Overseas in Billy Shakespeare Land

Four days into my four months abroad, and I am finally making the time to sit down and write about my experiences in London. Why do I have to make the time? Because I am so busy exploring my new home and culture, of which I am quite enamored. Although every single moment here feels special to me, I’ll do my best to only report the “highlights.”

My flight here from Newark Liberty International went smoothly and we landed one hour earlier than expected (could it be that the UK is only a six-hour flight from New Jersey? It hardly seems possible…). I met one of my roommates, Kristina, at Heathrow and we split a cab to our newly renovated, centrally located apartment. Despite catching one single hour of sleep, I knew that my jet lag would only worsen if I gave into exhaustion. Instead, Kristina and I went out walking for three hours! I’ll just tell you that all of my roommates are lovely. In fact, several of us went to a nearby pub aptly named the Hole in the Wall, near Waterloo station, for a pint and some getting-to-know-you conversation.
Day 1, on Hangerford Bridge
Roommates, Kristina and Amy

Thursday was my first full day in London. Nothing too exceptional that morning, just a shower, a latte at CafĂ© Nero, and a new cell phone! It was a gorgeous, sunny day. My roommates - Anna, Danielle - and I went for lunch at a restaurant called the Sussex on St. Martin’s Lane. We ordered a pub sampler with fish and chips, mini meat pies, pickled onions, mushy peas, sausages, mashed potatoes, and battered and fried scampi. It was more impressive that I had been led to believe pub food would be. That afternoon, all CAPA students had a long orientation meeting, after which I went out with some of the girls living in Marylebone. Trying to return home from Oxford Circus after midnight was challenging because it was my first encounter with the bus system (the tube closes at midnight).

I began Day 3 with a handicap (hangover), but luckily was only required to sit through an internship orientation from 10-12. There is another student placed at the same office as me in northern London – named Amanda! We went out to lunch together at Wagamama, a local chain noodle restaurant. I gave into a nap that afternoon, but returned to South Kensington for an arrival reception: afternoon tea at the Regency Hotel. I am happy to report that I went all out: tea, scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches (one smoked salmon, one ham and cheese), and a tiny fruit-topped cake. The speeches given by the CAPA team overseeing us in London made me feel protected and cared for – like I had fifteen cool new parents to look out for me and ensure that I enjoyed myself here.
At the fountain, with Amy, Evan, and Anna

That night, several of us left tea together to wander through Hyde Park. We laid on the grass in the center of the Princess Diana Memorial fountain until dusk, then slowly made our way to the Marble Arch to catch a bus towards home. However, the city was so enchanting at nightfall from the second story window of the bus that we alighted after Piccadilly and found ourselves in Trafalgar Square. The bronze lions guarding Nelson’s column were irresistible at night, and my roommate Amy, our friend Evan, and I climbed up onto the monument. Settled underneath a giant metal jaw, between the front legs of an immense lion, we watched the bustle of the square and admired the building that houses the National Gallery. Eventually, we hopped off our “playground” and set off down Whitehall. About midway down, a pub called the Clarence caught our fancy. It was small, with a young crowd, reasonably priced, and the hanging lamps over the bar were made of bowler hats! Perfect. We enjoyed some new beers and ciders, using our favorite free beer technique: claiming that we are Americans ignorant to the sophisticated beers on offer. The bartender, or a concerned British bystander, will request that we sample several beers on tap, or even the beer in their hand! Tee hee. I love it here.

After the Clarence, we continued our walk down Whitehall to hear Big Ben up in his clock tower. Across the bridge on the south bank, our friends were awaiting our arrival at the Hole in the Wall, where we happily joined them for a final half pint before turning in.

Today, we went on a three-hour guided bus tour of London. It would be useless to try to recall all of the information I absorbed from our tour guide; suffice it to say, the tour was fantastic, and my London bucket list has doubled in size.

Still no rain (I’ve probably jinxed it now), but with only that exception, London has turned out to be everything I expected it to be and more. 

2 comments:

  1. Dyl! I wad finally able to find your blog!! It sounds like your having so much fun exploring!! I'm so jealous I can never get enough of adventures ad traveling!! So glad your enjoying your time!! Keep us posted xo
    Cole

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