8 Lessons from 8 Weeks in London

Jennifer Zhang
October 31, 2017
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1) London is in its own “island” (that is called the United Kingdom) away from the rest of Europe, but has the European feel nonetheless. 

2) Affordable flights to other European cities! Living in a big city has its advantages, which includes lots of airport options and destinations for weekend trips to choose from! For example, I booked roundtrip plane tickets to Barcelona two weeks before going and they were about $80 (I know, isn’t that crazy?!).

3) Everyone jaywalks. I was raised in Los Angeles and attend college in Washington, D.C., so I have seen quite a bit of it. But let me tell you, Londoners take this to a whole new level – arguably, to a dangerous new height. At first, you wonder how people even know when to cross without getting hit by a car. This is especially true for Americans - we are used to looking left while we look right here, and vice versa.  

4) Londoners are not as “cold” as their stereotype! Prior to coming to London, I have been warned that the people here are not very friendly and are very much in their own world. From what I have experienced, that’s FALSE. Sure, the weather’s almost always gloomy and it could affect people’s mood, but who doesn’t fall under the weather from time to time?

5) Citymapper is my lifesaver. Citymapper is available in D.C. as well, but I did not really use the mobile app until I got here. And let me tell you: once you start using it, Apple’s Maps app can’t compare! Citymapper lets you know all of the options (walking, bus, underground, Uber, rain safe routes) of getting to your destination. Let's say you feel like walking – it’ll not only tell you how long it will take to get there, but also how many calories you’ll burn during that walk. If you want to consider the financial aspect of getting from place A to B, no worries! Citymapper lets you know how much each route will cost you and compare them to each other, which gives you the opportunity to weigh out the pros and cons and then decide for yourself.

6) If you get lost at night, hopefully you have a charged phone! When I was in Prague, I was able to differentiate streets by its various shops and subtly different architecture, then find my way home without a GPS. However, because London’s very modern, many of the streets look very similar. At night, you might not be able to see the street name and recognize a street by its architecture.

7) It’s easy to get caught up in the pound-dollar ratio when making decisions, but you will learn to adjust with time. Yes, in the beginning of my time here, my brain was an unstoppable calculator that told me the £8 meal I'm eating is actually $10-11. Since I do not have a job here in the UK, it’s hard to get over that. However, with time and experience, I have learned to budget, know which grocery shops are cheaper and has fresher food, and which restaurants have tasty food without breaking my wallet. 

8) Nonetheless, London’s a great city to live in with lots to do. It’s no doubt that every city has its advantages and disadvantages. In London, there is always something to do during the day, during the night, during the holidays, and during every other part of the year. Personally, I love going to markets on the weekends and exploring all of the food stands and clothing shops there! Markets are usually open on most days of the week, and for long hours.

Jennifer Zhang

<p style="margin-bottom:12.0pt">Hello and welcome! I am so excited to share my abroad adventures with you here. My love for travel (integrating into different cultures, trying new food, ~attempting~ to pick up languages quickly) + dream of studying abroad in London = eager Jen who truly thinks this will be an experience of a lifetime. With that said... HERE. WE. GO!!<span style="text-autospace:none"><span style="font-size:16.0pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Times&quot;,serif"> </span></span></span></p>

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