Boston University’s Study Abroad program does a great job of making sure all of its participating students are as prepared for the journey across the pond as possible. As I sat in Boston Logan Airport last week, waiting for the boarding call, I thought I had this whole London thing figured out.
My checked luggage was, shockingly, not overweight; my carry-ons had made it through security without a hitch, my important travel documents were printed and organized, and I had plenty of podcast episodes downloaded for the upcoming flight.
I was ready. Besides, I had been to London before. I was practically an expert as far as 20-year-old American students go, right?
During my first week in the United Kingdom, I was quickly reminded that study abroad would involve quite a bit of learning outside of the classroom. Who knew?
Here are the lessons I’ve learned so far in London:
- Always, always, always bring a raincoat or an umbrella. Seriously. It doesn’t matter if there’s not a cloud in the sky when you wake up in the morning. A drizzle or a downpour can come out of nowhere. Be prepared.
- It’s called a toilet, not a restroom.
- According to the university student I sat next to on the plane (he was from the UK), the Brits are just as fascinated with our American accents as we are with theirs (and about 50% of them really enjoy listening to it).
- Flip-flops and London sidewalks are the opposite of a match made in heaven. Thankfully, the locals are too polite to laugh at you when you trip over the uneven ground twice in five minutes.
- Speaking of heaven, the Tube is a godsend after 2 years of living in a love/hate relationship with the T. Apologies to the Green Line.
Sure, BU did a great job preparing us to study abroad. However, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, they could have done that would have prepared me for the sheer giddiness I experienced while walking around my new neighborhood for the first time and catching a glimpse of Kensington Palace.
That’s right, Princes William and Harry, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle are my neighbors. This, perhaps, is my favorite thing I’ve learned about London so far. Its majestic history is woven throughout the entire city. Almost everywhere you go has a little bit of medieval, royal flair. I can’t help but to soak it in and indulge my inner child that once dreamed of tiaras, palaces, and ball gowns. That childhood magic feels palpable here in London, and I am certain that there are many more magical things to discover during my time here.
Claire Doire, Study Abroad Correspondent
Claire Doire is a junior at Boston University studying Public Relations with a minor in Political Science. She hails from Middletown, Rhode Island and is currently studying abroad in London: the home of her wordsmithing hero, William Shakespeare. Back in Boston, Claire spends her free time dancing, acting, and working hard to one day become her own version of The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg.