Monday, October 5, 2009

London Orientation Weekend

On Friday afternoon, I took the train to Brighton where I met someone from the ACCENT program (WashU’s London orientation program) and she bought me a Young Persons Railcard for cheaper train travel in the UK and my ticket to London for the weekend. We then took the train to London and she got me settled in my hotel which was tiny but adorable. I then went to dinner with the 6 other WashU students who are studying in London at an Indian restaurant and it was nice to talk with other WashU students for a change! I only knew one of the other students from WashU, Morgan, so I hung out with her and her new friends after dinner. We went to her London College University’s Student Union, which had a pub in it where lots of students hang out. Apparently, not having a pub on campus is unheard of in the UK.

Aishlinn and I in London!

Then on Saturday we had a seminar on British culture compared to American culture which was very interesting and then we had lunch at a different Indian restaurant. We were on our own for the afternoon, so I met up with Aishlinn, one of my friends from high school, who is also studying in London, and we had a great time exploring Harrod’s and getting dinner together. Then I was off to the Globe to see Love’s Labour’s Lost, another Shakespearean comedy, with the other WashU kids. We were in the standing section so it was tiring, and it started raining in the second half, but it was really funny play and very well performed. I was feeling a little under the weather (pun intended) with a cold, so I headed back to my hotel for an early slumber.
I woke up Sunday morning, got my free hotel breakfast, but then was late to the tour of London because of an ACCENT/hotel miscommunication about payment. But it turned out to be fate that I missed the beginning of the tour, as I randomly ran into Suzanne, who I work with in the Marketing Department at Olin (WashU’s business school), and her family on the streets of London. It was great to see another familiar face! And by this point, I was quite apt at traveling on the London Underground, so I managed to catch up with the tour group (three of the other WashU students) for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. They had only covered pieces of London I had already seen, so it wasn’t too disappointing that I missed the first part. Our tour guide, Angie, was absolutely amazing. She let us pick what we wanted to see in London and gave us all the good dirt that we couldn’t get anywhere else. We stopped by Covent Garden and browsed the markets there, had lunch at Wagamama, and then headed out to Kensington, which is the really nice part of town. We had decided against going to the standard touristy places because we wanted to find out the inside scoop of London, so Angie told us all about how much the houses cost and their long histories, then we happened by the house where T.S. Eliot lived and died and found our way onto the nicest roof garden in London. It was great! We then walked over to Kensington Palace (former residence of Princess Diana) where we had high tea. There were cucumber sandwiches, scones, cake, and I even drank tea! By this time it was getting late, and I still had to take the underground back to the hotel to pick up my luggage, take the underground to the train station, then take a train to Brighton and then one to Falmer where I walked back to my dorm! I was still feeling the effects of my cold, so it was nice to finally be back in my room.

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