Because I have visited London twice before my current internship and have seen the major tourist attractions in the past, I feel I can enjoy the city at a more relaxed- and slower-pace (especially now that I live an easy 70-minute train ride away). I have already spent two of my first four weekends in the UK in London, the first with the College on a school trip and the second on my own to see friends who were visiting.
Since this is most of the Harlaxton students’ first time to the UK, they were all very excited to spend a few days in the big city. The College organized a trip to London during their first full weekend (January 10-13). About 140 of the 160 students signed up for this optional weekend excursion. Harlaxton organizes various trips throughout the semester that any student can sign up for (including to Edinburgh, Dublin, North Wales, Bath and Stonehenge, the Lake District, Paris, and Italy, as well other day trips closer to Grantham). These trips through the College are an attractive option for students since they don’t have to plan their own transportation and accommodation (this is done by my co-worker in the Student Development Office), and it’s often cheaper compared to if they were to do the same trip on their own due to group discounts. There is always staff from the College who go on the trips as well (called “couriers”) to help answer questions and be available in case of an emergency.
I was one of six couriers for the London trip, meaning I rode one of the buses with the students, helped answer questions, and carried an emergency phone with me in case any student got lost or hurt. Otherwise, I had the weekend free to myself! The timing worked out wonderfully since my Uncle Dave, Aunt Margot, and Aunt Alice were also visiting London for 10 days in January, allowing me to see them a few times during their stay.
During my first weekend in London, I met Margot and Alice at The British Museum where we visited parts of Ancient Greece, including the Parthenon:
I saw Trafalgar Square:
Went to Canary Wharf where the International Ice Sculpting Festival was taking place:
Met up with a couple friends who now live in London and walked around the city:
Met Dave, Margot, and Alice for a nice dinner and classical music concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields church (unfortunately we forgot to get a picture of us all together):
On our way back to Harlaxton with the students, we stopped at Hampton Court Palace and Runnymede (where King John most likely sealed the Magna Carta in 1215):
The following weekend, I returned to London, this time on my own. I took the train down by myself and stayed with a friend from Portland who was visiting with her childhood friends (from New Orleans). We stayed at a cozy apartment in the Shoreditch neighborhood. It snowed that weekend, which the Louisiana group loved; it was the first time one of them had ever seen snowflakes falling!
It was nice having some time off and away from the College. I saw my family again for another nice dinner and classical music concert. My friends and I also went to pubs and experienced some nightlife, as well as walked around and saw more sites including Trafulgar Square (again), Platform 9 3/4 (sadly I haven’t seen Harry Potter yet), Harrods (where I decided not to splurge on the £1,900 six foot standing bear and instead settled for £2.30 Turkish Delight), and the Oxford Circus area:
Life continues to be good.