Five Hours East: Compliments and Complaints

Living in a different country, or even a different state, city, or neighborhood is bound to be the source of some frustrations. It is also sure to have some better effects.

Living in London, even just for two weeks, has proven to be extremely different than living in the U.S., which I’m sure is a surprise to exactly no one. I figured that it would be interesting to document the different things that I notice in the form of one compliment to the city of London, and one complaint about the city each week. My first installment of this series includes the topics of public transportation and pedestrians.


Compliment: Public Transportation

One of the very first things I noticed upon arriving here in London was how efficient, clean, and smooth the tube is. In Boston, there are only five lines (I think). Here, there are about fifteen!

Yes, London is a much bigger city than Boston, but I was still highly impressed by the subway system. I could stand easily without holding onto anything while the train was in motion. There also wasn’t an incessant, ear-piercing screeching sound (shoutout to the Green Line). On the T, that’s not quite the case. I definitely look forward to getting more familiar with it and its many lines.


Complaint: Pedestrians

If the tube is more efficient and smooth than the T…well, the pedestrian situation might be the opposite.

When I first got here, I assumed that pedestrians would keep to the left side of the sidewalk, since that’s the side they drive on. In the U.S., we tend to walk on the right side of the sidewalk to help with flow and foot traffic, so I was basing my assumptions on that norm.

I was surprised to find that not only did people not walk on the left side of the sidewalk, they didn’t walk on the right side either! I spoke to one of my professors about it, and she informed me, to my horror, that people here just walk wherever they want, weaving through openings on the sidewalk and just generally having no rhyme or reason to their walking patterns.

This is just insane to me. It makes it so much harder to get where I’m going, and I feel like I’m constantly bumping into people when I try to guess which way they’re going to step. Hopefully, with time, I’ll get more agile and become more adept at moving through and around other pedestrians.


I notice more differences between my home country and England every day, and I look forward to commenting extensively those differences, so tune in for my next set!


Parker Sikes, Study Abroad Correspondent

Parker Sikes is a senior at Boston University spending her last semester in London. Studying advertising has revealed her passion for design and nurtured her passion for writing. As a small-town girl who prefers the city, she intends to move to Los Angeles, California after graduating to jump start her career. Parker’s favorite activities include driving, playing her Nintendo DS, reading, and using Oxford commas.


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