Okay that’s not true, it’s only four or so (The United Kingdom, England, Britain, Great Britain—see what I mean?).
Pro tip: British and English are two very different things. You can be British but not English (the Irish and Welsh, for example. This basically applies to countries that are members of Great Britain but separate from England itself). Isn’t learning fun?
Getting back on topic…noon on Tuesday will exactly mark the halfway point of my semester in London.
It’s been quite the ride thus far, as I’m sure you’ve read. But getting comfortable with your new surroundings takes way more time than any of your friends will ever let on (though I’ll be totally honest because sometimes I’m too blunt).
From what I’ve ascertained in conversations with other friends on the program, it’s hard not to walk off that plane at Heathrow with the expectation that this semester will change your life. But it’s not like taking the Tube is a religious experience that lets you feel close to God the moment you mind the gap and alight to Paddington.
The good stuff takes time and I think in a lot of cases, it’s not until it’s gone that you realize what you actually had.
What I’m trying to say is that I love London but I’m not “in-love“ with London. At least not yet. It’s still really scary trying to cross the street and I still second-guess which side of the sidewalk I should be walking on.
I’m self-conscious about my accent when ordering my skinny Americano from Pret. Sometimes that’s reason enough to just stay inside and binge on episodes of Bad Education on the BBC iPlayer (watch that show, it’s hilarious).
But there is hope. This week, I started my internship with a technology media company (the UK’s largest) called IDG UK. I’m by no means a tech nerd (though I can spit some mad game if you ask me about the latest Apple keynote) but like one of my professors told me, tech reporting is just like any other beat.
Thus far, it’s been awesome. Maybe it’s the workload or the diversity of things I get to do or the fact that I’m not taking classes and the office is in a cool part of town and has a ton of windows, but it’s been a great deal of fun.
I’ve even learned some new British slang, realized the value of Google when understanding British idioms and got to cover an event that brought me to the top of The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe).
It’s also forced me to get out and see a new part of London, which is extremely refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love South Ken and the hordes of children in their school uniforms zipping past me on their scooters, but dodging their mothers’ Prada bags and fathers’ Maserati or Range Rover or Bugatti when I’m just trying to run off last night’s Burger King gets old and fast.
I’d much rather be run down by other young professionals just trying to get to that place off Oxford Street that only sells hot dogs and champagne.
I’ve always had better luck with the second halves of experiences. Chalk it up to growing pains, if you must. Getting adjusted to new things can be absolutely crappy, but let’s be real: once you get your sea legs, you learn just how awesome boating can be. Or in this case, living in London.
As published on the Daily Free Now abroad blog Oct. 20, 2013