Friday, 20 January 2017

A final farewell

Written by Lindsay Robinson
As the New Year opens to new opportunities, it is with deep sadness that I finally draw Letters to Stateside to a close. All of those who have embark on new adventures within the next few months will understand the need to complete past projects on a good note before starting down the path of new goals. I have been so lucky to have had the opportunity to not only move to London, but to briefly chronicle my journey each week to a diverse audience. With my final letter, I want to highlight the two most prominent joys of the city this winter as well as airing one grievance.

Before I moved to London, one of the first things friends both within the States and in the UK would make me aware of is the horrors of an English wintertime. I braced myself, expecting constant torrential rain and having to fight for survival through arctic temperatures. I was never one to have many thick layers of clothing, so I immediately started buying heavy sweaters and jackets fit for Alaskan husky mushing. As the reality of winter now progresses, I have felt very little of the horrors that I initially assumed. The temperatures are certainly frigid, but it has remained far colder in my homebase of the East Coast than it has been here. My recent trip to Hungary was a much more "European winter" experience, where snow accumulated each night and temperatures would drop to -13 C. I certainly understand how weather can fluctuate from year to year, so maybe I can feel all the more lucky to have been met with a mild season here. For one that is not keen on snow events, I have had very little trouble surviving this winter and even looking forward to this week of predicted sunshine. I hope I am not speaking too soon at least.

The second joy of my now five-month-in London life is the easy access I have to destinations in and around the country. Although I still have far more to see within England itself, I have certainly made the most of bus deals to Oxford, Bath, and Stonehenge, while also using a weekend each month to hop on a budget airline. I have been able to explore southern France twice, Luxembourg, Romania, and Hungary. I intend my next destinations to be Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Denmark, with possible wiggle room for other destinations. Even as a student I have been able to well manage my time and money with hops over the English Channel to these beautiful locations. In all honesty, one of the reasons why I am more reserved from establishing myself here permanently is the fact that I will never be around enough in order to be a permanent and productive member of society. The perks for those with a yearning for adventure are almost too much to take in.

And to finalize, I must briefly note my most problematic aspect of London city life. I am sure readers will not be shocked to learn that I have had a real issue coming to terms with the Tube. Granted, I do live in Stratford (on the Central Line) and have recently been made aware that this factor dooms me to far greater pits of despair than riders on other lines would face. More times than not, I have run into entrance closures, crowds outside of stations, and being packed on trains due to poor staffing. Let's not even mention the 24-hour strike. As crowded as London is, the public transport has been a wakeup call for someone who considered herself to be an efficient city dweller before moving here. I suppose in a city that never has an off-season for tourists, this is just something to be expected and takes a far longer timespan to get used to than other barriers within a city of this scale.

With these small points, I now signal a final farewell to readers who have enjoyed the entertainment of an American learning the British way of life. This may be my final letter but it is surely not the last thing I will learn to love (and sometimes minorly loathe) about such an extraordinary city. I am thankful for the experience and ability to share to readers through The Lady online. I wish you all a continued successful new year full of learning and adventure!

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