“If a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” -Samuel Johnson
There are no better words to describe the city of London. The buildings, the history, and most importantly, the people are what makes this city incredibly unique.
I left America a week ago, and I’ve never been more scared in my life. I, who have never traveled anywhere (especially outside of the United States) packed up my bags to travel over 4,000 miles away with a group of complete strangers. On the 8 hour flight from Chicago to London, I kept asking myself “What if I don’t like it here?” and “What if I don’t have what it takes to be this far away from my family?”
I’m here to tell you that if you decide to study abroad, you will forget these things the second you step out of Heathrow Airport. London is so vast and bustling, you don’t even have time to think about missing home, because you’re too busy trying to capture each moment in your mind so you can replay it over and over.
My first night in London, I went on a walk down Oxford Street. I didn’t know this at the time, being new to London, but Oxford Street is one of the busiest streets in the city, especially at the time we went. Soon enough, our group of seven inevitably got split up. There were five girls in the other group, and another girl and I were lost in London by ourselves. At any other time in my life, I would have been completely terrified; but that day, I was utterly calm. Luckily, there are plenty of maps at every corner in the city, and you can find your way home easily. Unfortunately for us, we only knew the name of the street our hotel was on (make sure you memorize the hotel address ladies and gents), so we were still walking for around an hour before we finally found ourselves back in the lobby. While this was very time-consuming and did make our feet hurt quite a bit, taking the “scenic route” was one of my best experiences in London, simply because we took in so much culture that we wouldn’t have experienced if we hadn’t have gotten lost.
The next day, we began our course (which is brilliant) and took a sightseeing tour of London. As for the next six days, if I wrote about everything that happened, this post would be much too long. I’ll simply tell you about my favorites.
One night, we decided to watch the World Cup football game against Uruguay. We jumped on the Tube (the subway system running through London) and got off on the first stop that sounded good to us. We found a perfect pub a short walk away from the station, and watched the game there. Unfortunately, England lost, but seeing the local people watching a game they love and how they reacted to it was a great experience.
I also climbed 528 steps to the very top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, saw a performance of the musical “Wicked”, found platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross Station (that’s for all my Harry Potter fans out there), and ate my weight in fish and chips.
Not all of these things were done with the group; and to be honest, a lot of them were done on a whim. To me, though, the things we did spontaneously were the memories that I know I’ll remember for the rest of my life. So, if you want my advice on things to do in London, I’ll leave you with this: eat the food, interact with the people, get hopelessly lost, and simply enjoy your time in the best city in the world. I know I did!
P.S. I’m on the multi-country European Art and Architecture trip, so I’ll be going to multiple cities and blogging about each one. Hopefully you’ll be back to read more. Next stop: Amsterdam!