Cheers, everyone! My name is Kate, and I’m a junior multimedia journalism major and political science minor at Simpson. Last week Ryan shared with you a little of what he expected of our shared semester abroad, and while I’ll touch a little bit on that I’d also like to share how our first week at the University of Roehampton has gone and the small things we’ve experienced along the way.
We flew out of Des Moines and connected flights in Chicago before crossing the pond and landing in London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday. I think it’s fair to say, since then we’ve already experienced much more then we thought we could cram in one week. We’ve learned how to navigate Roey, buy groceries at the local Asda store (like Target or Walmart), introduce ourselves to students from places like Spain, Norway, and Brazil (among other nations), and what map to pay attention to on the bus system or Underground (Brits simply refer to it as ‘the tube’). And today, Roey staff set us international students loose on London in groups to take part in the Photo Frenzy scavenger hunt.
From ten in the morning to ‘half five’ (5:30pm) we set out with a disposable camera and six other teammates/strangers to puzzle out the places behind a list of clues and return with a group photo at each landmark, such as Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, or Big Ben. It felt like we crammed a full week of sightseeing into one Saturday, although my team had a minor distraction- at Trafalgar Square three of us (myself included) were pulled on to a temporary stage for a virtual bike race in celebration of the day’s triathlon. Two US students, one French student and one UK resident from Somerset peddled madly on stationary cycles to beat out the others, as a jumbo screen behind us let the audience watch our progress. The entire square in front of the National Gallery saw my sad little time score, but I didn’t mind- they gave me a free Team London swim cap.
I can’t say I’ve loved every minute this week- I surprised myself after moving in and feeling immediately nervous. The dorm room isn’t like my past rooms at Simpson, I forgot to pack small but necessary things like scissors and my glasses, I blew out my hair dryer on the first morning. These all seem like small things, but when you’re so far from home they feel like enough to throw you off your game. Thankfully, I haven’t encountered that ‘rude native’ stereotype among university staff- they’ve all been extremely welcoming and helpful. There’s so much going on in this city and so much I look forward to seeing and accomplishing this semester. There’s people to meet and photos to take, which I will be sharing here with you. There’s a professional photography presence to grow through this opportunity. I can’t wait to share our corner of London with you!