Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

I’ve been home for about 24hours already, and while I’m glad to be home, there are many things I miss about being in London!

Oyster Cards – The travel/transport passes (the cards you swipe to go on a bus/tube/train, etc). They were easy to use and represented a lot of freedom for us! Which let us go everywhere in London (practically) and were probably one of the most useful things during out trip.

Small Streets – and small cars. Everything was just smaller, which was nice. I was looking at the main road in our town (Colima) and realized that I had seen practically no roads that wide while I was in London (maybe 1 or 2 in the city, but that’s all) – it was as wide as a carriageway in London! Though when cars were parked on narrow streets (and cars were parked halfway on the curb and on the street – the spots are outlined like that, but the curbs are not as high – and people park in both directions on both sides of the streets!), bus drivers would go crazy weaving left and right. This was especially scary on the top of a double decker bus! I remember a couple times from the top of the bus it looked like we were going to crash into a van – I remember Sophia and I saw it and it freaked us out!

Non-flushing urinals – Maybe it’s not something to miss. And in their defense, I think they do flush, but either before you start your business, or at pre-determined intervals. But most of the time, the urinals didn’t seem to flush – certainly not right after you leave it. No handle or sensor, but there were pipes going to the top, implying they clean eventually. But it seems in that way that they are very environmentally friendly!

Brown Cane Sugar – for coffee – and it wasn’t just “high end” places – Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero (other coffee chains), and even the university canteen/cafeteria had it! I liked using it instead of white sugar, and now that I’m back to our white sugar, I miss the brown stuff!

Saying “Toilet” – Though people will probably understand you saying “restroom” (maybe “bathroom” but they think that’s weird), most people say “toilet.” As in, “Where is the toilet?” or “I’m going to the toilet.” And it’s seen as normal, though in the US saying that would probably get you a stare, and people might see that as a bit rude. I enjoyed saying toilet instead of restroom though - have to get used to the US way again.

TO LET - Related to that were the signs that said “TO LET” – which equals “FOR RENT” – though at first I thought they were signs for the toilet with the “I” missing – so every time I saw one, that’s what came to mind!

People calling me by the right name – when introducing myself, I never had someone mistake me for “Richard” – unlike several times here in the US. Maybe partly because there’s an area/city of London in the southwest called Richmond, so it’s like “My name is Richmond, like down the street” – there actually was a Richmond street which we travelled on several times.

People calling me RICH-WHAT? – Thanks to Johnny I suppose, for coining this. Wasn’t that fond of it at first, but it’s grown on me, and I miss some of the others in the group saying that.

The people in the group – going off the last one, I really miss being with everyone! You don’t spend 24 hours a day for a month with the same people and not get close. I have some amazing memories to share with those people! At least we have Facebook – pictures, our groups, and all those – though it’s hard to replace actual human face to face contact – reunion time hopefully!

Marketing people – They were really cool, and really close to us (physically on the storey under us, and close like friends too) – they were great guides to stuff we could see and do in London too.

Pubs – not that I’m alcohol crazy, but it was cool to be able to walk into a pub (maybe it’s just because it’s something you can’t do here). I know they have a big drinking culture there, and a lot of people get very drunk, like in the US, but I feel like (not speaking from personal experience, but I can’t know for certain) in the US, because beer is cheap, and easy (?) to sneak into places, underage people tend to use that to get super drunk, rather than a more light social drinking. It was interesting to see people drinking different drinks – mixed drinks, ciders, and other stuff I’m not even sure about – but it sure was more expensive. And people are probably less likely to have tons and tons when it’s more expensive (again, that’s an assumption because I don’t know much about this…) – so maybe if super expensive alcohol was legal for kids at 18, and all alcohol was legal at 21, it might promote a more tempered drinking culture. Or not. Just something that went through my head. But yes, pubs were cool – and it was normal, not like “oooh, you guys are in a pub,” but just everyday life. We got carded in some places (some of us look under 18), but besides that, it was like a normal every day experience.

Academics – I do miss being in the class – to me, the module on “Questioning Citizenship” was intellectually stimulating for me! I also miss the academic people many of whom we were close with too, and were great personalities. I also miss the seminar teaching style, and how we were all seen as equals – calling them by their first names and whatnot.

Weather – California was nice for a few hours before it got super hot! I miss the rain already!

Coins! – For 1 and 2 pounds, they don’t have paper notes, but use coins instead. Which was strange at first, but I got used to it. It was convenient too, since I didn’t have to pull out my whole wallet every time I wanted to buy something, and could just dig around for a pound or 2 in my pocket. Though since we’re used to coins being less than a dollar, having all those coins made me feel like I didn’t have much money – leading to a nice surprise when I emptied my pockets and found I had more money than I thought!

Being called “the Americans” – it was interesting, some places we’d go (like the debate in Putney, or volunteering at our school), and be referred to as “the Americans” which was an interesting, but nice little title name for us. I suppose it’s true that we are Americans, and that that’d be the way to refer to us, but not traveling overseas in a group like this before, it was a little strange at first, before becoming more endearing after that.

I’ll probably add to this list with other blog posts over the next few weeks. I’ll try to continue with my blog post every day and see what happens, might go back down to a week when school starts, but 32 days is pretty good…

7/20/2011 10:48:28 pm

Wow! You're back already? hahah I get carded everywhere :(
You're lucky you're called Americans.. The sales people here speak Chinese to me and people stare at me weird when I speak English :(
See you December :((((((

7/21/2011 09:23:28 am

Nice blog Richmond, I would echo your sentiments on most of this. Rich-WHAT! ^^ <3
It feels so weird to be back home doesn't it? And the weather.. oh god I miss the weather. :(

Katie Joh
7/22/2011 06:06:01 pm

Richmond, reading this makes me sad. I miss you too! See you soon - and you will sing Funkytown for me, yes? :)


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