It is now my third full day in London and I already have a lot of new perspectives and exciting things to share thanks to Millennium Tours for planning this trip. The idea of senses has been on my mind as I have been exploring this vast and fascinating city. Not only some of the 5 senses that we know of, but also my sense of travel and my sense of place.
To begin, my sight. I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming amount of sensory sight I have been experiencing. On my first day of classes, right after we all met in the courtyard and did a 14-mile walking tour of London. It took about 6 hours and I walked about 24,000 steps. It was the best way I could have imagined the start of my journey in London because it inspired so much I want to go do. Every street I looked down multiple places would catch my eye. Whether that be one of the many historic monuments intermixed with the urbanized landscape, or a luxury department store with 300 year old mahogany details, I was enthralled by so much. I wrote down so many places in my notes app on my phone that I wanted to make sure I went back to. Certain streets like Regent Street for shopping and Covent Garden for its liveliness and markets. Everywhere I look I am even more excited about being here.
The food in London is unique and sometimes funny. I will see a very posh restaurant right next to a Five Guys and it has become obvious that the food variety is very far and wide. I have already tried many types of food but so far my most enjoyable have been ones that were attached to a fun time and a great area. On our lunch break during the 14-mile walking tour we went into Chinatown and I was amazed by the street art, the business and all the cultural representation. We went to a dim sum restaurant and I tried types of Chinese food I had never known existed. Then last night on our way to watch the sunset by Big Ben on the River Thames, we stopped at an amazing french restaurant where we had the best Frasier cake while learning how to say things in french with our waitress. The food I have been tasting has been bringing me more culture to my palette and is connected with great memories.
The sounds of London have been so diverse. As I walk around with an open ear I hear so many languages, laughter, music, and whistling of trees through the parks. As I talk to the people I am traveling with I also make sure to spend time in silence so I can listen to what is all around me. The diversity in this city is very strong and that is one of my favorite things about it, and the variety of things I hear, taste and see is indescribable.
My sense of travel during this study abroad is like nothing I have experienced before. Usually on a vacation you cram all the “must see” spots in a fews days while in London, but being here for 5 weeks is changing my perspective on travel. I do not feel like I need to cram everything all into one day and I get to enjoy the places I am at much deeper. For example, after going on Winston Churchill’s war rooms tour and seeing Buckingham Palace, I went into a peaceful cafe tucked on a side street. I sat inside but all the windows were open and after finishing my lunch, instead of getting up to rush to the next thing in the Westminster area, I just sat in the peace and serenity of this tucked away cafe. I didn’t feel the need to do “more” at that moment. Being here for a longer stay has allowed me to enjoy each day a bit slower and enjoy each moment a bit longer.