My first full week in London, woah. I do not even have words to describe the whole process. It has been incredibly overwhelming, but in a beautiful way. The architecture, the diversity, the food...I am very happy here; this is one of the prettiest cities I have ever been in and I feel very lucky to live here for the next couple of months.
The architecture is breathtaking, it is so different from Costa Rica, Mbabane, Minnesota, California...it is simply so, wow. Bear with me, I have never had to explain architecture (maybe I should have taken a course related to it). There is such a placid quality to the infrastructure that is brought to life by the millions of walkers in the city. It is really interesting to see such dynamics take place. One of my favorite architecture landmarks is the Elizabeth Tower—also known as the Big Ben. Fun fact, for those of you who do not know, Big Ben is the bell inside the clock, not the tower. I observed the tower from the Parliament Square. According to our tour guide Helena, this is a place where lots of social manifestation take place, as protesting is a right. It also has a couple of statues of historical figures that are worth catching a glimpse of. For example, Nelson Mandela, Millicent, Garrett Fawcett, and many more! Every corner drip history and knowledge, I am very excited to know more about the city every day!
London is quite literally a melting pot of cultures. You do not need to be British to be a Londoner. It is one of the coolest, most comforting cities that I have ever visited. This is a place where your individuality and identity are celebrated, rather than asked to be put away in a trunk. It makes me very happy to go to a café and notice that the people around me are speaking other languages than English. There is a sense of safety in being yourself, which is something that I have yet to experience in the United States.
Now the food. This is the place if you want to try food from all over the world, it is very convenient. There are also a bunch of culture-specific markets, where you can definitely get food and ingredients for when the homesickness kicks in. Also, the country sells a lot of fresh produce and ingredients, which makes the meal prepping portion of the experience easier—coming from an amateur cook. I am also excited to be exposed to different cultural cuisines, as it will definitely influence my cooking toolkit.
Lastly, the most important confession dear reader: on the days that I am not out and about, I am catching up on sleep. Jetlag is real y’all, it has been very difficult for me to not feel tired during the day. So big tip: take a melatonin during your flight, especially if it is overnight. I cannot stress this enough, try to sleep through your flight. This will help you adjust your sleeping schedule. Trust me, you do not want to become a permanently exhausted pigeon like me.
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Paulina Morera Quesada
My name is Paulina, I am a artist from Costa Rica. I attend St. Olaf College, where I study Inclusivity in the Performing Arts. My life mission is to create inclusive spaces for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in the performing arts.