Two weeks down in London, four to go! After taking the last several days to settle in I have really gotten into, not so much a routine because with a 6 week program, every day is extremely different, but more of a groove. I am very thankful to be getting along with my flatmates, who two out of the four are actually some of my best friends from Pitt! We all have gotten to share a room, with two other students from the University of Alabama in the other room. We all share a living room and kitchen, which in comparison to my Oakland apartment, is actually much nicer, a little unfortunate since we do not spend much time here as there’s so much to see and do in London! While London is a very big city, we have been able to scale it down and really take advantage of what lies in our very own neighborhood.
In the neighborhood of Whitechapel, we are very close to nearly everything. A 10-minute walk away, we get the tourist sites of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. 15 minutes we can reach Brick Lane, known for its curry dishes and the best bagel shop in the city, as well as Spitalfields Markets where local vendors can sell their products. Also near us is the Underground station, where the Tube (subway) can take us to nearly every corner of the city.
When we’re not exploring our surroundings, we do have to go to classes, which are on the west side of London, about an hour commute. It’s a golden rule to allow yourself an hour commute to get just about anywhere. That’s not to say you’ll be sitting on the Tube for 60 minutes, but by the time you leave your flat, get to the station, wait for the train to arrive, then walking once you leave the destination station, and of course time to pick up a coffee or tea, it adds up. Tuesday through Thursday I commute to Kensington, where our program institution, CAPA, is located to take my two classes: Writing the City and Analyzing & Exploring the Global City. These courses have been very different than ones I’ve taken at Pitt, simply because they are structured around the city of London, and in order to learn about London, we have to be IN London. Therefore, oftentimes we actually meet outside the classroom to explore different neighborhoods and features of the city. In fact, every Thursday for my Global City class, we venture out to a different area. My favorite so far has been Brixton! Through these classes I have been able to develop my cultural competency by learning about the elements that help and harm an urban ecosystem. I cannot wait to continue learning and growing here in London, and I’ll update again soon!