I have successfully made it through my first week studying abroad in London, England! It has been an jam-packed, overwhelming week but also a great start to a (hopefully) fantastic semester.
Before arriving in London, my biggest fear was being alone because I knew no friends in my program. It’s scary to travel 4,000 miles across an ocean to a foreign country knowing no one but are expected to succeed there. However, my fears were soon erased after I accidentally met other students on my flight also in my program and learned that they were feeling the same way as me.
The first couple of days consisted of academic orientation and acclimation to life in London. Adjusting to the time zone difference and jet lag was by far the hardest part.
To get introduced to London, we went on a bus tour of the city. I have been to London before, but I forgot all the amazing things the city has to offer, from main attractions like the Tower Bridge and London Eye to underrated museums like the Churchill War Rooms (my personal favorite exhibit in London). The tour got me so excited to explore everything in this incredible city and also allowed me to act like a tourist for a day.
Afterwards, we walked to Trafalgar Square (and unsuccessfully climbed the lions for pictures), through Admirality Arch and back to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament where we went on a tour of the hundreds-of-years-old magnificent building.
The next day, we got afternoon tea at the Royal Garden Hotel across the street from Hyde Park where Kensington Palace is located. (William, Kate, George and Charlotte currently live there, and I low key freak out every time I think about it.) Tea, finger sandwiches and dessert samplings was absolutely scrumptious. I felt like a true Londoner after my experience.
My favorite day of the week so far is Wednesday because I don’t have class, which means I can explore London the whole day. My first Wednesday in town I walked through all of Hyde Park – it was beautiful, with a perfectly blue sky, rich green grass and glowing gold on Kensington Palace (#nofilter).
I ended up walking all the way to Buckingham Palace, which was longer than I expected it to be (nearly three miles in two hours). It was a great time to spend by myself, something I don’t get to do now that I live with 11 other people, and luckily the weather was beautiful. Since I was in the area, I kept walking to Big Ben once again. It’s safe to say I got my steps in that day.
As I was returning home on the tube from my morning walk, I ran into my flatmates who were on their way to Borough Market and invited me to go with them. Since Wednesday is my day of adventuring I thought “Why not?” and jumped back on the tube to Borough Market.
After previewing the whole market, I decided on “100% British” pie and mash for lunch. I can officially say I have found my true love of food. For the stereotype that the British food is bad, I can’t say I’ve proved that yet.
We walked passed some sights like the Shakespeare Globe Theater to get to the Tate Modern. Though I’m not a fan of modern art, the Tate was actually really cool for me. We even went up on the top level (had to climb the stairs) to get an amazing view of London at dusk – it was my favorite part of the day.
To get to the tube station we walked across the Millenium Bridge – one could say we were millennials on the Millennium – and thankfully there were no Death Eater attacks.
The next morning I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum for a short time before class. It contains tons of various forms of historic artwork – my favorite museum so far. Like the Tate, V&A is massive and has an incredible amount of collections. London has so many awesome exhibits that hold such impressive history and knowledge, and they’re all just a tube ride away. It blows my mind that I casually walk past hundreds – even thousands – of years old artifacts in these museums.
I am eager to learn more about British culture and history through experiences like this past week’s. Thanks for a fabulous first week, London. I’m looking forward to the whole semester with you.