Today, officially marks my first full month abroad in London! London has been absolutely incredible. I feel like I am constantly learning more everyday about the city and even myself just by wandering around the streets alone or even finally conquering the tube last week. So far, London has kept me wide-eyed and always wanting more from this beautiful city.
When I first arrived at London's Heathrow airport on January 13th (my 21st birthday!!), I was overjoyed but also super intimidated and every emotion in between. I have always dreamed about living in a big city and now that the day has come, it was an overwhelming yet exciting feeling. My first adventure was finding/meeting Emma, another SHU study abroad student, in Heathrow. She landed at another terminal so I had to use the Heathrow Express (basically an underground train within the airport). Once I figured that out and met up with Emma, we got a taxi and went to Regent's University! Regent's University is located in Regent's Park and it is absolutely gorgeous!! I love the campus and park. I love how peaceful Regent's is especially in such a large city. Once we got to school and received our housing assignments, we took another taxi from school to our off-campus housing flat. We live about one mile from school. At first, I was nervous about the adjustment of living off campus in a new city but I love the location and I'm still close to school. The flat is also close to King's Cross station and near multiple tube stations, as well. Public transportation is the best here! The tube and the busses are super efficient and timely. I am shocked that the tube stops running at around midnight but some bus routes run all night, which is a plus. But, everything in London is so close so walking is always an option. I am so glad that I brought good walking shoes with me!
Our orientation period was 3 days long and we learned so much about Regent's and London. My favorite part about orientation was the treasure hunt students participated on. Students met in Trafalgar Square and we were given a list of questions to answer and places to see. The hunt ended at a really popular pub which was cool to see.
January 19th, was my first day of classes! I was so excited to start my classes and see the differences between British colleges and American colleges. I am currently taking 5 classes (4 at Regent's and 1 online class through SHU). The great thing about my schedule is that I only have classes on Tuesdays & Thursdays so I am able to do a lot of exploring throughout the week! I really like my classes and I love how my classes have both study abroad students and British students. My classes are small which I love (my smallest is only 5 students!).
My first excursion in England was visiting Cambridge for the day! My friends and I, walked over to King's Cross train station and took a 1 hour bus ride to Cambridge. When we arrived, we got breakfast at a really cute cafe and shopped around at antique stores. In the afternoon, we went punting!! It was the coolest experience ever. For those who don't know, a punt is basically a flat-bottomed boat made for shallow water/rivers. A punter stands on top of one side of the punt and propels the punt by pushing against the river bed using a long pole. The punting tour that we went on was also a history tour of the college backs. We learned about the history of King's College, University of Cambridge, Clare College, Trinity College, and St. Andrew's College. It was really interested and our tour guide was awesome. After punting, I toured King's College Chapel! It was definitely the most beautiful chapel I have ever seen! Afterwards, we got lunch and walked around downtown Cambridge. Cambridge was such a beautiful city and I'm so happy I was able to visit for the day.
Not only have I been able to explore London in my first month, but also visit family! I have multiple cousins that live here, which has been such a great support system for me. Major shoutout to my cousin Fatima, for helping me get adjusted to life in London- you're the best!
During my second week here, my grandfather (on my dad's side) and my grandmother (on my mom's side) passed away- within three days of each other. It has been incredibly hard for me to be so far away from my family during such a difficult time. It was two devastating losses and a complete shock. I am so thankful for my parents, family and friends for reaching out to me during these past few weeks. It helped me so much. <3
Now that I have a full month under my belt, traveling outside of England officially begins next weekend! Through Regent's University, I'll be traveling to Scotland! My friends and I have also booked our spring break trip to Greece & Italy! I am so so so excited! :) I am so thankful to be here in London and living my dream! London is a beautiful city with so much to do and see! There is also so much culture and diversity here in the city.
(Royal picture at the National Portrait Gallery)