Campbell Atkins is a student at Western Illinois University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He studied abroad with ISA in London, England.
As my incredible three weeks in London come to a fast and unexpected halt, I look back on my time and experiences fondly. The most significant thing I’ve realized in my extended time abroad, at least in London, is how quickly one can learn the overall layout of a city and get over cultural differences, even in a gigantic, multicultural place like London. Something that seems so different from your normal lifestyle one day becomes routine a few days later. This holds true with every basic cultural normality such as transportation, dining, or something as simple as walking on the sidewalk.
I am happy to say I learned most of the cultural differences in a few days, so that didn’t hinder my trip as much as I might’ve thought initially. After a few days of traveling around the city and making myself familiar while learning the way of life along the way, I felt like a real Londoner.
The main key for getting through those first couple days is being polite. Many mistake Londoners for being cranky simply because they tend to keep to themselves but they really are very nice. If you have a question and someone doesn’t appear to be in a hurry, if you approach them politely they will usually be happy to give you advice or point you in the right direction. If you keep an open mind and try to learn the ways of the new city, you will settle in much quicker than you think.
So, I urge those traveling to London not to get held up on how it might be different. The truth is, London is one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the world. Therefore, it is going to be different for any outsider no matter what. The key is to do as many things as possible. First, there’s the obvious tourist stuff that you won’t forgive yourself for missing, but then try to get another perspective on London: One without a tour guide where you can learn what local life is really about.
In conclusion, the three weeks I spent here in London were some of the greatest of my entire life. It is a great option for anyone who wishes to study abroad and had the perfect mix of culture, diversity, history and overall enjoyment. I certainly plan to come back to this great city someday.
Want to read more about London through the eye of a student? Check out “Views of London”