Special Edition: Curtis Clock to Big Ben: From Hamilton to London

Professor Marlowe and family in St. Andrews, where they were visitingProfessor Tumulty. Professor Tumulty was leading the philosophy study group at this time.

When asked to write about what it’s been like taking our family abroad, it seemed like a good opportunity to let the kids speak for themselves. My husband, Robert Nemes, is leading the London History Study Group; I am here on sabbatical, mostly going to museums (I ordinarily teach in the Art department). Our daughters, Arielle (age 12) and Dahlia (age 10), are attending a small private school in central London. Here is what they had to say about their experiences (lightly edited) –– Elizabeth Marlowe

There are many things that are different about living in London compared to living in Hamilton. For one thing, here we have school uniforms. It means that we don’t have to spend time in the mornings picking out what to wear, but we do have to make sure that our uniforms stay (mostly) clean, and that we always know where they are, which can be hard sometimes. Another thing is mostly everyone here has a British accent and uses different vocabulary for some words. For example, “lorry” is truck, “chips” are French fries, “pants” are underwear, “biscuits” are cookies and “pudding” is dessert. This used to be confusing at times, but we quickly learned.

Getting around is also very different in London compared to Hamilton. We take the subway, known here as the tube, to school everyday. Instead of Metro cards, we use Oyster cards (called that because of the two flaps of the case they come in). We appreciate how fast the tube is, as there are many mornings when we get out the door late. Cars here drive on the left side of the road. Cars and bicycles are not always as aware of pedestrians. They never stop for you unless you are in a “zebra,” which is what they call a crosswalk (they pronounce it like “Debra”). Many intersections don’t have a zebra, so you just have to wait until there are no cars coming. But there are a lot of cars in London and you wait a long time. We have had many near-accidents. Hamilton is almost impossible to get lost in, but in London, it is easy to take a wrong turn and be in a completely new place. We once tried to get home on the bus, but got on it on the wrong side of the street, because we still weren’t used to the traffic going on the left. It went in the opposite direction from what we wanted and we ended up at the bus garage.

One thing we appreciate a lot here is that there are new things to do everyday. This is very different from Hamilton! There are tons of museums, markets, parks, cafes and shops available. We have experienced amazing things, such as a museum devoted to old toys, graffiti art by Banksy, a place called Cereal Killer Cafe that only serves cereal and a restaurant that only serves potato chips and dips. Shopping here is quite a different experience. Because London is so large, we walk down new streets every day and see new shops. In Hamilton, we know all the shops already. London is also full of famous landmarks and statues, so there are many historical places to see. We have visited many places, like Big Ben, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Museums are everywhere, so you can learn about nearly everything from the Romans to what roamed our Earth in 750,000 BC to modern art. We even went to the Museum of Brands and Advertising! Whatever you like, there is probably a museum about it in London. It would take us years to do everything we want to do in London.

Something we love about London is the diversity. There are people from everywhere, so at school we learn about all different types of cultures. There are kids in our classes from Russia, Spain, Belgium and many other places. It also means that there is cuisine from all over the world, so we have eaten in Mexican, Japanese, Lebanese and other restaurants. But, our favorite restaurants are British pubs, which serve excellent fish and chips and mac and cheese.

London is an amazing place, and we have immensely enjoyed coming here. There have been some challenges, but we are coming out of this having seen, heard, tasted and experienced much, much more.