The Flora and Fauna of London

Vienna Vance
January 28, 2020
Houseboats along the canal by Mile End Park

Two weeks ago, when I moved to one of the most urban places in the world, I didn't expect that I'd be closer to nature than ever before. I was raised in San Diego's suburbia, where a good percentage of the green space is artificial grass. My college has its share of natural land, but it's still constrained by the dry Southern California landscape. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that my dorm on the campus of Queen Mary is adjacent to a lush park. The view from my room is of a canal, dotted with houseboats in every color. Across the canal is the Mile End Park, a popular spot for joggers, cyclists and dog walkers from sunrise to sundown. I was pleased to discover the easy access to this park, which could serve as a potential study spot when it gets a bit warmer, or simply a retreat from the crowds, noise and general chaos that comes with living in a city of eight million people. I also love hanging out with new friends in the park -- a budget-friendly way to spend time chatting, get exericse and feel more at home in this new place. 

To my delight, Mile End Park is also a fantastic place to spot all kinds of animals. There is a pair of swans who spend their days floating down the canal and grooming each other. According to local residents, one of the swans left for a while and the remaining swan became depressed. Fortunately, both swans are back together and everything is right in the world of the swans! 

On my first night on Queen Mary's campus, I was walking to the student store for some groceries when I spotted what I thought was a dog separate from its owner. Of course, I was already missing my pets at home so I hurried over to it. As I got closer, I realized it was an animal I had never seen in real life before--a fox! Who knew of the diversity of wildlife in this urban hub. Next on my list of London animal interactions is cats. In particular, I want to meet cats at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, where one can experience the bliss of high tea surrounded by cats. I think that will be the high point of my life.

Honestly, living in London has always felt like a dream that was out of reach, so I'm just happy to be here in general. I have developed a list of vegan restaurants I must try out that is longer than the number of days I have in London, I have joined on-campus music groups and I have gotten a bit better at understanding people with a British accent, which is an upward battle! I'll keep you posted on future park visits and riveting animal sightings. And as the British say instead of goodbye, cheers! 

Vienna Vance

<p>I'm a big fan of tea (matcha, rooibos, black...I love them all) so I'm looking forward to drinking my weight in tea while in London! I'll also be on the lookout for the best vegan spots in London; I've heard there are quite a few to choose from!</p>

Home University:
Pomona College
San Diego, CA
Cognitive Science
Explore Blogs