During the big move from Halifax to London, I had been prepared to encounter every possible roadblock. Yet my journey was mostly uneventful, with the exception of a little clumsy accident that occurred during a stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland, resulting in a portion of my laptop’s plastic outer shell getting shattered. Asides from that unfortunate incident (which thankfully didn’t impair the functionality of my computer), how smooth my transition into London life ended up being came as a surprise to even my most optimistic friends. In less than 2 weeks after my arrival in London, I’d gotten everything that I needed – a mobile phone, a UK bank account, amazing accommodations, and a very cool job. Of course, I couldn’t have achieved such a seamless transition without some help from others, and I was incredibly fortunate to have the support and assistance from several good friends in London. Culture shock has been essentially non-existent for me, although I was teased a bit by new British acquaintances for not knowing what “plasters” were (I learned that they’re band-aids) and for thinking that Strongbow was a premium cider (apparently only in Canada). Also, I once absentmindedly tried to flag down a bus that was driving on the opposite side of the road, but other than that, I’ve been doing quite well.
After living in London for 24 days (and having just celebrated my 24th birthday this week), I must say that I’m hopelessly in love with this city. Although I’m still in the early days of my life as a Londoner, it’s pretty clear to me that moving here was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. The lively atmosphere, interesting neighbourhoods, beautiful architecture, efficient transportation system, and charming residents make every foray out of the house an exciting one. Having arrived right at the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, I even had the chance to watch 2 games of men’s wheelchair basketball at the impressive North Greenwich Arena. Although I wasn’t lucky enough to witness Canada’s gold medal win against Australia, watching teams from Poland, Turkey, Spain, and Germany compete in this graceful, exciting sport was a truly memorable experience.
Science in London
In addition to all the wonders that London is typically known for, the city is also a veritable playground for science nerds and music geeks. Since I fit into both categories, I’ve been finding that the number of things to see and do is staggering. With respect to my interests in science and medicine, there are numerous interesting landmarks and museums that I’ve already been to, and many more that I plan to check out. Furthermore, lectures and science-related public outreach activities are constantly happening in universities and museums, and all of these events will be exciting to attend. Science communication is a particularly hot topic in this city, and since the field is the one in which I’m now employed, it will be a great experience to learn from the best.
How has London become such a hub for scientific activity? Perhaps by exploring the various fascinating science spots in this city, the answer to that question will become clear. To keep track of all the cool spots in London, I’ve started a little project to visit and map out landmarks, museums, and other sites related to science and medicine. Below is a customized Google Map of London onto which I have pinned various sites, including Charles Darwin’s house, Dr. James Parkinson’s house (which has been converted into a very classy bar), and notable museums. Future blog posts will explore specific spots in more depth, but for every location on the map, I’ve written a short description of interesting things to see. As I visit more places, I will keep updating the map. You can view the full map, entitled “Portable Brain’s London”, right here. Hopefully, by the time I’ve amassed a few more places, the map can serve as a useful guide for visitors to London who wish to do a bit of “science tourism”!