Across the pond

Kate Smith

(Kate Smith)

What better way to explore the city of London than with a native British tour guide and seven hours of walking with your classmates? On our third day after arriving in London, I and nine other Lawrentians studying abroad did just that. And though it was one of the most exhausting walking tours I have ever taken part of, it was also one of the most enlightening and wonderful experiences of my life.
London is one of the most diverse cities I have ever visited. While walking to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard, our tour guide was suddenly pulled aside by a few French-speaking people, some of whom were on our guide’s tour just the day before! I was asked by several Italians and Germans to take pictures of them in front of the palace, and of course they kindly returned the favor.
Even within the English-speaking British, there are several accents that are distinctly different from one another. I like to compare them to the differences in our American accents: a person from Boston’s accent will be much different from that of someone living in the Deep South.
While I have unfortunately not yet picked up a British accent, I have begun to think in a British accent. However, I don’t think I will ever voice the British woman inside my head in fear of sounding stupid in front of my friends and actual British people.
As we continued our guided walk through the city, we passed the Royal Albert Concert Hall, which happens to be two blocks from where we live, Westminster Abbey, the famous clock tower from which Big Ben rings on every hour, the enormous London Eye and so much more.
Our tour guide, Brit, was so energetic and enthusiastic about London that none of us complained about our sore feet after hour five of our tour. Brit even took us to the supposed area of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies, and we were all surprised – and somewhat disappointed – to see normal clothes shops and bakeries where Olivander’s wand shop should have been.
Throughout our tour, I noticed some basic trends and customs in the people we passed on the street. One of my favorite trends was that I rarely saw a macho man walking a dog that wouldn’t easily fit into his wife’s purse. Jam and chocolate-filled pastries are essential commodities and are readily available for everyone who needs a light snack – this is a trend I think we should pick up in the United States. And of course, everyone drives on the “wrong” side of the road.
Despite our expansive walking tour, I felt like I had only seen a small fraction of what London is all about. The city itself is an immense hub for cultures from around the world, which I hope to explore during the rest of my time here. London is amazing in every way – just ask the little British woman inside my head!

(Kate Smith)

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