Tea shops and local markets.
It sounds lame but I feel I got to see a more personal side of London by frequenting these places. The variety and quality of the food at some of these markets is hard to beat, especially for the prices. Borrough Market (shown at right), just south of the Thames, blew me away the first Saturday I went. So much food. Gorgeous produce, local butchers, fancy cheese shops, and samples of basically everything (as well as a chocolate shop across from the market that has the best drinking chocolate in the world). But even just little markets like the one for Bloomsbury’s summer festival or the market outside Birkbeck every Thursday can make a day happier. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of freshly baked cake and friendly people in between classes to make you feel at home.
But we can’t forget the tea. Throughout the trip, I stopped at/frequented nine different tea shops. Tea hunting if you will. I wanted to see what variety the city had to offer, since Knoxville isn’t exactly ripe with tea rooms. For tasty good times after class, The Tea and Tattle right across from the British Museum doesn’t disappoint. TeaSmith inside Spitalfields Market is the place for the most perfectly calming cup of oolong or white tea, served the traditional Chinese way. And if you want to feel like a sir (or a princess), afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse in Soho will do it. It’s not snooty or full of perfume and hand fans; you get good chats with friends, comfy chairs, and tasty scones for a handsome price. Tea is definitely a British thing, and certainly something worth experiencing. Lesson learned from England: I’m implementing daily tea time back home in the States.
Around week two, when you have more homework than you’d care to admit and all you feel that all you’ve seen of London in days is a new aisle in your local Sainsbury’s and what’s outside the window of the classroom at the IES center, you shouldn’t be dismayed. Even if you do have to work on your studies, you’re in London. You can do fun things during the week too!
On a very sunny, very wonderful Monday, a group of us went to Hyde Park to do circuits homework in the grass. Ten-minute ride on the Underground, three hours of homework made exponentially better. Or there’s the day a few of us went to Trafalgar Square after class to climb on top of the lions. Little things like that made the trip special. Instead of just going to the attractions, we were able to make the spaces our own, actually make use of them like locals. It really was fun, even with homework involved.
July 2, 2013
We finished up classes today and boy were we glad. Some of went to celebrate at a very appropriately named pub (see below). Five weeks of grinding through class while having the time of our lives. Whether it was a Bon Jovi concert in a Dublin, reliving childhood at the making of Harry Potter, or just a night in Nido meeting people from all over the world, I had some experiences on this trip I’ll never forget.
I also got to know a lot of great people (some from UT, some not), and created relationships I hope to keep going. Thanks to the Professors and Administration that made this possible.
You can be sure we all learned one life skill all engineers need, PERSEVERANCE!!!