(Ed. Note: Fordham College at Lincoln Center junior Veronika Kero shares impressions of her semester abroad in London, where her classes include European History, Philosophy, British Rock and Pop Music Since WWII, and Race, Class, Gender, and Media.)
I didn’t expect such a cloudy city to bring so much to light. London has managed to teach me something new every day while making me feel at home at the same time.
I am living in West Kensington, a busy residential area with enough cafes and stores around to keep me occupied without having to travel too far. If I am feeling particularly motivated in the mornings, I’m lucky enough to even be able to walk to my classes at Fordham London Centre.I was placed in a great living space with enough room for me and two other Fordham students who are from the Rose Hill campus. Being from the Lincoln Center campus myself, the setup is perfect—an exciting part about being in a new city is meeting new people.
Look Both Ways
Whether walking near my apartment or on the opposite side of town, one of the first things I noticed about the city were the crosswalks. New Yorkers are usually confident in their abilities to cross the street while avoiding the hundreds of yellow cabs. London will humble that confidence, however. This is not the Upper West Side and these black cabs will not stop for anyone! They also will not beep. The city is so quiet that I began to wonder if the cars here were actually built without horns.
The same characteristic of ‘quiet’ goes for people. It’s easy to mistake a tube station for a library, due to how many people are reading instead of talking. I thought it was a fluke at first, but it seems true that to be a Londoner you need a cup of tea and newspaper in your hand. I love this union of character. It’s as common to see The Guardian sprawled out on someone’s lap in London, as it was in New York to see someone clutching a cellphone and scrolling through the New York Times app.
While the transportation systems are extremely clean and reliable in London compared to New York, one major difference is that they’re only clean and reliable for a part of the day. Not every line will run at all hours of the night. That has made for some interesting situations in finding my way home. We New Yorkers won’t realize how lucky we are to take that dreaded “D” train ride from the Bronx to midtown at any time we wish—until we visit a city that actually does sleep.
History and Beauty All Around
Once back above the underground (and after ‘minding the gap,’ a saying that is repeated in London as much as “Please step aside and let the customers off the train first” is in New York) I fall in love with whatever neighborhood I have arrived in. The city is most definitely European in its relaxed cafe lifestyle but also very much a typical city with citizens who hustle and bustle. Piccadilly Circus is its Times Square, while Buckingham Palace is its Colosseum. Whether in a small and secluded neighborhood filled with colorful mews and orange brick buildings or an extremely packed maze-like Westminster, there is history and beauty all around. Each turn around a new corner has a story that inspires me to go out and find the next.
Living in a different country is entirely different from just visiting. You begin to feel like a native—yet part of you always remains a tourist ready to discover hidden treasures. Studying abroad in London has inspired me to want to treat every day in my hometown of New York City like a 24-hour visit in a city I may never have the chance to return to.