Wednesday May 17
I boarded my flight from Dulles on Tuesday afternoon. After 8 hours of white wine sipping, plane food eating, watching the movies Lion (which I would highly recommend!) and Moonlight (which I was largely underwhelmed by), and failing to fall asleep I arrived in London. After getting my passport checked we waited around for almost 2 hours before finally getting into cars to take us to the house (there was a mix up with coordinating the cars to pick up people from a different flight that caused the huge delay). After a two hour car ride (which is an abnormally long time to take to get from the airport to the house, but there was a huge amount of traffic for some unknown reason) we finally arrived.
After unpacking and settling in we headed over to the Night & Day Bar at the Imperial Hotel, a short walk from where we are staying. I ordered a steak and ale pie which came with a large serving of chips and peas on the side. It’s not something I would normally order, but I decided to branch out on my first meal in London and it was actually pretty tasty. After dinner we went back and I had no trouble falling asleep around 9pm after fighting off the urge to nap all day.
Thursday May 18
First thing Thursday morning we headed to TAP coffee and got some iced lattes. These were far less sweet than they are in the states, but did the trick in providing us with some necessary caffeine. I also had a slice of banana bread which was really good. The coffee shop had a rustic feel and there were many people sitting there in the middle of the day doing work or just chatting. Then we went grocery shopping and hung around the house while getting settled in.We then went on a “scavenger hunt” set up for us by the program directors. This took us throughout London and led us to a picturesque view of Big Ben. On our way there it was pouring down rain (to be expected in London) and we could not find one of the locations on our list so we decided to stop inside a macaroon shop to look at the options and ask the employee for directions. The shop was very cute and colorful, but as we were leaving one of the girls in our group walked through a doorway that had a fresh coat of white paint. We didn’t know this was the case until we noticed a big white mark on the sleeve of her nice, new leather jacket. We immediately went back into the store where they gave her a soapy sponge and we all attempted to scrub the paint off. It worked out fairly well and the employee gave us all some free chocolates and compensated her with a few free macaroons.
After our short detour in the macaroon shop we met up with the rest of the group right near the London Eye to go to a restaurant called Wagama. I got the Wagama Ramen bowl which came in a ginormous bowl with egg, mussels, chicken, and shrimp. This wasn’t the best dish but I’m glad I tried something that was a little out of the ordinary
After dinner we went to the Museum Tavern, a pub right near the house. We tried the “Loopy Juice”. My first pub experience was fun and really allowed me to get to know some of the people in the study abroad program. All of the locals there were also super nice and one lady (who was definitely a little tipsy) hugged all of us before leaving the pub, even though we hadn’t talked to her all night.
Friday May 19
On Friday night we traveled to our Faculty Member in Residence’s house. This was our first experience figuring out the Tube on our own and luckily we had someone take charge and get us all there with no issues (shoutout to Loren!). We ironically ate Domino’s pizza for dinner and had oven s’mores for dessert. It was great getting to sit down and get to know everyone in the program better.
That night we went to O’Neils which is a bar/club that was recommended by many people that have done the London study abroad program before. We ended up getting there fairly early so we didn’t have to pay the cover charge. The drinks were pretty expensive though. Almost everyone in the program was there at one point and we all had fun dancing and singing together. All of the locals there were extremely nice too.
Saturday May 20
Saturday morning we started off with a waling tour of Bloomsbury, the neighborhood our house is located in. Our tour guide was hilarious and incredible at making all of the information seem super interesting to us. He shared a lot of cool stories and helped us get familiarized with the area. Everywhere we turned there was another beautiful photo op. For dinner we went to Byron Burger, a chain in London with amazing shakes, fries, and burgers! Although it was a little pricey and burgers aren’t what you would normally think of as “London food” it was some of the best I’ve had and would totally go back again (especially for the spiked milkshakes).
Sunday May 21
On Sunday morning we did the Royal London Walk where we saw Westminster, Buckingham Palace, and the changing of the guard. It was the first completely warm and sunny day out which is exactly what we needed since we were outside all day. Our tour guide for this walk was not nearly as enthusiastic as our one for the Bloomsbury walk and the walk seemed to drag on at some points. But we got some cool pictures of world famous buildings. After the Royal London walk we quickly got some food (I had pizza) before hopping on to the tube to Wembley Stadium for a football (soccer) match. We sat on the York City side and they ended up winning! Being in that type of atmosphere where the locals were cheering and chanting and just having fun was a really cool experience.
Monday May 22
Monday morning I had my first class, Media and Politics. The professor lectured for awhile before we all went to the Science Museum to look at the exhibition on media and technology. This trip wasn’t that interesting and our professor actually left us in the museum without telling us he was leaving, which was quite odd. However, after that I went to my theatre class where we had class in the park and discussed some of the plays we’d be seeing this semester. That evening we went to SoHo and got some frozen yogurt at a trendy place called Snog (see above picture) and then went to the Gielgud theatre to see our first show. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was one of the most astounding shows I’ve ever seen (and I would highly recommend reading the book as well). All of the actors were incredible! There was a minimalist feel as the cast pantomimed some actions and there were no real scene changes, but all the technical elements blew me away. The set was incredible and there wasn’t a single moment that I could look away from everything happening on stage.
Tuesday May 23
During my first class on Tuesday we went on a walking tour around the University College of London’s campus. We saw their equivalent of their quad and browsed their enormous bookstore.
During my afternoon class we took the Tube to Camden Market. This market had tons and tons of food stalls and cute shops with handmade and vintage clothes and jewelry. We did a scavenger hunt with partners and walked around. I got delicious mac and cheese that was made to order (checkout what else I’ve been eating here). A perfect end to the first week of my adventure abroad!