The University of Wyoming is located in what some students call Laradise a.k.a Laramie, Wyoming. In between fields of grassy flats and herds of cows you’ll find my university of twelve thousand or so students. If you were to drive out of Laramie you would encounter empty fields stretching out for kilometres in every direction. For this reason, I chose to study abroad in London, England, a city that always seems to be alive and moving. Not to mention, the University of Wyoming offered this program to freshmen. Although not many freshmen would want to study abroad their first year I wanted to experience a new culture and see new places while being overseas for the first time. Besides, who wants to be stuck in Laramie where it’s snowing and the current temperature is -11°C? Brrr, right?
Not until my arrival in London was I able to grasp the idea of London’s cultural complexity. I was impressed when I first used the tube as I heard English, French and Italian all at once. While visiting Camden Market there were food stands from all around the world. I walked by Chinese, Ethiopian, Brazilian, Mexican, and Greek stands that were sharing their traditional cuisine with people passing by. Because of the diverse food culture in Camden market, I was able to try a Peruvian arepa, which is a corn patty stuffed with vegetables, meat, and cheese. The corn patty reminded me of a tortilla but with much richer texture and flavor. If you visit Camden Market I highly recommend expanding your food palette and getting a new dish you’ve never tried.
In Camden market, I also stumbled upon the famous Cereal Killer Cafe talked up by other exchange students in the program. This cafe is one of the most unique places I’ve walked into. The aesthetic brought me back to some of the cartoons I used to love watching as a child. The lights were made out of cereal bowls and the chairs were old beds with cartoon comforters like the Tanzanian Devil from Looney Tunes. Have you ever heard of a Fruit Loops milkshake? I thought it was crazy when I first saw it on the menu but when I tasted it I knew it was the right move.
During my second day in London, I decided to visit China town with my friend. With the jet lag and twelve-hour travel time, we had forgotten it was Chinese New Year. Once the parade started it made sense why so many people were there. I was fascinated by the dresses and head ware people in the parade wore. The parade was a new cultural experience I would have never been able to experience in Laramie. After the parade, we tried bubble wrap waffles in Chinatown. The bean-based ice cream was delicious. I had no idea beans could be used in ice cream and manage to balance out perfectly with the matcha.
Honestly, when I first got here I was astonished at how beautiful London is. There are so many London neighborhoods that have a unique and different vibes such as Soho, Camden, and Chinatown. Also, believe it when people tell you, everyone walks fast! People have things to do and places to be. You don’t want to be stuck on the left side of the escalator unless you really want to stand out as a foreigner. The left side is strictly for walking up the escalators! Also, when the tube doors close, they close! My friend and I found this out the hard way when I booked it into a departing tube and she was stuck on the platform.
I want to see so many things during the next few months. I want to visit the Royal Botanical Kew Gardens, the Globe theatre and walk through the Columbia Road Flower Market. Every night it seems like something is going on whether it’s a new play or event; this city is full of life. I’m excited to travel to Stonehenge and see the ring of standing stones and I’m also excited to travel Europe. That’s the thing about London and Europe, hop on a plane and in a couple of hours you find yourself in a different world of language, culture, and cuisine.
Sam is freshman from the University of Wyoming studying Business Economics. She is studying in London with an AIFS CFL program. She can’t wait to explore outside her comfort zone and see new parts of the world!