1. British people are very helpful– Although Brits are a bit more reserves, don’t hesitate to ask questions. They are eager to help in any way they can. So many kind people have given me directions, discounts, and suggestions. They want to make sure you have a good time in their country!
2. Always carry an umbrella– It could be seventy five and sunny one moment and start a torrential downpour the next. Stick a rain coat or travel umbrella in your bag at all times. I learned that the hard way!
3. Look Right– When you go to cross the street, make sure to look right instead of left for on coming traffic since they drive on the other side of the road. It took a while to retrain myself and I still don’t quite understand pedestrian rules! Luckily in London they painted look right on all the cross walks to help out the tourists- how considerate!
4. Pronunciation– Sometimes I forget we are speaking the same language! Americans pronounce things much more phonetically than Brits. For instance, the H in Buckingham Palace is silent, the T in Tube makes a CH sound, and Gloucester Square is pronounced Gloster. Remember these rules and you’ll sound like a local in no time!
5. Museums are free– Most museums in London are free, which is great, especially for a student budget. Also, most things that require tickets offer a student discount with valid ‘student card’ as they call it.
6. Humor– I love British humor! It is more subtle and dry, but hilarious if you’re listening closely. Think ‘Mr. Bean’ funny. American humor is more blatant and pronounced, so you don’t have to pay that close attention to know when a joke is being made. Everyone here is so funny in an understated way! I’ve always had a quieter sense of humor, so I think I’d fit right in here.
7. European– Brits don’t really consider themselves European. They are in the EU, but have their own currency and identity. I think being separated on an island makes them a bit more distinct.
8. Fabulous Foods– England doesn’t deserve its reputation for boring food, in my opinion! I have had some wonderful meals. The UK is incredibly diverse, resulting in diverse and exciting foods. A few of my favorite meals so far have been Indian, Mediterranean, French, Lebanese, and German! Oh, and don’t forget to try the traditional Fish N’ Chips.
9. Tea Time– Brits really do love their tea. High tea is a specific type of cream tea served with scones, jam, and clotted cream. Yummy! I would have it every day if I could afford it. Tea and coffee are offered with every meal 🙂 I think I’ve had more tea than water on this trip! I’m officially converted.
10. England vs. Britain vs. UK– I was always confused about which title to use. England is only the country of England. (Great) Britain is England and Wales, and the UK is England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Most English people I met call themselves Brits, although it definitely varies and I still probably get it wrong half the time 🙂
Why hello there! As my time in London draws to a close and I move to Oxford, I am reflecting on the things I’ve learned about myself and others through this experience. I’d love to share a few of my thoughts about traveling, if you’ll let me! Thanks 🙂
- Pick your battles– If you are traveling in a group, you may have to do what they want to do, even if it’s not your first choice. If your choice isn’t your top priority, try to go along with them. I have experienced this particularly with restaurant choices. I always seem to want to eat somewhere no one else wants. However, I usually just go along with their decision, because it is not worth fighting over. The restaurants they pick are good too! There are bigger and better things stand up for.
- Don’t be afraid to go it alone– That being said, there are certain things not to compromise on. For instance, I really wanted to go to Camden Market. No one else wanted to go, so I went by myself. And you know what? It was wonderful! I didn’t have to keep track of anyone, I could do exactly what I wanted on my own schedule. When I travel alone, I take things in better. I notice all the little details of my surrounding I may have missed if I was caught up in conversation.
- Try not to panic– something anxiety inducing is bound to happen while traveling. For instance, I hopped on an underground train but my friends didn’t make it on in time. I mouthed through the window that I would get off at the next stop. That was the longest ride of my life! But I didn’t panic, and was reunited with them at the next stop. If you remind yourself that the worst that can happen is you meet up at home, you will stay much calmer in the face of adversity!
- Rest is important– This one is difficult for me. I like to go go go. I find myself saying you will never be here again, so don’t stop. However, after two weeks of this mentality, my body gave way. I got a sore throat and a slight fever. Remind yourself that you probably will be here again, and even if you won’t, there is no point in walking around sick because you can’t appreciate anything that way. Part of vacation is rest and relaxation.
- Accept that you will spend money– I am very frugal and sometimes get stressed when I spend large amounts of money. So stressed, in fact, that I prevent myself from enjoying the thing I spent money on. The whole time I am worrying that I won’t have enough money to do other things. Accept that you will spend lots of money. You budgeted, and it’s okay! Take advantage of the opportunity.
- Flexibility is key– This point echoes number one. I can’t tell you how many times our plans changed unexpectedly- a train wasn’t working, it started raining, you don’t feel well. Try to be positive and roll with the punches…easier said than done, I admit!
- You won’t see everything– London (or where ever you are) is just too big a city to see it all. Even the people who live here can’t see it all. Pick a few key things and enjoy them!
- Gratitude– When I feel grumpy or upset about something, I remind myself where I am and how lucky I am to be here. This usually makes me feel calmer and more satisfied!
- Regret is Killer– I regret things easily. I’m not sure why! Try not to think about things you didn’t do, just focus on all the things you did do.
- Record– Find some way to record your adventures. For me, it is this blog. For others it may be a diary, photos, souvenirs, etc. It will be awesome to look back on them and smile on a rainy day!
Me and my friend the Roman centurion ^^ You are never too old to play dress up at the Jane Austen Museum ^^
The Royal Crescent, where Bath’s most affluent residence live ^^ Hello friends! Yesterday I took a bus out to Bath with a few friends to explore the ancient Roman Baths. A natural hot spring bubbles up from the ground in this town, and the Romans took advantage- they built an extensive spa complex dedicated to the goddess Aquea Sulis. The baths were world renown for their supposed healing powers. I had so much fun walking around, and even got to taste the water. After, we saw the ‘Circus’ and the ‘Royal Crescent,’ two circles made of beautiful town homes, were the wealthiest residence live. We also went to the Jane Austen Museum, as she lived in Bath for a period of time and mentions it in all her books. I have read ‘Northanger Abbey,’ which is entirely set in Bath, so it was great to really understand the context of the story. I could definitely see myself living in Bath- it has the quaint England charm without the busy pace of the big city. Thanks for the great day Bath, I’ll be back!
Okay, so Downton Abbey doesn’t really exist, but Highclere Castle sure does! Yesterday I made the beautiful trek out to Newberry to see the site where one of my favorite TV series is filmed. The theme song played over and over again in my head as I approached the front door. I learned so many interesting facts about the show- like all the kitchen scenes are actually filmed off site in a studio because the kitchens there are modern. And, we got to go in tons of rooms that aren’t used in filming. The family, the Carnarvons, still live there year round and manage the 5,000 acre estate. Also, one of the past Earls who lived there was also an archeologist, and discovered Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the only thing that could have made my visit better is if I met Maggie Smith, the Dowager Countess of Downton! Unfortunatley, I think she has a life outside the show 🙂