Starting in London
I’ve been having such a great time in London. I am living in the IFSA-Butler house in Notting Hill. The office for the program is right downstairs and its so great having the staff available anytime we need something. I’m living with other students from the USA studying at UCL so I’m getting to meet new friends both from back home and from England. I’m starting classes tomorrow. I can’t believe it is finally time! Class in the UK starts much later than I am used to. The class I am most excited about is London Architecture. Every class we are going to a different site in the city to learn about the building’s history and style. I’ve never taken an architecture class before so I’m excited to learn about it in such a historic city.
Speaking of history, my friends and I have been super tourists since we arrived. We have seen Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the London Eye, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Parliament, the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and many more. So far my favorite attraction has been Buckingham Palace. I loved getting to tour the magnificent staterooms. However, the best part of the Palace was getting to see Kate Middleton’s royal wedding dress, veil, tiara, shoes and earrings on display!!
Besides being a tourist, we have also decided to get to know other parts of London. We realized that a great way to go beyond our little area was to take advantage of the markets that pop up on streets throughout the city during the weekends. For example, Portobello Road Market just around the corner from us is bustling every Saturday with vendors selling jewelry, crafts and vegetables to hundreds of customers. Today we went to Columbia Road Flower Market and Brick Lane Market. These markets are both in the East End of London, while we live in the West End. Although it was a (comparatively) long tube ride, it was worth it to explore other areas. Columbia Road and Brick Lane seem to be dominated primarily by foreigners so there were a lot of great ethnic shops and restaurants. The smells that came from the Ethiopian, Indian and Turkish food stalls in Brick Lane are enough to make anybody’s mouth water! I love getting to explore local crafts and foods, while also getting to talk to the people selling their handmade products. Another plus to going to these markets, besides the fact that they sell well-priced quality items, is the music. Musicians line the streets and play for the crowd. I loved getting to hear them play and getting to explore London this way.