23 days ago, I officially left London, returning to the states for the first time in over eleven months. Anyone that knows me or has asked me, knows that I am definitely not one of London’s biggest fans. I really enjoyed my time at the London School of Economics and met some amazing people from around the globe, but I just didn’t manage to fall in love with the city. With all the traveling that I do, I am usually instantly attracted to a city’s energy or we simply have a superficial relationship. My relationship with London is quite superficial.
- The Weather. Maybe I have seasonal affective disorder or maybe I am just used to a real summer which consists of blue sunny skies with temperatures over 75 degrees (23 C) for a consecutive three months. I guess summer is relative, but on that awful island it doesn’t exist. I need sun to live, so I can’t do London. The winters are more mild than I’m used to so that was a plus.
- British accents. I used to be obsessed with British accents. I mean who doesn’t love Idris Elba or Jude Law and of course Guy Richie films. Being in London for eleven months gave me more than my fill of British accents. Now when I hear them I cringe or just tune out. If I don’t concentrate hard enough I actually have no clue what they are saying.
- British Food. Mushy peas. bangers and mash. Baked beans and fried eggs for breakfast. I think I’ve said enough.
- Lack of stranger interaction. In London strangers don’t really talk to each other. You rarely spark up a conversation with someone when you are standing in line at the grocery store or at Starbucks. Maybe it is the American in me, as some of my British friends have pointed out, but I really do miss that random human interaction.
- Bad customer service/nonexistent customer service. I have dealt with some very rude waiters, waitresses and managers in London. They just don’t care how they treat customers. I’ve got into it with bartenders even. The service in London is pathetic at best and it doesn’t seem like anyone except the Americans care.
- Gelato at Scoop in Covent Garden. I am not sure at what point I got addicted to Italian gelato, but boy was I addicted. A google search led me to an awesome gelateria in Covent Garden called Scoop. The most amazing gelato in London. All of the workers are even Italian which adds a genuine touch to the place. Make sure to stop by.
- Nando’s. I am not sure what they put in their Peri Peri chicken at this Portuguese inspired restaurant but man is it good. I stick to the Lemon and Herb chicken because I am not a fan of spicy food. For a side, I always get corn on the cob, flavored with mango and lime marinade (ah my mouth is watering as I write about it). I also love the chips (also known as french fries, for my American readers) with Peri Peri salt. Yum Yum Yum. They also offer frequent eaters cards so every third time you eat there you get free chicken. After eating nine visits, I think, you get a WHOLE chicken for free!!! I think I filled up six cards during my eleven months there. 😀
- My awesome friends from LSE. At a school that once represented more countries than the UN, over the last year I had the chance to meet sooooooo many great people, not to mention my Italian boyfriend. :-). I met people from Moldova, Germany, France, Nepal, Kenya, India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Scotland, London, Australia, Pakistan, Russia, Poland, and loads of other countries. I will miss having that much cosmopolitanism around me.
- Cheap travel around Europe. One of the best things being in London offers is the opportunity to travel to the rest of Europe and North Africa on low cost airlines. In the last eleven months I was able to visit Amsterdam, Istanbul, Egypt, Paris, Brussels, Malta, Canary Islands, Barcelona, Croatia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Italy, Prague and Stockholm. If it wasn’t for a volcano I would’ve seen Poland as well. Not bad for eleven months. For tips on cheap travel around Europe see this previous post.
Drinks at pubs. While London failed to turn me into a beer drinker, I did find comfort in pear cider with two limes. Going to pubs is something that we did often. It usually was the George, where we headed after studying in the library, since it is on campus. We also went to the Knight’s Templar on Fridays after our 4 o’clock lectures and sometimes we ended up at the Shakespeare Head near Holborn right before folks hopped on their respected tube or bus home. All in all the pub culture is one that I will definitely miss.