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London: A mix of past & present

By Haley Seger
On January 24, 2012

LONDON — One of the most surreal experiences of my

life was walking down the street the latter part of last week.

I walked to the Tube station to refill my travel card, and as I walked past the bus station, I heard at least five different accents from the group of people getting on a double decker bus. Then it hit me. This scene is part of my life for

the next four months. Up until that point, we had only taken part in the various sightseeing excursions in order for us to

get accustomed to the area. Being able to go out on my own made me realize that this trip was not just vacation. It is my life for the semester. On the surface, life in London

isn't really that different from life in any other large city.

The neighborhood that my university is in, an area to the west of central London called Kensington, is one of the least densely populated neighborhoods, but the houses

are stacked on top of one another and pressed together to make use of every possible inch of space. It is also one of the wealthier neighborhoods, which means that everything

is expensive but relatively safe. Certainly not every neighborhood is the same though. While London has a variety of things in common with other cities, living here for the past week has helped me to see a couple of things that

are uniquely London. One of the amazing things I've discovered about London is how easily the old and the new mix. During a tour of Westminster Abbey, our guide casually mentioned the man that had the church built in the 10th century and the man that got married in the same church less than a year ago in the same sentence. On the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral sits the Occupy London protest. It seems the British think nothing of how old these landmarks are despite their considerable age compared to most landmarks in the United States. At the same time, the British are proud of everything that makes London what

it is. Londoners are equally as proud to point out the damage that remains on St. Paul's from the London Blitz during World War II as they are to point you towards platform 9 3/4, even if they think it is cheesy. Like the locals in any other city in the world, Londoners know what makes their city so special and are happy to share it. (Unless,

of course, you act like a rude, American tourist.) These are just some little things I have discovered so far. Of course, I have only been here a week. Who knows what else is

in store?

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