My trip to London began with a monumental historical loss- the death of England’s beloved Queen Elizabeth. As it happened on our second day in the country, it was an ultimately jarring and unprecedented welcome to the culture around us. Reactions from the people varied from openly crying in the streets, drunkenly singing “God Save The Queen”, to some who seemed utterly unfazed by the news. On the night of her passing, some classmates and I took the trip on the Underground to Buckingham Palace to immerse ourselves in the mourning of the city. There, we found a never-ending line of reporters and tourists, along with Londoners who were there to pay their respects to the only Queen they have ever known. The politics of this loss certainly affected some, as they seemed overjoyed by the loss and brashly caused some dismay to those around them with their outcries against her during their time of mourning. It was clear that London held a great amount of respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth, and many were devastated to see her rule come to an end.
Aside from this week’s loss, the beginning of my trip brought with it many incredible experiences that I was fortunate to get to be a part of. The sights of the city are wonderfully diverse and awe-inspiring. Each day, I discover new history about the city I’m living in and how deeply it is connected to so many authors and poets I have been engaged with during my studies.
My first meal here was, of course, fish and chips. I figured it was only right to try it in London. I will say, they definitely do it better than we do. Yesterday, we had the chance to go to the British Museum for an afternoon tea. There, we had mini sandwiches and scones along with our tea and sipped while we talked amongst ourselves and took in the visual joys of the museum. Afterwards, we went to get groceries to keep in our flats for the week. The grocery stores here are very fast paced and somewhat less friendly than what I’ve experienced in America. People definitely seem to always be in a rush somewhere, particularly in the busy part of London that we are staying in. There were some differences in the way food is packaged and processed here, and being in the grocery store was a wonderful way to really jump into how everyday life works in London. There are some really great juices here that I haven’t seen before in America, and the self checkout system is very effective and leaves for little to no wait time to check out, even if it is busy. I noticed that I could not find Melatonin anywhere, which I was hoping to pick up as a cure for my persistent jet lag.
Overall, this first week in London has been packed full of brand new experiences that I am so grateful to have gotten to have. There is so much of this city I have yet to explore, and I look forward to doing so in the coming months.