Ghost Town London

The walk along the Thames was so nice and encouraged us, that we can still have the opportunity to occasionally go out and have some fun. Therefore, we did another day trip, but this time to the city centre. Yes, you heard right. We were just super curious to see how it’s like, if there were many people, lots of security or police, and so on. Elina was visiting a friend in Hyde Park. Therefore, Ilya and I decided to go on our own. 

We took the bus to the city and hopped off at Hyde Park corner. There were actually more people than I expected. However, compared to the regular times in London, it wasn’t busy at all. To that time, there were obviously mostly locals going for a run and cycling around. So many cyclists! You can’t even imagine. Anyway! The first thing catching your eye when arriving at Hyde Park corner is Wellington Arch. It stands just pretty random there, but definitely looks cool. I felt kind of awkward when I tried to take a picture with my camera, because there weren’t any tourists around doing so. And honestly, considering the circumstances at that time, it didn’t feel so right to behave like a tourist. I mean, you weren’t even really allowed to go out. Therefore, I tried not to take a picture of every single little thing I was walking by, especially not if security or police was around. And that strategy worked perfectly, I have to admit. We walked through Wellington Arch and the following alley before we reached Buckingham Palace. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so empty over there. Otherwise, everything seemed quite normal. The guards were standing there and changing position as usual. 

From Buckingham Palace, we walked through St. James’s Park. It’s quite a small area. However, you can still find there a pond and animals you wouldn’t expect to find in a British park. We actually saw some pelicans! Most importantly, I enjoy walking through St. James’s Park, because it connects Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. The location is just perfect. It creates a completely different atmosphere and gives you the feeling of being in nature, although you are in the city centre of London. Around Westminster Abbey, tourists are usually lining up to take a picture with a red telephone cell. It is funny that England is associated with red telephone cells and red busses. Who on earth is using a telephone cell nowadays? No one! They are not used at all but work perfectly as a tourist attraction. Because this time, no one was lining up, I just had to take a picture as a stereotypical memory. Big Ben was still under construction. 

And then, we already reached the Thames. I really like cities on the water, whether it be on a lake, a river or the sea. It gives a nice atmosphere, creates a beautiful scenery and just connects everything. Furthermore, it is much easier to orientate yourself. For London, I have the attractions in mind, depending on where they are located on the river. First comes Big Ben, then London Eye, St. Pauls Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, Borough Market, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and so on. And that’s almost the way we followed. We already saw London Eye when we walked by Big Ben. Honestly, I do not know why London Eye is considered as such a big attraction. It’s just a Ferris wheel! But well. Still cool, somehow. On our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral, we came by a little courtyard where we made a break, luxury hotels such as the Savoy, a couple of statues, interesting buildings and small parks. It was so sad seeing businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, closed. They really had and still have a hard time. But let’s look at the positive sides. We really enjoyed walking on the river promenade.

Good timing! Then when we arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral, we both felt like eating lunch. We ordered some Poke Bowls online. They got delivered within 15 minutes. However, first I received the wrong order. It was really funny. I went to the driver, told him my name, but received Chinese take away. Luckily, I noticed the mix up before he was gone. A couple of minutes later, another girl came asking for her delivery. And guess what, she was also called “Anna”. Too funny! My delivery guy was just standing a few metres next to us! Unluckily, we forgot to order cutleries. Haha Ilya literally wanted us to eat the bowl with our hands! But no way! We didn’t even bring hand sanitizer with us. Therefore, we ordered some spring rolls and dumplings at a Chinese restaurant nearby, where we just walked by to pick the food up. And here we had our chopsticks. It was quite cool sitting on the gras, in the sun, right next to the huge cathedral. Quite a unique experience, I have to say. 

Already at that time, I was trying to search a bathroom. But no chance! Restaurants and shops were closed, public toilets locked and even those disgusting toilet boxes were closed. Argh! It was a struggle. But I was convinced I could make it. Haha! As we couldn’t find a bathroom, we continued our journey. We walked across Millennium bridge, walked along the river, came by London Bridge and continues walking until we reached Tower Bridge. Omg! There were so many people just sitting tight on tight on a tiny grass place, drinking beer, chatting and eating. Without mask or anything! I was shocked. How can that be allowed? We walked by with the biggest distance possible. When we crossed Tower Bridge, we saw quite a few police officers. It didn’t seem like they did care at all about the behaviour of people. Insane! 

And that’s the time when Ilya decided that he wants to try Bubble Tea for the first time. I still haven’t found a toilet. Therefore, drinking a big cup of tea might have not been the best thing to do. But I just had to! Especially because the Bubble Tea shop was the only business around that was open. Also, we haven’t drank much the entire day! The Bubble Tea was yummy, and it was so funny to see his reaction when chewing on the boba. Not sure if it’s going to be his favourite on earth. But I guess, you always have to give things a try.

We finished our drinks at the Tower of London. Afterwards, we headed straight to the subway. We felt like we were in a ghost town. No people at all! We were the only ones! Crazy! And kind of creepy. Unfortunately, we had to change tube one time. I really really had to pee. It was so bad. Kind of embarrassing to write about it.  But I mean, it was how it was. Terrible! When we were waiting for the next tube, which of course was delayed, I just couldn’t anymore. I had to call an Uber! I even asked the security if they could open the toilets at the subway. But no, they didn’t even think about it! The Uber drive back was one of the most exhausting, painful and funniest drives I’ve experienced. Ilya tried to give me moral support. Looking back, it was too funny! He is still reminding me of that situation all the time. Well! Luckily, I can report that we both made it safe and dry back to campus! It was already 6pm. I don’t think he ever seen me running that fast to my dorm!

So, what do we learn from that day? You can go to city during lockdown and have an amazing day. However, don’t drink 1 litre water at breakfast, eat lunch and drink bubble tea when you know that you will not find a bathroom for 8 hours! Overall, I absolutely enjoyed that sunny day in London with Ilya. We saw the beautiful city without big crowds of tourists, had delicious food and good talks. I wished I could fly back immediately. Sooner or later, I will! 

Along the Thames

May 16, 2020! From home I heard that the situation Germany and a few other European countries was getting better and better. Restaurants and shops started to open again, which represented a step back to a rather normal life. However, the United Kingdom was still in complete lockdown. For myself, it didn’t feel like anything would get better any soon. It rather seemed like it’s getting worse. I couldn’t believe why this country was in those terms so far behind. Whatever! Therefore, we still weren’t really allowed to go outside. Many people did go outside, because just no one cared and got controlled. But for us, we just felt unrespectful going outside and pretending everything is great and nothing is going on right now at the world. That was just not true. On the other side, we were getting tired of spending every single day in our small room on campus. I just had to get some fresh air, walk and see something else than my laptop and my bed. And that’s how our little day trip came about. 

It was all quite spontaneous. I woke up and ate some breakfast when Elle and Ilya asked me to go for a “walk”. And that’s what we did. However, the “walk” turned out to be rather a “hike”. We walked quite long. But I absolutely enjoyed it to see some other “non-touristy” parts of London. Before we even reached Richmond park, we came by an ice-cream truck. I’ve never seen one in real life. We don’t really have them in Germany. So far, I’ve only seen them in American movies. Even more excited were we, when we saw the iceman selling yummy ice-cream. That’s the first and only “business” that open and allowed at that time. 

Then, we walked through Richmond park, until we reached the big big house. It took us almost an hour until we saw the house. When we were running that distance, the distance felt much smaller. Anyway, we had a lot to talk and to see. Then we came buy a many deer again. So, the walk didn’t feel that long at all. Honestly, I have no idea what’s the big house called or what’s in it. But that’s not important. Important is, that from there it wasn’t far anymore to the river side.

 

We could already see the water from the top. Surrounded by gorgeous nature, it looked absolutely beautiful. We randomly walked further, hoping to reach the Thames. I guess we didn’t take the straight way to the river, but that was okay. We crossed a big field and came by a cow herd. Or was it a buffalo herd? Haha, they looked a little like it. Then, we ended up at the little village, called Petersham. We walked through the small alleys, came buy a German school, a Polo club and much more. Then, finally we made it to the river. 

It really looked beautiful, the river with all those little boats floating enlightened in the sun and surrounded by so much green. There were quite a few people around, but it was still easy to take distance. We made a small break and just sat by the water, enjoying the sun. 

From there, we walked further and further, until we reached Teddington Lock Footbridge. The way always went along the river. It was super nice doing and seeing something non-touristy. I mean, what tourist would come to the Ham Lands and Teddington Lock just to walk for hours and hours along the Thames? I don’t think many. It was cool feeling a little like a local. We crossed the river and came to the little British village “Teddington”. There, we strolled around the main street, had a look at some coffee shops that opened for take-away only, ordered some pizza and waited on a bank for the delivery to come. With the food, we walked to The Woodland Gardens, another huge park. That’s what I love about London. Even though you are in such a big city, there is so much green everywhere. So nice. 

And that was it! We headed back to campus by train and bus. That was when we realized how far we actually walked. It was so good to get out of that room, see something else, enjoy the weather and London’s surroundings! 

Lockdown in London

And then everything changed so quickly!

We had some more regular classes on campus. But already then, we shouldn’t leave campus. The biggest trip was going to the gym or to the supermarket. But even that changed. We’ve been only a little longer than one month in London, when our school decided to close and move to remote learning. It was a strange and kind of sad situation. We just got to know each other and got used to the new campus. And now? Everything should be over already? I wasn’t ready to leave London just yet. I just came!

At the beginning, our school suggested us to stay on campus, as travelling wasn’t that safe. But at the end, almost everyone went back to their families. At least when they were able to. Some students earlier, some students later, some students not at all. It was so sad seeing everyone leaving again, considering that we didn’t know if or when we will see each other again. I decided to stay on campus for a while, as it was to that time still very easy to catch a flight back to Germany. I had always the possibility to go back. My friends from China for example had much bigger issues. They wanted to go back home. However, finding a flight that doesn’t cancel last minute and isn’t 1000 times more expensive than usual was almost impossible. Well… and so it started: lockdown in London. 

On March 20, we had our first online class. It was actually quite funny to have a meeting with all my colleagues from all over the world. They were students online from China, Taiwan, Russia, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Italy, France, Germany, Norway, the USA, from literally everywhere. Obviously, the time difference didn’t make remote learning so easy. But surprisingly, we managed it quite well. It was just a complete switch to our usual class environment with plenty of group work and presentations. Now, it was so important to force yourself attending the classes and organize tasks and work we had to do. I just followed my usual weekly plan. Therefore, I was as busy as before with attending classes, studying and doing projects. It was definitely more exhausting to work on group projects through “Teams”. We often called each other for 6 hours in a row, eating dinner for an hour and then calling us again until 2am in the morning to finish a report. Tuff times! But somehow, we made it. 

In our free time and especially Easter break, we played games, such as UNO, Monopoly and Jenga together. We either played in the kitchen, in the sofa area or outside on the grass. It was super cool having an inner courtyard on campus. You have no idea how often we played. At the end, we were really sick about playing UNO or Monopoly, that we had to find some other ways to keep us entertained. Movie nights were always an option. But we also tried to attempt a puzzle. But seriously, that was just impossible to finish! And I even learned how to play Mahjong, a Chinese game. At the beginning I thought I would never be able to understand that game, just considering the Chinese characters on the game pieces. But it looked harder than it actually was. It was so much fun. I wished I could still play it at home. 

Moreover, one of our most common activities was going to Richmond park. The park was just a 10 min walk from campus away. Not only is Richmond park incredibly huge, but also really beautiful. You could walk there for hours and always discover something you haven’t seen before. We especially liked spotting dears and other wild animals. I can’t really call it “spotting”, as they were randomly standing around all over the park. And besides dears, you have no idea how many squirrels were living around Roehampton. It wasn’t even a surprise anymore seeing one. When I looked out of my window, I could be sure to see minimum 5 squirrels. Even when I went to the kitchen, it was no surprise anymore seeing one sitting next to the window or in the trash. Whatever. Let’s stay in Richmond Park for now. Elle pushed me to come running with her several times. At the beginning it was so exhausting! However, I started liking it. It was so good to get some fresh air and do some sports. Otherwise, I was just sitting all day long on my laptop. It was even more fun when we were a couple of girls running together and doing a little workout on campus. 

If you haven’t noticed yet, the weather was incredible. Most of the time! Unlike the stereotypical English weather, it was so sunny and warm. During spring, all flowers began to bloom, which reminded me of the cherry blossom season in Japan last year. Incredible. Just sad, that we couldn’t use that weather to do some more trips. But we tried to make the most out of it. We chilled together outside, made a small picknick and went to the park at Richmond University to visit and feed the ducks and geese.

One of the biggest issues for guys during the lockdown period was the unavailability of hairdressers. It was just so funny to see how they all got so long hair. One friend couldn’t stand his long hair anymore. So, he asked me and Elle to give our best and cut his hair. Wow! He really trusted us. And who knew that it is so much harder to cut guys hair compared to girl’s hair. Lord! We struggled hard. But at the end, he was actually happy with the result! What a relief!

And besides going to the supermarket, the Korean market, doing laundry, watching netflix and cleaning my room, the biggest part during quarantine was the food. We cooked and baked so much, celebrated birthdays and Eastern. When I was with my Chinese friends, we had the most incredible dinners ever. They do not just cook one meal for every person. No! There are hundreds of different dishes spread out at the table. And then, everyone shares everything! It was so cool. We ate dumplings, Hot Pot, seafood, fish, noodles, tofu, spicy rice cake, curry, veggies and more. I had the opportunity to try so many things I have never even seen or heard of. For the Russian Easter party, we had some typical Russian food and pastries. I baked some chocolate chip cookies. Haha, I had to give them all the recipe and bake the cookies again and again because they were so delicious. On a daily basis, I tried to cook as diverse as possible. I cooked curries, pasta, salads, stews, noodles and so on. 

And that was basically it. Sleep, study, eat, repeat! As boring as it sounds, that’s how we lived for at least a month or two. But then, we just had to get out for another trip! Stay tuned! 

Pub Crawl, Kimonos, Hot Pot & More

When thinking about the UK, one of the first things popping in my mind are pubs. They are literally on every corner here, at least that’s the case in London. You do not even have to be in the city centre to find an authentic pub. Honestly, I felt like they were everywhere. As I am not so into beer and drinking in general, it wasn’t really my priority to check out every single pub in London. However, as part of our “Food and Beverage” course, we had to analyse a pub in London and create a completely different concept to attract new customers, increase revenue and improve its image. Moreover, we had to make sure to keep an eye on competitors’ strategies. Therefore, my team and I went to the city centre of London, specifically to Leicester Square, to check out some of the pubs London has to offer. 

We went to 6 pubs in total. We started at “The Salisbury” pub, which had an amazing, historical interior. Then we headed over to “Mr. Foggs”. The atmosphere was insane. We almost felt like we entered the world of Harry Potter. The other pubs were called “The Round Table”, “The Long Acre”, “The Bear and Staff” and “The Brewmaster”. All pubs were so unique and totally cool considering the atmosphere and interior. However, looking at the menu and service, they were all pretty similar. Overall, those pubs were all great! Otherwise, they wouldn’t even exist in the centre of London. Finally, we decided to choose our least favourite pub for our project, “The Brewmaster”, as we saw the biggest potential in creating a new concept. 

Before heading back to campus, we stopped by Five Guys, a very popular Burger joint in the UK and I guess all over the world. 

That was probably less interesting for you to hear. What I actually wanted to share with this blog post is another exciting day I spent in London. My friend and me went to Westminster Station by subway. Big Ben and Westminster Abby were both, and I think they still are, under construction. I am happy that I saw them once before. From Westminster Station you can easily walk to all the beautiful parks that London has to offer. There is St. James Park, The Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Park. We just walked a through St. James Park and The Green Park, as it was on the way to our breakfast/ brunch spot. It took actually quite a while, until we reached Bond Street. But I definitely enjoyed walking there, as I discovered some streets that I haven’t seen before. 

The café we decided to go is called “Feya café”, a very instagrammable café I would say. The interior and the food looked so beautiful and cute. But it was definitely more on the expensive side. We ordered two special lattés, avocado toast and a smoothie bowl. We also had to try one of their delicious cakes. Overall, it was a really cool, delicious and girly breakfast. 

Afterwards, we took the bus to Victoria and Albert Museum to meet two other friends. At school, we signed up for free tickets to the “Kyoto to Catwalk” exhibition. The whole exhibition was about Kimonos, the traditional Japanese clothing. I was just interested to go, because I lived and worked for 6 months in Kyoto, Japan. Moreover, I did wear a Kimono there. Therefore, it was really interesting to just see all different kinds of Kimonos, from traditional to modern. Besides the Kimono exhibition, the Victoria and Albert Museum has so many more art galleries and exhibitions. We looked at some jewellery, sculptures and paintings. Just walking through the building was super stunning.

Then, we decided to split up. Elle met another friend. Ilya and Michelle went to Harrods. And I headed to Piccadilly Circus, where I met some other friends. I still had some time; therefore, I decided to walk around and check out some other places. I took the subway from South Kensington back to Green Park. From there I walked straight to Buckingham Palace and watched the guards changing. Then, I walked to Oxford Street, where I checked out some stores. I also walked through Carnaby Street, a really cool place to be. I even discovered a little courtyard, where everyone was just sitting together eating, drinking and chatting. Such a cool atmosphere. 

Afterwards, I made my way to China Town to buy some Asian groceries. There are always so any people around. Even street musicians are playing and funny disguised people, for instance looking like a panda, are walking around. A totally different atmosphere. And then finally, I headed to Piccadilly Circus, where I met my colleagues. As I never ate Chinese Hotpot before, my Chinese friends wanted to go with me to Haidilao, an extremely famous Hotpot place in London and even in China. I was so happy that they went with me, as I had no idea how it actually works. They ordered everything for me and showed me how to mix the dipping sauce, etc. It was really cool! We divided the pot in different parts with different soup bases. Therefore, you could decide the flavour and the spice level, in which you cook your meat, seafood, tofu, vegetables, noodles and co. We even had a life noodle show right in front of our table. It was so cool and so delicious!

To end the night, we went to “Coco” to get some bubble tea. It was quite a perfect day I have to say. And at that time, I didn’t know it would be the last time that we were able, allowed and brave enough to go together to the city centre. Then from that moment, pandemic life in London started. 

Enjoying London

The first two weeks of school were pretty relaxed, but at the same time challenging.

We all had to get used to the new environment, the new subjects, teachers and classmates, as well as the new lifestyle. I quite liked the atmosphere and the life on campus. It was all pretty convenient. Obviously, some teachers or subjects weren’t that great at first, but what can you expect from the first few weeks of school. Other than classes, we had some casual evenings together, went to the supermarket, cooked every day, studied and had a small party. Just how I expected the first weeks to be. 

As we weren’t that busy with studying yet, I decided to go to the city on the weekends. On Saturday the 22nd of February, me and my two best friends headed to the city by subway. I just followed them. In central London, we walked by some cool shops and cafés. One of them was called “Doughnut time”, a really “instagrammable” place to be. We just walked by. But just the look inside was so cool, but definitely corny. No wonder, the doughnut shop attracted especially girls. We also passed by a closed “meat market”, a really historical church, some random little streets and courtyards. All in all, it was super nice to see London from a non-touristic perspective. 

My colleagues are pretty interested in art. In a city like London, there are all the time and everywhere some new art galleries and exhibitions. This time, they were interested in visiting the exhibition called “Masculinities”. The gallery was inside “Barbican Hall”, quite a big areal. I would have personally never ever even thought about going to an exhibition about masculinities, but I decided to be open-minded and just go wherever they wanted to go. It was actually quite interesting to just look around and get new impressions. However, I still didn’t turn to the biggest art lover. In the same building, we discovered a huge indoor garden. So cool! Something you would only find in a big city. So random.

Afterwards, we went inside the little restaurant at Barbican Hall to eat early dinner. The food was nothing special, but easy and convenient. Then, for the evening, we planned to watch the Korean movie, called “Parasite”. You have probably heard about it. If not, go and check it out! The movie was really good. At the beginning, I found it a little tiring to listen to the Korean language, while reading English subtitles. But I got used to it quickly. Furthermore, I found it much more authentic and touching hearing the actors in their mother tongue, rather than their synchronous voice. I absolutely recommend this movie! From the cinema, we headed back to campus, by bus and subway. A chilled, different, but nice day we spent in London. 

The weekend after, we had a more touristy day in the city. The weather was beautiful. Elle and I headed by subway to the city, specifically to Soho. There, we just walked a little bit around, because most shops and restaurants were still closed. We had a look at Soho Square, a crazy clothes shop and the main street close to China Town. Then, we decided to go inside “Café de Nata”. I heard about this place before. They are famous for selling Portuguese egg tartes. I also heard that they are very famous in Hong Kong. As I never tried them before, I really wanted to give them a shot. They came in so many flavours. I went with the classic one. They tasted amazing! I honestly didn’t expect that. It’s like a delicious vanilla custard on puff pastry, just better. 

After our little pre-snack, we were finally able to enter “Eat Tokyo”. That’s where we originally planned to go for lunch and the reason for us coming to Soho. We heard from some classmates before, that this place is really good for Japanese cuisine at a reasonable price. We predominantly ordered Sashimi and Sushi. So fresh and delicious! The presentation was on fleek too. It was so good to eat Japanese together with my friend Elle, as we met each other in Japan and travelled together in Korea. It was like a little flash back. Then, I just had to check out the Bubble Tea Store next door, called Biju Bubble Tea Room. The interior was fully inspired of K-Pop. So Asian! I decided to try the bubble tea with matcha. It was pretty delicious, but the Boba not as fresh as in the Taiwanese store. It made me happy anyway. 

After so much food, it was time for a walk! It’s actually one of my favourite walks in whole London. We first headed to St. Paul’s cathedral, such a beautiful building. From there you can walk straight on the famous “Millennium Bridge”, well known from Harry Potter. The bridge connects St. Paul’s cathedral and the Tate Modern, a really famous museum in London. Moreover, you have an amazing view of the Thames, as well as the cathedral. Such a beautiful spot. Before checking out Tate Modern, we decided to have a walk along the Thames. From there you could actually see the unique and extraordinary shape of the Harry Potter Bridge. Moreover, there are always some street musicians playing their songs, which creates a charming atmosphere. 

Elle and I walked all the way to Tower Bridge. On the way, you pass by beautiful little alleys and even some street art. For me, Tower Bridge is one of the most stunning places to be. I could just spend an entire day there without getting bored. But we didn’t have that much time. My friend planned to meet two friends of hers at Tate Modern, which is why we headed back there.

It was really nice meeting them. Before checking out the gallery, I wanted to show them the viewing platform at the top of the building. That’s probably one of the best recommendations I can give you for London. Go to Tate Modern and take the elevator to the highest floor. You will be rewarded with a stunning view. And the best of it, you do not have to pay anything for it. Usually, when going to a viewing spot, like “Sky Garden” you have to book tickets in advance. That’s much more convenient and cheaper. We all really enjoyed it!

Afterwards, we checked out the multiple galleries. There are so many of them, changing constantly. It wasn’t my first time here. But due to the always changing exhibitions, it doesn’t get boring. And that was it! We all headed back to the subway station and made our way back “home”. Such a nice day! And you have no idea how happy I am, that we actually enjoyed London before the lockdown. And that was not all of it! There is so much more to do and see in London. You will soon see more! 

Exchange semester in London

As I arrived back home from my Philippines trip, I could already prepare myself for the next adventure. I had only two full days at home, before I had to fly to London for my exchange semester. Quite tight in time. But it all worked out okay. However, packing for an entire semester is something completely different compared to a two-three weeks trip. But I told myself, that I can come home anytime I want. That’s what I thought at that time. Then, compared to Japan, London is not at the other side of the world. However, everything turned out differently. But let’s start from the beginning.

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On February 12 I flew from Basel to London. Unfortunately, my luggage was way too heavy. And as Switzerland is well known for being ridiculously expensive, I had to painfully pay quite a bit extra. Whatever! Let’s not talk about that. The flight was pretty quick. In around 1,5 hours, I landed at Heathrow airport. There, I already met a classmate of mine. The driver waited already for us, which was super convenient. As we arrived on campus, we first had to do a health check, due to the Covid-19 situation around the world. Even though, the situation in Europe at that time was harmless, there are many international students studying at my school. That’s why the school took it pretty seriously. I almost didn’t want to tell them that I have been transferring plane in Hong Kong, even though they told us we should not enter a step to mainland China. But it was all good.

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It was so nice to see some familiar faces again. The London campus is much smaller than the Swiss campus. Many of my close friends stayed in Switzerland. Therefore, I was first a little scared coming here. But it was also quite exciting to be in a different environment and to get along with different people compared to the last semester. As I discovered the campus and got used to my room, I already liked the atmosphere here. Much more familiar and convenient. We were divided in different little houses, 12-16 rooms each if I remember correctly. Every dorm had a kitchen and a sofa area. The classrooms were literally a 10 second walk away. So convenient! The first week was for introduction purposes. They showed us the campus, explained how the 4th semester will work and so on.

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Besides school, we went an afternoon to Ikea, to buy some stuff for our room and the kitchen and to eat some Hot dogs. I also had to get my nails done, because the school didn’t allow us girls to wear red nails. Such a pain. Moreover, I got invited to a friend’s home for dinner. It was so cool and kind of them. And the food was delicious! Obviously, we also checked out the biggest and cheapest supermarket in the area, called Asda. Then for the next four months, we had to cook daily. But most excitingly was the day, when we first went to the city centre. I mean, it wasn’t my first time in London. I’ve been there a couple of years ago with my mum. In those few days, we basically saw all major tourist attractions and popular areas. Therefore, I didn’t feel any pressure having to explore every corner of London. There were and are definitely many things I haven’t seen of London yet. But this time, I also had the opportunity to see London as a Londoner.

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The first time, I went with a bunch of Asians to the city, which was pretty cool! Our Uni is located in a neighbourhood called Roehampton, which is why we took an Uber to get to the city. With 4 people sharing the price, it was quite affordable. First, we headed to Chinatown. I’ve never been there before, which is why I was especially excited. It was all like I imagined. The red lanterns and the atmosphere were really nice and lively. There were so many restaurants and dessert store we wanted to try out. In general, London is heaven for foodies. So many amazing and original restaurants for everyone’s taste.

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Then, we headed to Covent Garden to catch up with the other guys. Covent Garden was new to me as well. It’s definitely more of a shopping district. But the entire vibe, with the traditional British pubs, houses and of course the red telephone cells, couldn’t have been more British. The weather wasn’t as nice. It started raining here and then, but that’s what London is famous for. Right?

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While most other guys wanted and needed to go shopping, I decided to walk and look around during that time. I looked at Covent Garden Market, an indoor hall with cute shops and cafés. Afterwards, I headed to Neal’s Yard, a hidden little alley which looked absolutely adorable. But I’m not going to lie, it took me a while until I actually found the right way. Otherwise, I just strolled through the streets.

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