Hi, I’m The Lawrence Indifference contributor Sophie Penniman, and I’m currently studying abroad at the Lawrence London Centre in London, England. It may seem like the US and the UK are pretty much the same, but I discovered that there were quite a few differences that caught me off guard.
So, here are some things I wish I’d known when I first got to London! Hopefully, if you plan on studying abroad too, this can be useful to you!
- Immediately upon your arrival in London, you will be formally initiated into a Dickensian street gang. I made the mistake of thinking, “oh, I’m not an orphaned, impressionable young ragamuffin, so that won’t happen to me.” I was wrong.
- The British language has no equivalent for the word “gusset”. As you can imagine, this was probably the thing I had the most trouble adjusting to.
- As a study abroad student on a Tier 4 Student Visa, you’re technically a British citizen while in London. This means that, like every other British citizen, you’re legally required to say “pip, pip” on the hour, every hour. Don’t worry—after a few days, you hardly even notice!
- You’ve seen pictures of the vast and shifting sands that cover the city, of course, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. It’s utterly gorgeous.
- As you might expect, eating nothing but baked beans on toast every day does wonders for your health. I’ve actually lost 6 pounds so far! Or, as they say in England, 6 dollars.
- You might see tourists going up to the Buckingham Palace guards and engaging them in lengthy discussions about the Sino-Japanese War. Don’t be tempted to do this. It distracts the guards, and you wouldn’t believe how many times in a day they’re forced to endure being talked to about the 1894-1895 war between China’s Qing Empire and the Empire of Japan.
- Plimsoll. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.