Monthly Archives: September 2010

Nikki is not a tourist.

or A guide to looking like a Londoner.

After the bit of time I’ve spent in this country, I have sought to master the art of looking like I actually live here. I have now 3 times been stopped on the street to be asked for directions. So pretty much, I’m an expert.

Here are my tips (ps. these are for women):

1. Wear black tights

If there is any leg covering that British women seem to cherish above all others, it is most definitely black tights. They still wear jeans, leggings, jeggings and other forms of trousers, but any woman who wants to look supremely London-y should always opt for black tights over her other options.

2. Wear appropriate shoes.

Londoners walk a lot (trust me, I’ve experienced this first hand), but unlike Americans who pull on a grubby pair of white and blue New Balances every time they need to walk farther than from their car into the grocery store, Brits make far more attractive shoe choices.These shoes usually fall into one of three categories: boots, ballet flats or brogues.

Boots are most appropriate for day and usually resemble riding boots, motorcycle boots or Doc Marten style lace-ups. Your suede boots from Urban Outfitters won’t cut it over here (because nothing suede really works in London, damn rain).

Flats are good for both day and night (and work wonderfully with black tights).Basic and unobtrusive, they also work great for keeping standing after you’ve gone out and had a few too many pints.

Brogues are one of the more trendy options, and Brits will wear them with almost anything and in any color (though black is a big favourite, as always).

3. Wear black or grey or any dark colour.

The weather in London sucks. Seriously. If the sun comes out for a few hours, be happy because that’s all you’re getting. So the only appropriate response to this wonderful dreary backdrop is to dress wonderfully dreary yourself. Brits love not wearing colour. The closer you are to looking like part of a black and white film, the more you look like you belong in London.

4. Wear Breton stripes and winter florals.

If a London woman ever decides to wear any color, there is a 95% chance that is in in the form of a winter floral. Brits LOVE and cherish this pattern above all else. They wear it in tights, dresses, tops, belts and even in denim (although the last bit reminds me a little bit of kindergarten circa 1995-96). Winter florals are the true key to looking like a Londoner. You really can’t get more British than that.

Taking second place for London’s favourite pattern is the versatile Breton Stripe. Unlike the ever-popular winter floral, it doesn’t actually have any color, but it has been know to provide a visual break in the constant sea of black that is the London dress. The breton stripe works exceptionally well with one London’s other favourite fashion pasttimes – layering.

5. Wear slim layers.

The weather in London is cold. The tubes and buildings in London are hot and humid. (These people seriously fail at temperature regulation and ventilation.) So Londoners layer. Londoners do not however layer like Chicagoans layer. There is no Northface or down involved here. They love nubby sweaters, blazers, trendy jackets and trench coats. They do not love hooded sweatshirts and fleece. (Sorry Northwestern.)

6. Look peaked.

The sun doesn’t shine here. You shouldn’t look like you’ve been exposed to it recently.

7. Walk on the left side of everything.

When you see someone walking down the right side of the pavement (sidewalk) look at them and think “American.”

8. Never ever ever stop moving when you’re in a tube station.

Londoners never stop walking in the underground. Americans stop and gawk at the maps.

9. Look confident but apathetic.

This is just good advice for looking like you belong anywhere. The red buses really aren’t that exciting after the first 15 minutes anyway.

So there you have it. Look London. Embrace it.

Until next time,

Nikki

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Nikki is not coming home.

Yesterday it finally hit me just how awesome this experience is.

After a morning of UCL orientation, a couple friends and I decided to head over to Oxford Circus to do some shopping. First off, this is literally two tube stops from my flat, which is amazing in itself.

When we got off the train, we decided to head over to Marc by Marc Jacobs (even though I’m super poor and really can’t afford it), which is about a 15-20 min walk away from the main shopping area. This little walk took us through pretty much the nicest, poshest area of London. (The cars along these streets – god, I know people who would have died.)

But anyway it was actually a beautiful day (which you know, isn’t all that common in London), and as we were walking along, I finally realized, “This is my life. This is what my life gets to be for the next three months.”

We spent a few hours (and too much money) shopping, and headed back towards our flat for dinner, aka fish and chips and a pint at the wonderful amazing perfect pub across the street.

We’ve been so busy and rushed this first week, that the reality of everything didn’t quite hit until yesterday. As we sat at the pub and one pint turned into two, I realized how happy I am here. It’s unreal.

I can tell already that this experience is going to be life changing. I’m sure that not every moment will be a supremely wonderful as last night’s meal of wonderful fried vinegar-y and cider goodness, but all of this is for real.

I’m across the Atlantic Ocean in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Does life get any better than this?

Nikki is not a rural person – even in Great Britian

Pictures make blog posts more fun. But I was too lazy to resample this one – so sorry if it loads slowly.

I’m in Wochester (pronounced Wo-ster) for the long weekend. It’s a considerably smaller city with quite a bit of history. I’m staying with an older woman and another girl in my program. We’ve been here since Friday, and we’ve toured the city, went to see a historic church with an organ that Handel played, caught up on sleep and had a bit of homemade food, but I’m ready to get back to the city.

Also, I have allergies out here, but not in London. Damn greenery.

The countryside is beautiful. I have some pictures that I’ll be uploading to Facebook soon. That seems to be the easier method for sharing them. I’ll keep everything open, and there should be a link to my page always under the about section. But they’re not up now and might not be up until after I get back to London.

The transition to the UK seems to be going well. I’m already thinking certain phrases in a British accent, and by the time I get home, I’ll probably have picked up a good number of the words.

The most surprising thing, and probably the most exciting, is that Brits (especially British guys) love American girls/American accents. We went out in Wochester last night with a British girl and she told us that they think the British accent is ugly and they would all probably pay more attention in class if their teachers had American accents. So needless to say – I’m going to milk this for all it’s worth here.

Apparently I don’t look like an American though (when I’m not carrying my big camera around), which is perhaps a good thing. When you are out at nights, its fun to meet Brits and ask them if they knew that you were an American before you opened your mouth. My other favourite thing is to ask them to do a fake American accent. Hilarious.

(Looking like an American entails things like running shoes, cargo shorts, crappy t-shirts, being fat, all the stereotypical things. So I’m trying to avoid that.)

My UCL international student orientation/registration for classes starts when I get back on Tuesday, but it doesn’t seem like it will eat up nearly as much time as the Arcadia one, so hopefully I’ll be able to still sleep and do more British things and meet more British people. The Americans who live in my building are great, and I’m sure that we’ll do tons together (and most are from Northwestern so I’ll be able to see them at home) but I’m in this country to meet the locals!

Ugh, I feel like I’m rambling now, but I still feel like I’m not filling you in on everything yet – there’s so much! But the lady I’m staying with is working on dinner.

So until next time,

Nikki

Nikki is not confirming ALL the American sterotypes.

So it’s Friday morning. I’m the only one awake. (It’s about 10 AM here – 4 AM at home.) There are (for some reason :S ) British cartoons on the television, and I’ve officially been here since Monday.

Just stating the facts.

It’s been a bit of a crazy couple days, but London is, in a word, AMAZING. We had a few days of Arcadia orientation (the American program) but enough time to start exploring London (and start going out).

What happened these past few days? A pretend liveblog:

Sun 12 September – Monday 13 September

-Attempted to sleep on the plane
-Did better than most
-Found 3 Northwestern-UCL people on my flight
-Arrived in London
-Legally made it through immigration (champ)
-Got to amazing flat
-Went to Orientation
-Ate fish and chips
-Went to the pub across the street
-Explored UCL’s campus in the middle of the night

Tuesday 14 September

-Arcadia orientation
-Saw: St. Peters, Millenium bridge, Globe Theatre, Tate Modern
-Went out even though it was a Tuesday and Brits apparently don’t go out on Tuesdays
-Ended up at one of the strangest places I have ever been (there were horse stalls involved)
-Made it home somehow (the streets here are a mess!)

Wednesday 15 September

-More orientation
-Walked around London
-Found the grocery store and pharmacy (champ)
-Went to Billy Elliot (Awesome)
-Stayed in and had flatmate bonding

Thursday 16 September

-Was a tourist
-Saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace (kind of). Got bored halfway through
-Saw a few of the parks, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Eye of London, National Portrait Gallery
-Actually took pictures
-Went “out” out

I can’t remember everything (already) because I’m such a fail, but that’s an outline. I wanted to write an awesome entry full of commentary and how awesome the tube is, how stupid the London weather is, how much the Brits suck at regulating the temperature of anything, how British children are the cutest things on the planet and how much I don’t want to come home – but it’s too early in the morning for something that intense.

So you’re going to have to wait.

But

In the meantime, I started uploading some photos to Facebook, and I think that it’s open enough that even if we aren’t friends you should be able to see them.

Until next time

Nikki is not in Wisconsin anymore.

After a full day of packing and another day of travel, I’ve finally made it to the UK.

I’ve even paid for something in pounds already.

Nikki is not Morrissey

Is it bad that this is the song that I always think of in regards to the upcoming trip?

I *promise* to be good.

T-minus 1.5 days until take off. :0