Expectations vs. Realities

London raining

So my time abroad is slowly coming to a sad end, so it’s only fitting to sit back and reflect. I’m hoping to post at least once more with a final abroad blog post for my most loyal fans, but I am in the middle of finals (yes, I sadly realized they are actually real finals) so we’ll see how much time I have. In the meantime, let’s start with expectations vs. realities. Before I left for London, I talked to many people who had visited here, studied here, etc. and thought I had a pretty good grasp of what to expect and what the city had to offer. As you will soon see, there is definitely some evidence to back up these “warnings” I received, but they aren’t all 100% true…

Weather:Weather forecast

Expectation: As the picture at the top shows, it is only fitting to start with the dreaded London weather. If you play that word association game with someone and say “London,” I can guarantee you that 95% of the people would respond with, “rain.” “It’s always overcast.” “It rains constantly.” “The weather sucks!” I heard it all before I left, so I was expecting the worst.

Reality: Yes, the weather sucks here, but only for half the year. My first few month in England were pleasantly warm, without much rain at all, and a fairly clear sky. It wasn’t 70 degrees and sunny, but for a winter, it hovered in the mid 40’s, and every once in a while reach 50. Coming from Minnesota, I thought the winter was great, and looking at other forecasts, it was for sure much better than most of Europe. Then the summer came. The weather must never have received the memo, because it more or less stayed the same. The averages are typically in the high 50’s to low 60’s, with the extremely rare 70 degrees. More clouds, more rain, and WIND. I didn’t care about the weather until it was supposed to be sunny and nice, but instead was windy and cloudy. So, the weather does suck, but only when it is supposed to be nice.

Driving: drive on left

Expectation: “They drive on the wrong side of the road there!” Coming to England, I was absolutely convinced I was going to be killed looking the wrong way when crossing the streets. I heard more horror stories from people who forgot they drive on the wrong side of the road.

Reality: I’m still alive, and yes, they do in fact drive on the “wrong side” of the road. However, the reality is that it isn’t the actual wrong side of the road. On a tour with my parents around Stonehenge, we learned that everyone else actually drives on the wrong side. Apparently, everyone used to drive on the left, until Napolian came around and wanted to leave a legacy, so flipped everything around, including which side you drive on. He had a little trouble conquering England, so they, along with the entire commonwealth, still drive on the “right side of the road.” Luckily the English government is looking out for ignorant foreigners like me, because they have all of these handy instructions painted on the pavement at every intersection:


English People: austin powers

Expectation: I only heard great things about English people prior to living here. Unlike the rest of Europe, people were supposed to be the nicest here, and willing to help out with pretty much anything.

Reality: It’s true…for the most part. For all but one scenario, British people are unbelievably nice. I heard that they just hate confrontation, so they aren’t actually that nice, but just pretend to be. Hey, it works for me. Usually when you are trying to take a picture, people get very annoyed to have to break their stride to take it for you, but British people actually get excited to take the picture. After taking a few different angles you always hear, “check to see if it’s okay, or else I can take a new one!” However, when it comes to getting on a tube, the English are out for blood. Trying to get off a tube when it’s crowded is nearly impossible, as huge crowds of people push and shove their way on, somehow failing to realize that they can’t board until they actually let you off first. They will walk 10 minutes out of their way to show you how to get somewhere, but if you’re in their way of getting that last seat on the tube, you’re dead meat.

crowded tube

Food: Fish and Chips

Expectation: Here is another one I heard over and over: “The food is England is awful!”

Reality: Although England doesn’t really have an amazing specialty, the idea that the food sucks here just isn’t true. No, it’s not like Italy or France, but it’s really not that bad. It’s pretty much just like America, with smaller portions. You can find a good Italian restaurant pretty much anywhere just like home. Not only that, but they have some of the best Indian food here outside of India itself, so I was very happy the entire time. The ONLY awful thing about the food is that there is no Chipotle.

“English”: letters

Expectation: I always knew they spoke English hear, but I came in wondering if I would actually be able to understand them! They have all those funny sayings and words, and I would for sure be lost in class, right?

Reality: I thought the English was difficult at times here, that is until I visited Scotland. All hope of understanding what someone is saying to you is lost when you go up north. Don’t even try. It’s a lost cause. They do have a couple funny phrases in England though. Instead of saying “how are you?” they say “are you alright?” The first time I heard this, I didn’t really know what to do: “Are you alright?” “[long pause with confused look]….. yes?”

British TV: tv

Expectation: NONE

Reality: No words can explain how bad british tv shows are. Unfortunately, nobody warned me about british tv, and it is painful. I can’t just protest and not watch it either. That would be going against my American values. The only good shows are the few that they stole from America. Usually these are just straight up the actual American show but with a British narrator instead. The best shows I usually find are ones on selling your house, or buying antiques. You can come up with any combination or twist to those two topics and they will have a show for it. After 5 months of torture, I am very excited to come home and watch real television, while eating my Chipotle burrito of course.



4 Responses to “Expectations vs. Realities”

  1. bilbo1 Says:

    GREAT blog! Best one yet….
    I can’t believe I didn’t check until now. I’m slipping……
    So, are you alright?

  2. Dovid Glotteir Says:

    how would you know they have the best indian food outside of india? how much indian food have you had in your life?

  3. rachel Says:

    why does the photo on the top of your blog sat 8.19.03?

    and that means you were taking it with an old school film camera? please explain.

  4. glotter Says:

    because i stole it from the internet. and to david, that’s just what i heard. they have one of the bigger indian populations in the world in london, so naturally, some of the best indian food. it’s just a known fact.

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