The Beginning

Ariana Lisefski
January 14, 2013

I have arrived and settled in London! Four days here has felt like much longer, and every hour I think I fall a little further in love with this city.

It’s been a rush of orientation events so far for us IES students, every day packed with information, meeting the staff, finalizing courses and field trips, and going on walking tours and bus tours. I’m exhausted, but one of the most surprising things is how much I’ve grown accustomed to life here already. To be honest, for the first two days everything scared me and my small-town-girl sensibilities a bit (Example A: first Tube ride at rush hour). But after the initial intimidation, I find it just easy to be here. I’ve made a great group of friends that I feel I’ve known for much, much longer than a few days, and every day I seem to meet a host of new people just in my building or out in the city, people that hail from India or Switzerland or Germany or right here in England.

The place I call home now is Nido Spitalfields, the tallest student housing building in the world (seriously). Tucked in to the very center of London’s 32 boroughs, in the central City of London, Nido is 33 floors of astonishingly modern, shiny facilities housing students from all over the world here to study at uni. It’s beautiful and friendly and a surreal place to live.

In other surreal news: Windsor Castle is a thing. An unbelievably massive thing of the castle variety, in which the Queen lives sometimes. After taking a picture with a guard at the castle, guess what he said? “Where’s my hug?” he asked. The British are full of surprises. We got to walk around the grounds themselves for a while, the (cold) city of Windsor, and the neighboring Eaton, home of the famous Eaton College for boys. We’re kept busy and entertained until classes start up this week.

It all seems pretty magical, but I don’t want to delude you that it’s all just rosy. A number of students, including myself, have already come down with some sickness or another, which is hard to avoid. Another problem for me has been the phone situation. Though I have finally gotten my own smartphone from back in the States to work here with a local network SIM card, it took a lot of finagling.

So as some advice to future students, I would say to recognize that you can’t possibly bring everything you need here and will have to buy a lot of things straight away. Some bits and bobs: phone, bath towels, clothes hangers, and bathroom and kitchen items. But none of these things or potential problems have been difficult to solve. What I’m learning is that to throw yourself into the unknown, just being spontaneous and going into every new situation open to what you’ll find, very little can go wrong—and it feels like you’re on top of the world when it goes right. As I sit looking out on London from the 32nd floor Sky Lounge of Nido, it feels like I am already there. On top of everything.

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Ariana Lisefski

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ariana is a junior at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Gender and Women&#39;s Studies. On campus, she is busy with bellydance and yoga, and as an executive member of the student health club. She has ridden elephants in Thailand and gone whitewater rafting in New Zealand, but her time studying abroad in London will be her first experience of Europe, which she hopes to make the very most of. Writing is how she makes sense of the world, and she hopes to share this blog with you while she explores jolly old England!</span></p>

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