Friday, December 7, 2012

London: Days 80-83 and Final Thoughts

With nothing on my docket except for a few classes and handing my papers in for the rest of my time in London, I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday exploring the city again and spending time with friends.  I went to go see Wicked on Wednesday night and had a great home cooked meal before going to a music bar on Thursday night, my last in the capital.  My flight took off at 4 on Friday, across the Atlantic, closing a wonderful 11 weeks.

Things I learned while abroad:
1. Public transport in Europe owns.  Never once did I wait for a subway train in any city, but particularly London, for more than six minutes.  The buses in London are easy to figure out and multiple routes intersect, so you can often take multiple buses to get to the same place in the heart of the city.  Going back to the WMATA, especially in Ballston, is going to be terrible.  First world problems, I guess.
2. When you have such a terrible exchange rate as US dollars to British Pounds, you learn to ration your money well.  I was able to feed myself for about 25 pounds a week in terms of groceries, which was really critical to keeping my costs down.  I also kept all my change and used it, which sounds stupid, but it really does add up in London - especially because they actually use 50 pence pieces, unlike in the US.
3. Europeans don't hate Americans.  They hate people who can only speak English, and laugh at you behind your back if you can only speak English.  Hey, I laughed too.
4. The Swiss have an unreal quality of life, which leads to everything to be very expensive and nicely done.  The exchange rate between the dollar and the Swiss Franc is almost 1:1, but a train ticket is 12 francs, a hotel breakfast is 19 francs, and a cheap dinner is 15 francs.  Still, Zurich is very beautiful and the water is so clear that fountains spring up all along the roads that border the river and lake with water directly from those waterways - it's potable.  Truly amazing, and the water was delicious.
5. I can't thank everyone around me for what has been an incredible 11 weeks that have changed my life for the better.  Being able to spend to much time in my grandfather's homeland and really experience another country is something that I never thought I would get to do, and it was incredible.

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