Saturday, 29 June 2013

First Looks at London

Days 1 and 2:

The first day we arrived in London, we had just a few short hours to get as settled into our pretty small dorm rooms, shower (yay!), and meet our professors and classmates to go on our neighborhood walks.
Home, Sweet Home

This was our first look at the area around King's College, which is my home for the time being.  As tired as I was, I was thrilled to get out and walk around to see what I could see.  I was also really looking forward to meeting the people I will be spending my time with over the next few weeks.

Dr. Welsh, our professor, took us around the neighborhood and showed us really important things like where to do laundry, find baked goods, and eat fish and chips.  She also pointed out neighborhood grocery stores and took us to the Waterloo Underground Station to purchase an Oyster card (this lets me ride the tube).  After getting the necessities out of the way, she led us on quite a tour that covered the National Portrait Gallery, the Old Vic Theater, the London Eye,

Close Up of London Eye

The Full Effect

Big Ben and Parliament, the Thames, Liecester Square where we saw half-price ticket booths, Trafalger Square, and more!  She even was kind enough to buy our whole group pizza for dinner at one of the restaurants on the Thames. 

Once we finally got back to the dorm, a few of us headed down to Sainsbury (the local grocery store) to get a few items to help us make it through the night and next morning.  Without even unpacking my suitcase, I headed to bed for the first time in 27 hours.

Saturday morning, the academia began with class meetings about syllabi and course requirements.  Following that, we had program orientation and then headed out on our LondonAlive walks.  My LondonAlive walk was called Along the Riverfront.  Again, I headed out to the Thames, but we didn't just see all of the same things as the night before, which was nice.  We also saw the Millennium Bridge (which was immediately recognizable to me from Harry Potter), the Blackfriars Bridge (which I knew about from my English major days at James Madison University), the Globe Theater (which is way smaller in person that I had imagined),

Globe Theatre, complete with sprinkler system so a fire doesn't get this one!

along with the Swan Theater, the Tate Museum of Modern Art (which I learned used to be a power plant), the London Bridge, Tower Bridge,

Tower Bridge with some random people in front of it

 the Tower of London, and Borough Market (which was an open-air market that was amazing!).  We ended the walk at a specialty cheese shop, where we made friends with the cheese lady.  She let us try a few cheeses and explained the differences between them to us.  It was surreal to stand in the chilly, slightly damp air surrounded by wheels upon wheels of cheese!  I bought a few slices of Kirkham's Lancashire and Sparkenhoe Leicester to bring home for a snack later.
One of my yummy cheese selections!!!!!!!!

Getting Here, Always an Adventure

Days 0-1:

Getting to England was an adventure in and of itself.  I live in Richmond, VA, and I was flying out of Charleston, SC, which is approximately 8 hours away.  That meant that I had to get to the airport in Charleston by train, plane, or automobile before I could get on the plane on 6/27 to even begin my journey.  In order to save a little money, I chose the train and embarked on what should have been a 7-hour Amtrak trip (my first!) on Thursday, June 26.  I was lucky enough to get randomly bumped from coach to business class where I got my very own row of seats, but that's pretty much where my luck ended!  As seven hours turned into nine, I was ready to be on solid ground again.  Finally, late Wednesday night, I made it to my hotel in SC.

The next day I began my tour of the airports.  The Charleston airport has a lovely Dunkin' Donuts that serves wonderful bagels and cream cheese.  I'm sure that many people would consider ordering a bagel at a donut shop a food crime, but it was exactly what I wanted.  After breakfast, I headed to the gate and ended up meeting up with a whole crew of students who were heading to London to be part of the same study abroad program as I was.  We ended up sitting near each other on the plane, sharing gum, travel advice, a few laughs, and lunch and the layover in Dallas.  Ahh, Dallas...

Remember how my seven hour train trip turned into a nine hour one?  Yeah, that's about how the layover in Dallas happened, too.  We were supposed to leave at 4:45 and we had arrived around 2:30--the perfect amount of time to grab a bite to eat, exchange our dollars for British pounds, and run to the restroom before taking off for our overnight flight across the ocean.  Except, that's not exactly how it happened.  The airline kept bumping back the departure time...thirty minutes here, thirty more minutes, forty minutes, and so on.  Until finally, at around 6:15 they announced that they were going to give us food vouchers.  This was not good news.  This meant that there was no way we were leaving at 6:40 like they had said a few minutes before that, and I happened to be taking the first bite of my delicious grilled cheese sandwich (also from Dunkin' Donuts...I'm not sure why I have an affinity for buying anything and everything EXCEPT donuts there!).  So, I took my voucher and bought ice cream and bottled water!!!  It was delicious :)
The airline gives me a food voucher, I get Ben and Jerry's!

Eventually they did put us on a plane, and it was only 4 hours after our original departure time.  Once we arrived in London Friday morning, my new College of Charleston friends and I grabbed a cab, stuffed ourselves and our luggage into it, and took off for our new home at King's College!

We had arrived!  Here are some pictures from my cab ride.

A London street

Double decker buses


My name is Kate, and I am a graduate student in the British Studies Program through the University of Southern Mississippi for the next month.  I am studying library science and will receive my MLIS from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in August 2014 (as long as everything stays on track!).  As part of my class assignment, I will be keeping this blog to journal about what I am privileged enough to see each day during my travels here in London and surrounding areas and then in Edinburgh with my professor and fellow students.  I will also add personal entries for those family members and friends at home who want to make sure I'm eating enough vegetables and having fun while I'm here!  Entries may be updated or changed, so you might want to look back to see if I've added anything new to an old entry.  Also, I might not update every single day.  It all depends on how much time I have each evening.  All photographs are mine, unless otherwise noted.  I'm excited to share my love of books, libraries, history, travel, and other random stuff with you!