London is overwhelming, especially compared to the Swiss cities I am used to. Accordingly, settling in takes time. Trial and error, a change of accommodation, an induction week from the study programme and sharing experiences with countless people in the same situation proved to be crucial in my first weeks in London.
After having successfully completed my rail journey via Paris to London, my first concerns were about getting a bike, a UK SIM Card, registering with a General Practitioner, find a place to do sport and, most importantly, making friends.
Cycling in London
I was surprised how comfortable it is to get along by bike in the London Bloomsbury area. Car drivers seem to be quite considerate (presumably more than in Switzerland) even though having towering London buses, whom bikers often share a lane, in your back can get scary at times. Compared to Copenhagen, the proportion of bikes to cars seems to be inverse.
What struck my persistently was the politeness and courtesy of people (again, compared to Switzerland). Begging pardon for things you are not responsible for or letting other people pass first even if they seem to be miles away from a bottleneck seem to be quite common. Also, it is much easier to engage in a conversation with people of higher formal status such as professors, deans or "Sirs".
Living at Goodenough College
After spending the first days at International Student House I was lucky to get the opportunity to move to Goodenough College, a vibrant and stimulating postgraduate residential community in the midst of London.
After two weeks I feel confident enough to say that the College is definitely more than good enough, it's simply great! By the way, the fancy name is derived from the founder Frederick Craufurd Goodenough who envisioned a hall of residence for male students from Commonwealth countries in the 1930s.
I joined the Pub Quiz Society and the Philosophers Society (whose activity consists of discussing and drinking every Wednesday night). Besides, I am considering to finally (after years of hesitancy) put my improvisation theater ambitions into practice at the Drama Society.
Goodenough college regularly offers so-called cultural dinners. In the first week, a British Dinner made the beginning. I am not sure whether it was a coincidence or simply the necessity to keep undeveloped potential for the dinners to come. Never before had I eaten potatoes in three different styles in one dish: potato soup, fried and mashed potatoes. For balance, there were some carrots and cauliflower.
As my daily routine is more or less established now, I can focus on the interesting things: exploring the city of London, spending time with my new friends as well as my lectures and readings.