Ever since my first introduction to Doctor Who ten years ago, I have been dying to see London! I thought it would be so incredible and breath-taking, with a possible alien invasion or two.
Unfortunately, there were no invasions in sight and I did not quite get the ‘man in a blue box’ introduction that I was hoping for. If you’re unfamiliar with Doctor Who, ignore the alien and blue box bit. Regardless, the city was beautiful, in its architecture and in the livelihood of the bustling people on the streets. But more than that, it was also really… normal, which turns out to be a really nice feeling.
One of the things that made it so comfortable was being with some great friends, including my friend Aimee and her friend Nim who lives in London. Nim acted as our personal tour guide, showing us the best way to get around town, which is basically to run through the streets despite the cross-walk sign saying not to and hoping for the best. We almost got hit by a taxi twice. Since I used to have to do the same thing countless times in Damascus when I lived there, I wasn’t too bothered by it. I guess city life is pretty much the same no matter where you are.
Anyway, most of the day consisted of Aimee and Nim bickering like the old friends they are. It was hilarious watching the exchange of banter between the two. I chose sides every now and then, mostly Aimee’s. We had the absolute best time as we explored the city and went shopping. I bought three awesome shirts at Primark: Harry Potter shirt, Simpsons shirt, and my very own tourist-y shirt with a British flag on the front. The funniest thing was when we came across a San Diego shirt. I had to take a picture to represent my hometown!
Eventually, we got hungry and ate at my new favorite restaurant Nando’s. For anyone who might be visiting Europe, you have to go to Nando’s. Unless you are a vegetarian (Nando’s is pretty much just chicken), it is absolutely delicious. Another tip: always order lemon and herb sauce–amazing! Sadly, we were only in London for a few hours and I did not get to see Big Ben–or as I naively called it, ‘Big Benjamin,’ which both Aimee and Nim thought was absolutely hysterical–but I will make sure to explore more of the city and visit Big Ben when I visit London again next week!
From all the places I have been to so far, namely Stonehenge, Bath, Manchester, and London, the experiences have meant so much more to me because of the people involved. I can honestly say I have acquired a new best friend in Aimee and I have gotten to know some remarkable women here in the dorms. This past week has been very chill, hanging out with the roomies, going to restaurants, including more of Nando’s of course, and showing off some University of Leicester spirit at the women’s Rugby game.
Aimee and I have officially solidified our friendship, having bonded over boy talk, Minecraft, Sims 4, and through our mutual love and appreciation for animals. I could not have guessed that I would become best friends with someone who just so happened to be sitting next to me on the first day of our biochemistry class. And who would have known that my roommates would all be so quirky and fun? I can honestly say that I could not have been luckier with the friendships I’ve made. Although I still genuinely miss home, I am starting to feel really torn about leaving…I just hope I can see my friends again soon after I leave!
Take-away message of the day: It’s true what the study abroad advisors say. The beginning is fraught with homesickness, but once you’ve made friends and adapted, you don’t really want to leave anymore…