Landed in London.
And thus commenced the first week of my semester in England.
The IES Abroad London students are currently in the middle of orientation week, which is filled with information sessions, housekeeping details, advice, and icebreakers (oh, dreaded icebreakers). I simultaneously love and hate the beginning parts of study abroad; while it’s certainly one of the most exciting times of the semester, it is undoubtedly the most exhausting. I don’t know the city (though I’m getting more familiar every day), I don’t know any fellow students (we’ve each had the same “hi-my-name-is” conversation a hundred times), and there is no sensical routine to anything. Like I said, although I find myself tired by the end of each day, it’s also fun and stimulating. I’ve had the opportunity to explore London independently the last couple of days, and the freedom has allowed me to hit the big tourist sights, like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. My roommate and I stumbled upon the beginning of the “changing of the guards” ceremony near Buckingham Palace today and followed the horses and guards all the way to the palace gates, where they completed the ceremony amidst approximately 10,000 onlookers. Note to self: must return and go early enough to secure a spot close enough for a girl of 5’3”.
Our housing setup in London is quite nice; we live in a large student residence called Chapter King’s Cross, and it’s conveniently located just down the street from King’s Cross station, which means we are well-connected to most areas of the city (and the rest of the country!). The rooms at our residence hall feel like modern European (read: small) hotel rooms; we each share a room and bathroom with one other IES Abroad student and share a kitchen with the other students on our floor. Transitioning from cooking in a well-equipped kitchen at home to a using rather empty community kitchen will certainly challenge my creativity!
Since classes start on Monday, this weekend marks the final days of orientation. Today we enjoyed a tour of the towns of Windsor and Eton, including Windsor Castle and Eton College. Tomorrow will be a guided bus tour of London’s main sights plus a ride on the iconic London Eye. Please cross your fingers for a sunny day! The good news is, even if my ride is bogged down by ceaseless clouds and rain, I have almost four months to return for another spin. Having weeks of exploration in London ahead of me feels reassuring, but I know that the time will be gone in a blink. I’ll continue trying to make the most of each day here, eating delicious food, enjoying the sounds of British accents, and being happy-as-can-be for yet another opportunity to experience the ups and downs (but mostly ups) of a semester abroad.
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<p>I am Jane from Janesville, Wisconsin. I study communications and French at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but I like to spend as much time as possible studying abroad. One day, you'll probably find me living in Paris. If you can't find me there, you must not have searched all the boulangeries.</p>