So the past two days have been all about getting used to this country. In case I didn't mention it before, I was in a group of about 80 American study abroad kids; we were all staying at the St. Giles Hotel near Heathrow airport. For yesterday and most of today, we went from lecture to lecture, learning about various aspects of London culture. We learned about Londoners in general, safety in the city, academics in the UK, and about UCL (my new school).
Here are some of the things I learned:
About Londoners: They usually wear black or gray clothes because the weather is so depressing. They are a quiet, shy group of people, and they can be easily embarrassed. Once you embarrass a Brit, they won't be friends with you again. They believe Americans on the whole are too loud and bossy.
About safety: Britain was described repeatedly as a nation full or 'petty thieves'. I have to be careful I am not pickpocketed.
Academics in the UK: The professor doesn't lead you by the hand; you have to do alot of outside work. I'm ready for the challenge.
About UCL: UCL was the third university organized in England (after Oxford and Cambridge) and it was the first university that had no religious affiliation. The founder and premier philosopher of the school was a man named Jeremy Bentham. When he died, he gave his body to the university to be mummified. His body, dressed in his favorite clothes, still sits in the university library (although his head is made of wax; his real one fell off). I actually saw Jeremy today, and I found it sort of disturbing. All of the UCL orientation leaders I met felt compelled to bring up Mr. Bentham; they found it to be really funny.
Some of my own observations:
On the whole, the Brits seem to be very friendly.
Food is not so great; today I was given a free sandwich that had tuna fish, whole corn kernels and mayo in it...bleeaaaargh
Weather is pretty gray and it sprinkles occasionally from time to time
Everything is expensive.
Next post, I'll fill you in on my living situation. Until next time....