In this week's post, Christopher talks about why London is unlike any city in the world and how you can observe and experience the city with all of your senses. He also details what it's like to orient yourself in London and pay attention to the daily sights, smells, sounds, and more!
During my time living abroad, I have been situated in one of the most global, bustling, hyperactive cities in the world—London. It is evident through my plethora of different experiences that the time spent in London is unlike any other and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. As humans we find that we learn and pick up on traits very quickly if we are attentive and are using our senses to help us get accustomed to our surroundings. In this post, I am going to give you on a first-hand account of my experience of what life is typically like in London.
Cool street art tunnel in London.
When walking around the streets of London, one must always be constantly aware of their surroundings as by sheer nature there is so much going on around them. My new visual experience begins with having to cross the street, since in the UK they drive on the right side of the road. I am always looking down when I cross the street to always be aware of which direction cars are coming from. This is such a foreign concept to me that it took an extended adjustment period at the beginning of the semester because it was something I was not accustomed to.
The city of London from Millennium Bridge.
London is one of the biggest cities in the entire world, and its size directly correlates to the amount of daily activity that goes on. There is never a moment of extended silence, and rightfully so. My ears are constantly being stimulated. There is constantly amplified sound coming from either the cars speeding by, the ambulances/police cars blaring their sirens, or the deafening sound of the train racing by on the tracks. The longer the semester has gone on the more adjusted I am to dealing with the constant noise coming from so many different sites. Ultimately it almost feels as if all the sounds are just blended together and that ultimately I feel comfortable in the madness that is London.
Salt beef sandwich at the Borough Market.
Living in a big city means that there is a very wide range of smells and these smells can change in an instant without warning. When I am walking a street, my nose can get a whiff of something delicious. For instance, there are street food vendors set up around. In the span of one hundred feet, my nose can be enchanted by so many different types of delicious cuisine that it'll make my stomach rumble. But sometimes if I walk another hundred steps further everything can change. If I walk near an open garbage can or over a manhole cover, I’m apt to experience some of the most foul stenches I have ever come across.
Riding the Tube during rush hour.
During my time in London I have come to absolutely dread one type of feeling: riding the Tube during rush hour is an experience unlike any other. Whether it be on my way to my internship in the morning or coming home after my day is finished, I commute with thousands of other people during the phenomenon known as rush hour. Having to be packed into a tiny subway car almost like a fish in a can of sardines can be at times one of the most frustrating feelings. Having to press up against random strangers for the sake of making it on time to my internship has been quite the experience. It is safe to say that of the many things I will miss about London when my semester here ends, I will not miss touching shoulder to shoulder with strangers during daily rush hour on the Tube.
My new favorite dish: Chicken Masala!
Coming into the program I always have heard the classic stigma surrounding London and how the food is rather bland and unenjoyable. However, in the time that I have been here every meal I’ve had has been absolutely delicious and has stimulated my tastebuds till the last bite. London’s nature as a global city means that there are many different ethnic groups all living together and that’s enabled me to try so many different food offerings that I never would have imagined trying back home in the US. My new favorite type of food has been Indian food—I cannot get enough of Chicken Masala! I am constantly finding new ways to satisfy my tastebuds whether it be eating at a restaurant, having street food, ordering takeout, or simply making the dishes myself at my apartment.
I hope you enjoyed this post and will continue to follow me along my journey as we enter the final few weeks of the semester! Thanks for reading!
Christopher's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.