During the first day of my trip to London, I was given an opportunity to explore the city with a tour guide. He promised us that a walking tour was one of the best way to learn about London’s interesting history as well as some of its most famous sights. And he was right! London has never been so close, yet, so fascinating to me! The antique streets that were decorated by colorful flowers, the sophisticated architectures that lived through hundreds years of human kind, the picturesque structure of trafficking that was so different from where I come from, they were all very “British” to me!
I learned that the reason why the UK drove on the left of the road and the US drove on the opposite was because of what happened in the past. The majority of the British soldiers were right-handed, so they preferred to keep to the left while marching in order to have their right arm free, should they need to draw their sword immediately. This habit led to the driving culture that always keep to the left of England. In the meantime, the Americans were befriended with the French, whose leader was Napoleon. Interestingly, Napoleon was left-handed, so he would draw sword from the left, resulting in his soldiers to march on the right, hence the rule of keeping to the right while driving. I found that very interesting!
During the tour, I have met so many wonderful colleagues who were also going to Cambridge University like me. Our friendships were born that way, and not long after, we became family. Between the fascinating historical facts about London were the laugh and the enjoyment about the difference between our cultures. The tour ended in Trafalgar Square, where the statue of George Washington stood.
When the tour guide asked if any of us know about the uniqueness of this Washington statute in London, I was the only one able to answer the question. I remembered reading about it: When Washington died, he swore to never set a foot on British soil ever again, and to respect his wish, the Americans gifted the statue to London while bringing American soil to place it underneath the statue; that’s why it was so special to us. I ended up being reward with a “pint of beer” by the tour guide because he was impressed that I knew about that story. (Also, drinking age in England was 18, so it was ok for me have a sip, even though I didn’t quite enjoy it much, but hey, it was the experience that counted, isn’t it!) After the tour, we had to say goodbye to London and move to Cambridge, but in my heart, London would always remain charming and fascinating as ever!