I thought writing down the directions to our new house, Metrogate at the Foundation for International Education, would be a good idea. I would not have any cellular service when we arrived in London, England, because I planned on setting up a new sim card here. So, I followed directions the “old-fashioned” way, and wrote them down on a piece of paper, fully prepared to lead the way. After stepping off the tube (London’s version of the Philadelphia Subway) from the airport, I realized that my directions wouldn’t be of much use, because there weren’t any street signs. I was expecting to see big street signs leading me in the right direction, but little did I know, that the street signs were located on the sides of buildings.
After a little bit of searching, we were able to located the street signs and make our way to the new house! Not before a little bit of more trouble, however. Now, we were all very aware that cars drive on the opposite side of the road than in the United States. They made sure to warn us before leaving about how dangerous this can be, and to look before crossing the road! Filled with anticipation and excitement to get to our new house, we were not so worried about the whole car thing. It’s just crossing the street! I mean, how hard can it be?
You don’t realize how natural it is to cross the street in your home country, until you’re trying to cross the street where the cars drive on the opposite side of the road! Look RIGHT, then look left, then look RIGHT AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN if you have to! After a week in London, we have all improved on our street crossing, but I will still look four or five times before daring to cross the street.
With months of preparation for my study abroad trip, there were still things that I was not prepared for the minute I stepped foot in London! Like I spoke about, the street signs and crossing the street were two simple things that caught me off guard. Another thing I was not prepared for was the infamous jet lag. I thought I would invincible to jet lag, but I was wrong! After a week in London, I am just beginning to feel caught up with the five hour time change.
When visiting a foreign country, you are never going to be fully prepared for anything! Embrace the surprises, because that is how you learn and grow. I have learned that the unexpected in London is the best part. Before departing for our trip, somebody said, “You will get comfortable in your new city. Don’t let this happen.” I know London will continue to surprise me every day for the next three months, and I can’t wait to share all of my adventures with you!