I have been living in London for about two weeks now. My first impression of London is overall really good, but I am going to be honest, there are certain things I didn’t expect to feel or notice when I moved here. Besides the fact that they drive on the wrong side of the road, the biggest “issue” I am facing is the fact that I am very aware of that I am American. When I first got here I couldn’t help but be self-conscious about the fact that I have an American accent. I started to realize the people around me were listening to me because I sounded different than them. The one cultural gap that had me the most taken aback was the fact that people in customer service don’t tell you to “have a nice day”. That is probably the strangest quirk I have noticed about London, but for some reason it is the one thing that still bothers me. Another thing that bothers is that the restroom here is simply referred to as the “toilet”. It is so blunt, and quite honestly I’m not sure I will ever get used to it. I knew life was going to be different in London, but I guess I didn’t really understand how until I got here. Also, I didn’t realize I would be very conscious about my clothing. For the first few days here I only had my white Filas, and for the strangest reason I was very self-conscious about them. The style in London is very different than the style in America; everybody dresses a little bit more polished, and I have noticed that they all wear a lot of black. I found myself looking at people’s outfits a lot; especially on the tube. Over the past few days my style has shifted, and I believe I have adopted a more European look.
I know I have only been here for two weeks, but I cannot stress to you enough how long that feels when you are abroad. As the days have passed by I have found myself blending into the culture more and more. Many of you may be disappointed to know, I have found myself developing an accent. I think it is really hard not to while you are living here; literally everyone around me has an accent. You may say “but Makenzie you haven't even been there that long; how do you have an accent?" It’s hard to explain, but maybe if you have studied abroad you will understand. It becomes hard to distinguish between an American accent and a British one when you are constantly surrounded by both. In a way all of us American students have adopted some strange in between accent. We have also adopted some of the lingo as well. I find myself saying words like quid, bloody, bin bag, rubbish, just to name a few examples. When you are surrounded by British accents so much they lose their charm, and they honestly just begin to sound normal. I have found this to be especially true during lectures. I was listening to my psych professor this morning, and I didn’t even realize that he was speaking with an accent; it just sounds so normal now.
I also think it is important to highlight that studying abroad in London is very different than just visiting. Quite honestly it is a whole other experience. I have had nights where I just stay in the flat and watch Netflix because it is pouring rain outside. It is different than being a tourist because I’m not in a rush to do everything since I’m going to be living here for the next four months. Also when you are studying abroad you are surrounded by a lot more locals than if you are a tourist. When we go out we aren’t in touristy parts of the city. Our housing is located in a very expensive neighborhood in London; there are no tourists there. When I am taking the tube to school in the morning I am surrounded by London locals who are headed to work and school as well. I didn’t even see the London Eye or Big Ben until I was already here for a week! I have also found myself getting a little annoyed over tourists. This is something that a friend of mine, who just came back from studying in London, told me would happen.
Regardless of the massive amounts of tourists, I absolutely love the city of London. Coming from Tucson, Arizona where there really isn’t much to do besides swimming and horseback riding, I feel so entertained. Every night there is something to do whether it be going to a pub, a show, a market, etc. there is never a dull moment. This city is so lively, and there are so many different cultures and wonderful people here.