Before coming to London, I mentally prepared myself to be okay with being alone. I didn’t know anybody before my trip, I just matched names to faces on Instagram, which does not really reveal much about a person. So, naturally, when I arrived at my housing, I panicked.
These feelings combined with the jet lag made me feel antisocial and all I wanted to do was collapse in bed. But as soon as I walked into my flat, I saw three people smiling and welcoming me to London. I could tell they were feeling similar emotions of disbelief and exhaustion, but they were eager to ask questions about my trip and a little bit about my life at home. None of us go to the same university or have the same majors, yet we connected instantly.
We spent the next couple of days wandering the streets of London, gaining familiarity with the city and with one another. I quickly noticed they are spontaneous people who nicely balance out my constant need for organization and order. They help me get out of my comfort zone, say yes to experiences that come my way and allow me to live in the moment.
One day sticks out to me, in particular, as we decided that we had to go to high tea during our time in London. After some extensive research on what truly was “the best” tea experience, we landed on a place that was an art gallery as well as a restaurant. Once we got there, we were surrounded by Baroque art pieces and a string quartet playing music while we indulged in one of the best meals I have ever had. Since we were in the city, we decided to visit Buckingham palace, made plenty of jokes about how we forgot our keys and claimed we lived there, and then shopped around the local markets at Notting Hill.
Not only do we explore the city together, but we actively try to keep a sense of routine to avoid total culture shock. This includes “family” dinners featuring recipes from home, watching American shows together and talking openly about the differences between the UK and the States. This normalcy is what I lean on in order to feel a sense of home in another country.
People around the world have different perspectives on Americans and whether these are good or bad can greatly change how an interaction goes. My flatmates and I have tried using local dialogue, like “football” instead of “soccer”, but sometimes it is hard to switch back and forth while still understanding where the conversation is going. This happened to me when I said “y’all” in a conversation with somebody in a café and he just stood there and asked if I was a cowboy and poked fun at the fact that I actually say stuff like that. While I just laughed it off, I frankly felt embarrassed as nobody had pointed this out to me before. I later told my flatmates what happened and they supported me and said that they had similar situations happen to them. From this, we all learned how it is not always easy to adapt to local vernacular, even though we speak the same language. This lesson will come home with us as we interact with people in the States, remembering how we felt during our time abroad.
It just blows my mind that I only met my flatmates three weeks ago and we have already shared so many important moments and learned many cultural lessons together. So, to anybody who is worried that they will be alone while going abroad, I am here to tell you that the world is actually small and connections can be made anywhere. You will create relationships that will make saying goodbye so hard. So, for the precious time that I have left in London, I will reflect on my friendship with my flatmates and remember how grateful I am that they are not strangers anymore.
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My name is Emmy and I am a senior studying Psychology and Media Advertising. I'm an avid cycler, lover of tea and concert junkie! In London, I will be interning at a marketing agency and am so excited to share all about my adventures!