Greetings from London!
Packing light is not in my DNA. Whether it’s for a weekend trip home or 6 months in London, I am like a Boy Scout––I want to be prepared. So yes, I brought more than my study abroad program recommended, and I struggled a little to get my suitcases from the airport to my flat. But some of these items have been worth the extra baggage costs already, such as my extra thick socks for all the walking I have been doing in my first two weeks here.
I live about a 30-minute walk from University College London (UCL), where I am taking classes this semester (and where Gandhi, Alexander Graham Bell, and the members of Coldplay studied). It took a few days for my feet to adjust to the longer walks to class, compared to the leisurely 5-minute walk at CMC…or maybe 8 minutes if you stop at the Ath for tea. But I enjoy starting off my mornings by walking past the busy Tube stop and cafes as people make their way to class or work.
And walking to my classes and around campus has helped build up my stamina for the sightseeing on foot we have been doing. On our first free day after orientation, my friends and I set out to see some of the major tourist attractions in London––Tower of London, London Bridge, Big Ben, Thames River, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, and Houses of Parliament, to name a few. Even when standing right in front of these places, it still didn’t feel quite real that I was actually in London rather than just looking at a picture.
For anyone planning to do a day of sightseeing near these places, I highly recommend ending your evening at Founders Arms, a restaurant located directly next to the Thames with a great view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge. And because they have blankets and heaters, you can even enjoy your butternut squash lasagna and cup of hot chocolate outside in January! Just remember to wear extra thick socks with your walking shoes and your feet will be as happy as your stomach.