Lili's Travel Diary #2: The Whirlwind that was Day 1

Disclaimer: I will not be doing a day by day post or just struck me how not great this day started and how surprisingly content I am with it all as I write this post.


As I sit here writing this post, day one in London is drawing to a close. This was a ridiculous emotional rollercoaster.

Upon waking up on Saturday prepared to head out, I had to deal with issues from insurance within 20 minutes of opening my eyes. I ended up re-packing my suitcases because they were overweight. My cats were ignoring me knowing I wouldn't see them for five months which irrationally upset me. My printer wasn't printing my boarding pass properly. My goodbye America meal of pesto stained the shirt I wanted to wear to London. My Mom cried when I said goodbye, prompting me to cry when my Dad dropped me off at the airport. I got stuck next to this guy who elbowed me in his sleep every 30 minutes on my flight, and then we were held on my plane for a solid 20 minutes extra because Heathrow couldn't find a staircase and enough buses to load us off the plane...causing me to incur an extra late fine with the car service scheduled to bring me to my residence hall.

I get to my residence hall and one of my six roommates are there. I try getting to know her, asking if she knows her way around etc, and she was so so cold to me. I don't even know how to describe it, but you could practically see her working to hold back the eye roll. It made me feel really guilty about wanting to know my roommates (of which I am still convinced the other 4 are not here as I write this post).

I get to my room and it's the little things that throw me over the edge. The TSA busted open one of my bags by cutting a lock on it and made it look like it got ransacked by an animal, wrinkling all of the hanging clothing I painstakingly packed to avoid wrinkles. I realize my bed is this hideous vinyl contraption thing that acts like a water bed when you step on it. I drop several things on my head while I load them into my only storage hung on the wall above my head. My room is really freezing even when I finally figure out how to turn on the radiator and blast it on high for hours. And I realize I am thirsty as hell and none of the tap water in the building is drinkable.

But, I did set up my wi-fi successfully in this moment and talking to my parents for a little while calmed me down. I left the US feeling super anxious and excited, and I don't know what I expected when I got here but I was expecting a bit more of a welcome with open arms. Instead I am spending my first day in London alone--not what I was expecting.

But I resolved to make the most of it when I finished packing. I desperately needed to hit up the Primark because after walking around the neighborhood to RA suggested spots for home essentials like hangers and whatnot, I found that the students who arrived the day before cleaned everyone out. Determined not to waste what little data I have, I braved the tube station (the New Yorker in me is ashamed I took it only one stop) but it was the only guarantee for me to get to Primark before it closed early on Sunday. It took all the willpower for me to avoid the women's clothing section because everything was so cheap, but I am patting myself on the back for the wicked sense of direction I found to get there. After I got back to the neighborhood that my dorm is in I did some essential shopping...plastic cutlery for the kitchen, toilet paper, soap, etc.

And on my way out I picked up Chipotle. I know, I first meal in England and I went for Chipotle, but it was right next to the supermarket that I found on Baker Street and it was so much more appealing than the McDonalds, Pret A Manger's, Pizza Hut's, and Starbucks' on nearly every corner (seriously...London is way more Americanized than I thought it would be). And now I can honestly admit that Chipotle chips in the UK are actually better than the US. I SAID IT AND I STAND BY IT.

I went back to my residence hall feeling a bit more invigorated. I navigated this city's tube system on my own in two directions, and then I stumbled upon Baker Street and did some much needed essentials shopping to start getting into the swing of things. It's such silly things, but I was so scared to do any of this alone in NYC when I first went to college, so to have an "ef it" attitude and just roll with it is a bit of a big deal to me. A small victory that instilled a little confidence in my step.

In a few hours I am heading out to grab drinks with a ton of my dormmates. The RA's here reserved a pub across the street for us to get to know each other, and I think I am going to go (after I take a much needed nap) because I do want to meet people. While part of me is unhappy that I spent my first day in London (up until now) pretty much alone, that doesn't mean I can't do my best to turn things around. Plus, I finally got to start Making a Murderer.


  1. If you got through day one without many casualties, then the rest of your time there shouldn't be anything at all ;) The first day is always the hardest. You're in a new place, with new people, and it can be overwhelming, just remember: You got this!
    You'll make friends and that alone feeling will go away almost instantly. It's normal to feel that way though. I definitely did when I left home, but it's been great getting to know all the people I've come to meet. Just give it time :)
    Have fun tonight!

    1. It was overwhelming, but I calmed down a bit. Just unfortunate now that I have a bit of a cold! :(

      I have met people and who is to say these people are the ones in my life for a while? But they're in it right now and that's all that matters.

      thank you for stopping by, Tia!

  2. Lili, I hope your trip is getting much better. The first day is always the hardest and I am sure it will get easier hey you did take the tube. I have been to NYC 5 times and only have ever used the subway2 times and I was stressed out wondering how NYers do it all the time.. I hope your making new friends

    1. Haha if anything I think New York has prepared me a lot for London in the getting around, chin up, you got this mentality so to speak.

      Thank you Cindy!

  3. I'm sorry everything didn't start off perfectly! Hopefully you'll settle in and meet some great people. :)

    Also WTF at this:

    "causing me to incur an extra late fine with the car service scheduled to bring me to my residence hall."

    My husband and I always hire this car service to take us to the airport and pick us up. They never charge us extra for being late. I think they just consider it part of doing business (which you should, with airport pickups).

    1. I have met some great people, thankfully!

      Yeah, I was kind of annoyed. It wasn't a ridiculously big fee or anything, but I didn't plan on my first spending of money in London to be getting me to my residence hall since I paid for that way in advance,you know?

  4. Please accept my apologies for the unfriendly person you met today. Makes me embarrassed to be english! But, having done things the other way round (I taught in North Carolina for a while) and found that the locals weren't terribly welcoming, it appears that people the world over seem to forget what it's like to be the new person in a place. Hope you're having fun tonight and meet some friendlier people. Wishing you lots of luck.

    1. Haha this was very cute, apologies accepted! I have since met people on the street very willing to help me get places I need to go, just as I met people in pubs who have spat the word "foreigner" in my face. I think slight xenophobia exists in every society (just may be more prevalent in some) but some of me didn't assume I'd encounter it only because London is such a big city used to tourists from across the world.

      Thank you! I did have fun that night and met lots of people.

  5. It sounds like you made the best of a day that got off to a rough start, Lili! Here's to hoping things get better as the days go on. :)