Posts Tagged ‘museums’

Student in the City

London is a lively city, and it seems as if there’s always something to do–whether it’s attending a gig, watching a play, going shopping or browsing the markets. According to my Bandsintown App, which allows you to search for local gigs and concerts, there are literally gigs almost every day of the week! And they are all accessible with the tube. If you love theatre, you can attend one of the many shows in London’s West End, which is such a large and lively area at night. If you’re a shopaholic, you can go to Westfield Stratford which is one tube stop away from Mile End and is one of the EU’s largest shopping malls! And if you want to just socialize with friends, you can visit one of London’s many pubs. I really believe you can find anything that suits your interests in London. If you’re ever bored, you can just head over to the nearest tube station and the city is an Oyster tap away.

Although the universities in London don’t have large campuses, there is no lack of study space in London. There are so many cafes, especially in the East End near QMUL. These cafes are perfect to go to after class to revise and work on coursework.

And though living in London adds up to be expensive for students, there are still many frugal options available. For example, browsing the many museums in London is free–not to mention educational. Living in London is hard on one’s wallet, but it does end up being a good lesson on budgeting as a student.

So far, I have really enjoyed studying in London. In addition to having wonderful experiences exploring my interests in the city, there are also so many places in London that are relevant to my studies in English literature. For example, I’ve been to John Keats’ house and even visited the pub where Charles Dickens frequented while writing his manuscriptsand then I wrote about my visit for an assignment! When I first arrived in London, I admit I didn’t think the city was that great, but now that I’ve been here for seven months, the city has really grown on me, and I’ve come to appreciate the vast amount of options available. Whether you want to spend your day studying in a cafe, going shopping, or browsing museums, any option you choose will be easily accessible in London.

 

 

Recap of the Last Few Weeks

Being in London for about a month and a half, I figured it was time for my first blog post.

So far, London has been a wonderful experience. My first few weeks were spent shopping, visiting markets and tourist spots, and of course keeping up with the academic life at QMUL. Unlike my classes in America, my modules here at QMUL meet less frequently, with each module meeting for essentially only 2 hours per week. In America, my classes typically met three times per week for one-hour lectures, with an additional one hour seminar per class. While taking four classes in America would translate to spending about sixteen hours per week in lectures/seminars, taking four classes at QMUL translates to spending only eight hours per week in the classroom. With more time outside the classroom, there are more expectations for independent studying. As an American student, I wasn’t used to this freedom for studying, but I’ve found that this laxity in scheduling teaches good productivity managing skills. For example, while I have much more time to spend exploring the city and participating in extracurricular activities, there is much more pressure to maintain responsibility for my studies outside of class, because if I don’t, my grades will obviously reflect it.

Anyways, aside from studying, here are some things I’ve done in London:

IMG_6176 IMG_6172 IMG_6167 IMG_6163

I visited the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Natural History Museum had cool stuff such as dinosaur bones and interactive displays involving human anatomy, while the V&A Museum had art and culture pieces.

IMG_6157 IMG_6148 IMG_6146

I also visited Shoreditch, which is about two miles away from campus. With its vintage markets, cultural food and enticing graffiti, Shoreditch is probably my favorite place in London.

IMG_6279 IMG_5983

Shopping in London was also a great experience. I still need to buy more winter clothes!

IMG_5998 IMG_6032 IMG_6109 IMG_6025IMG_6140IMG_6298

IMG_6187
Other things I’ve done include: visiting Chinatown, strolling by the park, eating fish and chips, trying pasta at Vapiano, participating in my first pub quiz, watching a show at a West End theatre, and walking by Piccadilly Circus!

London, Just do it.

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'

‘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.)

IMG_3838

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.)

IMG_9150

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.)

IMG_9046

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.)

IMG_7635

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

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!)

IMG_2004

 

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!

An Overview (So Far)

What a beautiful sunny day! Today, I can actually see the blue sky but I can’t say that the temperature has gotten that much warmer. I’m originally from Southern California, so I’m use to a lot of sunshine and living in flip-flops. But other than the colder climate, I haven’t had much difficulty adjusting to London. I’m a city girl so I love that every day and night there is something to do and see. And yes, London is a pricey city to be in, but there are plenty of cheap or free options around town!

Queen Mary (from Mile End Park)

If you’re coming here, my first tip is to sign up for the Londist’s emails. Everyday I get updates on what’s going on in the city for free or cheap. One of the best events I attended since being here was Burn’s Night (at the end of January)—an old Scottish celebration that involves lots of dancing—and it was free! I would say it is the equivalent to an American barn dance. Most museums are free to the public or students, so you should visit as many as you can. London is flooded with history and I am amazed by how much there is to learn and absorb here.

Burns Night: celebrating a Scottish poet through dancing!

Oh, and you have to go to watch a few plays here. It’s a must! I’m from Los Angeles where movies are king, but theatre is king in London. There are countless shows going on at once. My personal favorite venue is National Theatre and if you line up early in the morning (it’s easier to get tickets on weekdays and you usually only have to turn up around 9:30 am) you can get theatre tickets for £5 – £12. Such a steal. My favorite shows so far have to be ‘The Magistrate,’ ‘The 39 Steps,’ ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ and ‘Macbeth.’ Theatre-going is actually a norm here in London and people have ice cream during intermission—there’s nothing stuffy about it!

Meeting James McAvoy after his performance in ‘Macbeth’.

And lastly food: it isn’t so bad! I’m a foodie, so I go out looking for good eateries and do a bit of research and I highly recommend the book eat.shop london. It’s a fantastic source for decently priced restaurants and cute shops. If a place looks a bit dodgy, maybe you should avoid it, but I’ve had pretty good experiences wherever I go. There are only a few restaurants near campus (The Gold Fryer and other kebab shops, Nandos, Subway, The Greedy Cow. etc), but I don’t frequently eat out so I can save up. I cook for myself or buy cheap sandwiches during the week and then treat myself on the weekends.

This is just a general overview on my experience so far living in London, but I’ll get into specifics in later posts.

©2019 QMUL Student Blogs