Studying Abroad in London + My First Month Here
(The classic red telephone booth overlooking the Thames with the Eye and Big Ben in the background..oh, and my Earl Grey tea!)
The first time I was in London, I was 10 years old. My family did a 2-week trip across 7 European countries and to be honest, London was my least favorite city. However, after a month+ of being here, this city has changed my mind.
With two carry-on suitcases, a backpack, and my OG Canon Rebel T1i + kit lens (I left my 6D and prime lenses back home so I wouldn't have to worry about them getting stolen), I left rainy Palo Alto and arrived in sunny London -- a very warm welcome you could say! I did get sick the second week here, but that's another story.
I'm not going to bore you by making you read a month's+ worth of content, so I've picked a few of my memorable experiences from being in the UK thus far!
(My classes are located in Bedford Square, so I get to walk past this charming door every day!)
HAMPTON COURT PALACE
The visit to Hampton Court Palace was a breath away from the city, and the gardens were beautiful. There are two distinct architectural styles -- Tudor and Baroque -- because King William III decided to build and expand the palace in the Baroque style once he took over. However between the two, the Tudor style was my favorite and it is what you see in the photos below.
(Gardens of Hampton Court Palace)
THE THAMES RIVER
I decided to take a 45-minute walk after class to the Thames (pronounced 'tems') my first week here, and although cold, it was refreshing.
I could see The Shard on my left and the Eye and Big Ben on my right. Ironically, I have yet to visit these three monuments even though I've been here for a month, but I promise I'll check the touristy things off my list before the semester ends!
I wanted to visit the Tate for the Turbine Hall: a vast immersive space for artists to experiment with and exhibit their work. Notable past works include Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project, Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, and Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth. Although Philippe Parreno's Anywhen was impressive when I went, my favorite piece here was Yayoi Kusama's The Passing Winter. She is also most famously known for her work The Infinity Room.
(Yayoi Kusama's 'The Passing Winter')
THE RED SHOES BALLET @ SADLER'S WELLS
Matthew Bourne's production of 'The Red Shoes' is a must see for all ballet-lovers. Even if you don't enjoy ballet, the stage set design, use of lighting, and costumes were all magnificent, and his concept of a play within a play was very cleverly integrated. The ballet is based upon the 'The Red Shoes' -- an award-winning movie released in 1948 in Britain -- and according to The Times, "Britain’s most successful choreographer will blow your mind with his sheer imagination, wit and brio." Luckily, our program got us tickets before they all sold out!
(Red ballet shoes hanging from the ceiling. Pc: Marrissa Sands)
It's an absolute dream that London has so many shows, musicals, and productions, and I can't wait to attend more in the upcoming months.
PORTOBELLO MARKET + NOTTING HILL
Lauren -- a friend from high school -- visited me from Cambridge and it was great catching up while exploring the world's largest antiques market. The market is a great place to find collectables and vintage clothing, and I'm already planning to come back to find that special piece of clothing to wear and bring back home. Along with browsing the shops, we admired the pastel houses this place is known for. We also saw Brooklyn Beckham casually photographing this area, and it's not hard to imagine why as so many photographers flock to Notting Hill to shoot. This area has a lot of character to it.
(While walking, the cold weather and colorful houses strongly reminded me of San Francisco.)
Even though it was cold, we ended the day with gelato (because I've acquired an immense sweet tooth ever since getting here)!
I've never had an obsession with windows until visiting Notting Hill, and I can't even begin to explain how cute the windows are. I created a separate blog post just showcasing the different windows around this area, and you can check them out here.
OTHER JANUARY FAVORITES
For their quirky decor, free wifi, and Chai Latte.
For their DELICIOUS pastries.
For their cosy downstairs and the dancefloor upstairs.
For your Thursday lunches. I had the best chicken biryani and tikka masala with yogurt, but everything smelled so good I would go with whatever your stomach desires. Just remember to bring cash!
For their PERi-PERi chicken (they're also in the U.S.)!
For their almond croissants...and ubiquity -- but hey I ain't complaining!
And there you have it, one month of London in one blog post. Check back next week where I'll talk about the most phenomenal country I've ever experienced: Iceland!