Months before a big trip, you begin to imagine yourself in certain scenes and situations that might be encountered on your new journey. For lack of better insight, you collect your visions from movies, books, and stories told by your friends or family members. You try to mentally prepare yourself for the changes and differences that are about to take place, but you may be basing your thoughts off some false notions. Below is an article that helps highlight some common expectations international students may have about coming to London.
1.) The English accent will not rub off on you over a semester, but the slang might.
The charming English accent is adored by those all over the world, but unfortunately a semester abroad will not allow you to adopt its delivery. However, you are bound to pick up on some British slang. Many people will ask "where abouts" you are from, or if you enjoy riding the "tube", and they will likely say "cheers" instead of "thank you". Soon enough, these phrases will become a natural part of your vocabulary.
2.) Google maps is not your friend anymore, Citymapper is.
Nothing screams "tourist" like walking in circles trying to listen to Google Maps. If you are an avid Google Maps person, I suggest changing to Citymapper before making your way to London. Citymapper conveniently provides the quickest route on the tube, bus, driving, and by foot. It also shows the estimated price for the tube or bus rides.
3.) Londoners drink as much coffee as tea (maybe even more).
Don't be too quick to kiss your morning coffee goodbye and hop on the English tea game, because the Brits like their coffee just as much as they like their tea. Espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, and Americano can be found and perfected at any coffee shop and even in most restaurants. But if you ARE looking for the classy "afternoon tea" in London, it does not disappoint.
4.) Although public transportation is heavily relied on and easier than you've heard, you will walk A LOT more than you ever have.
Yes, London ranks up there with some of the largest cities in the world. They've mastered public transportation, but don't think that means you get to be lazy. A 10-15 minute walk is known as "just around the corner" so get used to power-walking and bring comfortable shoes. In the (often) occurrence of a tube strike or traffic delay, you'll learn that even the locals are more familiar with the bus routes and underground than they are with the walking commute.
5.) It is true that Londoners are rather quiet and reserved. However, when it comes to your politics, you will be asked for your opinion.
Making eye contact with a stranger on the street might be taboo in London, but to ask the political views of someone you just met is surprisingly normal. Don't think Londoners aren't educated on politics in other countries. They are very aware and very curious. Your best bet is to educate yourself a little before coming overseas so you can share your insights.
6.) Londoners are always in a hurry- but they are also always late.
You might assume that Londoners are prompt with time because they always seem to be in a hurry, but that isn't quite the case. You can break a sweat running down the escalators in the station and still just barely miss the closing doors of the train you were supposed to catch. Traffic, delays, and hustling through the crowd are indeed things you have to take into account when travelling around this city.
7.) Don't let the sheer tights and heels fool you. It's cold here. Bring your winter jacket.
For the amount of time spent outdoors and the chilling gusts of wind encountered, you will definitely want a winter jacket from November through March. The city has an average temperature of around 5-6°C through the month of February, and there's always a slight chance of a light snow.
8.) It doesn't rain ALL the time. You'll catch an inconvenient rain or mist now and then, but London is also filled with sunny days and blooming flowers (especially in the spring).
British movies seem to do a good job of capturing the random downpours and gothic vibes of London. Inevitably, you'll get a streak of gloomy days where the air feels wet and the sidewalks are lined with puddles. But I promise you will not be deprived of sunshine and a warm breeze in the spring. That first sighting of a cherry blossom is a sign for the lighter, care-free days of enjoying a pint outside the pub.
9.) London has a huge amount of diversity and English is very often not someone's first language.
Stirring the beautiful melting pot, London will give you a taste of people from all over the globe. It doesn't take more than a few hours in the city to realize it is full of different languages, culture, and religion. In fact, it's not uncommon for English to be someone's second, or even third language.
10.) Londoners DO read the paper and it's passed out for free all over the city.
The pictures might not move like a Harry Potter movie, but the post is actually an important part of the London culture. On the tube, in a café, or relaxing in a park Londoners can be found with their nose in the paper. They genuinely like to keep up with news and hot topics. You don't even have to try hard to get your hands on a post, as they are handed out for a free at almost every main tube station throughout the city.