The pedestrian signals on streets in London don’t say “Stop” or “Go”. They say “Wait” and “Cross with Care”.
I like that Londoners do not deal in absolutes. You are not stopped when you see a red light, you are merely waiting to move forward. And you should still be careful even when being given the green light.
My time in London has gone by in a blur of city streets, double decker buses, and Tube trains. The semester is very quickly winding down. And by winding down, I mean spiralling madly towards my departure date. In less than a week I depart for the Jamaica part of my course. Less than a week.
I don’t have time to wait anymore.
I wish that I could freeze time, if only to cherish my time in this incredible city even a bit longer. But I'm looking on the bright side: In the past three weeks I’ve crossed a lot of things off of my study abroad bucket list. I visited Edinburgh, spend the weekend with a friend in rural Lincolnshire, visited Windsor castle, went on a field trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kenilworth Castle, shopped at the Brick Lane markets, and attended London’s St. Patrick’s day festivities. It was such a whirlwind, in fact, that my blogging has not be able to keep up.
I think that it’s time for me to give you my list of London study abroad must-dos:
1. Drink the Creamy Hot Chocolate at Second Cup:
I promised you that I would find you London’s best hot chocolate, and I did. It’s the Creamy Hot Chocolate at Second Cup, which is conveniently only a two minute walk from the IES Abroad Center. They don’t charge extra for whipped cream either.
2. Attend a Ceilidh in London (or Scotland):
A Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee) is a big traditional Scottish dance party. My friend and I found a group that puts them on regularly around London, and it was one of the most fun things we’ve ever done. The dancing is an intense workout but everyone is good-natured and understanding even if you can’t dance well.. or at all, if you’re like me. Plus, the one I went to had mysteriously vegetarian haggis.
3. Go Outside on a Sunny Day:
Sunny days in London are sometimes hard to come by, but I promise you that the city isn’t always grey. Somehow the city becomes even more beautiful when the sun comes out. I recommend walking along Regent’s Canal or going to Regent’s Park.
4. Visit the Wellcome Collection:
I feel so strongly about this one that I wrote an entire blog post on it (it’s called Beautiful Strange Places). It’s a fascinating museum of human health that has free admission and is not far from the IES Abroad Center.
5. Get out into rural England:
There’s a lot more to the United States than New York City or Los Angeles, and there’s a lot more to life in England than London, Liverpool, and Birmingham. Visiting my friend in rural Lincolnshire was one of the best decisions I made while abroad. The English countryside is just as beautiful and historic as London, and the people are lovely too. And even if you don’t have a friend who conveniently lives in rural England, organizations like Host UK will find you a host family (for free!).
6. Brave the hike up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh:
On a foggy and muddy day, I hiked up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. I came down from the hilltop soaked, covered in mud, and completely defeated by nature, but— at least now that I’m safe and warm back in London— I’m glad I did it. It’s not really a casual mountain stroll, especially in the rain (as I learned), so pack water and good shoes. The view (on not foggy days) is incredible.
7. See a performer you love live:
I had the chance to see Harry Baker, one of my favorite slam poets, perform live in London at the beginning of March. He’s an amazing performer, and I laughed until I cried. It was a smaller venue, so I had the chance to take a fangirl picture with him before I left. Look for your favorite musician, writer, or performer while you’re in London. You just might find them!
8. Visit Parliament:
Did I tell you about the time I went into Parliament to see the Prime Minister’s Question time? Yep, I saw Theresa May answer questions live while sitting in the House of Commons public gallery! And all I did was queue for an hour. Not everyone who waits in line on a Wednesday morning will get in, but take a chance if you can. There are also plenty of other debates and events that are open to the public.
9. Do something you never expected to do:
London is going to surprise you at least once. Let it.
Next time you hear from me, I’ll be in sunny Jamaica.
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<p>Hi, I’m Angela! I’m a junior at American University, where I’m majoring in International Studies and minoring in Public Health. I enjoy drinking hot chocolate, reading good books, and singing along to *every* song on the Hamilton soundtrack. I grew up in the Rust Belt, live in DC, and can’t wait to study healthcare and experience life in London. I’m not throwing away my shot!</p>