My experience in London has been FABULOUS so far, albeit a bit different than that of my fellow ICLC students. For starters, I was born here in this fair city and moved to the United States when I was three years old. Therefore, I am lucky enough to be a citizen of both countries. My father is British born and has lived here his whole life. To make a long story short, he was over in America playing cricket, my mother was at the game and the rest is history! Although I am just as much British as I am American, I have only been back to visit once since my departure in the early 2000’s, so I am loving experiencing most of London for the first time with my friends.
My dad came over with me and we started off the trip down in the country with my family. It was one of the best weekends of my life. We ate fresh food from the garden, reconnected with all of my cousins and went to the Shepton Mallet County Fair! It was so cool to get a taste of rural England. There was a cheese show, a craft tent and, most notably British, ferret races! Afterwards my dad showed me his old high school and the cricket grounds he used to play on as a young lad. I enjoyed the view of country life before diving into the big city!
Although most things are the same for all of us, there are two big advantages that being a citizen brings. First, I did not have to apply for a visa in order to be eligible for an internship or to work at the London Center. That saved me a lot of stress this summer! Secondly, my wonderful aunt and uncle graciously opened up their home to me and therefore I did not have to brave the notorious flat hunt. Sometimes I wish I was living with my friends, but they’ve all assured me that I am always welcome in their flats, and sometimes it’s nice to escape the big city to a quiet, residential, neighborhood with family! On that subject, I am very lucky in that I have the advantage of family close by. With both of my sisters living in or near the city, and all of my cousins littered throughout the countryside, I know that I’m only a tube, a bus, or a train away from a loving embrace! I’ve already reassured my pals that if any of them are feeling homesick they can, of course, share my family.
Anyway, we’ve done so much in such a short time! Last week after everyone settled in, my friends and I headed to Tower Bridge to take a tour of the Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels. My dad was still with me for the first week, so we met up with him for a drink in the pub afterwards and he gave my friends an insight into hidden British culture. My favorite day so far has been our visit to the Queen’s Gardens. After touring the International Student House (ISH: an organization we are members of because of our international student status!) with Orla some of us walked to Regents’ Park. It was a BEAUTIFUL day and it was so fun to look at all the sculptures and fountains. From there we wandered into the Queen’s Gardens and spent the whole afternoon admiring the greenery!
Speaking of the Royal Family, another highlight so far has been my visit to Kensington Palace during the twentieth anniversary of Princess Diana’s untimely death. It was so beautiful to see the palace gates adorned with pictures, posters and bouquets of flowers to remember the tragedy. Sidenote, my mother actually had the pleasure of knowing Princess Diana so it was pretty cool to bear witness to this huge celebration of her life. A famous part of Kensington Palace is the restaurant, The Orangery. It has an afternoon tea option for two or more people to get tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, dessert, and most importantly, tea for a pretty reasonable price! The food was AMAZING and the scenery overlooking Hyde Park wasn’t too shabby! We’ve been very fortunate to have such wonderful weather here for the first couple weeks and we made sure to take full advantage of this luxury!
As for the nightlife, we went to see “Much Ado About Nothing” at Shakepeare’s Globe on a beautiful night last week, and some friends and I went to HEAVEN, a nightclub that many of my favorite celebrities frequent, so needless to say I was buzzin’. As if being there wasn’t enough, halfway through the night, Charli XCX, a famous British pop singer, took the stage for a five song concert! It was definitely one of the best nights of my life.
On the days I’m not taking classes, or sightseeing, or seeing impromptu concerts, I have an internship at Jackie Davidson Music Management, a music management company in Putney. I never thought I would get so lucky with my work placement, I have already learned so much in the time I’ve been there and I’m doing the work of my dreams! I am so excited to see what this semester has to offer and I can’t wait to take advantage of everything that London offers!