As many of you know, last semester I studied abroad in London, England with CIS Abroad and it was the best semester of my life. Now that I'm back and connecting with friends new and old, I can't help talking about how much I loved London and why it's such a great place to live. In this post I'm going to talk a little about why I loved it so much and why YOU should study abroad in London!
1. The food
I wanted to start off with this one because British food gets such a bad rap. I've heard people say that it's bland, tasteless, and strange- and don't get me wrong, beans on toast is something I'll never eat in a million years- but saying all food in the UK is bad is fake news. London in particular is such an international city, with people from all over the world- and this translates to restaurants from every nationality and palate. You can find whatever you're craving in London; and it'll be delicious. One of my favorites was Dishoom, a Persian/Indian chain with several locations across zone 1. They have an incredibly diverse menu and everything on it is sooooo goooooood. I recommend ordering lots of plates to share with the table, so you can get the authentic Indian experience! Another place I loved was On The Bab, a Korean street food chain. There was one right near my flat in Shoreditch and every night it had a line out the door and down the street of people waiting to eat! Try the bibimbap with kimchi- it's a traditional classic.
2. The nightlife
London has all the allure of a big city- and that includes the nightlife! It's not just limited to pubs though, there are a million things to do! One of my favorite evening activities was going to see a West End show (Book of Mormon and Wicked are great) and then walking to Piccadilly Circus to grab gelato from Gelupo, which in my opinion is the best gelato outside of Italy. They have tons of options- from traditional chocolate and vanilla to honeycomb and toasted rice (my fav) flavors! Their menu also changes every day so you're always in for a sweet surprise when you walk in. However, if you enjoy a night out at a club, London has those in abundance! Piccadilly Circus is a fun area to go out in, but Shoreditch is an up-and-coming trendy area with a lot of funky holes-in-the-wall. If you're in the area, check out Ballie Ballerson- it has multiple ball pits and amazing drinks for an experience unlike any other!
3. The culture
If you're like me (read: a culture nerd) then you'll have no shortage of things to do in London. From museums, to music, to sports, to afternoon tea, there's something for everyone there. If you're ever looking for something fun to do on a rainy day (of which there are many), head over to South Kensington to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum. I don't know if it's the biggest in London, but it sure feels like it. It's too easy to spend hours on hours wandering through the many exhibits- they have art from cultures all around the world interspersed with temporary displays like a history of Winnie the Pooh or a collection of Balenciaga fashion. After you're done there (if it's still light outside), stop by Muriel's Kitchen by the tube station for the cutest afternoon tea with a great view of the area. If you're not the museum type, there's also tons of shopping nearby as well!
4. The travel
One of my favorite things about Europe and something I always mention to people is how easy it is to get from place to place over there. London itself has about 6 airports and countless train and bus stations from which you can get just about anywhere you want. And it's cheap too; planning an affordable weekend to Paris or Edinburgh will never be easier than it is when you're in London. Aside from international travel, London's public transport is absolutely fantastic. I could go on forever about how much I love the tube but I'll spare y'all and just say that I hope and pray that one day America will figure out how to have a system that efficient. In the city, you're never more than a 10 minute walk from a bus or train and you'll get to where you're going with such ease that your daily commute will become something to look forward to.*
*this section sponsored by Transport for London (kidding)
5. The city
6 months in London was more than enough to convince me that it's the perfect place. It's a true melting pot of people, cultures, and activities that has a life and spirit all its own. Yes, it is a big city and there are times when it certainly feels that way. But the thing I loved the most about it was how easily it allows you to make it your own- no one experiences it quite the same way and that's beautiful. If you let it, it will worm its way into your heart and become your home- even with the weather (which like the food gets too harshly criticized). As Samuel Johnson said, "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life." That certainly rings true for me, and I hope someday all of you get to experience this wonderful city for yourself!
(p.s. I literally always love talking about my time there so please ask me about it any time)
EAA Ambassador Amy Allen