Monday, September 30, 2013

Jenna S. - London, England - Fall 2013

I started off my trip by heading to Edinburgh on Tuesday to meet up with my best friend who is spending a semester at the University of Edinburgh. Her classes hadn’t started yet, but her orientation had, so we had a lot of time to hang out that week. We went and toured the Castle, tried out our new found ability to buy alcohol at a jazz bar, took a Ghost Terror tour which was legitimately terrifying, and just explored the city. We had a wonderful time and met a lot of really awesome people. The leader of the terror tour, Ewan, was hilarious. He had been working in the ghost tour business for six years, he always wears big Doc Martin boots and a swishy coat, he’s 6’2” and had the thickest Scottish brogue I’ve ever heard. I met two people in my hostel who were travelling Europe for a month. The year before they had travelled the length of the west coast of South America and next year they aimed to spend a couple of weeks in Costa Rica. We talked for well over an hour in the common room one night and it was fantastic!
I had taken the train up from London to Edinburgh and so I took it back down on Saturday. Note: it is a five hour train trip. Be prepared if you decide to go up there. I arrived in London around noon, so I found a hostel for a couple of nights and explored London. I mostly walked around on Saturday, but I went to the British Museum on Sunday. That place is so cool, although the whole time I had a nagging voice in the back of my head that insisted that the British should give all the stuff that they stole from other countries back to the original owners.
Monday was orientation day where I moved into my flat and met my roommates and the rest of the kids from the Arcadia study group. I made a few friends too! They’re all American students, but they will be attending UCL with me and it’s nice just to know people here, British or not. But anyways, I moved into my flat and met my roommates. There are six of us living in one flat, which is a serious adjustment. My roommates are…..very different from me and I’m almost positive that two of them don’t know my name. But my flat is in an ideal location. The tube is a two minute walk down the street and there’s a bus station that goes straight to my college if you walk the other way for a minute.
Because the tube is so close,  I have been exploring the city. I’ve gone on the London Eye, seen Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tardis in Earl’s Court, and the Sherlock Holmes museum along with a bunch of other stuff. After exploring for a few days, I feel like I know the city better now and can get around mostly without the use of my phone!
Basically, the UK is an incredible place. I’ve rarely seen a city as beautiful as Edinburgh and I’d love to spend another week up in Scotland seeing the places I missed. London isn’t as pretty, but it’s got a soul all its own. It’s a city of contrasts. There’s massive, brand new, shinning skyscrapers right next to medieval ruins and ancient cathedrals. There’s constant juxtaposition of the historical and the contemporary. It’s absolutely amazing.
By the way, everything Alice says about culture shock is true. The day week two hit, I got a cold. It was the worst and I had to figure out what cold medicine to get and where to get it and it was pretty stressful. Add on some more stress induced by my lovely program and a mess that they got me into regarding housing, and I was a bit of a mess. But, the cold is gone now and I’ve made some friends and things are once again looking up! 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Jenna, from CPP250. Alice

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, dearest, this is delightful. Six roommates sounds intense but your tenacity will show them. I am so glad to hear that you are exploring London and all it has to offer. You will have to send me all your recommendations for when we swap places in January.

I too have a burning desire to see Scotland and after reading your description of Edinburgh (my first choice city) I am uber-excited.

I'm sure you are geeking out on all the Dr. Who nonsense over there and I am continuing to roll my eyes at your obsession.

--Jacob H

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna!

It sounds like you have had quite the experience! I'm glad to hear that things are working out for you and that you are taking advantage of the travel opportunities.

-Elizabeth M.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, your experience already sounds so exciting! It's wonderful that you traveled around to explore. I can't imagine how great it must be since there's nothing to that effect here! I'm glad you're adjusting more and I wish you the best of luck!
Ashley R.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are having a wonderful time in London. I am thinking about going to my program a week or two early so that I can see a friend in a nearby country. Was that hard to figure out the details? Any advice?

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jacob!

About the roommates, you have no idea. It's a battle for the bathroom every morning. I'll make up a little list of my favorite places for you before you leave. Although you may want to tell me what types of places you would enjoy or you may get a list of bookstores.

You absolutely have to go see Scotland. It is honestly one of the best places I have ever visited. Don't just go for a weekend. Take an entire week and explore. I didn't spend nearly enough time there, but I will be going back later.

Roll your eyes all you want, sir.


1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hi! It's been a fantastic experience so far! The travel opportunities have been the best part!


1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the luck! I'm going to need it! I'm planning to take a day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon this weekend!


1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous traveller,

I would absolutely recommend going a couple weeks early. It was the best thing I have done so far. You MUST plan it ahead though. Figure out where you're going to land, how you're going to get to your hostel/hotel whatever, make sure you have lodgings booked and know exactly where they are. When I landed in England, I got on a train to Edinburgh and arrived in Scotland at about 10pm, jetlagged, with no phone or internet, and inadequate directions to my hostel. I tried asking one of the police officers where it was, but his accent was so thick I couldn't understand. It was a moment of panic, so don't do that. Have everything planned out and don't panic is things don't go quite as planned. Also, don't nap when you get to wherever you're going. It'll hurt the jetlag process.

As long as you figure everything out early and have a plan, you'll be completely fine and it'll be a fantastic experience!

Good luck!,

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am curious as to how you chose the classes you are taking in London. Would you recommend taking a class that has to do with the culture you're immersed in? I'll be going to Oxford and was wondering what you'd think about taking a class that has to do with the history of England or something to that effect.
Best of luck!
Ashley R

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First things first, I'm glad you're feeling better! Being sick in a foreign country must be stressful! How did that exactly contribute to your experience with culture shock? Was it difficult finding what you needed?

I really enjoyed reading your post, and I can't believe you got to go to a Sherlock Holmes museum! I have to check that out when I get to England!

Have a wonderful rest of the week!
Isabel Juvan CPP 250

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, one more thing to add to the previous post! How did you go about selecting your classes? Someone else abroad in England mentioned they still haven't had their schedule finalized yet. Did you run into any problems getting your class schedule together, and do you have any tips for picking classes out?

Thanks! - Isabel

12:41 PM  
Blogger Sharon Chin said...

Hi I am from CPP 250. I had Edinburgh as one of my choices. Reading your blog it made me kind of sad that I didn't get placed in Edinburgh. Your blog is really exciting and even though I may not go to Edinburgh, I am excited to study abroad. If you were to pick the best moment while studying abroad. What would it be?

Thank you,
Sharon Chin

6:50 PM  

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