Hey ladies! Or should I say, hey mates!
My name is Tara Vakili and I am a sophomore studying Finance and Computing & Data Science. Along with Sunny Ouyang, I am one of the Study Abroad Liaisons for NYU London! Having just transferred to NYU last fall, I naturally wanted to run away as fast as possible…totally kidding! I love New York City, but I figured I would study abroad while I had the chance. Aside from wanting to study in a location I had previously not visited, I chose London because it is the second financial capital of the world (after New York City, obviously), and it boasts beautiful, historic sights, quality food (especially Indian), and irresistible British accents. I would say I’m kidding about that last one, but let’s be real, I’m not.
Part of me also believed that London would be the site most like New York, and that was initially a comforting thought, as I knew I would be missing New York for the next four months. Boy, was I wrong, and honestly, I’m glad I was.
While New York and London appear like twins from the surface, I’d say they’re more sisters with different personalities. At first glance, they are both metropolitan cities, but there are some major differences that make London pretty distinct from New York. These are just a few that I have noticed and grown to love:
1. The Architecture
While New York City, specifically Manhattan, is known for its soaring skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center, London is not. As a whole, the general architectural designs vary greatly. New York’s general architectural style is more narrow and tall, while that of London is more spread out with buildings that are only a few stories high. In addition, London’s striking historical sites contrast beautifully with the hustle and bustle of city life – something that does not truly exist in NYC. Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and the Tower of London (to name a few) are all reminders of the rich cultural history that still exists in London. It’s incredible how well the meticulously-designed, intricate buildings coexist with modern architecture. At the risk of sounding too much like Hannah Montana: in London, you get the best of both worlds.
2. The Weather
Now, the rainy weather is one thing that I did expect before coming to London. While New York is not the most sunny, cheery location ever, by any means, it is sunnier than London. When I first arrived, I was greeted by heavy rain and huge gusts of wind that knocked my suitcases (and me) over. But, I was so excited I didn’t care. After having been here a month, I’ve learned that the weather complements the city very well. Rain or shine, walking through London is always charming. And, the dreary days make the sunny, clear days that much more enjoyable.
Also, while London can handle as much rain that comes its way, snow is a completely different story. For the past four days or so, it has been snowing here, which apparently happens very, very rarely. Let me tell you, watching Londoners deal with the mere one inch of snow is extremely comical. There are tube delays, cancelled classes, the list goes on and on. So, my fellow New Yorkers, just know that if you decide to study in London, on the off-chance that it snows, you will witness something beautiful and hilarious all wrapped up in one.
3. Public Transportation
Speaking of the tube, it is also called the Underground, and it is London’s version of the subway. Using your Oyster card, the London equivalent of a MetroCard, you can travel though all 5 Zones. One of the differences between the two is that when taking the subway, there is a set amount you pay no matter the distance of your journey. In London, however, you swipe your Oyster card once when you enter the station and again once you exit, and you are charged based on the distance that you traveled. The tube is also much cleaner and generally quieter than the subway, with cushioned(!) seats, instead of hard seats. The only downside is that most lines close at 11pm, while the subway is 24 hours. So, if you decide to study in London and are afraid you’ll miss public transportation, the tube will be your fix!
4. The People
Wherever you go, people’s dispositions and mannerisms will inherently be different simply due to the fact that they grew up in another location. It is no different with London and New York. While New Yorkers are generally seen as more aggressive, Londoners are more relaxed and laid-back. Everything in New York is very fast-paced – it’s a constant go-go-go mentality. However, in London, people move at a pretty leisurely pace and issues can always be dealt with the following day. I’ve decided to adopt the London mentality for the time that I’m here…definitely won’t fly when I’m back in New York, but I’ll enjoy it for now.
5. Closing Hours
When I first arrived in London, I assumed I would have 24-hour access to virtually any type of convenience store, shop, or restaurant. This is most definitely not the case. Shops and restaurants close relatively early, especially on the weekdays. I’ve learned to do my shopping and eating earlier, which has honestly been a huge benefit. I have gotten into the habit of not waiting until the last minute to do things like grocery shopping. This has greatly helped my sleeping patterns, which were essentially non-existent in New York.
Living in London for the past month has been one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. I’ve met people I never would have met back in New York and have begun to understand a culture other than my own, which is invaluable in and of itself. Adjusting to life in a new place can be daunting, but it’s also so invigorating. While surrounding yourself with good friends and good food is imperative, it’s also absolutely necessary to go out and explore on your own. Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone for walks on my own and stumbled upon beautiful homes and statues, and lush parks. Like New York, London is for those who crave independence. Moving to another country, even if it’s only for four months, is scary (as it should be), but it has allowed me to come into my own more than any other prior experience.
While differences between these two cities do exist, at its core, London is a bustling city like New York. I love that it is big enough for me to get lost in, as I love stumbling upon new sights. If you are considering studying abroad in London, I would 100% recommend it. You will learn more about yourself than you could ever expect. I can’t wait to see what else this city has in store for me, and am excited to continue sharing my adventures with you. Please don’t hesitate to add me on Facebook or message me if you have any questions. Talk to you soon!