Lively, Lovely London

Nearly three weeks ago, I said goodbye to London. My study abroad program had come to an end, which meant I had to leave this spectacular city that I had called home for the past three months.

Thankfully, you don’t have to check memories at customs.

I met a variety of interesting people and even learned to juggle. So for the next few weeks, I’ll share some of these incredible experiences — starting right now with my first week.

I departed Memphis International Airport on a Saturday afternoon and arrived at London Heathrow Airport the next day. The sky was free of clouds as the plane descended, offering a view of London laid bare before me. I immediately spotted the Thames River and followed it with my eyes to find Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge. I even spotted the Gherkin, although I must admit that these were really the only points of interest I could recognize and name.

When I finally arrived at my flat on Dorset Square, I was expecting shoebox-sized rooms. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I would actually be able to fully open my suitcase in my own room. The one thing I really miss about that basement flat is the sound of trains rumbling beneath us.

On Monday, we took a private bus tour of London with a vibrant (and very tall) tour guide. Some of my fellow students were still suffering from jet lag, as evidenced by more than one person nodding off during the ride. After our tour, we were treated to afternoon tea at The Regency. This is when I became a hot tea fan (two sugars, no milk).

Midweek I traveled out to Kingston in search of my internship, a community radio station set up in the Kingston Community Centre. Here I met Sam, the station master, who I’d be working with for the summer. Sam is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and it’s clear others agree with me — everyone always seems to have a kind word for him. During my first day of work, Sam offered me a weekly radio show, which we decided to call The Crockett Chronicles (sound familiar?). Every Thursday at 5 pm BST I went live, playing music and discussing two things: a green issue and my adventures or observations.

Saturday began very bright and early because three friends and I were going to Windsor Castle and Oxford for the day. Windsor was breathtaking — the Queen was home, too! The rooms and grounds were magnificent, as one might expect. Oxford wasn’t my favorite. It just felt too touristy to me. Christchurch, however, was cool for one big reason: the scenes of the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies were filmed there. And yes, students really do eat in there.

I discovered my favorite area of London on Sunday: Camden Town. The giant, seemingly-endless markets there are perfect for wandering through. I recommend getting yourself thoroughly lost and just enjoying the atmosphere. From the wares to the people, there’s something interesting to look at everywhere. And even though some of the food stalls look a bit sketchy, just give them a try — it’s all a part of the experience. Once you’ve regained your bearings, head over to Primrose Hill. Hike to the top, take a seat on the grass and relax, taking in the astonishing view of London before you.

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