After receiving my housing assignment in December, all I️ could do was look up my neighborhood on Google Earth Street View. Before arriving, I’ll admit I️ was a tad skeptical of my housing assignment.
8 college dudes. One 4-story flat. A neighborhood with mixed reviews online.
I️ wasn’t sure what to think. But I️ told myself I️ was going to go into the trip with an open mind.
Upon arrival, I was starving, exhausted, and jet lagged. I was the second roommate to arrive after my roommate Griffin. After unpacking, I joined Griffin and the rest of our neighbors in Kilburn Park for a neighborhood tour with one if our instructors from CAPA. After walking down the neighborhood strip, I remember thinking I was never going to remember my way around London. Luckily, most of the shops and restaurants were on the same main road, Kilburn High Road. On one mile of this road. there were three grocery stores, and M&S, a Tesco Express, and a Sainsbury’s; there were also countless restaurants and clothing shops. On this first day, Griffin and I ate lunch at the local Pizza shop, whose name escapes me. For a decent price we were able to get good, sourdough pizza.
As Time Went On…
I began to really love the neighborhood. The tube stop was two blocks away and a short block from the main drag. I started to become comfortable with shopping at the grocery store, ordering at British restaurants, and living in the neighborhood. My favorite spots to frequent were the Starbucks, The Old Belle, the local Kebab place, and the Queen’s Arms.
The local Starbucks was filled with people constantly. Since it was a small shop, it was pretty much only frequented by locals. I would come here from time to time to grab an iced tea and do my homework. Apparently Iced Tea is not a popular order in the United Kingdom, and the first couple times I ordered it, the staff gave me a weird look as I explained I wanted unsweetened black tea. Over time, however, the employees remembered order. By March, the started giving me an extra cup of iced tea since no one else ordered it, ever. To them, I was the American kid that ordered iced tea. I am very okay with that.
The Old Belle, one of my other favorite spots, was a great place to sit down and watch premier league football. The pub was always filled with locals, and had a great authentic British vibe to it. I enjoyed this place because it was anything but gimmicky. The Old Belle also had a great deal: burger and fries plus drink for £5.85 – a steal in London standards. I went here almost every Wednesday as the semester progressed and considered myself a regular by the end of April. I even took my brother and best friend here when they came to visit over spring break. If you’re ever in Kilburn Park, go here.
Kilburn Park turned out to be a wonderful, quiet neighborhood to live in. I grew fond of the area fairly quickly and it was in close proximity to a couple parks including Paddington Recreational Playground. I learned to eat new British, Asian, and Middle Eastern foods from the local restaurants. I am thankful for being placed here and couldn’t imagine it any other way.