Well – the first leg of my London “adventure” has come to a close. I’m back in the states until mid January. I’ve been asked numerous times what I miss about home the most AND what are my initial thoughts on London. What I miss most is the food or at least my favorite foods such as sugary cereal (Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch), fluffy American style pancakes with Aunt Jemima Syrup,and iced tea (preferably Turkey Hill or WAWA) that is not carbonated. These are three things that are difficult if not impossible to find (and if I do find them, I will pay an over-inflated price for it). So I will make it my mission to indulge myself in all that my heart desires food-wise (which isn’t much since I’m a known non foodie).
So I’m back in the states and my parents greeted me with a Christmas tree in the living room. It has been over 20 years since we have had a Christmas tree in our home. It was nice, but strange to see since it wasn’t something that we did. Yes I immediately ran to our over-sized refrigerator for some Turkey Hill iced tea and later in the evening, I ventured to Walmart. It felt good to be in a store where the employees smiled, greeted me as I walked up and down the aisles, and didn’t seem bothered that people were asking them for help. It was refreshing indeed.
This brings me to the question that inquiring minds want to know: How do I feel about London? Hmmmnnnn…well let’s start with the positives. I will say that London is an extremely diverse city with a lot to offer by way of culture, education, and fairly good public transport . I’m never wanting for something to do. It’s just a matter of having the time to fit it all in. I would say my greatest experiences have been going to concerts (Tarrus Riley, Melanie Fiona, Kindred the Family Soul, and Anthony David/Avery Sunshine). In addition to the music, my other passion is meeting people. I will admit I have suffered from depression since arriving and I haven’t been my usual self. There were days I couldn’t peel myself out of bed, but when I did I have met some amazing people. When I’ve been at my lowest my new circle of friends have been very uplifting.
Since my arrival, I have had to battle with the current political climate which has made global news. I won’t admit to understand it fully or explain all of what I know, but some of the situations the Brits find themselves in are similar to what we are faced with in the U.S.: budget cuts which affect, amongst other things, education and public services. Before coming London, I thought I was a fairly liberal person (although my ex used to say jokingly that I was a Republican). I’ve realized my political views are far more conservative than I thought. Actually, I’m just an overall conservative person in dress, talk, and for the most part alcohol consumption:) While I have tried to be social, I have had to decline many invitations to go to the pub after class or other school-related events. When I do go, I have a good time, but I just can’t do the pub thing every week.
So back to the politics… I’m living in a historical moment where I have had a window seat to the student challenges to the increased tuitionfees . I say window seat because I chose to remain apolitical during this time for a variety of reasons. However, my desire to remain so have not always come to fruition because no matter if I wanted to stay away from the politics of it all, I found myself forced into it by way of class discussions, re-arranged classes in order to allow students to participate in planned demonstrations, and occupation of the library (which ultimately resulted in the library closing completely for 2 days because it was filthy and left in disarray).
In addition to the political climate, I have been discouraged by the lack of politeness that I have witnessed on a day-to-day basis from people no matter what part of town I visit. I’m not implying that everyone is rude or that all Americans are polite. However, I have found a greater consistency of people in the U.S. who hold doors when someone is behind them and people who say “Thank you” when someone holds a door for the next person. I don’t think I’ve had so many doors slammed in my face. My last quarrel (for today) is the fact that people refuse to clean up after themselves. This concept includes people not curbing their dogs, sweeping their sidewalk when it snows, or putting their waste in the trash bins at McDonalds or any coffee shop that I have visited. I understand that it normally doesn’t snow and many people don’t have shovels or the salt to handle the snow. However, it really takes nothing more than a broom to sweep away a dusting of snow (I’m talking about an inch or two). Instead, the snow is left to remain and turns into icy patches as far as the eye can see. As I’m walking to the train/bus I see old people struggling to make it up and down the streets and I just can’t understand how people can allow the sidewalks to remain snow and ice-covered.
Now that I have ranted, I will say that it has been a joy to discover all of the local coffee shops and eateries in my town. My town doesn’t have one of the “better” high streets, but it’s a quaint town about 10 minutes from my school by train and 20 minutes from London Bridge. It’s situated in a perfect position – far enough from the hustle and bustle, inexpensive, but close enough to get to where I need to. I haven’t journeyed anywhere that has taken me more than an hour by train to get to from my house (that is unless the trains are not working – which has been the trend as of late. If the air is too cold it seems the trains are canceled due to “inclement weather”). My favorite parts of town are Brixton (I’ve seen the finest men there to date), NottingHill (I don’t know it’s just quaint and there is a lot of shopping to be done),Bayswater (I haven’t been there since May, but it’s still on my mind – home to a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants), Shoreditch (home of one of the Amnesty International Office and other cultural spaces), and West Croydon (a lot of shops, movie theater, and Nando’s).
Talk of Middle Eastern restaurants and Nando’s has made me hungry. I’m off to make some pancakes! Until Next time.