As you may know, in September 2018 I moved across the country to start at the University of London. Whilst my university campus is not located in London as most of the University of London’s institutions are, I have managed to spend a lot of time (and far too much money on train tickets) exploring the capital!
Growing up, I can only really remember going to London twice – once in 2012 to visit museums with my family and in 2017 to see the World Para-athletics Championships at the Olympic Park. So it’s fair to say that before university, I really hadn’t seen much of London at all, let alone been able to navigate the tube!
At one point, I ended up going into London about once every fortnight as I found being surrounded by the business of the city was a good way to distract myself from the loneliness I was feeling whilst struggling to settle in. Moving back to Somerset for summer has been strange to say the least and I really miss uni and being able to hop on a train into London, so I thought I’d share with you some of the my favourite places I’ve explored and things I’ve done in the capital this past year!
Canary Wharf // Winter Lights Festival
One of the first things I did when I came back to uni after the Christmas break was go to the Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf. I’d never actually been to Canary Wharf before so I did get a bit lost trying to navigate my way there (and find my way around the light trail when I eventually got there!) but it was really good fun to get out and about, even if it was a freezing January evening. The light displays were really cool and I really enjoyed seeing London at night, especially looking across the Thames at all the lights and skyscrapers.
In March one of my friends from back home came over to visit, so we spent a day in London seeing the sights. One of the places we decided to visit was the Tate Modern – we didn’t have time to take in the art unfortunately but we did go up to the 10th floor viewing platform to see the views over London, which were absolutely amazing!! The great thing about the Tate is it’s free to enter, unlike the Shard, which is great when you’re on a student budget but still want to see the views across the city!
Before moving out of halls in June, I spent one of my last days at uni going around the Tate at a slower pace and actually enjoying the exhibitions. I can’t wait to go the Olafur Eliasson exhibition when I move back to uni in September!
Tate Britain // The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain
Continuing along the theme of art, I also visited the Tate Britain back in April to see the Van Gogh exhibition they had there. It was really interesting to learn about the time Van Gogh spent in London and see some more of his paintings after seeing some in the Rijksmuseum last year. I also wandered around the rest of the galleries and whilst I’m more interested in modern art than classical art, I still enjoyed my visit there!
Thames // River Cruise
For our end of year party, my department organised a river cruise along the Thames, departing from the London Eye and taking in the sights from the Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge and back. It was such a cool experience watching the sunset as we floated along the river. We probably consumed too much alcohol than should be advised in the company of our lecturers but it was a great way to celebrate the end of the year. It was pretty cool going under Millennium Bridge and having a mini Harry Potter fangirl moment and going past Parliament and quoting Vossi Bop (if you get me). I can’t wait to do it again next year and I’d definitely recommend doing a boat cruise if you’re visiting London!
Greenwich Peninsula // Emirates Air Line
My friend from home visited me again in June and we spent another day sightseeing around the city. One of my favourite things that we did was going on the Emirates Air Line which is a cable car that goes across the Thames. The view across the East London Docklands was amazing and we could even see the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which we decided to visit afterwards. Although, neither me nor my friend are massive fans of heights so we were quite relieved that it only took 20 mins for a return trip!
So, those are some of the highlights of my first year of exploring London whilst at university! I definitely want to make the most of living near London over the next two years, so it’s safe to say there’ll be plenty more adventures in the capital come!
What are you favourite things to do and places to visit in London? Let me know in the comments!! 🙂