View from the steps in front of the Sacre-Cœur. This will forever be one of my favorite memories from my whirlwind adventure in Europe —sitting in the sunshine with people from (literally) all over the world, while a chipper old man with a guitar and a microphone led all of us in a singalong to With or Without You by U2 (I don’t particularly like U2, but it was a really nice moment). Regardless of what language people spoke, they all seemed to know every lyric to that song. I also remember appreciating the fact that while individually none of us were great singers, when we all sang together, we were like a mad-harmonizing international choir phenomenon.
These are the kinds of experiences that I live for, the kind that make me feel so incredibly lucky to be young and able to travel. One day I’ll wake up and have kids and a mortgage and responsibilities (blech), so I want to make the most of these carefree twenties. Responsibility schmesponsibility. Try saying that one out loud.
I’m finally over the jet lag, but the withdrawals are getting out of hand. Take me back to the perpetual gloom! I’ve had enough of this sunshine!
The best hot chocolate in Leeds
I’ve been at home in California for less than 24 hours. It’s now apparent to me that I left my heart in England.
1. My other half. Going back to having a long-distance relationship with 5000 miles between us is harder than it ever has been. After spending six months living together, the fact that we once again have to coordinate Skype conversations around our 8-hour time difference seems so unfair. We’ve done it once, and we can do it again, but it’s not a walk in the park.
2. The scenery. Driving past old brick houses and churches is far preferable to sitting in traffic and watching litter blowing in the wind on the 91 freeway.
3. Radio 1. As I was driving around town today, I realized just how shitty American radio is. No matter what station you turn to, you’ll be guaranteed to hear the same five songs at any given time. Or you can be a real rebel and tune into country or mariachi music. I miss hearing songs I actually LIKE on the radio, and discovering new music because British radio DJ’s are just so cool. And much more amusing than their obnoxious American counterparts.
4. Public transport. Is it weird that I miss just being able to hop on the bus? Or even being able to WALK to the store? Suburban life means that driving is the only efficient and acceptable way to get anywhere. And seeing as how I haven’t driven in six months, I’ve been really nervous and granny-like behind the wheel today.
5. Waitrose. Judge me. It’s my happy place. I even got a Waitrose card.
6. Fruit pastilles. None of the mediocre candy here can satisfy me in the same way.
7. Trash TV. It’s way funnier and, in a strange way, seems classier than American trash TV. Brits make TV shows about the most mundane things, but make them so entertaining that you can’t help but watch every week. Shows like Come Dine With Me, Gogglebox, and Take Me Out really stand out in my mind. I’m also upset that I can’t keep watching The Undateables.
8. British humor. Sarcasm, wit, and self-deprecation. Everything I will now miss in my daily human interactions. I was introduced to the show Peepshow a few months ago and damn, Mark Corrigan is every English person on some level.
9. The total lack of interaction between strangers. Don’t get me wrong, I love how friendly Americans are. As soon as I landed back in the country I was astounded by how readily people initiate small talk and smile at you. It’s just part of our culture, and I appreciate it in most circumstances. But there are times, like after I’ve been traveling for 24 hours straight and am completely jet-lagged, when I just want to buy my extra-pulp orange juice without launching into a full-blown conversation about the virtues of different fruit juices. I don’t know if English people are just feigning their disinterest and apathy or if they genuinely just can’t be bothered, but I rarely had to endure small talk with any strangers that I came into contact with. I kid you not, I sat through an entire hair wash, cut, and blow dry without even the slightest need for awkward conversation.
10. Everything. I don’t know…there’s always going to be something so alluring about Britain, something that keeps drawing me back. After nearly two years of living there, I know that it’ll always be a part of me.
I wish all buildings looked like this.
Houses in Bowness-on-Windermere.
Not exactly high tourist season in the Lake District.
The cutest store dedicated to Peter Rabbit and the works of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria.
Windermere wishing well.
Lake Windermere in the winter.
Nothing makes me feel more British than a spot of afternoon tea.