The Adventures of a Foreign Land

By Hayley Carroll.

Hayley and Evan Carroll

Hayley and Evan Carroll in York

Planes, trains, buses, and taxis. Everywhere I look, there are people. The streets are constantly filled with cars and bikes and the sidewalks are filled with busy people navigating their way through the crowd. Horns honk and people yell and there is never a moment of silence. The hustle and bustle of the city never stops. I am not used to this; I come from a farm on the outskirts of a quiet little town in Missouri. This is a whole new world that I have nothing in common with. My main mode of transportation is the underground train. I have never even taken a train or subway at all, and I have never heard “mind the gap” so many times in my life. Everything is new to me in London.

My brother talked me into taking this trip to study abroad in London. At first I told him, “No way.” I was not up to traveling halfway across the world  for two weeks. Eventually, I said yes because I realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was going to be able to learn about the history of London with the actual city as my classroom. Then the next thing I know I am on a plane to Atlanta and from there to London. Twelve hours later we arrive, and the first thing we do is hop on a bus to get to the hotel. It took me a long time to get used to people driving on the wrong side of the road. There was one instance when I thought a little boy was driving a car, and my heart started racing in panic before I realized the driver sits on the other side of the car as well.

Evan, my brother, was the navigator. I am terrible with directions and maps, I get turned around too easily. We quickly figured out the underground though. We were ready to get into the city center. We met up with the group and checked into the hostel. I had never stayed at a hostel before and I had never met the girl I roomed with. I was a little nervous about it all. Traveling with a larger group in the city is hard. Although we took the underground for quicker mode of long distance travel we still walked a lot. At home it is just easy to jump into the car and get where you need to go in 5 or 10 minutes. Here we walked to the train station or walked to our destination. Needless to say my feet were not prepared for this. We stayed pretty busy, and by the end of each day I was ready for sleep. It is hard to imagine doing all that walking and navigating through the train system every day. I didn’t have any problem sleeping because I was so tired from the long days, and the jet lag seemed neverending.

Food was hard to decide on because there were so many options to choose from. When I am home, I have to drive twenty minutes to get something other than a Ma and Pa cafe. In London, I could walk down the street from the hostel and find ten different types of food. It was almost overwhelming to have so many choices all the time. I have tried many different types of food in the past two weeks, and I have found a few new things I like. Evan eats anything so I had to be open to the choices we had. Breakfast on the first day at the hostel came as a surprise to most of the group. Porridge and cold cut sandwiches on a white or wheat roll was offered. To me this was not the ideal breakfast, and I quickly learned to adjust the breakfast to something I liked a little more.

I was able to learn and experience so many new aspects of life and culture in London. I enjoyed observing the people in the city. Everyone always looks like they are on a mission to get somewhere. Fast is the only pace a person can go. I also had a lot of fun learning about the history of London. I had heard of many important places in London but deeper knowledge on them was lacking. It was amazing having the opportunity to go to the sites and learn in depth about them while touring, wandering around inside, or standing right out front. It was an unforgettable learning experience.