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May 23, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Things I’ve learned thus far in London:

Yes, it’s barely been 48 hours since our arrival, but I’m the first to freely admit that I have a lot to learn. So here goes:

London lessons as of … yesterday:

1. Look the opposite direction when crossing the street. Sure, I learned that during study abroad in Dublin (kind of, most Irish people I met guessed I would get hit by a car sometime during my stay due to my fearless walking style), but it’s even more difficult here. Half the streets we cross don’t have cross walks, so it’s a judgement call on when to cross. And it’s hard to trust my judgement on street-crossing matters, right UD friends?

2. Just because you live around royalty doesn’t mean bugs won’t get in your windows. First and foremost, Amy, if you’re reading this STOP PANICKING — I took care of the insect intruders rather bravely. But with most British accommodations lacking air conditioning, I thought leaving the windows open would be a good idea. But then, within minutes, several unwelcome horse flies (well maybe regular flies, but I always dramatically describe bugs so my dad will pity me and kill them) made their way into the building. Yeah … I don’t deal with that. Therefore: windows mostly closed with a slight crack from here on out. I will learn to enjoy a rare, but wonderful London heat wave.

3. Running through a park once does not mean you know your way around. Should I know this by now? Absolutely. But for some reason when I’m abroad, if I walk a route once I think I’ve got it down. Case in point, this morning. What was supposed to be a casual, easy jog through Hyde Park and Kensington Palace turned into a hardcore sprint as I was trying to find my way back to the apartment in time for orientation. Sure, following the impossible-to-get-lost circle route on the perimeter of the park was an option, but choosing at random the trails lined with pretty flowers is so much more fun. But fear not, I made it to orientation red-cheeked but showered, and one instant coffee deep.

While they’re only a few adjustments to life in London, these are the little challenges that, once you overcome them, make life abroad so exhilarating. You adjust on the fly and learn to either understand a new culture’s daily routines (by looking the right way – left then right – to avoid car-on-person injuries), embrace a culture’s lifestyle (be it living in comfortably-warm apartments, or drinking comfortably-warm beers), and find ways to get yourself out of a mess (such as following the flower-clad windy road, when the yellow brick road’s so much smarter). So with almost 48 hours and three London lessons under my belt I’m ready to see what the next few months have in store!

Unless it’s horse flies or spiders. They’re not a cute British cultural barrier to overcome; they’re just incredibly disgusting.


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