By Holly Lawrence
London is nothing like I imagined. Everything you (or is it just me?) read about it or see about it makes it seem like this fairy tale land straight out of a Harry Potter movie. While there are certain aspects that fit this image of London, with the royal family and the tea parties, that is hardly the most interesting part of the city. While places like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower Bridge are all breathtakingly beautiful must-sees, experiencing what true Londoners do is much more enjoyable. A night out for curry on Brick Lane, searching through handmade goods from all over the world in the markets, or lounging in a cafe on a bank holiday are much more enjoyable and much more London.
Another misconception I had about London before coming here was how “horrible” the food was supposed to be. I had heard this one so much that I thought it had to be true. This is not the case. There is a wide variety of food from every corner of the world and anyone can find something to eat. Being the picky eater that I am, I was surprisingly impressed by the curries, the soups, the tarts and the pies. The great thing about traditional British food is that simple ingredients make delicious meals. Even restaurants that are now American standards, like the Hard Rock Cafe, are much less impressive than local places serving fish and chips or scones and blackcurrant jam.
One thing I regret is not being able to meet more British people. With only three or so weeks left in the program, we haven’t had many opportunities to meet local students. Although my coworkers and professors are interesting and more than happy to share their thoughts on questions I have, none have a student’s perspective and going to a school with only American students and only having classes with other Union students has made it difficult to know how British students live.
Despite that, London is a wonderful and exciting city. Everyone should spend some time here if they ever get the chance, With so much to see and do, it’s hard to be bored here. And with the easy-to-use tube, trains and buses, getting around the city and to other places is no problem. London definitely serves as a gateway to the world.