t is hard to believe that I have already been in London for a little over two weeks! In typical Carissa fashion, I’m writing a little bit later than I would have liked. However, going forward, I’m going to try to keep you all updated in the best way that I can! These past two weeks have been an absolute blur – doing everything from staying in my first hostel, finding my flat, starting classes and an internship – all while trying to navigate around a new city. Upon landing at Heathrow Airport, I will admit that transitioning to London was not the easiest task. The first couple of days were filled with anxiety while adapting to my new surroundings. However, one thing that immediately struck me was how beautiful this city is. Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe that New York City is the best city in the world. But London has a certain charm to it that New York City can’t even touch. While it may drive some people crazy, I love the narrow roads and architecture so much that taking walks around the city has quickly become a favorite activity.
I was so happy to be able to spend a lot of time with Rakchira, a wonderful friend from Ithaca. Knowing London well, she took me to some of her favorite places. On my first weekend here, we visited Brick Lane Market and walked around the Shoreditch area, which has loads of stores and other markets. Brick Lane Market was indoors and had vendors selling all different types of food. That weekend, I got two Vietnamese summer rolls and when I brought Kristine there the next weekend, I ordered two different types of curry from a Moroccan vendor. (Both were delicious!) Aside from browsing around markets, I have also loved finding places to sit, read, and write for long periods of time. (I’m extra happy if that place happens to sell croissants.) I still haven’t found the perfect place yet, but if you know of any good coffee shops, cafes, or bakeries in the area. Please let me know!
There are a few things I’ve noticed about London. For example, while the conversion rate here makes things painful to pay for, I’ve found that grocery prices seem significantly cheaper here than in the U.S. Also, packaging and storefront design is absolutely beautiful here. Even the store brand pasta that I bought was packaged so nicely! Investing in good design is smart for companies because I think people associate good design with high quality products. Additionally, this may not be very different from living in Manhattan, but shopping is huge here in Central London as I always seem to be passing by Topshops and Zara’s whenever I’m walking around. Similar to grocery pricing, I’ve found that prices at Topshop also seem to be a bit less expensive than in the states! As of now, I’ve been good in sticking to my budget, but I’m definitely hoping to return home with a good number of new items for my closet!
By the time I leave London in May, I’m sure that I will have learned a lot more about myself. However, one thing that I have come to realize is that I love to talk about New York City. It’s one of my favorite conversational topics. I find myself endlessly comparing these two cities. That being said, I have to share my observations with you! Some people have told me that they don’t see many differences, but I would disagree. To me, the two cities seem to run on different systems. NYC is extremely fast paced, but in an organized way. I say this because I have discovered a new pet peeve and it is getting onto the tube during rush hour. In NYC, there is a silent understanding that when the train pulls in, everyone will move to the side to let others out, and then we will all quickly get onto the train. Yes, there is some squeezing and slight pushing. However, nothing like what I experienced in London this past week. My roommate gave me a warning, but I didn’t believe that it would be any different than getting onto a crowded subway car. But I was wrong! At around 9:30am, I stood among a crowd of people waiting to get onto the tube. When it pulled into the station and cleared out, everyone around me shoved and pushed their bodies into the car from every direction. It was insane! The best way to describe it was that I was like a fish in a river. I could have stopped moving my feet and the crowd itself would have moved my body into the car because so many people were pushing me from every angle. That being said, London gets major points for their tube system. I was astonished to see how clean it looked and have enjoyed their cushioned seats knowing full well that we could never have that in the city. (because people would pee all over them…let’s be real)
The last thing that I have to say about London for now, is that I have also been super impressed by their street style. Some will disagree, but I actually feel that London is more stylish than NYC. I say this because everyone in London seems to be on the same page with their style causing me to have developed major coat envy for the girls and huge shoe envy for the guys. Also, I have to mention the hair. English boys have their hair game on point. Like ridiculously on point. All.of.the.time. It’s crazy.I can’t wait to continue getting to know this beautiful city and the people who live in it. I’ll make sure to keep you posted on the places I go and funny things I am sure to encounter.Until then, love and miss you much, New York!