07 February, 2018

First Month in London by Cameron Coughlin

...is the most overwhelming place that I’ve ever been, but in the best way possible.

I flew off to London with the goal of understanding it, getting some sort of grasp on what life is like in another country. Now that I’ve been here for thirty days, I’ve realized that maybe I won’t ever quite understand London, and that’s the reason I love it so much. There are beautiful alleys full of pastel-coloured houses and matching flowerpots on every doorstep that I’ll only come across by taking a wrong turn. There are people my age from all over the world that I’ll only meet by crazy coincidence. There’s so much mystery. I have no idea what to expect out of this weekend, or even tomorrow, and I love that. I’ve realized that researching and planning can only take you so far. I’ve discovered some of my favourite spots in London by just being out and seeing a place that catches my eye and deciding to take a chance on it. I never would have discovered my new favourite coffee shop if I hadn’t decided to walk across this bridge just for the fun of it, and I wouldn’t have found my favourite club if I hadn’t made a wrong turn on my way back to the tube.

London is crazy, weird, and wonderful. The energy that floods the streets and seeps into every club, bar, theatre, and restaurant is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone seems to have goals and a purpose, no matter where they’re headed at the moment.

I don’t think I could ever get bored of London. I walked out of the theatre after seeing The Ferryman on a Tuesday night, only to see a man sitting in the middle of Leicester Square singing (very badly) into a huge traffic cone. I’ve watched a tourist pose for pictures while holding her hand out to a pigeon on the street. I’ll also never run out of things to do. The city has pretty much anything you could possibly want. While there are busy, brightly lit streets full of people, there are also massive parks and plenty of fresh air.

One of my favourite (and free) things to do is to choose a destination that’s more of an area, rather than a specific place. Then, when you get there, just start walking. Walk down whatever street you think looks interesting and see where it takes you. Doing this has lead me to many unexpected gems. I’ve wandered through Brick Lane and come across some really beautiful street murals. I’ve walked past Camden Market along the river, and discovered beautiful houseboats covered in flower pots and bright paint.

The popular destinations, of course, are amazing as well. I loved walking through Trafalgar Square and seeing massive chalk drawings on the sidewalks. I love Carnaby Street in Soho, with all the colourful lights hanging overhead and the never-ending sounds of people talking and laughing.  I’ve visited five museums since I’ve arrived, and each one is beautiful in its own way.

I’m already so in awe of this city, and I can’t wait to see what adventures the next three months bring!

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