Casey Guerin is a Boston College senior who spent last semester at the University of Westminster in London (www.wmin.ac.uk). A communications and English major, Guerin chose London because she thought it would be a great metropolitan hub and a good base for travel in Europe.
UNDERGROUND ETIQUETTE: “It’s not too common to just smile or make conversation with people on the Tube, London’s version of the T. Instead of getting smiles back, most people look at me strangely. I’ve learned to bring a book and keep my head down.’’
TESTING, TESTING: “The work here is different, because there aren’t small assignments or papers along the course of the semester, but rather a midterm and a final exam, or just one final exam. One of my classes is based 100 percent on the final essay exam!’’
PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999: “It’s interesting because out at clubs or bars, or even in restaurants, ’90s alternative rock from the States dominates. It’s so fun because I know and love all the songs, and they remind me of home and when I was younger. One bar, O’Neills, has a live cover band every Thursday night that plays ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ and songs by The Boss.’’
HE’S WHO?: “ ‘Skins’ is a popular TV show over here, similar to ‘The O.C.’ or ‘Gossip Girl’ back home, about teenagers in high school. I met one of the male stars by accident in Leicester Square, where they do all the movie premieres here. The British kids I was with were screaming and swarming this small, skinny guy, and I had no idea who he was, but it was kind of cool.’’
SPARE RIB CHIPS: “I love the fish and chips. What’s odd are simple things, like the fact that the potato chips, or crisps here, are flavors such as Duck Hoisin or Prawn Cocktail or Barbecued Spare Ribs. Also, orange juice with pulp is called orange with juicy bits. And they don’t usually butter the popcorn in movie theatres!’’
SOUL FOOD: “In Lisbon I ate alheira sausage with eggs, Mirandela style. It was a chicken-filled sausage, crispy on the outside, with fried egg on top and fried potato chips. How could you not love that?’’
EXPECTATIONS GAP: “They say that people studying abroad in London sometimes have the most difficult cultural adjustments, because they expect it to be very similar to the States based solely on language, and when it’s not, it’s very disconcerting. I’ve found that to be completely true.’’