!
Another cultural difference is that to-go boxes are not really used here; occasionally a restaurant will have a sign saying that they have “take-away”, but most often, it isn’t an option (unless you wrap things up and stuff them in your backpack). And when you go to a restaurant, you order at the counter, not from the table. As with “take-away,” there are many different words used here for everyday things. “Toilets” or “Loo” is used in place of restroom, “rubbish” for garbage, “footpath” for sidewalk, “tube” for the underground trains, and “lift” for elevator are a few of the differences that I have noticed. It also not at all uncommon to hear different languages while you are walking down the street. It is great fun to listen for new words and different languages.
When thinking about language, I feel very self-conscious about my accent. In comparison to the accent here, it sounds like Americans are mumbling all the time. We don’t enunciate in the same way that they do, and this is apparent when service personnel have to keep asking you what you are saying. This has caused me to think more about how clear I am when I am speaking; I think this will serve me well, even back in the states.
I am having such a wonderful time here. Although I have not been getting enough sleep, in order to get all of my homework done, this is better than I ever could have imagined it to be. I love it here so much that I think I might come back for my graduate degree. Until then, I am going to enjoy my time while it lasts.