Friday, September 26, 2014

Things I Love and Hate About My Time in England (so far)

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So, I've been in England for about two weeks now, and I feel like I can finally write an "update" post! I had so many expectations coming here, and while some things are exactly like I expected, some things are definitely not. Here are the main things that have made an impression. 
Love: The casualness around alcohol and drinking 
This sounds weird coming from me, but I really love the fact that the drinking age here is 18. Not that I'm going crazy because of it, but it's nice to just be able to go out and buy your own drinks and pre game in my own room with all my hall mates. And did I mention that there are 14 bars on campus, one of which is in my actual dorm…and serves awesome burgers? Because I bloody love it. Also, love the clubs here. They play actual music and it's so much fun to sing and dance to. It's the stereotypical night club scene, but being that we don't really have that where I'm from, I'm loving it here. 

Hate: The amount of alcohol everywhere 
Yep, I'm going to semi-contradict myself, because as much as I love the alcohol free for all, I don't love the amount of people that are really and truly going bat shit cray and doing stupid things at all hours of the day and night. I like to drink, but getting into stupid situations because of it is not my thing, and I don't necessarily think the all access all the time to alcohol is the best thing for these fresh out of their parent's house freshers. 

Love: The mix of everyone's accents 
Y'all already know I have a thing for British accents. I absolutely love everything that comes out of their mouths, even curse words, which is unusual pour moi. It's so cool to be eating in the dining hall or be walking around campus and not only hear Brits, but also Australians, Indians, South Africans, Irish, Scottish, and so many more! It's especially funny to me that people love my accent, because they've turned every time I say y'all into a drinking game. I've also been called Ms. Louisiana more time than I can count, but, it could be worse, right? 

Hate: The general bad manners
Okay, this may seem like a bit of a blanket statement, but by bad manners I generally mean different cultural things than what I'm used to. Guys do not hold open doors or offer to help when you're carrying loads of stuff. Everyone curses, a lot. They laugh at me when I say  "yes ma'am" or "no sir" because that's not the norm. It's a bit weird, especially because I talk to strangers on the reg when I'm home, but overall, I've met some super awesome, really nice people, so I can forgive those minor things! 

Love: Sharing a hall with guys
The hall situation here is so different than at home, because here all 3 of my next door neighbors are guys, whereas at home, there are girls and boys corridors in each hall(dorm). I really like the atmosphere of this much better because obviously guys bring a different vibe and can be much less dramatic than girls, and it's fun when we all pre game and hangout together. Also, I love that we have a dining hall where everyone eats together, because it really makes me feel like I'm at Hogwarts. 

Hate: Sharing my space with guys 
Last night, the guys in my hall were literally playing cricket in the corridor at 2 am. Not okay. I also almost fall into the toilet every morning because they refuse to put the seat down. It's a struggle.

Love: The convenience of public transport 
I absolutely love the tube, and trains, and city buses. I think it's so awesome that you can get around anywhere you want and there are stations everywhere so you never have to worry about finding one. It's so much more convenient, especially because I don't have a car here, and I really wish the US would step up it's public transport game. 

Hate: The crowded dirtiness of public transport
I've gotten sick twice in 3 weeks and I'm convinced it's because I keep touching all the bus handles and being in too close proximity to everyone all the time. In Nottingham it isn't as bad, but the London tube was just gross sometimes. And I bite my nails, so yeah, I'm very grossed out.  

Love: The way everything is so close and easy to get to 
I'm going to Dublin in mid-October and it's only a two hour flight. That is so cool to me! Things are so much easier to get to over here and I feel like I just want to go everywhere. I guess it goes along with public transport, but I feel like Europe is just so much more connected and I really love it. 

Hate: Ryanair 
So, about Dublin. I accidentally booked the wrong return flight and they wanted to charge me 60 pounds to change it…which was as much as 2 tickets. Thank God I called within 24 hours and they didn't charge me the fee, but my Lord Ryanair, that's a bit steep. 

Love: British money
I love European money in general because it's so colorful, but British money is especially nice because of the Queen. The only thing I don't understand though, is why the 2 pence and 1 pence coins are bigger than the 10 and 20. I don't appreciate that. 

Hate: The freaking exchange rate 
Basically, all the money I brought was practically cut in half when I got here. My bank statements are such a sad sight to see now. 

Love: The food
Oh yeah, the controversial topic of British food. I can't say that I've eaten out a lot, but I have eaten at Wagamama's and absolutely loved it. I also loved the Shake Shack in Covent Garden, but that's pretty American, so it doesn't really count. I do love the whole pub atmosphere though, and I'm going to try Nando's soon, so I'll update then. (I totally understand that none of this is particularly British, because the other foods I've eaten fall in the "hate" category) 

Hate: The food 
Another contradiction…no surprise there. I am really not a fan of the fact that nothing here is as sugary as I'm used to (coke, cake, cereal, etc), or the fact that most things are very bland. I've eaten so many potatoes in the last 3 weeks, I don't even know. Also, why are there no regular flavored Doritos  or maybe Cheetos? And where are the sugary cereals like Fruit Loops are Honey Nut Cheerios? Clearly, I'm really torn up about the lack of quality junk food. 

All in all, it still doesn't feel real. My friends and I keep saying, "Can you believe we're living in England?" It's strange to work so long and hard towards a goal and then get it, because A. it's like, what now? and B. it never really feels that different from life before, so it's very strange. I feel very lucky and happy with my choice to come to England and Nottingham and I'm looking forward to all my adventures coming in the next 3 months! 

Have you ever been to England? What did you think? Any recommendations on things I should see or places I should go? 
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