Well, the last few days have been exciting and hectic over here in jolly ol’ England. The weather has been gorgeous – one day uncharacteristically hot, the other drizzly and cool, but I loved them both. I kind of feel like I might be getting the hang of this place – knock on wood! But it’s not all been easy sailing and I don’t expect that to change. Despite all of my preparations, I made a few mistakes and I’ve also learned some valuable lessons.
- If you’re so jetlagged that you find it difficult to function, go to sleep! I tried to power through it and made some avoidable mistakes along the way. The fact is, there’s really no rush to adjust your sleep patterns, so don’t pressure yourself. It’s more important to feel up to the task than to defeat jetlag.
- Despite all of my checking and hoping and praying that, since my phone was unlocked, I would be able to use it, none of the UK sim cards worked. I tried 3 different carriers and it was always the same: texting worked, calling worked, but I couldn’t get it to access the network to use data. Which is kind of important since the only way I can contact friends and family in the US is with Skype or another messaging service. If I had a UK credit card I could have paid monthly for a phone (like the Verizon Edge program) but since I haven’t been here long enough to get one I had to buy one. It cost about £200, which seemed to be a median price in their selection. I would also recommend going to one of the shops specifically for whichever company you choose, versus buying from one of the smaller shops that stock all of them.
- Exchange any currency on you as soon as you get there.
- If you decide to ride a hop on, hop off tour that takes you all around central London like I did (especially on a summer weekend) start early. Before 10 am.
- On that same note, don’t go to the Natural History Museum on a drizzly Sunday unless you love crowds and heat.
- Have an umbrella, hat, or hooded jacket (or all three) on you at all times, even if it’s sunny. But especially if it’s overcast.
- Buses run less frequently at night. Okay, okay, I know, I’m showing my suburban stripes with this one. Yes, it was stupid to assume they run as frequently after 11pm. Just don’t assume that and you won’t end up standing at a bus stop by yourself for half an hour.