We made it to London!
After the 7 hour flight into Heathrow International, I made my way along the tube into Kilburn, a town just north of the central city. I am living in a townhouse-like flat with 7 other students from various universities in the U.S. Four of us are from the University of Pittsburgh, two are from Minnesota, one is from Boston, and the final girl goes to Muhlenberg.
Right off the bat we all got along fairly well, considering we will all be taking this journey together. On the first day we took a walking tour of the area, mostly along High Kilburn Road. This is the central shopping area of the town and has everything! Aldi, Starbucks, Sainsbury’s, PoundLand (the British version of the dollar tree), several pubs, drug stores, and electronic shops.
This past Friday we had our orientation at the CAPA center located in Kensington. It was about a half hour tube ride from Kilburn that our flats navigated fairly well. After orientation, my roommate and I made our way down to Westminster to see the main sites of London that we’d heard so much about. Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, and all the way down through the theatre district and Trafalgar Square.
On Saturday we were left to our own devices in the morning before more orientation material and some of our flat mates went to see that natural history museum in Kensington. The building was absolutely beautiful. The amazing thing about London is that, in America we see buildings from the 1700 and think “wow that is old”, yet here they maintain structures from before America was even thought of.
After orientation on Friday, we were invited to High Tea at the local Holiday Inn. We learned about proper etiquette on how to prepare and drink you tea. Following this, we spent the night in Piccadilly Circus (what they consider the “Times Square” of London) and all its flashing lights and huge crowds.
On Saturday we rolled out of bed and went on the scheduled 6 hour walking/bus tour of London. We began by walking through Kilburn to get to know the area a little more and then moved all the way down to St. Johns Wood, the London Zoo, and the Cricket Stadium. We crossed Abbey Road and saw some of the wealthiest areas in the city. After we got on the bus portion of the tour, we drove down through the center of the city and financial district. Saw St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower bridge. We spent a brief time on the south side of the river looking through the market and art district, then came but up through Westminster.
This was where the bus stopped and took us to the gates of Buckingham Palace. We were all very excited to finally see one of the most prestigious and visited places in London. After the bus tour ended, we headed back up to Kilburn, where we took a trip to our first English pub and ended the night with all the flat mates together.
Overall this has been an amazing experience and only 5 days have passed. The English are very similar to Americans, yet they take a little bit more time when it comes to social outings such as dinners and service. They use a lot of words of endearment which I think is nice and we need a little bit more of that in the states.
We begin classes tomorrow and I am very excited as we begin planning the trips for the rest of our semester as flat mates. Cheers!