My mother suggested I write about cultural norms I’ve learned in Europe so if that doesn’t interest you then skip right over this. First thing, most of the time you don’t tip here. This usually makes service suck. No one gives a frack if you get your food in 15 minutes or an hour. Usually you order at the bar and they bring your food out and don’t bring you a check for another 89 hours. Second, you don’t put your dog on a leash and it’s not really socially acceptable to pet dogs but they are ALL SO CUTE. Third, groceries are soooo much less expensive then eating out where in America it’s usually pretty even depending on where you go. This morning I went to the market next to my flat and got 3 zucchinis, brussel sprouts, 3 apples, 8 clementines, garlic, butternut squash, grapes, and a head of broccoli for 4,70 pounds which is about 6 dollars. Forth, I never know where to walk. Like the cars drive on the opposite side so I should walk on the opposite side? No people just walk wherever they find themselves walking. Fifth, don’t talk in the tube. Almost all the time the tube is SILENT (and a bit sweaty). Sixth, they don’t use dryers here. Like I’m pretty sure that even the wealthy people don’t use dryers. Seventh, the UK is super advanced when it comes to bank cards and basically everyone has touchless cards and I’m here still using my swipe card that doesn’t even have a chip in it yet. Eight, the stop lights go red YELLOW green and back green yellow red. It’s weird like a yellow light from the red light just means a green light but whatever. Ninth, there is take away and eat in here. It’s cheaper to take away then to eat in even if you are at a McDonalds where they aren’t serving you. Finally tenth, drinking is so different here. People will drink during their lunch time for work and just go back to work a little tipsy. The drinking culture is just a lot different here and people drink so much more casually then in America.
Dublin is a beautiful city. I really love the little cobblestone roads with Irish flags hanging out the pub windows and the accents that just seem a bit more serious then the English accent that I’ve been used to. My favorite thing about it though is the sound of seagulls in the city!!!!! We spent the day at trinity college and the famous Temple Bar which was absolutely amazing and exactly what I thought of as an old Irish pub. Today we took a train to a small town on the coast about an hour south of Dublin. I really needed to get out of the city life and explore some open fields and fresh air. We walked along the cliffs and ate fish and chips and sandwiches and scones and ice cream. Increasing in pounds (lb’s) and decreasing in pounds ($) all at the same time. It has been a weekend of indulgence and I think this has a small something to do with the fact that I’m reading “Eat Love Pray” by Elizabeth Gilbert. (highly recommend for any travel lover) I’m currently deep into the “eat” part so all I want to do is eat nonstop. I’ve ate literally at any and all times during the day. The best thing about Europe is that they have some different way of counting calories that I have no motivation to understand hence nothing has calories. (Don’t hate me Oprah) Hopefully I pass this part of the book soon or I’m gunna have to buy new pants. We did have a small mishap in Greystones though. We basically missed our first train then watched our second train come and go on the opposite platform after waiting for it for about 2 hours and I stepped in dog shit. But as my great friend Casey Neistat says “the adventure doesn’t begin till something goes wrong”.
This past weekend my roommates and I traveled down to good ole Munich, Germany. As you can probably guess it was filled with beer, pretzels and camping. Yes, we camped. This is how our travels went: took a taxi to the train station, a train to the airport, a plane to another airport, a train to another train station, another train to a bus stop, and a bus to the campground. We checked in and immediately chugged a beer and found our tents. We had an odd number of people so I decided to have a random tent mate. Her name was Luca and she was a darling straight from Mexico. I thought we would hit it off but she didn’t come back to the tent still 6am!!! (SMH Luca) Considering I can’t even look at a beer for another 3 weeks I would say the weekend was a success.
Here’s an update on my normal life now. I’ve been drinking A LOT of tea and I eat about a zucchini a day. I feel like a smoker considering how much second hand smoke I breathe in from these Brits. My roommate and I run a good amount along the Thames river which is sooo beautiful. I really enjoy my international finance class because I feel like I can actually use the material I am learning while I’m over here which is cool (only took 14 years of education to feel that way). Overall, things are going so well and I am absolutely in love with London and never want to leave.
Home is a really weird concept for me. We all think of something completely different when thinking about our “home”. For me, it would depend on when you asked me. I have no physical attachment to one place like most people. I loved the town I grew up in and am thankful for the community that raised me but there’s nothing inside me that feels the need to go back there if I get homesick. Home isn’t people for me either. I love my family and friends more then anything but they aren’t my “home”. They create happiness in my life and I enjoy being around them but they aren’t the reason for my existence. Home for me is somewhere where I have a purpose and meaning in the world. Sometimes it’s Downingtown occasionally it’s Newark once it was Africa and now it’s London. Every once in awhile it’s time to change your home and create a different meaning in your life. I think this is the best way to create progression and find what you are passionate about. I will probably spend a lot of my life with different homes that don’t make sense to a lot of people but to me for some reason I have found meaning there.
The past three weeks have been absolutely insane. Being this is the first time I’ve ever been in Europe I have been so crazy busy and absolutely, insanely curious about everything. I’ve seen so many new things that I never knew even existed and of course all the tourist attractions (mostly dragged to by my roommates). So far I’ve visited Stonehenge, Bath, York, Abbey Road, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Eye, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s and so many more places that I can’t even list them all. I’ve seen a bit of some London Fashion week and spent countless hours people watching from benches and fountains around this city. I’ve met some unforgettable people that have such beautiful souls that I am so incredibly blessed to get to spend this time with. We have already made such amazing memories together and I am so grateful to have them. (Special shout out to Sarah and Megan xo) I would say I never want to leave this place but that’s absolutely completely wrong. If anything, being in London makes me curious about what else there is out there and tempts me to get up and go again. Overall, things are great and I am having the time of my life.
Currently, I’m sitting on a train going to a smaller city called York which is only about 2 hours north of London. It’s known for its gothic architecture and (of course) bars. While I sit here I realize that the most relaxing thing to do is sit on a train, car, plane, listen to music and watch the world go by. I think back to my favorite travel times and I remember the time I sat on a train watching the California coast go by. How beautiful the ocean and cliffs met each other. I remember the time I sat in a safari car and watched the vast Serengeti leave me. How beautiful the endless horizon of green grass was. I remember sitting in the back seat of my dads car driving through the desert of Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. How beautiful the scenery was to change at any moment. Some people find watching a movie, reading a book or spending time with friends to be relaxing but I enjoy the actual act of traveling. Moving from one place to another. I like the backs of old houses and fields of hazy morning grass. I like zoning out into endless clusters of trees while listening to the lyrics of my music and relating everything back to my life. Travel is so much more then just seeing Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, or the Colosseum, it’s about spending the extra time you rarely get to look inside yourself. That’s why I’m a traveler not a tourist.
Living in a city is a lot different than I ever imagined. I grew up and went to University in two towns that were both predominately white with very little diversity at all. When it comes to interacting with a group of diverse people I still find it to be uncomfortable and I’m 21 years old.
My roommates and I were walking around our neighborhood and there was a homeless man propped against a building. Of course I didn’t say anything to him as if to act like he wasn’t even a human being. This little boy came wheeling around the corner on his scooter with his dad shortly behind him. The little boy probably not even 7 years old yelled “Hello sir!!!” then proceeded to yell at his dad “Daddy, say hello!!!!” They continued to go over to the man and have a short conversation with him. This is one of the sweetest things I have ever seen and reminded me of what little acts of kindness can do. I think as we grow up we start to perceive homeless people as solely drug addict, lazy, animals that aren’t actually human. They really are broken people that lack a support system to bring them back. I feel like if everyone tried to at least smile or hold a short conversation with a homeless person they will have more confidence to find the motivation to pick up the pieces of their life.
I’m going to try to make it my personal mission to understand the lives of as many different kinds of people as I can while I am here and reach outside my comfort zone that I’ve been used to for so long.