Torero Life Abroad: Settling Into London

From Inside USD -- Torero Life Abroad chronicles the life of a University of San Diego student as they participate in the study abroad experience. Follow Taylor Milam’s real-life adventures, anticipation, and experiences as she studies abroad in London for the fall semester. She is a junior at USD majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing. USD ranks first in the nation for undergraduate study abroad participation, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors 2011 Report. This is the second installment of the series.

I’ve moved into my room, shopped at Sainsbury’s, gone to lecture, and travelled via the Tube. The first time I did each of these things, I’m sure I looked a proper tourist: mouth open and eyes wide enough to rival a cartoon character. Starting the moment my plane landed, things were drastically different. There was no gentle introduction to living across the world — instead, I was immediately, abruptly, immersed in a world of beautifully diverse accents and dreary skies. My California sun has left me, but a breathtaking skyline, cosmopolitan winter coats, and flawlessly running public transportation have replaced it.

My room is decorated with trinkets and photographs from home, but it’s quickly filling up with new memories made in London. My coffeemaker has been supplanted in favor of instant coffee and I find myself drinking tea at least once a day. My flat mates and I share the kitchen, which is constantly being used to cook the ever-delicious British meal of beans on toast, potpies, and fresh baked bread. Our break down is three Americans and five Brits, but beyond that, we’re all flat mates and therefore a mini family in our home-away-from-home. The differences between our cultures are fascinating and, at times, hilarious — they don’t eat peanut butter and jelly, or anything with peanut butter for that matter — but are certainly not a roadblock in friendship and understanding.

Friendship has been something I’ve been blessed with in abundance during my first few weeks in Britain. In fact, I met another student from USD during a boat party on the Thames and we’ve been inseparable ever since. The irony of coming across the world in order to meet each other has not been lost on us. There are many more friends I can’t believe I didn’t know prior to coming here, and my heart feels at home with all of them.

Each day since arriving in London, I’ve had a moment in which my heart feels so content and full-to-bursting with happiness that it takes my breath away. Whether I’m climbing a tree with friends in the middle of Greenwich Park, grabbing them to dance when a favorite song plays at 2 a.m. at a London club, watching street performers jig as the crowd claps along and cheers, or even talking with a random Londoner about his royalist love for the Queen’s family, my heart feels very happy indeed.

— Taylor Milam ‘14