It is almost the end of February, which is crazy to say. Time has never moved faster than it has here and yet I feel like I arrived in London months ago. Through my time in London, I have learned so much about this city and what it means to live here. Reading tips and tricks online are much different from living it, but here are some things that I wish I knew about London before coming:
- There is no walking order on the street
This was something that SHOCKED me when I first arrived in London. I knew how strict tube etiquette was and I thought that level of strictness would translate into other aspects of daily London living. However, I was very wrong about that fact! Normally in the US, we walk on the right side of the street. Londoners on the other hand, walk very freely! This is something that tends to be very frustrating in my day-to-day life and I am still not used to it unfortunately. I often say to my friends that I’m excited to be able to walk in a straight line when I get back home!
- Londoners walk QUICK
Previously to coming to London, I thought I was a fast walker, but after being here a month and a half I realized I will never compete with the Londoners' pace. I grew up on the east coast, so quick walking is not a foreign topic to me, but this level of quick walking is definitely not something I was used to. I am much more used to it now, but it was definitely a shocker in the beginning. So pro-tip, be prepared for an upgrade on your walking pace.
- Service workers are much nicer than people say!
I have been pleasantly surprised by this so far! I always would read that retail and service workers are not even comparably as nice and outgoing as American service workers. I actually don’t think this is true! I definitely have had my fair share of workers not being very outwardly kind, but I’ve yet to deal with someone I would deem “rude” or “cold.” I’ve had a few instances of conversing with baristas or the people I order food from and all have been a really pleasant experience! (though most are just asking if I’m American and where I’m from!)
- Food is so much better than people say
Now, I am not sitting here defending classic British food. Honestly, I haven’t had much of it and most of my experiences have not been stellar (just being honest!) Something I was shocked by is how culturally diverse London food is. London is a melting pot of cultures and the food reflects that truth. Basically any cuisine you could think of will be available in some capacity at any food market you go to. This has been a great way for me to try not only new foods but also new cuisines and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it!
- If you like coffee, but don’t like it hot, get used to it
Genuinely, I thought people were over-exaggerating about iced coffee prior to coming to London. Unfortunately, they were not. Now, iced coffee is not impossible to find by any means, but it is hard to find a coffee shop that has it all. By “all” I mean, good tasting coffee, iced, and flavoring. That is also something that’s very common, that coffee shops do not carry flavoring. This would be an extremely rare thing in America, so I was really shocked by this trend. Fortunately, I’ve worked around it and found my favorite coffee shop that has it all, including a really cute place to do work and hang out! Actually, I’m writing this post from said coffee shop! Regardless, if you’re a coffee addict like me, you’ll have to sip on hot coffee some days!
There is so much more that I’ve learned about London but those were just a few that stick out to me! This city has taught me so much and I’m still learning every day new things about common life here. As I said previously, there is no better way to learn these things than by living them but, I still think being educated and aware of changes that might impact your daily life is really important and can help ease the pains and discomfort of the initial change!
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Hi! My name is Emma Crawford. I'm a sophomore comm studies major from Pennsylvania and Ill be studying abroad in London. I am a lifelong Swiftie, lover of coffee, and always down to try something new. I am so excited to explore London and other countries in Europe!