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Livin’ the Life in London

by Catherine Fravel

If you’re bored in London, then you’re a boring person!

Typical London Pic.

No London tourist would miss this photo op!

 

Sorry to be so direct here, but it’s true! And I’m also going to apologize now for my excess of pictures, as I am in love with the memories I have made while abroad! There was seriously something to do in this city each and every day, and I don’t exaggerate when I say that. I was there for three-full weeks and not a day went by that I didn’t do something fun, interesting, or new. I saw just about every free and public museum, I saw four shows in London’s famous West End, and of course I did some serious shopping! (Yes, I went to class 5 days a week too!)

If I had to give you a top 3 list of museums that I would not want to miss:

     1. Natural History Museum, London

Amazing! I’ve been to so many natural history museums, heck, I’ve interned with a national natural history museum, but this is no comparison.

The Birds Gallery is a must-see.

     2. Imperial War Museum

Practically a war archive. There is a lot that I did not understand about the war time experience before visiting.

This is only 1 of 5 locations in England. The Churchill War Rooms are in London too and worth seeing.

     3. The British Museum

How could you go to London and not see the Rosetta Stone?

     4. Technically it is not a museum, but the British Library is a must see too!

See the Treasures of the British Library Exhibit (free admission to this one). This was an overall personal favorite for me.

  • Original Shakespeare works
  • Original Alice in Wonderland manuscript (regrettably not on display when I went)
  • Jane Austen work space

The theatre is a bit different. I can’t necessarily rank the shows because I wasn’t able to see every show (though I wish I could have!) What I can say though, is that I am happy to have seen The Phantom of the Opera in the original theatre in which it débuted. In my opinion, you just can’t see a bad musical or show! I regret not seeing something in the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, though it might have been a bit cold for that.

Some options at the Cereal Killer Cafe

I also don’t want to give the wrong impression either—you certainly do not have to spend a fortune to have a great time in London. Actually a lot of the activities I have listed were free! But also my point is, it is nice to simply grab a group of friends and stroll the town to find a new English pub or quaint café and just soak in the beautiful English culture –swoon over the lovely accents but also question their reasoning for driving on the left side of the road. And just as a sidenote, my favorite random place to eat was called Cereal Killer Café. It was a little shop where you could grab a bowl of cereal—probably like 50 U.S. and British brands to choose from—watch cartoons and pretend to be a kid again on Saturday morning. I visited about 3 times and highly recommend the Banana-Rama!

Roman Baths

The ladies of my trip to Bath!

The adventures did not stop in London either! Many people in my group and myself chose to travel outside of the city on weekends. On my first free weekend, I traveled to the famous city of Oxford on a school provided tour. That same weekend a small group of us bussed to Wiltshire to visit Stonehenge and then explored the ancient Roman baths in Bath, a city in Somerset. My second free weekend was spent in Paris, France where I got to experience yet another culture, this time with a language barrier to adjust to. Not everyone in my program decided to travel to the same places as me—other destinations included Scotland, Germany, and even Rome, Italy! I do wish that I could have had one totally free and relaxing weekend in London, which is why I advise people to spend a full-semester abroad. But the city is so close to other sites in the UK (and the rest of Europe) that getting out and traveling often is so tempting!

Stonehenge

Up and close with the “rocks” of Stonehenge

 

I could continue talking about my adventures for days! I had the best time during my stay in London and highly advise prospective students to choose this city. Your possibilities here would be endless and there will be plenty of time and opportunities to explore additional cities and countries. My experience was certainly a positive one—I’m not sure it could have been much better.


If you have any questions about the program I participated in or could use any London tips, feel free to contact me via email at: cfravel6@vt.edu

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