Sarah Webb reflects on her first week in London and wonders how on earth she got so far.
As I write, I reflect upon the previous week’s adventures and I can’t help but wonder how I crammed it all in. I feel as though I’ve done it all… and I still have two weeks left. But in reality, I don’t think I’ve covered even half of the attractions here in London. I can definitely see why this city is considered the cultural capital of the world.
I have a bucket list of sorts while I’m here, and on it are some amazing plans. But before I get ahead of myself (which I’ve been doing lately), I think it’s time for me to sit back, relax, and soak it all in.
Last Monday was my first day of Multimedia Journalism at The University of Westminster, and as soon as I walked through the doors, I was greeted by a shirt thrown at my face and an overexcited, fellow Australian saying “Free t-shirts!” Hell, I didn’t blame him – I cheer anytime I hear the word ‘free’. So I happily added that to my collection of pyjama shirts. It was this day that I was introduced to an interesting theory called the Cultural Adaptation Curve.
I hope my drawing skills don’t go unnoticed…
Apparently, when one travels alone and overseas for the first time, they experience a sense of cultural adjustment. I feel like I should be in the ‘honeymoon stage’, but I’m fairly certain that’s just wishful thinking. London has hit me and it’s hit me hard. Throw the ‘honeymoon’ phase out the window – it’s time to man up and be an adult.
I thought I’d put my independence to the test the following Saturday. On that overcast morning (yes, England weather is finally back to normal), some students and I hopped on a coach heading north towards York, to stay there for the weekend. It was a three and a half hour drive and I spent most of my time sleeping, chatting with my new American and Brazilian friends Allee and Thais, or reading Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This book was highly recommended to me by a fellow lover of the mystery-thriller genre, which I bought from a quaint bookstore called Daunt. As a complete book nerd, I’ve decided to stay here forever (sorry Mum).
We arrived in York at noon and my friends and I had the appetite for some traditional fish and chips at a local store. Instantly, I noticed the difference between London accents and York accents. For example, Yorkshire speakers have a short ‘a’ in words, like bath, grass, etc. Londoners tend to drag out the ‘a’.
We soon took a tour of the gorgeous York Minster cathedral, probably in an inappropriate manner, what with our constant laughter and chatter echoing throughout the church’s halls. After some thought, my red-headed friend Allee said “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m certainly going to hell for this.”
Having left on that cheery note, we topped our afternoon off with a Ghost Hunt Tour of the Shambles. Because I’m an undying fan of ghost stories, we put in our five pounds and headed off with our creepy tour guide (whose name, he said, was “unimportant”) to go hunt us some ghosts.
Unfortunately (and expectedly), the tour had ended with no sign of any spirits. However, we were happy knowing that our money had been well spent. It was a really wonderful experience, full of entertainment and had us all laughing to no end, which is what really counts I suppose.
We concluded our night with Italian pizza and wine (naturally), before some touring around York’s bars and clubs, until we realised there were no other young people around. Apparently they were just as invisible as the ghosts we were looking for previously.
After 20 minutes of searching, our prayers were finally answered. Fortunately, we’d ended up finding some hipster joint named Dusk that surprisingly wasn’t overpopulated with 40 and 50-year-olds. I swear most of the locals were drunk by 9pm, but then again, we were in York, where pub culture is alive and bustling (and stumbling in most cases). Later that night, one particularly drunk ‘geezer’ approached my group, and in his attempt to ‘woo’ us, stumbled on the lounge, fell backwards, and kicked me in the shoulder. Yep, that happened. The next morning seemed more promising, however.
We woke up at 8am to be welcomed by the mouth-watering smell of croissants and tea, so memories of the previous night escaped me for a moment. Our next adventure awaited us at Fountains Abbey – a sublime place, filled with ruins of old churches, castles and towers. It’s now a place for people to enjoy the scenery, walk their dogs, go horse-riding or to have a nice picnic while sitting down by the river. For my friends and I, it was time to explore and to boast of our time together there on Instagram. Who knows when we’ll come back to this part of the world again?
And the day got even better with a visit to the Bess of Hardwick house, set in the countryside of northern England. They say Bess (Elizabeth Shewsbury) was second in power to Queen Elizabeth I during the Golden Age. We gallivanted shamelessly in her garden, taking photos as we go and touching everything pretty that we had seen. But this did not go unpunished, for I soon touched a sweet yet deceptive flower, and ended up with a bad rash and some numbness in my fingers for the rest of the day.
My friends couldn’t believe I was Australian at that moment. Coming from a country that’s filled with dangerous flora and fauna, why did it have to be a flower in England that sends me to the nurse? But truth be told, I didn’t go to the nurse. I couldn’t be bothered. Maybe I am Australian after all?
Images: Sarah Webb
Feature image: Les Haines, Flickr, no changes made.