this is also the first time I've ever spent any signifigant time in a decent sized city.
I'm intrigued to know where you have been living..and is 11 days a significant amount of time???
come and visit Dalston (London). I have never, ever seen such abject poverty, dirt, and hopelessness, so much grime and ugliness packed into one place. And you bet it's dangerous
This made me laugh.. dont be dissing Dalston, .. there is a great market, lovely old independent cinema and some great Turkish restaurants. OK, there are some oddballs around, but there are worse places in London.. so if you dont like it, move somewhere else.. Brixton or Peckham maybe??