I have officially hit the point in which I have less than a month abroad less and less than half a month left in London. I just returned from Prague, and it was one of my favorite trips. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but Prague surpassed those expectations. I think I had some preconceived notions about the city being in a Central European country and its communist past. Prague, however, was a vibrant, lively city full of street performers, amazing food, tourists, and helpful locals. I also really enjoyed Prague because of the Jewish heritage that is there. They have a Jewish Quarter with a rich history and some of the many synagogues from earlier periods, before rebuilding occurred, remain. I have found a lot of the places I have visited have a lot of Jewish history, but to me Prague seemed the place in which this history and heritage was most on display.
Since I last wrote I have traveled to Italy and Cambridge, as well as spending more time in London. I spent 6 nights in Italy with my sister who came to visit me from Virginia, and I have to say it was one of the strongest culture shocks I have had so far. We started in Verona and then trained to Milan, Venice, and Rome.
I am back again with my 7th blog post of the semester! To give a quick update: things are going great. My semester is coming to a close and my classes went very well. I am loving life in London and am sad that the semester will be ending. I feel fully acclimated to life in London am very accustomed to the culture I am living in.
I am back with another update on my progression here in London and how things have changed since the last time that I wrote up an update. In this post, I primarily want to talk about academic life and how it is different than academic life at the University of Virginia. I will look a little bit at both extracurricular life and then the actual academics at the University as well. To me, they are much different as a whole than at UVA.
It’s hard to believe that I have already been in London for exactly two months today! Two months seems like a long time, but it has felt like it has gone by in a second. At this point I would say I’m pretty well adjusted to life in London, and I definitely have been adopting more and more of their lingo without thinking about it. What’s even funnier is that I have a Canadian apartment mate, and I’m picking up some of her speech habits too. So maybe I’ll come back saying “eh” in a British accent!
In about the past week I have been from London to Paris, France and back to London and then from London to Oxford, England. The traveling has been eye-opening and unforgettable, but also challenging and exhausting. Going to Paris was the first time I had ever visited a place that did not have English as its main language. I did not think it would be much of shock but it definitely was. I was especially surprised because I went to touristy parts of Paris where most people spoke enough English for me to get by, but it was still disorienting. I think that is part of what makes traveling so exhausting; you always have to be alert and ready to try to communicate with people, because without a common language it is extremely difficult.
I just started my third week of classes and really feel like I am settling in here. However, I have actually noticed some of the biggest differences between London and the United States, Charlottesville specifically, in the classroom. Some classes feel very serious and very much like a normal lecture at UVA. Then, there are some classes that are much more casual than my experience at UVA. For example, I am taking a course called European Business Seminar and since it is 2 hours long the professor gives us a break half way through class. During this break around half of the class leaves even though there is material covered through group presentations in the second half of the class. Even more shocking to me than this is the fact that many students talk during the lecture. Now, I’m not saying that this does not happen during some UVA classes, but some of my professors here will never address the loudly whispering students and will continue as normal. This is another thing that really surprises me, because the professors do not seem offended by this chatter; I see it as rude, but the people it should be offending do not.
My first week in London has been a whirlwind. I have been able to meet people from all over the United States and other countries, as well as see many different sites around my neighborhood and central London. While I have been able to see St. Paul’s Cathedral (which is a 1o minute walk from my apartment!), Oxford Street, the British Museum, the Tate Modern Museum, Big Ben and Parliament, there is so much more I want to see and do (see pictures at the end of this post).