Small Girl Takes On Big Ben

| September 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

The view from my room

London is the most beautiful place that I have ever seen. It’s all cobblestone streets and flower baskets and tiny cars and all the touristy London things you’ve seen in stereotypical photos.

London is also the most terrifying place I’ve ever been. Not only do the cars drive on the left side of the road (a.k.a. the WRONG side of the road), but there are no stop signs, and many intersections literally don’t even have stoplights. I also no longer have unlimited data over here (I miss it so much already), so Google maps can’t help me too much if I find myself lost. And can you believe there’s no such thing as free refills here? Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? It’s amazing how different things are here, even though we speak the same language (mostly). This is what culture shock is really about, I suppose. Experiencing the differences and struggling with them.

I had a good seat on the plane, at least.

I had a good seat on the plane, at least.

My first mistake upon arrival was my complete lack of knowledge about the Tube. On the T back in Boston, you only have to tap your card when you get on, but here you have to tap it when you exit as well, because they charge you by distance. I now know this really stupid and annoying fact, but after my first ride, on which I was dragging 70 pounds of luggage, I kept trying to get through the exit gate without tapping my card. An employee watched me struggle and eventually told me what I needed to do. I had just gotten off the plane (although I was definitely still on the struggle bus), so my arms hurt from the luggage and I could barely hear. He kept saying I needed a ticket, and I just wasn’t getting it, so he let me go through without tapping. So my card never knew how far I went, and it charged me over £5. There goes at least one meal.

My second mistake was being too lazy to figure out everything I needed while I was still at home and figuring I would buy things here. Sure, things look like they’re the same price as back home over here, but the conversion rate makes me want to weep. Also, the Staples-equivalent stores here don’t understand the concept of a school-year planner rather than a calendar-year planner (plus, they call them “diaries”).

Kate vs. London with the help of her new cute lil hair bow

Kate vs. London with the help of her new cute lil hair bow

But my biggest mistake happened before I even got on the plane to come here. When my stepdad drove me to the Newark airport, we brought along my five-year-old sister Jane. I did not want to cry at the airport. I don’t want to cry anywhere, of course, but I especially didn’t want to cry there. I cannot write this without starting to cry again, so I will leave most of this up to your imagination. Just imagine a smartly-dressed young lady struggling to keep her voice from cracking when airport security asks her about her bags, kneeling at the end of a hallway trying to slow her breath, checking her appearance on her camera phone, deciding it isn’t worth it to try to put on more makeup.

I’ve been dreaming about coming to London since I was probably thirteen, but I never thought it would be so different and so difficult.

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Category: Food and Travel, HTC Abroad

Kate Conroy

About the Author ()

Kate Conroy comes from a small town in South Jersey where she has two little sisters and many cats. She is a Leo and an English major, and she will defend the Oxford comma forever. She is extremely controlling, and that's probably why she writes fiction. She also watches too much television and takes too many pictures of herself. Follow her on twitter and instagram: @K4TE8

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