Lately in London… spending money abroad but realizing it’s worth it

Alex Bowden, Herald Foreign Correspondent

Welcome back to the cool, fresh and fun side of the newspaper, ladies and gentlemen. Apparently, my last column was so popular that I went from getting one notification on my phone to about four. If only those notifications were Tinder match confirmations instead of pings from my mom asking if I got chafing ointment…oh, and along with all of your lovely compliments. 
This week, my self esteem has been through the roof. We all know, though, that my columns can only go downhill in quality from here. But enough about the things I say to my non-existent therapist, let’s talk about London! 
As I write to you from my row house hostel in the center of the hustle and bustle of one of the grandest cities on Earth, I must admit that I spent about an hour and a half today playing slot machines.
Friends, you may be asking me, “Alex, have you seen the towering wonder of Big Ben, the beautiful lights flashing off the screens of Piccadilly Circus, the one dude on the corner in Hyde Park using a traffic cone as a didgeridoo?” Yeah, I actually have seen these things! So what if I spent my pocket change in a dingy neon-lighted creep-house to make a couple extra quid? This is London we’re talking about! This is new territory! This is food and circus twenty-four-seven! The time to have fun and take risks is now (these are definitely famous last words). 
If you are ever graced with the privilege of going to a different country, download Tinder or Bumble or Clover or what ever trendy start-up dating app makes your iPhone home screen look pretty. Who knows, if you meet enough people you could have enough stories to give Racy Stacy a run for her money. (By the way Racy, you are free to roast me back, I’ll be waiting for your response). But beware in the UK because there has recently been an STD going around with flesh eating ulcers in it. On the positive side, it brings a new light to the phrase, “if you love something, let it go…to a flesh eating sexually transmitted disease.” 
But besides the gambling, tourist traps and potential dates, you, of course, will always be throwing money down on food. Left and right, things you can put in your mouth for self nourishment will be there. Sometimes it’ll be 10£ (which in American dollars is something ridiculous like $30,000 when you finally check your bank statement) and sometimes it’ll be 40£. The things you should keep in mind when buying anything, whether it be food, travel sized guitars or gym memberships (that you hope you’ll use) is that moments like these may never happen again. 
There is a reason why advertising agencies call us the 18-24 demographic with disposable income. Mommy and daddy or “guardianny” give us money that we foolishly spend on unnecessary items. The thing is, is that moments like these pass. We get older and think about taxes and families or other significant fees that may arise. Being abroad is a chance to have so many experiences regardless of how much you may be spending. 
The great part about being with a program (especially in London) is, of course, the Oyster Card, which actually comes free through the program. My stomach is currently saying, “Oysters? Mmmm boy that sure sounds good, you wanna do a freshman 15 as a junior?” But no, an oyster card is what gets you on a double decker bus or even the tubes in the famed underground. Public transportation is key when getting around, and the best part is, it is really clean down there. Most of us have been to a subway station in New York and we are all familiar with chaos on the escalators, the smell of urine in the air and rats dragging thick-crust pizzas down the stairs. Well, in London for some reason everything is really clean. It’s so clean in the London Underground that I could lick a tile at the Russell Square station (maybe with a slight risk of catching that flesh eating ulcer). 
But I digress, transportation is the only way that you are going to be able to get to each of these places to have your fun and when transportation is free, it makes you want to splurge on everything fun. In a study abroad scenario, where you have a new world surrounding you, be okay with spending the money and having a little more fun, because chances like these only come once in a lifetime. And now if you excuse me, I have to visit the ATM.