In preparation for my fall semester abroad in London, England I was frazzled, confused and a bit clueless. Even with all the helpful pre departure materials ISA provided and the advice I had received from friends, I still found myself a bit overwhelmed. The last week or so before my departure I was rushing back and forth between stores trying to find clothes that would work with the foggy weather that London is famous for. Going to school at the University of Tampa means my wardrobe consists of tank tops, shorts, sandals and other typical warm weather clothes. Since I found myself to be having quite a bit of trouble with what clothes to pack, I decided that I would write a blog to try and help future students with their packing.
Posts from the ‘London’ Category
In my hometown, the most beautiful building we have is probably the Wal-Mart, so my first few weeks in London can be aptly defined as a culture shock. London is an amazing city bursting with history and beauty on every street. My walk from my apartment in Southwark to the Strand campus at Kings College is no exception.
1. The Palace of Westminster
Also called the Houses of Parliament, this is the meeting place for the House of Lords and House of Commons. The buildings we see today are largely reconstructions built after the devastating Great Fire of 1834. Architect Charles Barry designed the new Gothic style construction that incorporated the surviving structures. It took more than 30 years and over £2 million, but the gorgeous result still stands regally over the Thames today.
It’s a weird thing, to feel yourself blossoming. Blossoming isn’t really the right word, it’s much too frilly, although it does get the point across; it’s a weird thing to feel yourself expanding, filling out the hollow bits, growing into a mold that has been patiently waiting for you to settle into it. It’s weird but that’s how the last two weeks have felt, the last week especially. I think that’s part of the reason it has taken me so long to actually sit down and write this, because I knew that feeling would come and because I knew that it’s what this first post needs to be about- potential and the realization of it and all the wonderful things that are still to come.
These past few weeks have been filled with new adventures of every kind, including visits to some historic universities. Namely: Oxford and Cambridge. Upon visiting these universities (and through studying at King’s College London) I have found that there are a lot of differences to be found between U.S. and UK universities.
In my first few days here, the ISA staff has taken me all around the vast city of London. No matter where we go, they have no shortage of information to share, especially when it comes to the goings-on of London.
Where are good places to get food to cook in my apartment?
If something more conventional is needed, there are a lot of chain grocery stores in London. One of these, the co-operative, is a great choice for study abroad students. With a large selection of fresh, ready made meals and a post office inside, it’s a quick place to get everything you need.
In just 11 short days I will be starting to journey to study at King’s College in London, England. Of course, the adventure of a lifetime does not come without some preparation (and pre-departure jitters). To help calm the nerves, I’ve been working on two things this week.
Friends are amazing. They’re always there to make some memories, and help ease the memories you wish you could forget. The good ones make you laugh until you cry, and the best ones are the ones you can travel abroad with. Read more
While there have been countless small challenges (pigeon-related panic attacks, devastation at missing a Kate Middleton appearance, likely vitamin D deficiency from London’s permanent cloudy weather), I have had such an amazing time that I can’t really say anything negative about my time abroad. The biggest challenge I face is the realization that I won’t be here much longer. With every great experience I have, a voice in my head asks, “when will you ever do this again?” As much as I try to stay in the moment, I am always mindful of the plane ticket that has already been booked, ready to take me away from this new and wonderful place. Don’t get me wrong, I will love so many things about returning home, but studying abroad is once-in-a-lifetime, and it goes way too fast.
Out of the three daily meals, breakfast is definitely my favorite. Luckily, through word-of-mouth and a couple of British classmates, I stumbled upon My Old Dutch Pancake House. There are three locations in London: Kensington, Holborn and Chelsea. My Old Dutch has been around for a while; its first location opened back in 1958. Since then, the pancake house has withstood the test of time, earning a devoted following among locals.
On a visit to London, you probably want to see the stuff from postcards. Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch, the London Eye. But there’s a good chance the thing you will see most, more than potentially rabid pigeons, even more than dogs wearing sweaters, is a place called Pret a Manger. The name is French, but if you’re like me and still grapple with the correct pronunciation of “croissant,” you can just call it Pret.