The last few weeks have been filled with absolute excitement - and a bit of euphoria. The day I flew in I arrived at 7am London-time and was successful in staying up the whole day even though it was 1am on my body. I was uber-productive in unpacking, settling in to my gorgeous triple-room boasting a fireplace, streetview window, desk, closet, and bed. I bought a cell phone and plan (the cheapest of course), bedding, and the boring necessities. The first days were full of these nominal tasks in between orientation meetings from our study abroad coordinators. I learned so much about the differences between America and London that I should be aware of - (politically, socially, etc.) It was interesting to be thrown in to a culture I had assumed was quite like my own, but really has a unique character.
Back to the details -- I am living in a huge mansion with four floors of bedrooms and several shared bathrooms. My "flat mates" consist of 25 eclectic Americans from all over, West coast to East. I am one of two from Chicago. So far, I love everyone_ we have a great camaraderie and have had a blast getting to know eachother at all the local pubs getting "pissed" (drunk). Our blue-doored mansion lies on a quaint street in the heart of Notting Hill, the posh, trendy, and fashion-forward neighborhood of London. The area is adorable and has a massive market on Portobello street once a week... I can't get enough!
With part of the gang at our favorite spot down the street, 'Tex Mex'; me in front of my flat
I am, strange to say, already beginning to feel like a 'Londoner'. I can navigate the Tube getting to and from class with ease, am getting used to the Pounds instead of Dollars, am learning the beers, and have picked up on some slang. I feel llike Europeans have it right on certain things -- entertainment, politics, the media system (which relys on viewers as the money-maker, not advertising), drinking norms (can you say "pub at noon?"), and fashion. One thing they definitely get WRONG is food! God it's just so bland; nothing compared to the states.
On a more boring note, I am here for class afterall. I only have 4 classes, 3 hours a week each, and on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays. My goal is to truly take advantage of the 4-day weekends by exploring London and mostly traveling to the many Euro-cities calling my name. My classes are Globalisation/Regionalisation, London in Literature (LOVE my professor who takes us to pubs to discuss books!), Theatre in London (I get to see broadway shows all the time!), and British Media. I like them all and am sure I'll be fine, as long as I force myself to squeeze in time for studies in between travelling.
Since being here, I have explored Notting Hill, walked the lush Kensington Gardens several times, been to many-a-PUB and CLUB in Piccadilly Circus, gone to the Theatre, explored my "Uni" campus, been to the movies (the popcorn lacks flavor), rode the London Eye, and stared at Big Ben! I have explored Westminster Abbey, Portobello Market, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the many museums. It's safe to say I'm on a London high... or maybe it's all the day-drinking at the pub... Cheers!