School is in Session

Helena Haynes
April 19, 2022

Now that we’re almost done with the semester, most of us study abroad students have started to face the reality of our final papers and assignments. At least for the IES Abroad Study London program, school is structured much differently than what it’s like at Penn State and other universities back in the United States. During a normal semester I’m used to constantly producing work, but usually on a smaller scale. There’s always big assignments, but they’re weighted much less due to the volume of coursework we typically have. I was in for a slightly rude awakening this semester when I realized that is not how they do things here. All five of my classes are organized very similarly, with two or three papers/projects making up the majority of my grade. 

When I started grinding out my midterm assignments a couple months ago, I realized I was seriously lacking some good spots to study and work. I’m the type of person who struggles to do work in my own living space, so I love going to different cafes and libraries where I can focus. I also find that it motivates me when I can get a coffee or a snack while I’m getting things done. London has so much to offer, but I was surprised when it took me some time to compile a solid list of my favorite places to work and study. Here’s my personal list, and trust me, it doesn’t disappoint. 


A true classic. Every IES Abroad London student can agree that Pret is an absolute life saver. For only 25 pounds a month, you can get five drinks a day. That doesn’t just mean plain coffee, it also includes lattes, cappuccinos, smoothies, shakes, and most drinks they have available. Aside from being cost efficient, they usually have reliable wifi and plenty of outlets. If you’ve never been to London before, it’s important to note that Pret is quite literally everywhere. On days when I’m trying to save money, I like to take the tube to a new area of London, and find a Pret along the way. This allows me to see new parts of the city while also being productive on a budget. Pret also has some great cheap food options if you need a bite to eat. 

The Attendant 

Located in an old underground restroom, The Attendant is one of the most quirky cafes I’ve ever been to. Even when you’re seated at the counter where an old urinal used to stand, you can’t help but notice the incredible vibe they’ve created in this space. The coffee here is fantastic, and they also offer a menu with things such as avocado toast, salads, and even a delicious waffle. You can also choose to get a small pastry if you’re not feeling like eating a whole meal. When I come here to work, it truly feels like I’m being transported to another world. It’s so cozy and compact, which makes it really easy for me to buckle down without any distractions. If you give The Attendant a try and you like it, ask them for one of their loyalty cards. Each time you go, they’ll stamp your card until you’re eligible for a free coffee. I will warn you that if you come here planning to work for a while, make sure your devices are charged. They don’t have outlets, and ironically, they don’t have a bathroom either. 

Burr & Co

The vibe at Burr & Co is nothing short of immaculate. Tucked away in a hotel by Russell Square, this study spot is sophisticated, relaxing, and the perfect place to get a bite to eat while working on an assignment. They allow you to use the space for two hours, which usually helps me focus because I like to accomplish at least one task before I leave. Burr & Co isn’t too far from the IES Abroad Center, and it’s also a short tube ride from the student accommodations, so it is a convenient place to go before or after class. Keep in mind that the food is a little bit pricier, so save this spot for a day that you’re trying to treat yourself. 

The British Library

When I got to London, I realized that I missed having a school library to frequent throughout the day. Even though I love a good cafe, there’s something so nice about working in a quiet space surrounded by other students. When doing some research online, I found out that the general public is able to use the British Library as a study space. I had a deadline for a paper coming up, so it was the perfect time to check it out. There’s a few different spots throughout the library to work, so there's plenty of seating at any time you choose to go. It’s conveniently located near King’s Cross station, so it’s fairly easy to get to from most areas in London. 

Vagabond N7

Vagabond N7 is a more recent find of mine near Piccadilly Court, and I absolutely love it. They have a great selection of food and drinks, including your classic English breakfast. There’s indoor seating, but this cafe also has the cutest outdoor patio. Especially since it’s been a lot warmer out recently, I’ve been using this space to soak up the sun and fresh air while also feeling productive. It’s also a great place to read, hang out with some friends, or simply just relax. If you find yourself living at Piccadilly Court, I highly recommend checking it out.

IES Abroad Study Spaces 

In the IES Abroad London program, we’re lucky enough to have access to study spaces within the academic buildings. The IES Abroad building has both a basement study room and a library room upstairs that students can use for working. The basement room also has printers, which is convenient if you need to print out documents or assignments for class. There’s a mini kitchen area in the room as well if you want to make some coffee in between classes or have a bite to eat. Outside of the IES Abroad building, students also have access to the study area in Richbell house, the other building that houses IES Abroad courses. This room has comfortable seating and a vending machine, making it a perfect place to camp out and work on projects. These spaces are also amazing for group work, since they’re central and easy for all students to access. 

It’s essential to have some good study spots you can rely on, so I hope you’re able to use and enjoy these recommendations!

Helena Haynes

<p>Hi there! My name is Helena Haynes and I’m a third year student at Penn State University majoring in Advertising with minors in Information Sciences &amp; Technology and Digital Media Trends &amp; Analytics. I love being involved on campus with things I’m passionate about, and I’ve had the opportunity to serve as President of the Advertising/Public Relations Club, Research/Strategy Co-Lead for our advertising competition team, and as a Print Writer for VALLEY Magazine, a life and style magazine here at Penn State. In my free time you can find me cooking, watching Sex and the City, or spending way too much time on LinkedIn. I’m so excited to be studying abroad in London this semester and I can’t wait to explore the city and learn more about the culture. I hope you follow along on my journey with me!</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
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