Although the five hour time difference had me feeling like I was up at the crack of dawn, I was still excited to experience London and Europe for the first time. Of course, one airport looks much like the next, but the simple novelty that it was Heathrow International Airport had me marveling at every detail. The bus ride to Twickenham was truly petrifying. The driver was very competent, but I didn’t realize how off-putting traveling on the left side of the road would be. It constantly felt like we were either going onto the sidewalk or about to strike the car traveling opposite. I don’t know why there isn’t simply an universally accepted side of the road on which to drive, especially as I’m fairly certain Great Britain is the only one who travels to the left. Then again, as an American I can’t say much; I wouldn’t want to surrender my inches and miles for centimeters and kilometers no matter how much sense it makes.
Twickenham is a beautiful town. The English people call it a borough of London, which we would refer to as a suburb. It is a beautifully quaint town, with charming brick townhouses as well as a thriving downtown area. I see many similarities to Newport. There is easy access to the capital, but I can feel safe walking the gorgeous, picturesque streets. I live with my host family in the residential area. The houses are all different while still maintaining that quaint, very English theme. They are all very close together, no garages, tiny driveways, minimal front yards, and usually covered in some sort of ivy (the child in me who adored Madeleine books is delighted by homes covered in ivy). With the limited parking space, many residents park on the street, effectively turning the streets into one-way driving. When my host mom drove me home from the school, we nearly collided with another car. Without even flinching, she simply backed up to let the other car by. For such narrow, windy streets, they drive at breakneck speeds. That seems to be a common trend in all of Europe, however. On sidewalks, there is a dotted line about halfway in, marking how far over the curb and onto the sidewalk parking is allowed.
Adjusting to life in an English home has been an interesting experience. My host family, Peggy and Trevor, are very welcoming and happy to help. My fellow student and I are often visited in our room by Peggy checking in to see if there’s anything we need. We have a lovely room overlooking the garden in the backyard, including English roses. There are five bathrooms in the house: one with a shower and toilet, another with a tub and a sink, and three others that hold only toilets. One is so small that the door brushes the toilet when opened. They have two cats named Mabel and Edith, who are adorable and friendly. Every morning, I have a typical English breakfast; a bowl of cereal, usually Frosties (Frosted Flakes in the States) or Cocoa Pops (Chocolate Rice Krispies) and toast with blackberry jam. The jam here is much sourer than back home, which took me by surprise at the first bite. On weekends I take breakfast at school, we are served a proper full English breakfast: fried egg, two rashers of bacon, beans, sausage, and tomatoes. I believe it will take me one step closer to being a proper Brit!
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