18 Daily Things I Was Not Prepared For When I Came To Live And Study In The UK

18 Daily Things I Was Not Prepared For When I Came To Live And Study In The UK

Make a cup of tea and make friends with your settee, because this is a long list

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Although I had been to the UK before coming to study, there were still a few things I was not quite prepared for. The UK is a primarily English-speaking country does not mean it is just like the US. There are still a few daily things that are different that can only be seen by someone who lives and works there.

1. Public transportation.

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It isn't even a problem that I don't have a car here. If there's a place I need to get to, I can take a bus, train, or tram. In London, I can take the underground and walk a short distance to wherever. It's actually incredible, and all the walking means I feel much healthier.

2. Grocery stores.

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Most of everything, from cereal to laundry detergent, is different. I never realized how often I just grabbed the same type of everything, until I came here and had to gawk at shelves full of cleaning supplies looking for something like Comet or Dawn dish detergent. It's these little things that really require adaptation.

3. Pastries and pub food.

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My favorite UK food includes Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, savory bakes, Yorkshire puddings, and curries. I don't think I quite lived until I had a chicken bake from Gregg's. It's so difficult to cut carbs when there are so many delicious food things.

4. Bland food.

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That said, most of the food has little to no seasoning. Salt, pepper, and hot sauce are my friends.

5. Food expiration.

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I do not dare admit to the number of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, and yogurts I have wasted in my three months here. Food goes bad. So. Dang. Fast. Whereas in the U.S., I could buy something and not feel like it was a ticking time bomb counting down to mold.

6. Fruit variety.

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But even though fruits go bad, there are so many more widely available kinds here (many which I've never tried), and they're usually all affordable. There are Chinese pears, inexpensive pomegranates and mangoes, passion fruits, satsumas, currants, damson fruit...and probably more.

7. Water.

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The tap water in the UK is perfectly drinkable, of course, but I get a major stomachache if I drink it unfiltered. But then again, I drink purified water anyway in my home town because tap water there tastes like dust. A good Brita pitcher and a filter bottle saved me.

8. Store hours.

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Most places open at nine and close at five. Every place that isn't a chain is closed on Sundays. It forces me to be a morning person.

9. Public drinking culture.

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I come from a culture and legal system in which police patrol university campuses looking for underage drinkers. Inevitably, they find a lot. Here, there are university-promoted bar crawls and parties. It's very strange.

10. How quiet small towns are.

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I live just between a small town and my huge campus, beyond which is the city. Small towns are sometimes so quiet that I wonder if people even live there.

11. The NHS.

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I recently visited a health center. My visit and prescription were both free. Cue my American amazement.

12. Contact-less cards.

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I feel a twang of embarrassment when I'm the only one in a checkout line who has to shove her chip card into the machine. Other people just tap their cards onto the reader. I will become one of them soon.

13. The weather.

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As the UK's weather toes the line between bearably chill and terribly freezing weather, I can never reliably understand how many layers to wear. My desert-dwelling self was not prepared.

14. The daylight hours.

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Currently, the sun rises at about 8 and sets at about 4 and oftentimes, I only know that the sun is out because it is gray and somewhat light outside. I'm sleepy most of the time.

15. Differences between close cities.

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The culture is different between two cities as close as a 30-minute drive, including the slang and culture. It's jarring to travel a short distance and hear different accents.

16. Leisure time.

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People here seem to take coffee/drink/pastry breaks every few hours. Then they go home and have more leisure time. Then they have more paid holiday time than Americans. It's baffling.

17. Accents.

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It no longer registers in my brain that everyone has an accent, because here, I'm the one with the accent. The exception is whenever I hear a Scottish person speak because I don't really understand them. I used to try to hide my voice by not speaking too much, but now I enjoy being different.

18. People are generally helpful and friendly.

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I'm not trying to idealize all people who live here, because as with all places, some are just rude and annoying. However when I've been in obvious distress, someone has helped me. I once arrived with three suitcases at a train station that had no elevators. Someone helped me as I struggled to get them up the stairs. All too recently, I somehow shoved my debit card into the cash slot at a tram station. Someone stood with me and talked to me sympathetically as I called the tram service and my bank, before offering to buy me a ticket.

If I drop something in public, people immediately dive to get it for me. If I misplace something, someone turns it in and I get notified. Elderly women call me "darling" and "love;" really, nothing is cuter than an old British woman who calls people that. There are most instances like this, but I can't remember them all. There seems to be a better sense of community here than I've found anywhere in the US, and it makes this a very nice place to live.

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9 Reasons Why Topsail Island is the Best Beach in NC

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in North Carolina.
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1. The sunsets.

Topsail has the best sunsets out of any beach in North Carolina. Hands down.

2. The shark’s teeth and seashells.

You can always find a large amount of cool shells and shark’s teeth every beach trip. I have found that it is not like this at every beach, only at Topsail. Shell hunting tip: check out the point on the south end of the island every morning for the best shell selection. You might even come across a hidden mailbox with notes in it while shell hunting down there.

3. The food.

From Max’s pizza with the pepperoni under the cheese to the seafood at Breezeway and even having the experience of eating outside at Sears Landing, Topsail has some of the greatest restaurants any beach in NC has to offer. The best part about the food in Topsail is that the restaurants are all local. Also, there is a brand new doughnut shop in the Surf City part of the island...what could be better than doughnuts and the beach?

4. The Fourth of July.

Every year Topsail and neighboring town, Holly Ridge, rotate between who does fireworks on the fourth and who gets to do them on the fifth. Basically this means two whole days of celebrating our great nation at the beach. The Fourth is also fun in Topsail because the beach is full of people decked out in red, white, and blue, blaring country music, and playing cornhole and swimming all day. Some parts of the town even have mini Fourth of July block parties (okay maybe that's just my family and our neighbors but it’s still pretty fun).

5. The small town atmosphere.

Topsail is a small island which gives it a small town, everybody knows everybody kind of feel. It’s really easy to make life long beach friends here because you have the opportunity to see the same people out on the beach every summer.

6. The ice cream.

Growing up, we went out to get ice cream EVERY single night and admittedly we still do. It often feels like the whole island has the same idea because the lines are always out the door at every ice cream place on the island. Don’t let this discourage you though. It’s an unspoken rule to wait in the line no matter how long it may be because ice cream always tastes better at Topsail.

7. The best of both worlds.

Because Topsail is an island, in most cases you can see both the ocean and the sound from wherever you are staying. This is pretty awesome because you can watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the sound without having to go too far. You also can go from playing cornhole on the beach to jet skiing in the sound without having to walk too far so you really do get the experience the best of both worlds.

8. Outdoor movies.

On certain nights of the week Topsail this has cool thing called “Summer Movies in the Park” where they play movies on a big blow up screen at a park that sits on the sound. The best part about this is that the movies are FREE. Tip: if you are vacationing at Topsail with bae, I highly suggest going to an outdoor movie together, even if it is Cinderella and even if you have seen it 100 times already you should still go. But, if outdoor movies aren’t your thing then I suggest going roller skating or playing a game of putt-putt.

9. The memories.

Whether you go for a week or a weekend, I promise that you will make some great memories with the people you love at Topsail Island. After spending 19 summers on the island, I know I sure have. From Fourth of July block parties, running into friends from all over NC, adventuring with cousins and swimming during hurricanes, I can honestly say that spending my summers at Topsail Island has been one of the best things ever.



North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in NC and I highly recommend planning your next beach vacation to Topsail Island.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.topsailnewsonline.com/?p=9478

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Day 3 In Italy: Florence

When you're so used to your hometown, other people's hometown are far more beautiful

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Our final morning in Venice, we boarded a ferry and rode to the other side of Venice where we got on a tour bus and drove for about four hours to Florence.


Your browser does not support the video tag. On the ferry from one side of Venice to the otherBrooke Burney


Upon entering Florence, one of the first things we saw were the Ponte Vecchio. Our hotel was also just adjacent to it so we got to walk across this bridge quite a few times.


Brooke Burney


Soon after we got to Florence, we put our luggage in the hotel and we were off to explore Florence. We went to a small town square and ate and met up at the church that was in that area. After this, we saw Pitti Palace, where there is a secret passageway lining the town where the chief could walk. The street that Pitti Palace is located used to be lined with butcher and leather shops, making the town smell unpleasant. The chief did not like this so he changed these butcher shops into jewelry shops where he was able to purchase whatever jewelry he pleased while it also did not smell up the streets.


Pitti PalaceBrooke Burney


After this, we walked to the Signoria Square where there were statues of some Greek gods and a replica of the statue of David.


Poseidon was under construction :(Brooke Burney


During this part of our tour it began raining, so we spent one or two hours trying to stay dry. Our tour guide had us huddle under a balcony but once that got crowded, we moved to a huge tourist shop where we stayed until it calmed down.


Brooke Burney


After this, we had time to shop and eat but once that leisure time was up, we were guided through the Signoria Square and were given the history of the buildings that stand there and we passed the church in which the Statue of David was originally supposed to reside.


The Statue of David was going to go in that nook on top of the dome, under the golden crossBrooke Burney


At this time it was about 7 PM and we were headed to a cooking school where our entire group prepared dinner for everyone. Some of us were making the appetizer, others making the main course, and rest were making desert. I made pasta, and we made it from scratch which was not as difficult as anticipated and turned out delicious.


Made from scratch pastaBrooke Burney


After dinner we went back to our hotel, however before entering, our tour guide asked if the group wanted gelato. Of course, everyone piped in, except for the four of us girls that went together. Our tour guide told us he would take us to a club if we wanted to and our supervisor was okay with it. So we went to our room, got ready and then we were off to the club that is right around the corner from our hotel. If you want to read about that experience here's the link!

Once we got back, we went to sleep around 3 AM, and we were ready for more exploration tomorrow; bright and early.

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