Deciding to study abroad in Fall 2019 in London was a bit of a last-minute decision in my junior year of college. I was anticipating going in the spring but decided against it when the opportunity to graduate a semester early appeared. So, a week before the deadline, I sent in my application to study abroad in London the following semester.
I love sharing my stories abroad with people and describing how big the Cliffs of Moher are; how amazing the food is in Spain; or how small the Mona Lisa actually is. But what I really like to share is what it’s like to live in another country.
Built along the Thames River, England’s capital London is a bustling, diverse metropolis filled with over two millennia of history. As a writer and avid reader, I chose to go to learn more about the city’s literary history and contributions. I wanted to explore the places all the great writers wrote about and write about them myself.
My apartment was located in South Kensington, part of the Royal Bureau of London. It is one of the more posh, affluent parts of the city. I remember getting out of Gloucester Road tube station with my luggage in tow, seeing the towering white buildings, neatly trimmed foliage, and elegant wrought iron railings.
Most of the buildings in South Kensington are quite old, and my flat was no exception. While we had our fair share of issues with water leaks, cold showers, and a heater with an attitude, the space had a lot of charm. It was typical, old European with ornate molding on the ceiling, brass doorknobs, hardwood flooring, and creaky windows.
There were a few things I loved about living in South Kensington. Mainly, location. Just a short walk away from my apartment were restaurants, museums, parks, and easy access to the rest of the city. Down Exhibition Road, I would visit the Natural History or Victoria and Albert museums, both with free entry. Or, I’d go to Brown and Rosie, a rustic coffee shop, with a friend for a traditional English Breakfast.
Living in London was an adjustment. Not only was I living in a city for the first time, I was doing so in an entirely different country. Suddenly, eggs weren’t refrigerated, my apartment was a “flat,” and I couldn’t go anywhere without an umbrella. On average, it rains over 40% of the year in London, mainly in the Fall and Winter.
Regardless of the rain, it’s easy to find things to do and travel the city without getting too wet. London is full of museums and other indoor activities. It also doesn’t take long to get acquainted with the London Underground. But be careful on weekends and rainy days because the tube stations are always very crowded and busy.
Because I was a student, the professors would often bring us to different parts of the city for more hands-on learning. I got to experience how diverse and dynamic the city really is. From visiting a Sikh Temple in Southall to exploring sustainability architecture in the City of London; or, enjoying the beauty of Kew Gardens. This gave me access to parts of the city that are otherwise overlooked. Outside of this, I traveled to other obscure parts of the city like Hampstead where I visited the houses of John Keats, my favorite poet, and Sigmund Freud.
Have you ever heard of Hampstead, London? Learn more about it in storyteller Alex's other article!
Whether living or just staying for a visit, London has so much to offer. Take advantage of the popular sights, like Tower Bridge or Buckingham Palace, and don’t forget to stop in a local pub at the end of the night for a chilled pint. Happy travels!
Thinking about studying abroad? Learn more about being a student in another country from storyteller Emmy in her article "A Pedacito of Conversation in Seville, Spain."
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