Writing a paper on the culture and experience of a place isn’t always the easiest. It’s challenging to piece together words and make them work. It’s a puzzle, it’s a mystery. So instead of writing a paper for you, I’m going to tell you a story. A story of a girl who traveled halfway around the world, who knew not a soul, and yet didn’t seem to mind. A girl who traveled to the land of Prince and Princesses, sticky toffee pudding, and Big Ben. The place people from all over the world love: London, England.
I left my hometown on a Friday, and after a short car ride, and a 9-hour, overnight flight I had finally made it. Right off the bat I noticed tons of things that weren’t the same as back home. In the U.K., people drive their cars on the left side of the road, the opposite side of the U.S. Their accents were different, and the time was WAY ahead. Six hours ahead of my home time zone. Of course, those were some of the more obvious things I noticed.
After arriving to my hotel and unpacking my bags, I set out on an adventure to explore the neighborhood I would be staying in for the next week. Although I had little time before the sun set and needed to get to bed for the next big day planned ahead of me, I took the time to sit down at a lovely café and grab a bite to eat. I ended up ordering “London’s best comfort food” — fish and chips. It’s basically what it sounds like, but in London chips are what we call french fries. I must say, it was everything I imagined and more. On a full belly, I decided to head back and call it a night!
The next morning I awoke and noticed little snowflakes out my window. This filled me with pure joy. Where I am from, snow is a rare occurrence. I bundled up, ate a quick breakfast and headed out for Buckingham Palace. I ended up taking the Tube (also known as the London Underground). In London, most people take the Tube instead of walking or being stuck in traffic. The Tube is a public transportation system that is underground and gets people from one station to another. It is similar to the subway in New York City. I really enjoyed this experience, which is so different from my home city, where people drive everywhere instead of taking public transportation. After arriving at the Palace, I felt as if I had stepped into a movie because everything was breathtaking and just as I always imagined a palace to be. The fact that the building was built in 1703 and was the living quarters of the British Monarchy, blew me away. It was home to George the Third, Queen Charlotte, and many other royals. Prince Harry and Prince Edward visit the palace a lot also. It was such an amazing experience to observe The Changing of the Guard and its something I’ll never forget. Buckingham Palace is truly spectacular.
Another day we took a trip to the University City of Cambridge. In Cambridge I went punting on the river Cam which is very fun, but depending on the time of year it can be really cold! Punting is the Brit version of gondolas. While I was there I enjoyed walking around and going to all the different stores, and no, not just shopping for clothes. They have tons of stuff to shop for all people. They have amazing music stores and art galleries. There were boutiques, toy shops, and arcades — fun for everyone!
Since I’ve been to Cambridge, tourism there has boomed because of the pregnancy of the duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Earlier this month, the city of Cambridge welcomed a new member of the royal family, his Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. The press was all over the place, but now has died down to give Kate and William privacy. Welcome to the world Prince George Alexander Louis!!
On one of my last days in London, I acted like the tourist I was and went to visit more major landmarks. I rode the London Eye, which I can honestly say was not what I expected at all. I imagined it not as big, and man did it prove me wrong. Each pod fits up to 25 people inside and there are 32 pods. Visitors can even have birthday parties in them (which if you ask me, would be amazing). The London Eye overlooks Big Ben, the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. It opened in 1859 and is 316 feet tall. I love going to see landmarks that I’ve only seen before on postcards.
Visiting London, was the best experience of my life. It opened my eyes to so much more than what I’m use to. It was definitely a life changing event. Going home was extremely difficult, but I know one day I’ll be back.