The Beginning of Life in London

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Greetings from London!

I’ve been in here for a couple of weeks now and they have fully proven that is year is going to be an adventure! Everyday has offered a new experience and a chance to learn more. I spent the first few days here being a complete tourist, giant map and all. My parents stayed for a couple days to help me move in and get things for my dorm, but for the first 72 hours we made it our goal to see every part of London that we could, and I must admit we came pretty close. It’s probably almost impossible to see London in its entirety because every time you turn a corner it’s like opening a new door to a new side of London with different styles of shops and restaurants. My favorite places here are Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. There’s nothing better than eating on the serpentine, walking through the rose gardens, and finally ending at Kensington Palace. They are a necessity to see if you want to experience the true beauty of London’s scenery.

One of the best things about London is the endless amount of restaurants. There is literally every type of food here. From the amazing curry on Brick Lane to the extensive food stalls at the Borough and Camden Markets, London has it all. I don’t think there is anyone on this planet that could come to London and not find something they like. Don’t get me wrong; we made some horrible food decisions because of all the tourist traps. My biggest advice for someone looking for good pub food is that if you see a Taylor Walker’s menu, run the other direction and go anywhere else. A lot of pubs have been commercialized in central London and the result runs short of the authentic pub experience. If you want good food, head down the side streets in any direction and stick your head into an interesting door and sit down. London’s food is a hit and miss thing, but keep trying and ask the locals. Know one knows how to escape the tourist traps better than them! One of my mom’s biggest requests was to have afternoon tea, preferably with the Queen, but The Orangery at Kensington Palace sufficed this time. Afternoon tea has been one of my favorite meals that I’ve eaten here, and it wasn’t even a real meal. The Orangery makes you feel as though you have just stepped into a Jane Austen novel. You start off walking through the Queen’s gardens before you come upon this large brick building with large, high white ceilings and long rows of tables covered in white. It was almost too perfect to be real. I don’t think my sneakers and green military jacket fit in exactly with what they were trying to go with, but I was too awe struck to really care. The best moment came when I ordered my first glass of Pimms with the Royal Afternoon Tea service; it was one of the first moments that I truly believed I was going to live in London. Soon after my fancy glass of Pimms came, our waiter adorned our table with teapots, sugar cubes, and plates full of tiny sandwiches, sponge cakes, and other foods that I wished were made in a size rather than the “one bite” size, but I think that was my inner American, portion size, loving self talking. All in all, it was an afternoon to remember and my first true British experience.

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After three days of non-stop sight seeing, that included both the City of Westminster and the City of London; it was time for my parent’s departure and the start of my University life. After a sad goodbye and some embarrassing pictures taken of me waiting to cross the street, I found myself standing in the middle of my dorm room. At this moment I was not really sure where to start. Of course I knew how to unpack and organize my room, I have two years of college living under my belt. I almost consider myself an expert on getting my large amount of things into small rooms, but no, I was mostly concerned on where to begin with the social aspect of my new London life. I took a long time to unpack, did some laundry and then dove head first into trying to make friends. I propped my door open, played some music and said hello to anyone who passed by. For any student who plans to one day study in the UK and live in the dorms, opening your door is the best thing you can do. People see it as a sign of you being friendly and it’s way easier to just pop your head in an open door and say hello than having to awkwardly knock. After a couple nights of saying hello, sitting in people’s rooms, and just generally going to where the people were, I can say that I have met some awesome people from almost all over the world and that I am 100% in love with London.

School over here is the same in some aspects and different in others. Instead of coming to orientation in the summer like we do in the States, they spend the first week here in induction. In simple terms, that means they spend a week listening to different people map out the next three years of their life. While none if it really mattered to me since I already have two years at University under my belt, they still made me attend it all. I went on the never-ending amount of tours, I listened to what life is like without parents, and how important it is that we study hard and do well. It was the most déjà vu I had ever felt in my entire life. At first I was really confused why this week even existed, but then I realized that it wasn’t even really about school at all. Induction week, or as some like to call it ‘Fresher’s Week’ is really just a week of social extravaganza where UCL hopes you make friends and have a good time. I wont go into detail about Fresher’s Week, but I will say it was one of the best times I’ve ever had and I definitely made some amazing friends. Though now, school has actually started and the chill of fall has settled on London. On the first day of school when we awoke, the sky was grey and pouring rain, a drastic change from the pure blue and endless sunshine that we had grown accustomed to in the previous weeks. I came to the conclusion that the sky felt the same way as us students, and that in someway we were mourning together the end of summer, and the start of a new school year.

Well that’s about all for now, but these last few weeks are only the beginning of a year that is sure to have lots in store!

Good bye for now!

Maddy