Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learning Los Angeles

Ever since realizing all of my favourite things come out of Hollywood , I've wanted to sample life as a Brit in LA. Through a twist of fate (and a karaoke machine) I was introduced to Eileen, then Craig, then to the wonderful and welcoming world of Brits in LA. However, as soon as I stepped out of the airport and into the sunshine, I realized how much I had yet to learn about the city & its customs. I thought I would enlighten any fellow newcomers about the crucial, humorous and sometimes bizarre elements of learning Los Angeles, starting with the roads!
 
DRIVING IN LA - THE HUNGER GAMES OF AMERICA.

In theory, driving in LA is easy. Roads are set out on a grid so it's hard to get lost, you can turn right on a red light so no unnessesary waiting around AND there is a law against jaywalking so no fear of mowing down unruly pedestrians. A drivers dream, I hear you applaud! But not so fast, fellow Brits. In reality, a set of rules that nobody abides by means that you will find yourself in a perpetual state of confusion and panic when tackling the boulevards. It sounds perilous but it doesn't have to be, because much like 'The Hunger Games', if you are trained well in the art of survival & strong will, you will come out a proud winner.

Distractions - If you've ever had the terrifying pleasure of being a foreign driver in LA, you will know that you can only concentrate on the road 2% of the time because everyone and everything has been placed in your way to distract you from the vital task at hand. The amount of roadside activity is exceptional here and there are so many astonishing things going on outside your car that it is difficult not to lose yourself in the drama. However, your first survival technique is to be blinkered. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Traffic Lights - One of the first things I noticed on the roads is that LA drivers are ruthless. They have little time for foreign hesitations, and even less time for an amber light. They are like learned road warriors, plowing ahead with unshakeable determination despite oncoming traffic and car horns. For this, you must be prepared that although your lights are green, somebody will adamently be making a last minute dash across the intersection from another direction. They got places to be.

Turning Right On A Red Light - A rule that still makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong every time I do it. But unless signs indicate otherwise, it's your time to shine and will get you to your destination at least 3 seconds quicker. Although when taking a right in any circumstance, watch out for crossing pedestrians. If it is their right of way, not even a head on collision will tell them otherwise.

Roads are BIG - Spread your wings, roads are big! But don't spread them too far for the steering wheel is situated on the left and before you know it you could be spreading your wings inconveniently across two lanes at the same time. Although it's a pleasure not to be cramped into tiny, winding streets, being in the right place at the right time is vital! There's nothing worse than getting to your turn, realizing you are in the completely wrong lane and having to risk life and limb to maneuver across three lanes of traffic.

The sense of accomplishment you feel after tackling the written (and unwritten) rules of LA driving and arriving at your respective destinations is great. Relish in it, for it is only a matter of time until you must return to the wild and do it all over again. Look out for me when you do. I will be the panic stricken English girl inconveniently stationed in the middle of the busiest pedestrian crossing in Hollywood.


Sophie Ioannou

2 comments:

  1. Great blog. Who is Sophie Ioannou?

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    1. She's my niece man! Isn't she great!

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