I left home excited and optimistic of my travels to London. I have never travelled by myself, let alone from the busy Atlanta airport. I started to become stressed when I had not gotten off of my first plane at 7pm and my flight to London was supposed to start boarding at 7:25. Landing on the other side of the airport, I walked quickly until I found the train, picked up a to-go bite to eat, and thankfully got to my gate on time!
After the rush ended, I was able to board my plane and we surprisingly left on time! Getting off the plane, everything was smooth sailing—from baggage claim to customs, and from finding my pre-arranged taxi driver, to getting to my CAPA flat. I walked in to find the most helpful roommates and a surprisingly modern apartment. Half of the CAPA program members are staying here on Goldhawk Road, which means we have non-stop opportunities to get to know each other.
Immediately after walking into my flat, we went on a walking tour of the area. Not only is this week the largest Tube strike in a decade, but also we walked past people evacuated from the Westfields shopping mall because of a security alert.
While walking around and getting to know each other, we recognized the diversity of the store fronts. Shepard’s Bush has many textile shops, foreign foods and a market to call its own. After the walking tour we went to eat at a local place called Sindercombe Social. We were pleasantly surprised at the familiarity of it, American bar food—except it was higher quality and more expensive.
Fighting horrible jet lag, my roommates and I went over to a mall area with many convenience stores to buy household items for our flat. Our favorite: the pound store. We went out for drinks and food at the popular Brew Dog. Along with some of the girls from Goldhawk Road, I went out and met some nice locals. One thing I recognized right away is that I am one of the only southerners here! Most of the program members around me are from Pennsylvania and Minnesota. I hope I can spread the popularity of this program down south!
The first official day just so happened to be the day of the tube strike. Transportation above ground was an absolute nightmare and we were stuck in the middle of it during our London tour. Seeing the city made us very excited to do our own traveling! Our bus tour during the Tube strike made me recognize the massive amount of people in one city! It also made me realize the diversity where my flat is located in Shepherd’s Bush. The best word to describe our location is eclectic, instead of what typically comes to mind when we think of London, the center of the city.
The first few days have been very surreal, especially because nothing has really started yet. It feels like I have to do everything and see everything right away, but I quickly remind myself that I will be here for six weeks. It has been a tiring few days, but it will be rewarding to know that I am meeting so many new people and that I am acclimating myself into one of the worlds most diverse cities!