My name is Hannah Bloom and I am the new Programme Intern for the London Study Centre. I spent the 2013-2014 school year studying at the University of Sussex in Brighton and now I am thrilled to be living in the UK for another year. Of course, life in London is not exactly the same as life in Brighton; I have to develop new skills for living in a big city and there are many things about London that I still don’t know. But in some ways, returning to the UK feels like coming home. Here are just some of the benefits of being a UCEAP alumna back in England:
While attending the University of Sussex some of the British students that I met became some of my best friends. We lived together, travelled together, studied together, ate together… I didn’t want to leave when my year abroad ended because I had no idea when I would get to see my English friends again. But being back in the UK now, it feels like no time has passed. Skype allowed us to laugh with one another like we were in the same room instead of on opposite sides of the world, never letting our friendships get interrupted by distance. But of course, seeing someone through a webcam is never as good as the real thing, so reuniting with the friends I have in England makes living in London that much better.
Exploring new places and revisiting old ones
London is well known for its beautiful and historic buildings: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and so many others. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call London my home because I get to live among and revisit all these amazing places. But being back in England also lets me explore places I didn’t make it to the first time and dig deeper into museums I had only scratched the surface of before. Since being back I’ve tried new foods at Brick Lane, I’ve learned about artefacts at the British Museum that I hadn’t seen before, and I’ve wandered through parts of Hyde Park I had never known existed. Returning to a place you thought you knew well the first time shows you how much is left to discover.
Eating my favourite foods and shopping at my favourite stores
While studying abroad I missed certain American shops like Target and Trader Joe’s, but when I got back to California it was British chains that I missed. Since being back I’ve hardly gone a day without eating a sandwich from Pret A Manger and I certainly missed the meal deals you can find at almost any grocery store in the UK (something the US should really pick up on); even the pasties you can buy at Sainsbury’s for 70p taste delicious when you haven’t eaten them in over a year. The cheap bedding you can find at Primark makes moving in to new flats so much easier and you never have to go too far when you run out of shampoo or toothpaste because there’s a Boots on almost every corner. Already being familiar with these stores and what they sell means I don’t have to run around London looking for what I need, making the transition back to England-life a little smoother.