For the second week of spring break, I spent a week in London with my mom. Coming from Germany, my grandparents and I met my mom in London. My grandparents spent a day with us and then went home. Being just the two of us, my mom and I saw a lot of sights in London.
On the first day in London, we all went to Westminster Abbey, walked through Trafalgar Square, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, and Covenant Gardens. Westminster Abbey was one of my favorites, as it was very interesting to see all of the famous royals, scientists (ironically), poets, and more who are buried there. Thanks to my Scottish Music class, I got to see up close some of the historic royal figures and their coffins. While a little morbid, the exquisite detail in some of the coffins was amazing and having a good historical context made it even more interesting. The fact also that royal weddings take place there makes it even more fascinating. We also saw Big Ben and the London Eye, but sadly Big Ben is undergoing refurbishment and so it was covered in scaffolding.
After my grandparents left, my mom and I spent the next 6 days exploring all around London. We walked through Hyde Park, went on the London Eye, saw the Tower of London, had afternoon tea, visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, went to Harrods’s, walked around Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, and Leicester Square, and ended with taking the Harry Potter Studio Tour. We also mastered using the London Underground, or as it is called, “the tube.”
Some of my favorites, other than Westminster Abbey, were the Tower of London and of course the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The Tower of London was the old palace of the royal monarchy in medieval time. The Queen’s jewels are also located there as well. It was very cool to be able to walk around and see the areas of the castle during that time period. It looked like a little village encompassed by a large castle.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour was amazing. You were able to walk through all of the sets from all of the Harry Potter movies. Being a big fan of both the books and the movies, it was very cool to see the costumes, props, and how the special effects were made for the movies. We were also able to try the famous butterbeer! I was a little skeptical at first, but it was surprisingly good, although very sweet. We deduced that it is essentially cream soda with butterscotch syrup and whipped cream, but it was very good.
My mom and I also were able to try the popular pastime of afternoon tea. We went to an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, which was very cute. It consisted of small finger sandwiches and many small pastries all themed to Alice in Wonderland. Overall, the amount of pastries was a bit much and it definitely was a try-only-once-for-the-experience sort of ordeal.
We covered quite a bit in the time we were there and I now feel like an expert on London! Mastering taking the tube was an interesting experience, as everyone moves very fast and the trains themselves are very fast as well! While the tube is very efficient, the only downside is how filthy it is.
One thing that I noticed after travelling around Europe and then coming back to the U.K. was that I felt a sense of relief, as though I was returning home. In London, all of the grocery stores, shops, brands, restaurant chains, and language is all the same as in Scotland. The fact that I felt this sense of familiarity and hominess in London proved to myself that I had adjusted to living abroad. I became aware that I have embraced and adapted to the culture of the U.K. and that it has become like a second home to me. This is the type of experience and the goal I had for studying abroad. This proved to me that I have achieved one of my goals for living and studying abroad and it is one that I am proud of.