Lessons Learned

Blogger Lianna Hursh shares her first lessons learned while studying abroad in London.

There’s an uneasiness about first arriving in a foreign country that can make even the most comfortable people feel uncomfortable. About an hour into arriving in London I deemed Starbucks my safe haven for the semester. The only other American food chains I saw were KFC and McDonalds, so the choice was rather obvious.

After unpacking, my roommate Nikki and I went to grab a bite to eat before orientation started. We stood in the middle of Baker Street like seven year olds who had lost their mom in the mall. I asked her if we should walk left or right but I wasn’t sure if left meant left or right meant right here. Sometimes I’m slow because I’m usually thinking about pizza.

I learned my first London lesson on the way to lunch.

Lesson #1: Never cross the street ever unless it’s deserted. If you think it’s safe to cross that means it’s not. The second you step into the street you get hit by a bus.

We ended up at Natural Kitchen, a trendy sit-down restaurant with a to-go bar in the back. I had to choose between a “salad” or a “meal” which made no sense because a salad is often a meal. What if you want a salad as your meal? Is it a salad or a meal? Can you get a meal while having a salad?

I stuck with a salad. “And what would you like,” she asked. I didn’t know. I didn’t even know what anything was called. She started shouting and pointing at the different foods as if she were rattling off the names of her children. She was speaking so fast I questioned if it was even English.

I felt like even the food was judging me, like even the potato salad knew I was an American. I spotted teriyaki salmon in the corner of the bar and got strangely excited. I pointed at it and smiled. “The salmon only comes with meals,” she said. Second Lesson learned.

Nikki and I ate in silence for thirty minutes in an attempt to fit in. I think we were also afraid we’d vomit if we opened our mouths.

Two hours later we sat in orientation listening to a police officer give us tips on surviving in London and avoiding pick pocketing.

“Where do most thefts happen in London,” he asked. “Starbucks.”


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