Well I finally have a little downtime after the craziness that’s gone on in the past couple of days. So I thought I would share what I’ve been up to!
Tuesday was my first full day in London, I arrived with the group on my flight around 09:30 and we were exhausted. After a quick meeting to get our bearings on the building, we got our room assignments. The room is great! Its definitely bigger than my room’s in Randolph and Mason at Mary Wash but my room at Richmond is a hall bathroom style. And I’m on the fourth floor… So that was definitely something to get used. But I really like where we are because the dining hall and library are in the building as well, so I don’t have to go too far.
After I met my roommate we decided to take a quick nap, we were off to explore the surrounding area with a walking tour of Kensington. I really enjoyed that tour! It was great to see what all the different shops and residences in the area. Kensington is a very nice area. It is situated in the south west corner of London and just a short tube ride into Central London. While on the tour, we passed the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace and the Gardens, and Hyde Park. The tour guide was great, giving little tidbits about the area and pointed out that there are blue plaques that show where some famous Brits lived. It turns out the Winston Churchill lived right around the corner from my dorm! And these plaques are all around London.
The campus itself is just a short 10minute walk to the tube station. The building where I have most of my classes is about 5 minutes around the corner from the dorm. Along the way, there is a Whole Foods, and a lot of shopping as well. Kensington Palace and Gardens and Hyde Park are another 10 minutes in the other direction. And there are tons of museums in the area as well.
That night we travelled to the Imperial College Student Union. As a study abroad student at Richmond University, we all have ID cards that give us access to the some of the many clubs offered by the college and their pub as well. Unfortunately, the pub was jammed packed because it was trivia night. I decided to go back to the room with my roommate because we were so exhausted and it was so crowded.
On Wednesday we went into Central London for a bus tour. This was another great way to see the area and some of the famous landmarks in London. We got off to see Buckingham Palace but couldn’t stop to see more because of traffic. It was great to see the palace again. Unfortunately the Queen wasn’t in at the time, because the Union Jack was the only flag flying. If she was in, her family crest would be flying. Our tour guide told us that the crest can be found of within the seals on the gates.
That night, after dinner, we went to see Wicked at the Victoria Apollo Theatre. Wicked was Wicked Good! I’d seen it before when it came to Norfolk as an off Broadway version. But it was great to see the British version. It was still very good. We had to take the tube. Definitely an accomplishment! I get turned around very easily if I don’t really know where I’m going but on the way back I was able to remember most of the way back! I had to ask some of my friends help and we were able to make it together. I bought my Oyster card as well which is an essential to get around in London.
On Thursday, we had some more talks as well as a travel fair to showcase some of the travel companies. Then I got the chance to explore the massiveness of our neighborhood Whole Foods. Honestly it is awesome! I definitely see myself grabbing a quick lunch there during the week. That night there was a boat party on the River Thames. It was great! We started on the northern bank of the Thames and went up past the London Eye and Parliament, then headed back around towards Greenwich, and back around to where we began.
Now on to today! First we had some meetings and orientation events but afterwards, we had the entire afternoon to explore London! After listening in to a talk on Museums and Galleries in London, we found that there are tons and tons of free museums to go to. And a bunch near Kensington! My roommate and I decided to go to the Natural History Museum. That was great as well, but the only downside was that the dinosaurs exhibit was closed for renovations. But good news is I can go back when they open back up again! They have other great exhibitions and even an earthquake simulator. I would definitely go back.
After dinner my roommate and I decided to detour one of the events of our orientation week and go to the Lumiere Festival in Central London. This is a festival with over 30 locations scattered from Westminster, to Kings Cross and Piccadilly and over to Mayfair. After extensive planning we decided to take the tube to Westminster Abbey, then walk over to Leicester Square. After that we walked to Regent Street, then to the US Embassy. To finish we walked to Bond Street to catch the tube back to Kensington. Westminster was lit up in beautiful colors. Leicester Square was transformed into a garden, there were fish swimming in Regent Street as well as an Elephant. At the US Embassy there was a red telephone booth transformed into a fish tank.
That was honestly a great time! We got a little lost and stumbled upon the site where David Bowie photographed his album cover to “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.” There was a plaque on the wall where he got the shot. There were tons of flowers and other objects to honor the late David Bowie.
So all in all this was great first week in London!!! I have had a wonderful time! A ton of walking but that helps a lot to get my bearings in my new home for the next 5 months!! Til Next Time!