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There are so many things that I never thought about in preparing to live in London for three months. Cell phone usage, power converters and which credit cards work internationally were all new thoughts to me. Here I was debating between which sweaters to take and whether to bring a swimsuit, while my financial security and ability to talk to my family were at stake.
Luckily I have family members who are brighter than I am, and have prepared me more than I could on my own. For Christmas I received a converter, two guide books to London, sweaters, long johns, an identity-theft protection purse and more advice than I could ever want.
In my other out-of-country experiences, I simply converted whatever money I had at the airport to the local tender or hoped that the vendors accepted american money. I learned that airports have some of the highest exchange rates (will cost more), and that local banks is the best place to withdraw money (with a better exchange rate).
As far as phones go, extended international service is expensive. If I don’t want to pay a $600 roaming charge every month, a local phone or SIM card with a pay-as-you-go plan is easily the cheapest option.
Most health insurance plans, including mine, are domestic plans. Meaning, they do not cover illness and injury in other countries.
Luckily, London isn’t a third world country and has pharmacies for mild sicknesses and hospitals for more serious ones. At this point, I’m just hoping I don’t have to use either.
Another complication involved in my specific study abroad experience is that I’m dating someone who lives in Temple. That means that we’ll be doing long distance for three months. Although he’s coming across the pond to see me in February, there will still be long stretches of time where we don’t see each other. All I can say about it is that I am grateful for modern technology, so I can still see him even from miles away.
I’ve been here for five days, and still getting lost on the way to the corner store. I live in a flat in central London with 11 other Texas women, and so far, the biggest issue has been finding bathroom counter space in the mornings.
I knew I wouldn’t be driving in London so I didn’t think that the opposite flow of traffic would be an issue, but I find myself looking the wrong way trying to cross the street every time I come to an intersection.
The professors accompanying our group have exhausted us well. I can confidently say I’m sleeping in the right time zone now. There is park after park and sight after sight to see, and people are everywhere, at all hours of the day. The underground tube system is another language that we are all slowly learning, and English in the U.K. is definitely different than English spoken in America. However, this group has sustained each other and grown closer as a result, and I’m constantly in awe of the old and beautiful place I call home.