Planning to travel to the London area for break or (highly recommended) study abroad? If so, you’ll need to know just how to spend (and not to waste) your valuable time (and money). I’m going to make it simple and break it down into the ten basic do’s and the emphatic don’ts.
- All things tourist: the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum, the National Gallery, Tate Modern… (you get the idea). You will regret it if you don’t.
- Day trips (It is SO much cheaper to travel out here than in the States). This is your chance to see all that England has to offer: Liverpool, Greenwich, Bath, Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Oxford, Canterbury, etc.
Explore. Every area of London is unique in its own way and the worst thing you could do is confine yourself to, say, Bloomsbury. Check out Soho’s Covent Garden (but don’t be misled by the name) or see a play in the West End. New York isn’t the only city with a Chinatown.
- Authentic food–it isn’t really that bad! Try a British pub and see if it doesn’t change your opinion rather quickly. Personally I love Night and Day and the Smithfield Tavern. If you go to the icecreamists though–watch out for that baby gaga (breast milk ice cream)!
- Weekend trips! This means the great European adventure aka Edinbugh, Paris, Venice, Rome, Croatia (Mljet Island is a must!), Amsterdam–the list goes on.
- Pub quiz- just go.
- Portobello Market- great deals and really just a one of a kind atmosphere. Also Notting Hill in general (if only for the movie lovers).
- Kew Gardens- really spectacular, especially the tree-top walkway!
- Just dance- there is no clubbing like British clubbing.
- Enjoy Irn Bru. Caffeine + quinine = the best soft drink ever. Also look out for the plethora of Cadbury candies and cocoa–they have more than just eggs out here!
- Bring a ton of US dollar notes (you’re asking to be mugged), use an outdoor ATM, or flash your cash and blackberry! You will be mugged.
- Bother trying Haggis (sausage pudding cooked inside sheep’s intestine)–it is what is says it is.
- Be surprised if A LOT of food contains alcohol, especially the closer you get to Scotland.
- Bring rain boots. It rains daily and you’ll be the only one in London wearing them.
Expect locals to necessarily want to speak to you in the grocery store line, on the tube, etc. They are much more reserved (until the sun sets at least).
- Fail to make use of the very clean and very safe public transportation or to use hopstop (yes it works here too) beforehand.
- Assume they have all of your prescriptions out here (even natural supplements may be illegal).
- Bring a ton of clothing. You will end up buying more and regret the shipping costs.
- Try to find food after ten at night. If you do, well, I sincerely wish you the best of luck.
- Forget that there ARE cultural differences. If you say you’re in college they think you are in high school, if you ask for chips you are getting fries, to-go food is take-away (and they will probably laugh when you ask), they pay in pounds and pence not dollars and cents (and there is a conversion rate)…
Story by Brittany Hutzel and Photos by Carolyn Balk