Cultural Experience | London

Why Go Abroad to London?

Whether you want an historical learning experience or a night out, London offers so much more than just study and classes.

When I was choosing to go abroad, my school offered a variety of different countries and programs that the students could do. From Italy to South America to China, students have the chance to go almost anywhere in the world!

So why should you go to London? Many students going abroad want a country where they can practice their language skills and learn a completely new culture. It’s safe to say that London isn’t the most culturally shocking when you go, but London is still the second most popular city for Americans to study abroad.

I chose London because I love everything British. From Jane Austen to Harry Potter, I wanted to explore the country that has always been close to my heart. But this is just me speaking. A lot of my friends who were in my program weren’t so obsessed with everything British as I was. Yet, they still wouldn’t change going to London with any other city.

The Language.

The language is one luxury Americans encounter when going to London. It’s so easy to communicate with everyone. The UK has a good relationship with the US so majority of the time, people accept big groups of American tourists walking together. There are some differences though. For instance, the Brits say “You alright?” as a form of “How are you?” They don’t really care if you aren’t alright, though. It’s kind of how we always respond “Good, you?” but when that one person says “Eh, not great,” the conversation can turn awkward really quickly.  Here’s a quick guide to the language.

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The History!

London is an old city. And I mean OLD. You think the US has old cities until you visit London and realize buildings have been standing since the 1200s. Because London is old, there is so much to see. You can visit Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, etc. You can learn so much about different time periods while in London.

For those Art History Majors, London is full of Museums and Art Galleries,
The British Museum, Churchill war rooms, Charles Dickens Museum and Florence Nightingale Museum to name a few. The Queens Art Gallery and The Courtauld Gallery are worth a look if you have a free afternoon to stroll through.

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The Royalty
If you’re like me, then you have a love for the royal family. Even if you don’t like them as much as I do, it’s still amazing to see where they reside, what kind of role they have in today’s society, and how everyone else views them.

The Endless Things to Do
Once you’ve tired yourself out over all the historical places and museums that London has to offer, you can still spend your time doing other exciting things. London is home to tons of different street markets. From the tourist-trap that is Portobello Road to the food-filled Borough Market, you can experience all different parts and styles of London. The weekends are the biggest days for markets, but they’re always fun to visit during the week too.

The Day Trips
When you want to do some exploring outside of London, the UK has so many places (and inexpensive tours) to visit. Whether you want to recite The Canterbury Tales in Canterbury or walk through the studious colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, there’s always somewhere to visit on the weekends. I took advantage of student tour groups that offered day trips to places I wouldn’t have been able to visit on my own (plus, a lot of those places are in the middle of nowhere!).

For all the English Majors, you may be interested in taking a trip to see Shakespeare’s birthplace. A train trip to a beautiful town called Stratford-upon-Avon if worth a visit everything Shakespeare and its quaint shops and tea houses.
Henley-on-Thames is a riverside location, home to the famous Henley-on-Thames rowing regatta, with festivals all year round and walking paths along the Thames, this is a lovely day trip.

The Nightlife
London is unique in that there are so many options for students. You can never have a bad night by sitting at a pub and witnessing the local color (or “colour”, as the Brits spell it) of the neighborhood. If you’re in the mood to dance, there are tons of clubs all over. At the beginning of your semester, it’s good to check out some pub crawls in different areas of London. They aren’t expensive if you buy it in advance and you get to check out some of the big spots you wouldn’t normally venture to during the day.

So whether you want a historical learning experience or a night out, London offers so much and can give you one of the best experiences of your life.

Kara O'Rourke

Marist College | 1 story

Kara is an English Writing major at Marist College and will graduate in May 2014. She most recently studied abroad and interned in London for four months. She loves everything British from Harry Potter to the Royal Family (plus her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice). She hopes to one day travel back to London and live there after graduation. She is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She can always be seen curled up on the couch with a cup of tea in one hand and a good book in the other.

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