Learning London: Orientation

Our program in London, the Foundation of International Education, was nice enough to set up a bunch of orientation events for us in between arriving in London and starting classes! These events were very helpful in introducing and orienting us to London.

On Friday, after a few hours of orientation meetings, we were scheduled for dinner treated by FIE and a comedy show at the theater. We met outside Metrogate with our guide, and took the tube to our destination. Our house is conveniently located near the Gloucester Street tube station, and FIE supplies us with an oyster card for Zone 1 and Zone 2. An oyster card allows us to travel freely around the city via the tube. The tube is not so different from the Philadelphia subway (with the exception of being somewhat cleaner), but navigating a new underground system in any city can be challenging, so it was very nice to have a guide. I’m finally getting used to calling it the “tube” or the “underground” instead of the “subway”!

Our night began with dinner at Wagamama, a British chain restaurant that serves Asian food. Restaurant etiquette is different in the United Kingdom than in the Untied States. For example, you do not have to tip as much due to their higher pay, and you need to ask for your check. Again, we were very grateful to have a guide to orient us through this!

After dinner we went to the theater and saw a play called “The Comedy About a Bank Robbery.” Going to the theater to watch plays is very common in London, and the city is filled with them! I have been to a broadway show before, but I did not know what to expect from this new theater. What I did not expect was to cry laughing at a play, but we all did! The plot and all of the actors were hilarious. Attending the theater was something I might not have done if FIE did not include it in our orientation, but I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely be attending another during my time in London!

On Saturday we had a bus tour planned, and a tour of the Parliament. In the morning we loaded onto the bus, where we toured the city of London for several hours. Our tour guide was so awesome, and we would stop at certain stops and get off to learn more about the area. She took us to a secret rooftop deck, and gave us many useful tips to take advantage of during our stay! We ended our bus tour at Buckingham Palace, where we continued to tour until we went to the Parliament building.

We took an audio tour of the Parliament building, which was not only educational, but also beautiful. It was interesting to learn about the differences in government between the United Kingdom and the United States right in the building that the government occupies!

I am so grateful that FIE set up these events for us, because it made me feel so much more orientated to the city. I had the opportunity to participate in events that I might not have done, and learn about all of the must-do’s in London. Make sure to take advantage of any opportunity your program supplies you with, even if it doesn’t sound appealing to you at the time. Studying abroad is about stepping out of your comfort zone and submerging yourself in a new culture, and you might surprise yourself!