by Ally DeMass, British Studies in the United Kingdom
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
I was so chuffed (British slang for happy) to get to London that I did not sleep one second on the plane. I think I had too much adrenaline to be tired because even when we got to Heathrow Airport a day later I was ready to go! Take this advice— do not go to sleep once you get to London. Stay awake that entire first day and you will sleep like a baby, therefore becoming perfectly equipped to the time change. Hey it worked like a charm for me! Trust me too that there are literally coffee shops and stands on every block. Here comes another tip... be prepared to take the Tube. Have you ever been on the Trax during a game day for the U? Imagine that packed cart full of crazy hooligans but multiply it by 10,000. The Tube is the mass transit and most popular means of travel throughout London. Everyone is packed in so tight you literally are hugging the person next to you (but of course it’s a great experience and I miss it everyday). If you are going to take the Tube to your campus from the airport, all I have to say is good luck. There is no such thing as lifts (elevators) in the stations and you have to change platforms quite a bit, which means you are lugging your luggage up and down flights of crowded stairs and it’s a little stressful. Make sure you can physically carry your luggage because if it’s too heavy... you’re on your own. Now of course you will also use those infamous double decker buses during your stay in London. They are even more adorable than the movies have showed them, so make sure you get a seat up top and in the front. (But you are not allowed to stand up or else you get yelled at!) Taxis can be very expensive and may not accept cash, plus they are so small I do not even recommend trying to take one. Use the Tube.
Obviously you have to go out in the city and see everything that it has to offer, but I promise that you don’t enough time in the world to see everything. So take your time in planning and try to find student tours. In one day I was able to see Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge. If I had tried to take trains to these places by myself it would have taken days and many panic attacks. Student tours are actually pretty cheap and they are led by people who know what they are talking about. When you are walking around the parts of the city and see the phone booths... be warned. They are full of prostitution ads and smell like urine. So if you want that picture be quick! When you go to main attractions like the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey, selfie pictures don’t allow you to capture all of the shot even though they are convenient. And of course not everybody speaks English, but most visitors know the universal language of picture taking: offer to take their camera, tell them to smile and count to 3, and then show them the picture. In return, they will be kind enough to return the favor (and maybe you will even make friends). I am the pickiest person when it comes to eating, and don’t get me wrong I love food, but I was kind of skeptical on trying new things. However, I absolutely loved Fish N Chips! We also tried tea and biscuits, haggis, and blood pudding. It is quite the experience so you have to try everything no matter what at least once.
Learning London Life
There is no doubt about it— London is the most exciting city in the world (especially in comparison to Salt Lake City). As a first time student studying abroad I could not have been more thrilled to be accepted into the U of U British Studies summer program. Not only did we stay in the center of London at Regent’s College, which is a “uni” inside of Regent’s Park, but we also had long weekends to go wherever we wanted to! Granted that I am a student, I couldn’t afford to go mainland Europe, but I was able to tour around the UK and I am so grateful for it. You will have the time of your life and miss it every single day, so make sure you live it to the fullest. Cheers!