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London at First Sight

When I envisioned finally touching down at London Heathrow and being set loose in the city, something that I’ve been waiting for more than a year, I expected it to be a bit surreal. Having not traveled to Europe before, I knew I was about to experience something totally different than I’d ever have before. However, I didn’t realize how much of a shock it would be. Putting aside the fact that I was jet-lagged, hungry, tired and a bit delirious; I experienced a euphoria like no other after setting foot on English soil.

I delighted in being surrounded by a variety of accents and cultures, and heard a handful of different languages being spoken just on my way to my dorm. I was especially amused by the phrasing of the signs and advertisements found around the city; the British just have a funny way of saying things and I can’t get enough of it. For example; on the tube, a soothing female British voice warns passengers to “mind the gap” when entering and exiting the doors. Instead of exit signs, there are “way out” signs. The tube in general was an overall satisfying experience; I found it pretty easy to navigate to the Old Street stop, a short walk from my new home in Shoreditch. Which, by the way, I am currently infatuated with. I didn’t even try to hide my hugely satisfied grin as I marched along the Shoreditch streets to my dorm, passing by awesome street art, interesting pubs and convenient corner stores.

 The Old Street tube stop in Shoreditch
 One of the many graffiti-covered walls in Shoreditch

I’m a big ping pong guy, so you can imagine my excitement after passing by Bounce Ping Pong Bar & Restaurant. As I got closer to my dorm, Alexander Fleming, I was pleased to find there were many close-by food places where I could grab a quick bite to eat. I stopped at Ned’s Noodle Bar and ordered chicken and noodles with sweet & sour sauce, and admittedly had to ask the cashier if I had the right change.
 "Bounce," a Bar and Restaurant filled with Ping Pong tables
 Fresh eating at nearby "Neds Noodle Bar"

British coins may look similar to US coins, but they make a lot less sense in my mind. For example, the 2 pence coin is bigger than all the other ones, the dime-shaped one is only worth 5 pence and the twenty pence coin is a slightly heptagonal shape. To top it off, a single pound is in coin form and not a note. These differences are minimal and I can see myself quickly getting used to them. Most of the cultural differences I actually prefer; I feel very much at home in London. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming, and without a language barrier, I feel very free to explore the city and interact with the locals. While there still is some adjusting for me to do, I can already tell that I love studying abroad in London and can’t wait to experience all it has to offer.

 Alexander Fleming Halls of Residence, my new home for the semester

James L. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in London, England. He is currently a senior studying Business Management at West Chester University of Pennsylvania

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