“You drink tea?” Alexis Buncich, Columbia University (Sep-Dec 2019)

As a small-town girl, enrolling in Columbia University in the City of New York was my first opportunity to live in a huge city, and as a consequence, I am desperately in love with New York.  When I decided to study abroad here at Queen Mary in London, rather than being nervous I would miss my family or friends, I was terrified of leaving my beloved city for a few months.  London is a magical place, but there are some obvious differences between here and New York City.

In London, everything seems to close at 6pm, except for a few choice activities.  This means I don’t have the opportunity to study at Starbucks until midnight anymore.  Instead, I’m almost forced to have fun with my friends, going out to a show or to dinner together.

New York City truly is the City That Never Sleeps.  On any given midnight, you can walk around and find a grocery store, restaurant, and gym that remains open, ready for however many patrons might walk in that night. In London, I don’t have the luxury of creating a late-night schedule.  I’m forced to work out at a reasonable time, eat at a reasonable time, and then relax.

This style is mirrored in the way people travel.  In New York, I’m used to rushing everywhere.  If you aren’t walking at a pace of at least 6 miles per hour, you’re automatically assumed to be a tourist who doesn’t have anywhere to be.  But when I try to pass people on the street in London, I get looks that say, “Where are you going that’s so important?”  It’s a little comical, but really it just reminds me to calm down, take my time, and embrace the moment I’m currently living in.

On one of my first days here, I had just finished pouring hot water into my cup of tea when I noticed my flatmate staring at me, eyebrow raised, confused.  Had I done something wrong?  

“You drink tea?”  She asked.  I realized that the stereotype of Americans was exactly like what I’d been missing from New York: supercharged, coffee-addicted, task-oriented speed demons.

Laughing, I confirmed that I did indeed drink tea.  Anyway, if I hadn’t before, I probably had to start.  After all, I was living in London now.

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