London, England. Just the name of the city sounds good to me, but a semester or a year living there? That sounds amazing! Personally, I have only visited London but I feel like living there would be one of the best opportunities a college kid could have to experience the rich history and culture of a country that has had a great impact on the USA.
So if you are planning on studying abroad in London, kudos to you! In addition to learning to love drinking hot tea, here are a few more things I think you should do while studying abroad in London:
1. Pay your respects to the Bard. The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 in order to house the plays that were produced by Shakespeare‘s playing company and burned down in 1613. Another model of the Globe was constructed in 1997 and is located about 750 feet from the original Globe. Today, you can buy tickets to see one of Shakespeare’s plays being performed at the Globe Theatre. Take it from a big Shakespeare fan: seeing one of his plays is good, seeing it at the Globe is great, and standing in the bottom section of the theatre as a “groundling” is amazing! In addition to being more fun (the actors interact with the groundlings, just like they did in Shakespeare’s day), buying a groundling ticket is also cheaper and allows you to stand closer to the stage.
2. Take a ride on the London Eye. This glass ferris wheel is situated on the River Thames and is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe. Although it is somewhat slow, it does offer fantastic views of the city. This is something that you should definitely do when you are in London, but I would prefer to take a visitor – parents, friends who aren’t studying in London, etc. – on the Eye than do it by myself. The lines to get on the Eye can be long as well, so it might be better to go during the week than during the weekend.
3. Don’t loose your wits in the London Dungeon. The London Dungeon is a historically-based haunted house that draws on events such as the Great Fire of 1666, Jack the Ripper, and the Plague. This spookhouse is actually a lot of fun and is also a good way to learn about the darker side of London’s history. My favorite segment was the Boat Ride to Hell, but I won’t ruin the surprise and tell you what it’s about. If you are in London around Halloween, I’d suggest going to the London Dungeon then because it’s sure to be spookier than usual. if not, any time of the year will be just fine.
4. Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I know it’s tempting to bother the guards and try to make them break their composure, but please don’t do that. It’s tacky. Instead, just get caught up in the festivities, which take place at 11:30AM most days. After you see these event, you can take a tour of the Guards Museum or Buckingham Palace to continue on with the royal-spirit. Maybe you’ll see Prince William or Kate Middleton walking around, if you’re really lucky.
5. See a musical. The West End has some fantastic musicals and, in my opinion, it gives Broadway in NYC a run for it’s money in terms of the overall quality of the experience. If there’s a play that you really want to see, I’d recommend booking your tickets in advance so that you don’t run the risk of there not being any seats available. However, if you do not really care which play you see as long as you see one, you can try to buy your tickets at the door or online at LastMinuteTheatreTickets.com. This is usually a cheaper option, which makes it easier to stay within your budget.
6. It’s not soccer in Great Britain. In the USA, we call the sport with a white ball that you kick “soccer.” However, if you ask about soccer in London, people are going to look at you like you’ve gone mad. instead, ask about seeing a football game. There are several football teams in London, including Fulham, Woolwich Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur. Seeing any of these teams playing in a stadium would be a great experience for any sports fan. Alternatively, you can buy a beer or two at a pub and watch the game from there.
Have you studied abroad in London? Do you have any tips for other students who are planning on studying there? Share them with us in the comments section below.
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