Well I’m officially done with exams! I finished last Thursday, and now I’ve got just under three months until I return home. This week I had a friend from home visiting, which gave me the perfect excuse to be a tourist. I am currently a terrible tourist – I knew I was going to be in London for a long time, so I just kept putting things off. I still haven’t seen Big Ben or the London Eye – but today I finally went to Buckingham Palace. It was a nice short morning trip, and we went to see the changing of the guard. We didn’t stay for the whole thing, instead opting to head to the Natural History Museum.
I love this museum. It’s gigantic, and there’s so many exhibits. We only went through maybe 5 or 6 of them, and we were still in there for four hours. I’m definitely going to go back when I’ve got some more free time!
14th June 2013:
Well almost a month has passed and I completely forget to finish writing this! After Victor left I was busy packing and getting ready to move out of halls into my new house in Stepney Green. Now that classes and exams have officially ended I’ve doubled my hours at work! Which is great, money-wise! I only get a couple days off every week now though, so we’ll see how much touring I’ll actually get to do.
Currently my plans for summer mean I’ll be quitting my job at the end of July, so that I’ll have two weeks in August to travel a bit and enjoy myself in London. I’m planning on going to Sziget, a festival in Hungary (of course, this depends on my paycheck in July!) For now, I’m set to work straight through until August, and I probably won’t take any time off other than to do the occasional day trip.
I’ll be back in Easton, PA by the 15th of August, and then it’s back to Lafayette!
How do I wrap up five glorious months studying abroad in London in a single blog entry? I really can’t. All I can say is… Experience it for yourself! JUST DO IT! London is the most awesome city in the world and there’s something for everyone here. There’s always something to do and see and experience. Also, try new things! I was never a theatre-goer until I lived in London. Now I love the theatre and am even considering a profession in scenic design. Here are my top seven things to do in London:
1. Watch a play or musical (at least one!)
(Queue early in the morning—it’s not that bad especially when you’re with good company—to get cheap tickets. I saw Matilda for £5! I couldn’t help smiling the entire night after watching it.)
‘Matilda the Musical’
2. Subscribe to The Londonist
(You can get daily emails about random free or cheap events around London. For instance, I went to a free arts and crafts party. There’s always something fun and weird going on around town.)
3. Visit markets
(I wrote a whole entry on markets! They are fantastic and a lot better than the ones in the U.S. There are always delicious street food to try and funky vintage threads to look out for in this town.)
4. Frolic in the parks
(Queen Mary is right next to Mile End Park, which leads to Victoria Park. It’s my favorite park and a great area to have a morning jog. I also recommend the famous Hyde Park. It’s HUGE. There are so many parks scattered around London and it’s a lovely escape from all the concrete.)
5. Visit castles and palaces
(They are remarkable to say the least! You can spend hours upon hours in one place and not see everything. My favorite place had to be the Tower of London just because I love the history of Henry VIII. I even spent about six hours at Hampton Court Palace and didn’t see everything. London has some remarkable history. The architecture and craftsmanship that goes into every palace and castle is also mind-blowing.)
6. Visit museums
(Museums sometimes sound a bit boring, but they don’t have to be! London is filled with museums with various exhibits. One time I went to the Science Museum for a special exhibit on zombies. People dressed up and the whole exhibit was interactive and fun! I particularly love the Victoria and Albert Museum and found their theatre exhibit really interesting. Oh, and did I mention that museums are free?! It’s fantastic!)
The V&A’s Cafe
7. Get lost!
(That’s right, I’m encouraging you to get lost in the city. Although there are maps outside of most tube stations, I managed to get lost a few times, but during those times I got to see parts of the city that I would not typically explore and loved it. You get to know the city a lot better by wandering around and you can actually see how everything is actually so close together and walkable. Don’t worry about not being able to find your way home: there’s always a tube stop nearby!)
Writing about London makes me want to go back so bad! It’s a city that can honestly steal your heart when you’re not expecting it. I even miss the cold weather! Strange, right? The study abroad experience is really what you make it and I can honestly say I’ve had such a full and wonderful experience. Queen Mary is also a great university to attend while in London. It’s nice to have a closed campus a bit away from the center of the city. I would highly recommend taking the course on London architecture at Queen Mary. Every other week is a field trip and you learn to appreciate the city so much more. I hope you get the chance to study in London or at least visit. It’s been such a pleasure sharing my experiences with you. Cheers!