New Year, New Opportunities, New Experiences
Happy 2012!! Well I finally can’t procrastinate on packing anymore, I leave for London in 10 days! Seriously, where has the time gone? I feel like I have so much to do in so little time. This winter break has been anything but dull: catching up with friends, gaining 10 lbs of holiday food, having all four wisdom teeth out, and now I finally have the rest of my time off to get ready for the biggest adventure of my life! I had a very enlightening visit with my British cousins who were in town a few days ago, and now I am able to figure out what I need and what I don’t need for my trip. Obviously we talked about the UK and what I should expect, what I should pack, money related issues, and insurance (specifically health insurance). When I arrive in London on January 16, I will most likely take the tube up to my cousin’s house in north London where I will be spending a few days before the Butler orientation on the 21st. They gave me their Oyster card, which is London’s pass to ride the tube and bus (essentially a CTA card for all you Chicagoans). The thought of riding the tube is very exciting, and slightly nerve-wracking. I remember the tube from when I visited London in 2005, and it can’t be much different from the L I’m used to at home. Money is another thing we talked about. Surprisingly, the current exchange rate of the US Dollar to British Pound is very favorable to Americans (yey!). It’s about $1.56 to £1, which is remarkably lower than 7 years ago when it was $1.82 to £1 (though it’s still expensive). But what I still have to keep in mind are the ridiculous exchange fees my bank will have for the exchange rate. That is still another thing I have to figure out: how should I use my money. Not how to spend my money (that’s easy), but how should I use debit/credit cards without it costing me a fortune in ridiculous fees. Over the next few days, I’ll be in contact with my bank so I know the ins and outs of all foreign exchange about my cards. I’m also going to learn the British money before I leave so I don’t look like the stereotypical dumb American who can’t count money.
What I need to get in the States: Clothes. I thought I would go shopping in Cardiff and try to “wear their style,” but apparently I’ll be spending much more money on the same pair of jeans as if I just bought them in the States. What kind of clothes? Not sure yet, but a few new things. How can I go on a huge trip like this and not go shopping for it?? It’s also not as cold in Wales as it is in Chicago, so I won’t need heavy jackets (which means more space in my suitcase!).
What I need once I’m in the UK: Electrical appliances. I am not going to go through the hassle of blowing fuses every day for a hair dryer that’s on a different voltage. I’m not even going to bring my electrical toothbrush (don’t worry, I’ll still brush my teeth). The only electrical items I’ll bother bringing is my laptop and camera/camera charger. Everything else I’ll buy cheap once I’m there. Obviously I’ll need a cell phone, but I’ll just get a pay-as-you-go phone. Thank god I live in a technological age where the phone isn’t the only way to get in touch with people. Email, Facebook, and Skype will be my main ways of getting in touch with family and friends overseas. That will also help keep the phone costs down.
So…how does it feel to leave in 10 days, you ask?? Well, let me just tell you I’m writing this blog at 2:22 a.m. because I can’t sleep from excitement. Or maybe it’s also because I am in a little pain from my wisdom teeth extraction, but either way, there’s not a minute that goes by when I don’t think about London or Cardiff.
Welcome aboard to my crazy life as I write about my experiences as an American student living the dream in the United Kingdom.