There is a chance that if you are reading this blog, then you are heading on your own British Studies Program adventure. Congratulations!!!!! You are in for one of the most exciting, overwhelming, and memorable months of your life!
There are a few things I wish I had known before I left. There are a few I never even thought to ask. So I thought I would share them with you. Half of the fun is in finding out things for yourself in a new country, so I have tried not to "spoil" that experience for you. Here are a few must knows:
* Jet Lag: There is nothing like a long flight like this one to help you put your priorities in order. Or at least that is what I found to be true! Your schedule will be off for almost the first week when you get to London and the professors are going to push you hard to help you get acclimated as soon as possible. In fact, that first night you are already out and about learning the city and walking all over God's creation. Thank them for this. As much as it seems impossible to move those first few days, you will be eternally grateful to them later. By the fourth day it seems like you have lived in London forever and you can't remember a time when you did not know how to take the tube, order at a pub, or maneuver the London streets.
* Homesickness: No matter what they say, EVERYONE feels homesick. It is often the ones you least expect who are feeling it the worst. Whatever you do, do not leave for the first week. I know it may seem impossible that you will ever get used to it or that missing everyone back home will become bearable, but I promise you it is true. You owe it to yourself to stick it out. You were brave enough to commit to the trip in the first place, you definitely have what it takes to succeed in this program. As Dr. Mackaman says in orientation "I bet you know a lot of people who thought about coming on British studies, but I don't see any of them sitting here. I see you sitting here." This is a big deal-and you are the reason why! Besides, who wants to take another day long plane trip so close together?
* Laptops. The internet access you are given is in the lab across the street from the apartments (flats). It is open 24 hours and it is a very nice lab. However, most of the time you will really not want to drag yourself over there after a long day or be in the crowd while you are trying to get your thoughts together. You can buy an inexpensive air card at Carphone Warehouse and you can get access in your room. I would have loved this even if I only used it for non-internet projects like downloading my photos and writing blog entries which I could then put online at the lab. The rooms are safe and you won't have to carry it everywhere. If it is not obscenely heavy, it is definitely worth bringing.
* Laptop warning: If you have the type of personality where you will never leave your room if you have your laptop, leave it at home. This is a once in a lifetime experience, don't let the internet suck you in and don't let it be a security blanket. It is a great tool to keep up with the work, but it is not worth missing out on everything else for it.
* Alcohol: If you are anti-alcohol, do not hang out with people who drink. If you do, then keep your judgments about alcohol to yourself. Everyone is an adult on this trip and people need to experience London on their own terms. If this is a problem for you, then you need to do some serious thinking about this trip. And I am not speaking of binge drinking-although the same does apply. A glass of wine or a drink at dinner does not an alcoholic make. If this is a problem for you, avoid the situation. Everyone paid to be there and they left their parents at home. Be a friend, not a chaperon.
* Walking: They are not joking when they say you are going to be walking EVERYWHERE. Be up to at least 3 miles a day when you leave and walk the sidewalks. Tracks are nice, but they are a lot smoother than the London roads. You can still handle it even if you don't do this, but it will make life a lot easier.
* Sandwiches: Get used to them. London LOVES their sammies!
* Fruits and Vegetables: If you are a vegetarian, make Mark and Spencer's your best friend. The food is by far the freshest and best quality in the country. You will have a fridge in your room and the nearest M&S is right at the tube station. Not only will you save tons of money, but you will be able to eat a normal diet for most of the month rather than a constant stream of restaurant and takeout food.
* Speaking of food, the only thing open on Sunday morning are some of the places in Waterloo station. The local bakery on the side street next to King's is wonderful, but closed on Sunday morning.
* Bring towels!!!!!! I know you are told that King's College provides these for you, and it is kind of true, but unless you are cool with using the same one ortwo towels for a month bring a spare you can wash with your other laundry.
HAVE A WONDERFUL TRIP!!!!!!!!!