I’ve been in London for almost a month now and it still seems like a dream every time I wake up. I haven’t done much traveling since I have been settling down and familiarizing myself with this city, but I have noticed a lot of differences here.
Of course the language here is English, and yes, everyone does have a cool accent. I’ve noticed that things seem very Americanized here, but the chain restaurants from the US are different.
There’s Starbucks, Burger King, McDonalds, and even Pizza Hut; but they’re different from what you’d expect in America. For one, they bus your table instead of ordering at the counter. The vibe is more like a three star restaurant, not a fast food place. It’s also common to see families having dinner here (at least from what I’ve seen).
Additionally, everything is made fresh because of more strict food regulations that are enforced. So if you order a chicken sandwich, that chicken was delivered today and maybe killed within the past few days; not frozen or kept in a storage box for weeks.
People here are always in a rush; it’s much more fast paced than California. I’m from San Francisco, and the rush there is usually the highest during weekdays. Here in London, however, there’s a rush every day. Everyone is always walking with a serious determination. Because of this extreme determination to get to their destination, no-one ever smiles when they’re walking down the street or riding the Tube. They keep to themselves and if they do stare at you, they either look angry or afraid.
Another thing that’s different is the driving. They drive on the left side of the road, and the roads are generally narrower than you would see in the States. Drivers here are also more aggressive and faster than I’m used to back home. Bikers are just as bad as the cars – I’ve almost been hit by both cars and bikes since I’ve been here. This is a HUGE difference: Pedestrians DO NOT have the right-of-way in London.
Also, you’d think that with the amount of people that live and drive in London, that there would be more gasoline stations, but they are actually very uncommon. Most are located about 15-20 minutes outside of the city. I hope nobody runs out of gas during rush hour!
Although London is a big city with millions of people living inside it, a lot of the people actually live in nearby cities. This means a lot of commuters…and while the public transportation is amazing here, an average commute is 75 minutes ONE WAY. It seems like a long time, but I’ve heard that living outside of London is so much cheaper than living inside it.
I personally wouldn’t mind since the city is beautiful and has a lot to offer.