So my time in London is coming to an end, and I hate to say it but I’m starting to get SENTIMENTAL.
I’ve had such an amazing 10 months living in this beautiful city, and I’ve met so many incredible people along the way, but I know I’ll be back sometime in the near future so I can’t be too sad about leaving.
My departure from the UK means I need to start mentally preparing myself for the reverse culture shock I’ll most likely experience when I return to the USA, and this has led me to reflect on certain aspects of the London lifestyle that I can’t find in America. While I am excited for a New England summer full of swimming pools and amazing home-grown blueberries, these are the things I will really, really miss about London.
1. Coins that actually have value: It is so satisfying to pay for an entire load of groceries using only change, and that hefty 2-Pound coin just feels so powerful it’s awesome.
2. Outdoor Food Markets: Not only do I find immense joy in the act of walking around food markets and having affordable street food for lunch, but the produce is always super fresh, the prices are always relatively cheap, and the products are always interesting and unique.
3. Public parks: If you want to read about how obsessed I am with parks, check out this article.
4. Seeing the Shard out of my bedroom window: Best view ever, especially at night time when the top glows in different colors.
5. Walking everywhere: This is one perk of London that you absolutely cannot find in most of the USA. In America I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere without a car, whereas in London I love having so many amazing attractions within walking distance. Walking is free, it’s great exercise, and I never tire of walking around London because there is ALWAYS something to see.
6. Amazing musicals available at all times: Whenever I had a free evening, it was so easy to just order cheap theater tickets online and go see a show that night. This was quite a luxury for the theater nerd in me.
7. Multiculturalism: Though traditional English lifestyle is alive and well in London, it’s refreshing to witness the wide range of different cultures that thrive in the city. From the noodle bars of Chinatown, to the Jamaican and Caribbean influences of Brixton, to the Indian curry houses and Bangladeshi communities of the East End, London truly represents a melting pot of languages, cuisines, and traditions from all over the world.
8. Cheap flights to Europe: As I just purchased another $300 flight from Boston to Tampa, I’m already missing how ridiculously cheap it is to travel in Europe. But that $25 bus ride to Amsterdam and $12 flight to Copenhagen will always have a special place in my heart.
9. Flowers everywhere: Every railing, balcony, garden, pub window, and random street in London is overflowing with flowers, and I love it.
10. Double Decker buses: Getting the very front seat on the upper floor makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, despite that the bus always appears to be running over the cars in front of you. But they never do, because London bus drivers are the REAL MVPs.
11. Weird TV shows: I’m not sure if British reality shows are actually much different than those in the USA since I don’t watch much TV. BUT I have fallen in love with ridiculous shows like Come Dine With Me and the Great British Bake Off, and I will definitely miss those.
12. Abundance of falafel: For some unknown reason, these little fried or baked spheres made of ground chickpeas and middle-eastern spices are not as popular in America. I’d never had one until I came to Europe, but now I don’t know how I’d live without them, and luckily they are available EVERYWHERE in London, from supermarkets, to pop-up food stands and restaurants.
13. Traffic Lights: Not sure why this satisfies me so much, but I love how traffic lights turn orange before they turn green. I’m sure that one second heads up that you’ll be able to go soon totally revolutionizes driving.
14. Zig-zag patterns in the sky: Because I’m super observant of insignificant things, I always notice how the sky is full of criss-cross lines trailing behind the numerous planes overhead. This sign of frequent air traffic reminds me that I’m in such a significant city, where travel is big part of the average person’s life and the international community has a strong presence.
15. Free doctor’s appointments: This speaks for itself. Thanks you NHS.
16. Pubs: Not only are pubs a cozy place to watch football and get drunk with your friends, but many have amusing names like The Mute Swan, Bunch of Grapes, The Slug and Lettuce, The Old Tiger’s Head, or The Beehive.
17. Palaces: This one applies to the whole of Europe, but how awesome is it to embark on a random day trip to a gorgeous palace or a medieval castle? Majestic buildings are everywhere, and its incredible to see them just scattered around throughout everyday life.
18. Street performers: One time I had an hour to kill so I just stood in the Covent Garden Piazza and enjoyed a free concert by some amazing violinists. I also once got beautifully serenaded by an opera singer under Blackfriar’s Bridge. These moments bring me so much happiness.
While I will miss all these things and more, I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to live in one of the world’s greatest cities. Whether it be a few months or a few years from now, I will definitely be back, because there is never enough time to explore all the energy, art, charm, history, culture, and beauty that London has to offer.