This week has completely exceeded all my expectations. Before coming I thought I might not know what to do with my free time and feel alone. Only a week in and now I have great friends and I am worried I will not have enough time to do everything I wish to do.
What I highly recommend doing for anyone who is coming abroad with their school in partnership with Millennium Tours, is get immersed right away. If you get here and stay around your living area you will get too comfortable and not have time to see it all. On our first whole day in London we walked over 14 miles around some of the key areas of London. I was able to see so many neighborhoods, areas with the best shopping, the theater district and some parks with remarkable scenery. If you start off your trip ripping off the bandaid and going everywhere unfamiliar to you, it is crazy how fast things become familiar.
Another thing I recommend is really enjoy the area you are in. I would not just go see Buckingham Palace without walking around one of the most serene parks I have ever seen. Also nearby in the Westminster area is the Winston Bunker War Rooms Museum which is one of the many interesting World War II sites of London that I recommend checking out. When visiting a certain area, do not just go for one thing and not continue exploring what more that area has to offer. Every day when I go somewhere, I find more reasons to be there than what I set out to do. For example, if you go to Notting Hill to see the cute colorful houses, try not to leave after getting your pictures for social media, but walk down Portobello Street for all the street vendors and stores that will keep you busy for hours.
When it comes to street vendors and markets, one place I went that I do not necessarily recommend is Camden Market. I am not sure if I missed a section or if it was because it was a very crowded Saturday afternoon, but I did not enjoy it as much as other places I have visited thus far. The streets were a bit dirty, there were not as many vendors as I thought, and the food stalls that were jammed with people were overpriced and probably my least favorite meal. If this is a place you have your heart set on visiting, try going during the week and do some research of where exactly you want to go.
Speaking from someone who was very jet-lagged the first few nights and has been struggling sleeping without AC, I still fully recommend you spend your entire day outside your dorm. From the moment I get up for class till I go back to bed, I have been out and exploring everything I can. I thought I would not know how to keep myself busy and now I am worried that I will not have time to do everything I have written down in my notes app. With this in mind, trust me, everyday should be full of activity and something new. Also, do not think that does not mean you cannot be relaxing while you are out, I spend plenty of time in the restaurants we stop at to give my feet a break and relax. London is not short on parks and beautiful places to sit. For example, today after a whole day walking around Notting Hill, we headed over to Regent’s Park and Queen Mary’s Rose Garden. Even though we were already tired and getting over to the Regent’s Park area took some time, sitting in Regent’s park, the most beautiful city park I have ever seen, watching the sunset and listening to live music was the best way to end a busy week and it was very refreshing.
All I can say is after just one week in London I am so in awe of all the things this city has to offer. There has yet to be a dull moment and I do not think there will be as I continue to check more off my list of things I want to do and go back to my favorite discovered spots. One of the professors on this trip was not lying when he said that this place was going to feel like home real quick, and I do not think I am ever going to want to leave.