Ok, so I was never in Kansas on this trip. However, I have been in some very different places before coming to London. Our travel study trip has consisted of so much more, for me, than simply London. Before our travel study began, I had some of my own Euro adventures.
My trip began in Paris, land of the baguettes. After marveling over the Eiffel Tower, I flew to Rome, eventually rode a train to Florence and relished in the Romantic city of Venice. Topping the ultimate Euro trip, I found myself taking a ferry to a Greek island, Corfu, where we experienced bliss on rocky beaches. Eventually, in Athens ancient ruins were revealed within a modern city.
With all of my diverse traveling I feel I have a huge ability to compare the places I’ve been to each other. Each city has it’s own atmosphere and feel to it. Every city offers something a little bit different. All with their own language, food and culture.
From Paris to Italy and, lastly, to Greece, we tried to master saying “thank you,” “hello” and “goodbye” in the three languages, although most people were forgiving when we butchered the words. It was fun to keep asking people how to say certain words in their language. I got used to not saying thank you in English, so much so that now in London I almost catch myself saying “efharisto” (“thank you” in Greek) instead. It’s strange to think, but I was becoming accustomed to not knowing what people were saying around me. It could be a benefit and a curse at times.
Language is a major way that London is different from the other cities I’ve been to. I can actually read signs here! And despite the occasional British slang phrase, I know what people are talking about. In Paris we often had to play guessing games when ordering food at restaurants. I vividly remember going into a bakery in Paris and needing to point to a sandwich. My choice was based purely on how it looked because I couldn’t ask what was in it. Relying on Google translate at a bed and breakfast in Rome we asked if they had an iron. However, Google translate in Greece led to confused looks when we tried to ask locals where we could go dancing. England is definitely a safe destination if someone is scared of language barriers!
While in Paris, it was apparent most buildings were the same white color with fancy balconies. In London, though, it’s obvious how diverse the whole city is. Here you can’t look outside and see the same color spread across buildings. London is a mesh of many different qualities. Not only different architecture, but also the people of London are very diverse. While exploring Greece, we stood out and locals would openly stare, but in London you have a better chance at appearing to fit in (at least until they hear your accent).
When walking the streets in London, the luxury of choice is not limited. Since being here I’ve seen Indian food, Thai food, sushi, hamburgers, Italian foods and so many other options. When we traveled in Italy my only choices were pasta, pizza or something in between.
Europe is truly special; even though it is geographically a smaller area than the United States, there are so many different cultures! I love that crossing a country border takes you to a whole new world. Taking a flight from Paris to Rome we downloaded new language applications to master basic phrases. We left pasta in Italy when we went to Greece and indulged in gyros and Greek salad. No one country in Europe can give you the whole experience. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far.