3 Insights from London – Students Have Their Say!

Posted on May 14, 2015 in London, LUP Spring 15, Reviews, Student voice, Tips by Emily

“Hands down the best semester of my life. Not only introduced me to many new close friends that I treasure, but also gave me invaluable experiences with entirely new cultures. London was a wonderful place to live that I truly consider my home now. After this semester I can sense myself looking at problems in different ways and feel more readily able to relate to people.” – Scott Terry


“Take advantage of every day in London and have an insatiable thirst for new things. Don’t wait until the last week when everyone wants to cram all their forgotten bucket list items in. Make an effort to do one thing, even if it is just walking a different route home or going to a coffee shop to read, every single day. Go to weird museums and wander streets without a plan of where you’re going, go to tons of markets and sit in parks, and don’t be afraid to do things on your own.” – Erin Geraghty


“The hardest part of living in London as a student has been choosing what to do within the limits of my budget and class schedule. I traveled abroad in the first half of the semester by using excess scholarship funds, but had to stay domestic during the second half – which is just as well; I’ve written eight 2500+ word papers since coming back from break. I focused, instead, on getting myself to parks and local [weird] museums.

“This took me – and those poor people I convinced to come with me – across the city to places like Chiswick House in Turnham Green, Zone 3 (Known in the late 19th century for the extravagant parties thrown there; one such party had giraffes and other exotic creatures roaming the naturally designed gardens and grounds), the Hunterian Museum on the University College London’s campus (Close your eyes and imagine the most fancy museum in the world, with high-end art and beautiful sculptures from all over the world. Got it? Good, because this museum is probably the furthest thing from it. It features Churchill’s dentures, diseased human remains in jars, and a tooth of an extinct giant sloth.), and the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, Zone 3 (Which also includes a mini aquarium for like 5 pounds, but the fee was worth the dent in my pocket just to see the sea horses and jellyfish). I have to say though, despite both Gardens being in Zone 3, Chiswick House was a short bus ride away from my flat in Hammersmith while the trip Horniman Gardens translated to three Underground line changes and an hour’s worth of travel time. So, for future reference, the Zones can be deceiving. But enjoying the beautiful and bizarre (referring to the Hunterian) sights as well as knowing I paid basically nothing to experience them made park and museum hopping far more enjoyable than expensive tours about the inner city.” – Jill Chipley (taken from her blog My Life in London: What I Learned in London is…)

Responsible Travel for the London Program by Brittany Gibler

Posted on April 7, 2015 in Alumni Voice, London, LUP Spring 14, Student voice by Emily

As a brief background, I studied abroad in London in Spring 2014. I am currently a Sustainability minor writing about responsible travel while abroad. Responsible travel incorporates the environment, the economy, and the sociocultural aspect of visiting a host community. As a study abroad student in London, it is easy to get caught up in more Americanized routines. There are also many limits to impacts you can make when financially constrained and seeking to do the most activities possible in the brief time there. In other words, sustainable travel is probably not at the forethought of your experience. However, it is easy to do through small daily adjustments and through overall awareness of being a smart traveler. When thinking of responsible travel, consider economic, environmental, and sociocultural impacts made while in London and traveling on weekends. Try to minimize negative impacts through being conscious of daily actions.

The Climate Change Attitude in the United Kingdom

UntitledGenerally speaking, there is a greater acceptance of climate change across the pond. The UK as well as the city of London have many green initiatives. Greenhouse gas emission reduction policies are comprehensive and active in the UK. They are currently in line to exceed goals set by the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to commit to greenhouse gas reductions[1]. In particular, London is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2025. As a result of accepting climate change and planned greenhouse gas reduction issues, the Brits are more prepared for impacts of climate change. To the United Kingdom, primary threats include potential flooding issues or need for changing crops with colder, wetter weather.

While everyone knows London is rainy, it is about to get rainier. The flooding comes from intense downpours in the winter and rise of sea levels[2]. Issues of flooding have started occurring in the countryside causing disruptions to transportation and crops. On the flip side, summers will become drier and hotter, exhausting water supplies in the summer months. Wildlife may migrate more north in the summer and alter the flora and fauna. What keeps London mild is the jet stream, a high speed air current, brings tropical weather far enough north to the UK. Recent studies have shown that the jet stream is now taking a longer path than normal, creating a wavier pattern[3]. This causes weather patterns to be more extreme and last longer.

Untitled2Looking from the economic perspective of change, one example of the initiative for greenhouse gas reduction policy is the government has created a low carbon economy which currently holds 1.5% of jobs in the UK economy, with this industry increasing 7% annually since 2010[4]. They also made this industry financially attractive by showing the stability of these projects and allow investors to participate in this growing economy. Furthermore the government has created the Green Investment Bank (GIB)[5]. It’s primary role is to assist in investment of the UK Climate Investment Fund. In order to contribute their commitment to the US$100bn climate finance made by developed countries all around the world, the GIB is investing in UK’s green infrastructure to fulfill its commitment. GIB is also responsible for investing in developing countries to help fund energy and energy efficiency projects.

In another study, the UK Government Foresight Programme revealed that the economy will be effected as personal incomes are exhausted by increased food prices from changing weather[6]. Also the changing weather could cause more health problems related to heat or skin cancers. While using tools such as the GIB to stimulate the economy, international uncertainty from changing climates and crop yields will shake up the United Kingdom economically. This background is important to be informed of different issues and initiatives occurring all around you.

How the Climate Change Attitude Affects You

The culture of London is to respect the environment. When living in a foreign country, it is important to know the general attitude about such subjects. Respect those opinions and take in how people act according to some of those beliefs.

One example to consider is how to get around London. As many have learned through experience by now, public transportation is top of the line in London. But, what is motivating the Transport for London to further its efficiency is that TFL has an active role in helping the mayor of London reduce emissions by 60% by 2025[7]. In particular, London has low emissions zones (LEZ) to help prevent the smothering of pollution as witnessed in other big cities[8]. In LEZ, there are cameras scanning the license plates and cross checking with registered vehicles to see if your vehicle meets the emission standards. This began in 2008 and is meant to reduce emissions with the use of a fine. To reduce congestion, there are also congestion charges in congestion zones. LEZs and congestion zones are primarily in central London. In order to avoid this, many more locals use public transportation. In 2013, London had the highest order for hybrid public buses creating an expected reduction of 20,000 tonnes/year. The tube system is being improved by increasing passenger capacity and using a regenerative braking system to reduce electricity needed for running the Tube. To further sustainable options, Transport for London has established 15 miles of integrated cycle routes along the main roads of London to encourage biking. For those who do not own bikes, Barclays Cycle Hire bikes are an easy way to explore the city by bike with plenty of stations across London.

Untitled3Shopping local is another important way to embrace responsible travel in London and support the culture and economy of the British community. Shopping local also minimizes transportation energy and costs associated with everyday products to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental costs. The markets all over the streets of London reflects how important shopping local is to the community. At this point in the semester, I will assume you have explored some of the many markets occurring in London daily. My personal favorites were the Southbank market because of the neighborhood atmosphere and proximity to Conway, Portobello Market with all the beautiful antiques and liveliness of the market lined by beautiful townhomes, and the walk from Columbia Road Flower Market to Brick Lane to Old Spitalfields Markets because of the uniqueness to each stop along the way. Markets are some of the best ways to meet local people and get an insight into their lifestyle while supporting a more green lifestyle. Talk to the vendors and learn about where the product came from and why they are selling it. Besides markets, going to local cafes to satisfy coffee addictions is another way to shop local. Monmouth Cafe and Notes Cafe are both within walking distance of Trafalgar Square and perfect before or between classes.

Untitled4Finally, take advantage of the London parks. The Royal Parks cares for over 5,000 acres of historic parkland, with a mission to protect the biodiversity and reduce water usage[9]. London is a city meant to appreciate nature with all the greenspace available to city goers. There are eight Royal parks just in Central London. If you are a runner, this is my favorite city to run in because the parks just keep getting more beautiful with better weather. Find ways to get yourself into the park and take advantage of the beautiful nature and open space surrounding you. Pair it with a trip to Kensington Gardens or take the long walk from Fischer to Conway to pass through St. James Park.


Climate change or ecotourism may not be the forethought on your mind while studying abroad. However, everyone should prioritize respecting their host community and leaving a positive impact on their new city, even as big and independent as London. These considerations will help you better grasp the culture of London and can be extended into your weekends of travel. Before visiting a place, take time to learn the history and norms of the culture. Take your time to look around London’s environmental initiatives and see how they can apply to life back in the States. Lastly, enjoy your semester living in an amazing city!

*To find more posts about responsible travel for Notre Dame students, visit the student-run website: https://ndtravelguide.wordpress.com/about/sustainable-traveling/.


[1] http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/PP_climate-change-policy-uk.pdf

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/08/potential-impacts-climate-change-uk

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26023166

[4] Delivering UK Energy Investment: Low Carbon Energy. UK Government. March 2015

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/uk-green-investment-bank-international-pilot


[7] http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/publications/mayors-air-quality-strategy

[8] http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/low-emission-zone

[9] https://www.royalparks.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do


– Brittany Gibler (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2014)

Images ©Brittany Gibler.  All rights reserved.

Checking in on my Goals by Kaitlyn Kennedy

Posted on March 16, 2015 in Competition Winners, London, LUP Spring 15, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

At the very beginning of my semester I made some goals for myself while abroad. Now that I am about halfway through the semester I wanted to take a minute to evaluate those goals.

1) I want to grow culturally by pushing myself to experience at least one (at least somewhat) unfamiliar cultural event a week.

So far I have experienced an incredible number of cultural events that I never would have experienced otherwise. These experiences have ranged from attending evensong in various Anglican churches, to celebrating Chinese New Year, to getting into pub culture (although not too into it Mom and Dad…), to eating haggis. I’ve experienced tea time at the nursing home with many proper British women. I’ve been to plays and musicals and stared at paintings for longer than ever before. I’ve walked around numerous museums. I went to a mass entirely in Italian, but in the heart of London (it was an accident but still really neat). I’ve gone to markets and so much more. But I want to do more. I am beyond excited about traveling to other countries soon such as Portugal and Denmark, and I can’t wait to experience those cultures.

I think this is my favorite piece of art that I saw at the Tate Modern. I have been working on growing my appreciation for modern art…with limited success…

I think this is my favorite piece of art that I saw at the Tate Modern. I have been working on growing my appreciation for modern art…with limited success…

I have learned all about a new sport! Rugby! We have been getting into the 6 Nations Tournament!

I have learned all about a new sport! Rugby! We have been getting into the 6 Nations Tournament!

Me and my mummy. You could spend days in the British Museum!

Me and my mummy. You could spend days in the British Museum!

Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square

Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square

2) I want to get to know the people of London, hopefully by participating in service. I think one of the most valuable parts of any study abroad experiences is getting to know people who’s lives are nothing like your own.

Last week I posted about an amazing woman I met at the nursing home. I have become very attached to some of the people I visit with, and have learned about the world from them. I have also grown incredibly attached to the children in my class I work with every week at Drumbeat. The teachers and aids in the classroom have tried their best to educate me on British culture but I’m still very American to the core. Unfortunately London is very urban and the British are polite to an extreme, meaning I haven’t been able to make a ton of best friends for life on the tube, but I have been able to meet some people from King’s College through a joint event our college’s did. Thankfully my professors who are from here are not shy about talking about their lives and the culture here, so I have learned a lot through them. I really want to continue to work on this and meet many more people.

3) I want to disconnect from the parts of myself I don’t like, such as the technology addicted parts, and focus on paying attention to the world around me instead of being in my own self-absorbed world. To this end, I want to get lost. I want to have to ask for directions, wonder down streets I don’t have to take to get there the fastest, just ride around on the bus for a while going no place in particular and get off when I see something I want to check out. I want to explore instead of plan, and dive in without fear.

The other day John and I picked a park at random and wondered around it for a few hours. We both agreed that the experience of walking around this beautiful park (Regent’s Park) was a reminder of how blessed we are to be in this city of endless possibility and beauty. This park was an oasis of peace and calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city. My friends and I have gone to many markets and other sites in London that you can easily get lost in, and don’t worry I have gotten lost a few times (but not for long). But there is still so much more to explore in this city…

The word beautiful doesn’t even begin to cover some of the places we have wondered around in.

The word beautiful doesn’t even begin to cover some of the places we have wondered around in.

John looking at the birds in Regent’s Park. It was a dreary day and yet the park was still magnificent!

John looking at the birds in Regent’s Park. It was a dreary day and yet the park was still magnificent!

4) I want to be able to see God in places I never have before. Being in a big, diverse, and foreign city is definitely out of my comfort zone, and being out of my comfort zone does one of two things to my faith: it either deepens it, or weakens it. I want to deepen my faith my being able to look at faith from a million new angles. From historical angles in this wonderfully ancient city, from the angles of the poor and migrants here in London, and from angles I can’t possibly predict right now.

During my time here in London I have definitely encountered the Lord. I have seen God in natural wonders like the beach and hills in Scotland, in the craftsmanship of towering Cathedrals like Canterbury, Westminster Cathedral, and Christ Church at Oxford, in the peaceful chapel at Fisher Hall celebrating mass with Fr. Andrew and the ND London community, and most especially in the people I am here with. I am so grateful for this whole experience!

I love the friends I have made here, especially the Taco Tuesday Crew in all our disfunction (photo taken by Olivia).

I love the friends I have made here, especially the Taco Tuesday Crew in all our disfunction (photo taken by Olivia).

5) I want to come back changed. I want to come back as a more accepting, braver, more savvy, more global, and more aware person. I want to come back as someone who is fully present to each moment, and fully appreciative of the beauty and culture around them. I want to come back with new friends from all over the world. But of course, I hope to only deepen the core of who I am: a simple child of God who just wants to make God happy by making this world better than I found it.

I can say without a doubt that I have changed internally since coming to London, but I know I have a lot more growing to do. These goals are all works in progress, but I know I have come a long way since I first typed them out. I can’t wait to see what else this semester has in store!

– Kaitlyn Kennedy (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)

Check out Kaitlyn’s blog Love is the Answer.

Photos ©Kaitlyn Kennedy.  All rights reserved.

Borough Market is for Foodies by Imani Parker-Robinson

Posted on February 25, 2015 in London, LUP Spring 15, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Borough Market

This weekend, after having missed many opportunities, I finally made the trek to see the wonderful gem that is Borough Market. Everyone told me that it was an amazing place, full of food and drink and (at least on the Saturday that I attended) people.

Borough Market is one of the must-see markets in London, for it is among the largest and the oldest. Unlike the other markets that I have visited, this market is all food. Meats, cheeses, fruits, spices, teas, jams… If you can name it, it is probably at Borough Market.

Because it is more of a wholesale grocer than the other markets that I have visited, my primary objective was to eat as much as I could, mainly in the form of samples. That could not stop me, however, from trying the foods that are made to order.

Duck Confit

To be clear, I do not eat a lot of meat. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I hardly ever eat meat (I am a carb girl myself), but I decided to throw that out the window in order to commemorate this special day. If you ever venture to Borough Market, the first place you have to stop is at the Duck Confit stand. For a sandwich, it is only £5, and for an extra £3, you get mulled wine. I do not claim to be a food critic, but the duck confit sandwich was exceedingly savory. My only complaint was that I did not get the type of bun I wanted for my sandwich. They had either round buns or baguettes and I had the pleasant misfortune of having the latter.

Green Market

After trying the duck confit, my friends and I wandered around the market, weaving through the sea of people in search of more food. As my friend Jordan pointed out, it was impossible to get through Borough Market and not want to eat everything. In truth, he quoted Lois C.K. and his famous, “the meal is not over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself,” which I had only deemed appropriate for Thanksgiving until this past Saturday. Usually, I consider the meal over once I have dessert, so naturally I though the tiramisu chocolate cupcake that I had after eating duck confit was enough.

It wasn’t.

After wandering towards the front of the market again, we walked to the organic food section, where we found quite possibly the most interesting booth of food I have ever seen. We found The Exotic Meat Company.

Kangaroo Meat Exotic Meat Company Exotic Meats

Here, I tried the most interesting food I think I will have ever tried in my entire life- kangaroo meat. I could not even believe that kangaroo meat was something that was legal to sell, let alone eat at a commercial market. I wish I could say I was too freaked out to try it, or that I was that much of an animal lover that I thought it was gross. I wish I could say I hated it, but then I would be lying. It had the same texture as beef, but there was something about the taste that was oddly satisfying. To be honest, it would probably be possible to make beef and spice it carefully until it tasted like kangaroo, but it would not be the same.

There were other exotic meats at the booth as well. There were ostrich patties if you desired to eat some exotic poultry, but at this point, I think I was proud enough of my courage. To be honest, I have never added and checked off an item on my bucket list simultaneously, but I am glad that I did. Maybe I will go back and try some more exotic meats? I mean, four exotic meat patties for £10? Not a bad deal at all. If I am ever feeling ambitious, I’ll go back and try the zebra or python or something.

I should have capitalized on my location. I could have easily trekked to Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and even to the Globe Theatre because I have not yet seen them, but alas, I did not.

I probably won’t go back on such a busy day like Saturday afternoon. I hear that if I go close to closing, I can get a weeks worth of groceries for almost nothing. Besides, there are more foods to try at Borough Market, like the doughnuts or the oyster diner thing, and of course pies because there is no better English food. I mean, I did not even get to try any of the booths that Borough Market is famous for! Even though I say it all the time, I have to will go back to Borough Market.

Borough Market is nothing less than a foodie’s dream.


– Imani Parker-Robinson (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)

Images © Imani Parker-Robinson.  All rights reserved.

To view this blog post, visit Imani’s blog Adventure is Out There.

A Wee Bit Different: The Adjustment by Kaitlyn Kennedy

Posted on February 9, 2015 in London, LUP Spring 15, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

It’s been 4 and a half days in London, and so far I am loving every minute of it (minus the dishing out pounds left and right part). I’m beginning to feel comfortable on the tube station, although rush hour is tough for anyone who has any sense of personal space. The buses are another story, but at least I’ve attempted! I’ve had some delicious meals and a lot of cereal. By far the most exciting discovery has been Pound Land which is basically like Dollar General but they actually have quality things and many essentials like milk, eggs, soap, and most importantly chocolate!! I’m grateful for my upbringing which has exposed me to city living gradually, making the hustle and bustle of the city fairly easy to get used to. However, the biggest adjustment has been learning to live on a budget. On campus, thanks to the meal plan which has afforded not only endlessly large meals in the dining hall but also flex points to buy food and other items around campus, I have not really had to worry about feeling hungry. All of a sudden I am feeling guilty about buying anything non essential such as snack food, drinks, or dessert. On top of this we are walking 7-9 miles a day so my appetite is more ravenous than usual, and normally I’m almost always hungry. I have come to understand the feeling of being hungry and having to decide between goods due to budget. I think this is an important lesson that I am very glad to be learning, although my stomach might not agree. I’m sure soon I will loosen my own leash and allow myself to splurge a bit, but I want to start out right and not be shocked at how much money I have wasted in a short time. Also having to cook my own meals makes me even more appreciative of everything my wonderful mum does for our family. It takes a lot of effort and thought to plan, cook, and clean meals, and it takes me away from exploring this beautiful city. The most successful meal so far has been very bland turkey and vegetables pictured below…. I’ve definitely got to step up my cooking game. We are planning on Taco Tuesdays in my building so hopefully that will sustain many of my friends who are surviving on eggs and bread. Anyway enough about food, can you tell I’m hungry writing this??


Yeah it tasted pretty bad. I teased John for bringing ketchup, but I ate those words pretty quickly… and the ketchup.


Pub Selfie!


Nerding out at the Museum of London


Seeing the London Eye was pretty amazing. And being here with this wonderful guy isn’t too bad either…

The culture has been another adjustment, although it is a very exciting one. My favorite movies, actors, shows, and books all seem to be British, so I am already a little obsessed with the culture. In my class on London writers today I got giddy hearing my adorable teacher talk about Sherlock Holmes with her British accent and sense of humor. I was definitely nerding out but I couldn’t help it. Hearing people say “rubbish,” “trousers,” and “lift” as natural as can be gets my dimples showing for sure. Last night the program rented out an entire beautiful pub and provided us a Sunday roast dinner. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I don’t know who said anything about English food being bad but clearly they didn’t have the meal I had, or they weren’t as hungry as I was….. We had mass before that at King’s Cross College right off the Strand (I actually know where that is now!!!) in their breathtaking chapel. It was really special to celebrate as a displaced community of sorts, but also in such a historic place. They actually had a DNA stained glass window with Wilkins and Franklin who researched at King’s Cross, next to Jesus who had atoms floating around his head. It was pretty amazing, especially for someone who has studied these people for a while. Yesterday morning we took a walk down to the beautiful riverside in our neighborhood of Hammersmith. I felt like I had stepped out of Notting Hill or a Viking River Cruises commercial. It was so charming and picturesque and the sun was even shining to top it all off! The world proved to be even smaller than I thought after getting a Facebook message from my sister’s best friend who was in London for the weekend with her husband this weekend, and we were able to meet up. My friends and I went for our first pub experience on Friday night and I have a picture to capture the experience above. It was surreal (and not just from the alcohol). Actually I think that I won’t be drinking beer at all since it tastes pretty terrible and is pretty expensive, but it is so fun to just be in the pub atmosphere with good friends. All in all it’s been one amazing experience in just 4 and a half days, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the program takes me and the wonderful people here with me!

– Kaitlyn Kennedy (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)

Images ©Kaitlyn Kennedy. All rights reserved.

Check out Kaitlyn’s blog Love is the Answer.

Cliff Free, Die Hard

Posted on February 5, 2015 in Competition Winners, London, LUP Spring 15, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily


Seven Sisters

I must apologize for the puns. I understand that most people don’t find them as funny as I do, but if you don’t like them, you would probably get a lot of satisfaction from closing this window immediately.

To Do(ver) or Not to Do(ver)

Before embarking on my journey, I had to make the difficult decision- Dover or Seven Sisters? Visiting the White Cliffs of Dover would be amazing. I mean, let’s be real- any place that has a song based off of it that is also on Guitar Hero must be cool. However, there were a few things that needed to be consider.

  1. Apparently, Dover’s beauty is difficult to see from the cliffs themselves. The best way to see the White Cliffs of Dover is from a boat. You can see Seven Sisters from just about any point on the cliffs and the beach.
  2. Seven Sisters sits between two different cities: Eastbourne and Seaford. You could easily walk from one city to another.
  3. Dover is slightly more urban than Seaford or Eastbourne, due to it’s place as a notable tourist attraction. If you want to enjoy the nature, Seven Sisters is probably the better bet.
  4. Seven Sisters is frequently used as a stand-in for the White Cliffs of Dover in many films, including Atonement, starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightly.

So, with those thought in mind, my friends and I decided that Seven Sisters might be the move.


seaford-1 seaford-3 seaford-4 seaford-5 seaford-2

It is pretty safe to say that this past Saturday was probably the most “rugged” adventure I have had so far. Ever other one of my experiences has been in a city or milling about London’s market scene, but this weekend, I ventured pretty far out of my comfort zone and traveled to Seven Sisters Country Park for a day of hiking with some friends, though I say hiking loosely.

Rather than taking the train into Eastbourne, we took the train into Seaford, a small town further west along the coast than Eastbourne, but only a few miles east of Brighton. Seaford was one of those small towns that is best described as a sleepy little town. 

Maybe it was the gray skies that obscured the sun or the fact that it was slightly chilly out, but Seaford is first and foremost a residential area that seems to have been caught in a whirlwind of beautiful landscape.  And, despite the cold, many people were still out and about enjoying the waves of the pebbled beach and marching along the Seven Sisters. Everything is slow in Seaford, but in the sort of way that makes you want to linger as long as you can. I very quickly decided that, if I were to ever move to England, I would very willingly live in Seaford.

My only complaint? Seaford has this weird two hour stop in time where almost everything is closed. If you want to venture to Seaford, just know that (at least on Saturdays), everything is closed between 3 and 5 PM.

Seven Sisters

seven-sisters seven-sisters-2 seven-sisters-4 seven-sisters-6 seven-sisters-3

I have to say that Seven Sisters Country Park is every bit as beautiful as I imagined. I have only seen a proper* body of water one other time in my entire life, but it was a beach in sunny South Carolina. This was significantly different.

We walked the hills for three hours and not once was I bored or tired or felt like everything looked exactly as it did fifty paces back. I don’t want to brag, but I was a girl scout until 8th grade, meaning this trek was pretty low level for me. That did not stop me from feeling like Frodo traversing through Middle Earth. (Truthfully, I would prefer to compare myself to Éowyn because she’s a strong, independent, elf woman who doesn’t need a man, but the only thing I destroyed today was a pizza from Franco Manca, so that’s not really the same).

After conquering the one of the hills, we decided to turn back. Par for the course, there were plenty of puns made to pass the time, many of them inspired by the sheep farm** we saw during our epic adventure. For future reference, the entire trail through Seven Sisters Country Park is somewhere between 7-8 miles. I hope to walk the entire thing one day, maybe later in the semester when the weather is warmer.

It’s a great big world out there. It’s hard for me to comprehend that just three weeks ago, my international experience extended as far as Niagra Falls, Canada. Next weekend, I embark on my first journey out of the UK.

Venice, here I come.


*By proper, I mean seas and oceans.

**The following are other puns made by my companions and myself throughout the hike:
On the lone sheep: Maybe he was bleet-ing?

On the intensity of the wind: I feel so gone with the windy!

On puns about Stonehenge: “Puns are like the lowest of all forms of comedy.” “Yeah, rock bottom”

– Imani Parker-Robinson (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)

Images ©Imani Parker-Robinson.  All rights reserved.

Check out Imani’s blog Adventure is Out There.

The Camden Lock Village Market (and Other Adventures) by Imani Parker-Robinson

Posted on February 3, 2015 in London, LUP Spring 15, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Camden Lock Village Shop

Many people don’t realize that Camden Market is actually composed of multiple different markets. So far, I have had the privilege to explore the Main Street Market, The Stables Market, Camden Lock Market, and Camden Lock Village. Every part of Camden Market is full of stores that appeal to both locals and tourists a like. Sweatshirts referencing various television shows, chainstores, boutiques, food vendors on almost every corner- it is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer depth of the place.

Main Street Market

Main Street Market

Each part of Camden Market has it’s own unique style, that-aside from ownership of the market- being the only reason I could see for one giant market having six different locations. The Main Street Market is the first stop right off of the Tube. It’s full of stores, some chains some boutiques, each with it’s own personality. Some girly, some gothic, some retro, and so on and so forth. There’s even a Doc Marten’s store, which is probably more foreign to me than it should be, but forgive me and my sheltered Midwestern upbringing. Occasionally, a pub will find its way into the mix (it’s London, of course there are pubs). Most things on the main street, however, tend to be a little bit more expensive than other places later along the road.

Camden Lock Market

Camden Lock Entrance

The Camden Lock Market is home to many handcrafted wares and food stands. Every shop in Camden Lock has unique items for some really great prices, even after the exchange rate it taken into account. A lot of Camden Lock is also housed indoors, so it’s a wonderful place to shop or browse while you escape the rain or the cold. There are also a lot of cute clothing shops, full of dresses, tanks, capes, coats- you name it, it exists somewhere within this market. One of the coolest places in Camden Lock is Chin Chin’s! It’s an ice cream parlor located on the bottom level, with ice cream that is legen- wait for it- dary. Though I have not yet had a chance to try it (I had just finished stuffing my face with a Nutella banana crepe), my friends said it was literally amazing. Do not misunderstand, I will eat this ice cream eventually. I have not even seen all of Camden! Of course I have to come back!

The Horse Stables Market

The Horse Stables Market

Buried in the depths of Camden Lock (though there is most certainly a more prominent entrance), is the Horse Stables Market. Unfortunately, many of the vendors do not want customers to take pictures of their stalls in order to protect their stores individual wares, so I was unable to take many pictures in the Horse Stables Market (not that I am good at taking pictures in the first place). Almost all of the stalls are made of wood and beautiful chandeliers dangle from the ceiling. If you are into antiques, real souvenirs, or thrifting, the Horse Stables Market is definitely the place. From vintage clothing to find china, from oil paintings and tapestries, almost everything was either hand crafted or carefully looked after to maintain its pristine condition. Food vendors hand out samples more than people actually buy food, and shop keepers are almost always willing to casually chat for a moment or two. Some things can get a little price-y here as well, depending on the shop, but no matter.

Camden Lock Village Market

Camden Lock Village Market

Nestled snugly along the Regents Canal is a row of what seem to be shacks, each painted with a unique artwork to make it’s doors stand out among the the sea of other similar shacks. The Camden Lock Village Market is easy to miss. For starters, it’s main entrance is directly across from the entrance to the Camden Lock Market, which (in case you missed the photo above), is elevated, large, and bright. The entrance to Camden Lock Village is not really any of that. The only thing that makes the entrance remotely stand out are the vespa seats that line the canal where people can eat. But down the narrow path lies a bunch of little shops, close in size and proximity, but each very different. Some with knock-off merchandize, others with thrifted or handcrafted goods, but all providing Camden Lock Village Market with a lot of charm.

Camden Lock Village Market

And it no longer exists.

I warn you that, here, it gets a little bit educational.

On Friday, January 16 at 6PM, this branch of Camden Market has closed until further notice (which, from what I understand, means forever). I first stumbled upon Camden Market Lock Village, less commonly referred to as Hawley Wharf, while wandering through the main road of the market and decided to give it the ole once over. Once inside, my friend and I noticed that everything was discounted and many of the shops were either closed and abandoned, or filled with angered or disgruntled shop owners and eager to unload inventory. This resulted in uncomfortably low prices, short interactions with the shop owners, and a curious student who just wanted to know how some place so beautiful could close.

The Pink Lady

One of the shop owners who was open to answering any of the questions that I had was the owner of The Pink Lady, pictured above, a small accessory booth on the further end of the strip. She could not tell me much, only that on January 1, all of the vendors in the area were told that their doors were to close without giving them much information. Maybe she did not want to tell me the reason, but no other shop owners that I asked had any answers for me either.

Well I have never been one to let sleeping dogs lie.

It took a lot of searching, and by that I mean looking 2-3 pages deep on the Google search results before finding plausible answers. In November of 2013 the BBC published an article about HS2, a high speed train that would connect London first as far as Cannok, which is just outside of Birmingham, and later connect to both Manchester and Leeds. Back in 2013, there was a lot of concern that this sort of railway, which would cut through Camden, would cause substantial economic and employment damages to Camden Town. Though this report is not specific as to what specific parts of the Camden Market would be affected, according to the Interactive HS2 Map, the station would technically be in Euston, just outside of Camden, but a viaduct would extend further outside of Camden.

Another article published more recently by the Camden New Journal sites that the area would be undergoing a massive redevelopment following the purchase of property by entrepreneur Teddy Sagi. It would include benefits for both retail and residents. An article from Kentish Towner provides more information as to what these benefits would be, including a greater focus on entertainment, new homes, and public spaces. The project has been approved and is already underfoot.

While I may never be able to visit Camden Lock Village and I am most certainly frustrated about the possible circumstances regarding its closure, I find it hard to say that either change would cause Camden Market too much harm in the long run. The entire market’s different characters, charm, and outstanding reputation could never be completely lost.

– Imani Parker-Robinson (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)

Images © Imani Parker-Robinson.  All rights reserved.

To view this blog post and a gallery of Camden photos, visit Imani’s blog Adventure is Out There.

Inklings of Truth: The City Dreaming of Spires

Posted on January 28, 2015 in LUP Spring 15, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

This weekend we took a day trip to Oxford. For the week leading up to Saturday, I was extremely – and nerdly – excited to visit this little college town. The world-renowned University of Oxford has played host to the bulk of the most brilliant minds in the world – including my philosophical uncle. I was thrilled to spend time in Oxford and walk the same streets as the droves of writers, politicians, and one United States President – Bill “Silly Willy” Clinton – that did their homework here. We began our trip by visiting the beautiful grounds of Christ Church College – Oxford’s largest and most prestigious college (probably the most pretentious too). Christ Church is also the most expensive college to tour in Oxford thanks to its historic fame and because scenes from Harry Potter were filmed here. It also contains the dining hall that inspired the dining hall at Hogwarts. As a result of our frugal travel tactics, we never actually went inside the grounds of Christ Church, but we were highly content with our view from the outer edge.

Bell tower of University Church of St. Mary

Bell tower of University Church of St. Mary

At the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin we climbed the awfully narrow, twisting stairs of the church’s bell tower, which offered views of Oxford’s many spires and colleges. It was an enjoyable ascent, and the sights from the top were remarkable. The climb earned us a few beers and a sausage sandwich afterwards at The Bear Inn – Oxford’s oldest pub. This was a teensy and charming pub hidden down a side street. It is stated that this pub doesn’t sport a single right angle – for what that fun fact is worth. They also had a collection of cutoff ties covering the walls from Oxford students throughout the years.

After lunch we paid visit to some of the iconic sites around Oxford. We too saw the building where the Lincoln Bible was printed – used to inaugurate Presidents Lincoln and Obama. After the sun went down, we poked our heads in the chapel at Christ Church College to catch a few minutes of the evening song.

For dinner we went to one of my favorite spots of the trip. We headed over to a pub called The Eagle and Child. [nerd alert] This pub was the meeting place of the Inklings – as they called themselves – an all-male and all-Christian gathering of friends – many of them creative writers and lovers of imaginative literature. C.S. Lewis was the ringleader while J.R.R. Tolkien and a few friends were among the group. These dudes have fired the imaginations of so many readers through their work. The Inklings were known to informally meet here on Tuesdays, which they referred to as ‘The Bird and Baby’. The history and ambiance were far better than the food itself, but it was a unique experience to see the quotes and photos of Lewis and Tolkien covering the walls.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

– C.S. Lewis

The thing I appreciate most about these authors – Lewis and Tolkien in particular – is that they present a clear parallel between their fantasy writings and the Bible. These are guys who spoke nothing but truth, and I would have loved the opportunity to take part in fellowship with them both over a pint in The Bird and Baby. I guess my Notre Dame friends had to suffice this time around.


– The Irish Globetrotter (Cooper Cohen, London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)

Image © Cooper Cohen. All rights reserved.

For more photos of this trip, check out Cooper’s blog The Irish Globetrotter.

The East End from “Maggie Goes Across the Pond”

Posted on January 26, 2015 in Competition Winners, London, LUP Spring 15, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Friday the 16 was another guided exploration of London, this time the East End. I started out knowing only the general area where it was located (due entirely to the fact that it was in the name). At the end of the day, however, I learned how much history just one part of town can hold.

We started with a walking tour of the East End led by one of the professors here. Born and raised in the East End, he boasted his heritage and used it to his advantage when describing the nooks and crannies of his home. We met up and began our tour at Liverpool Street Station, a common entry point for immigrants we were told. The influx of new people and their challenges to climb out of poverty resulted in many staying in the region their entire lives. Thus, the East End received a reputation for being poor, but also multicultural.

We explored areas I would classify as “off the beaten path.” Some things were macabre, like when we saw the home of Jack the Ripper’s last murder victim; Other things were quaint, like the Old Spitalfields market. Some things were historical, like the Bell Foundry where the Liberty Bell was forged.

But as I’m discovering in London, amongst all the traditional was also the new. One of the most interesting parts of the tour for my group was the graffiti yard we found down a random alley. At home, graffiti brings to mind ugly vandalism on the sides of buildings. What we stumbled upon was nothing like that. Beautiful works of art covered the walls of the alley; murals and posters combined together and created one cohesive piece of art that has been and continues to be built upon day after day.

This was my favorite mural, painted on just a garage door.

This was my favorite mural, painted on just a garage door.

Both sides of the alley were covered in graffiti, both beautiful and meaningful.

Both sides of the alley were covered in graffiti, both beautiful and meaningful.

After seeing the mixed streets of the East End, we got a lesson in (my dad’s favorite) the churches of London. There were some that didn’t look like churches at all; they had been converted from buildings into places of worship later in life. The coolest churches though were the ancient ones. Many were rebuilt after the great fire of London, and some had even survived bombings from World War II.

To make it even better, these churches weren’t just historic for their age or the sturdiness of their structure – they were historic because of their parishioners. We found William Shakespeare’s parish church! (The nerd in me was very excited.)

Mrs. Jolly, this one is for you!

Mrs. Jolly, this one is for you!

And me being me, when we found the church where William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was baptized, I couldn’t help but feel like Buddy the Elf. (I know him! I know him!)

William Penn's baptism date was in the record books kept downstairs in the crypt.

William Penn’s baptism date was in the record books kept downstairs in the crypt.

I don’t want to sound like a brat and say I told you so, but it seems like I was pretty spot on about that whole global/timeless London thing. This section of the city was once the center of immigration, but it was also home to well known figures in history.

When I heard I got accepted to the London Program, it did not exactly register with me just how amazing this city is. Sure, you can study history and read about these figures in books, but nothing quite compares to standing on their streets or looking at your surroundings, imagining how it must have looked to them hundreds of years ago. That challenge, of seeing London through someone else’s eyes, is not easy, and there is no guarantee that the goal will be accomplished. But that does not mean it is not worthwhile.

– Maggie Bowers (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015) 

Read more about Maggie’s discoveries in and tours of London in her blog Maggie Goes Across the Pond.

Images ©Maggie Bower. All rights reserved.

Study Spaces in London: The Ultimate Guide

Posted on November 27, 2014 in Competition Winners, London, LUP Fall 14, Reviews, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice, Tips by Emily

Studying abroad in London is great, but how do you balance out the pressure to study and the urge to have fun? Well, my solution to the problem was to find study spaces around London—student-friendly coffee shops, hidden libraries, and free public spaces with, of course, free wifi.

Here’s the list:


1) Timberyard

This is absolutely one of the best places to study! The staff are friendly and you don’t have to worry about being kicked out of the shop for staying too long. The main area to study is in the basement area (surprisingly quiet), so don’t be startled by the lack of seating on the ground floor. The only downside to Timberyard is that it is such a popular place that all the seats will be taken by 10AM. Make sure to get there early!

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8AM-8PM, Sat-Sun: 10AM-6PM (Old Street location)

Mon-Fri: 8AM-8PM, Sat-Sun: 10AM-8PM (Seven Dials location)

Price/menu: Similar to other coffee shops around London—teas and coffees are usually £3-4 pounds and pastries are £3 or above. They also offer ready-made sandwiches.

Travel time: 20-25 minutes by public transportation


  • Arrive before 10AM to make sure you get a seat.
  • If you are planning on staying here for a long time, be nice and order more than just a cup of coffee. Although there aren’t any staffs who will stare you down for staying for more than 2-3 hours, be courteous and recognize that this is a store, not a public library.
  • Charge your laptop before leaving! Power outlets do exist, but you have to look for seat with the outlets next to it.

Timberyard Collage


2) Barbican Center

Barbican center is mostly known for its theatres and exhibition halls, but there is a library located on the 2nd floor of the building that anyone can use. There are study spaces throughout the library, but the Music Library has the most outlets and study cubicles. Free wifi is available–the password is available at the main desk located nearest to the Music Library.

Address: Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS

Hours: Mon-Sat: 9AM-11PM, Sun: 10AM-11PM (Barbican Center)

Mon-Wed: 9:30AM-5:30PM, Tues&Thurs: 9:30AM-7:30PM, Fri: 9:30AM-2PM, Sat: 9:30AM-7: 30 PM, Sun: CLOSED (Barbican Library)

Travel time: 30 minutes by bus OR 40-45 minutes by walking


  • There are total of 5 power outlets in the Music Library and 3 in the general library area. The outlets are located at 5 study cubicles, so if you don’t find a seat in one of these cubicles, then you’re out of luck. However, the library has a sign that says laptop users who need power outlets have priority in using these cubicles to make sure non-laptop users aren’t taking up the space.
  • Charge your laptop before coming—there might not be free power outlets for a while.
  • If you can’t find any available power outlets, go to the ground level in the general cafe area where there are tables and outlets available.

Barbican Collage

3) Southbank Centre—Royal Festival Hall

If the weather isn’t too great and all you need is a place that’s not Conway or Fischer to study, Southbank Centre is your best option. Although there are seating areas available on each of the floors, the best place to study is the 4th floor in Blue Bar. One things to note is that since it is a bar area, on Fridays and during the weekends, the place might be used primarily as social gathering area. The only disadvantage is that there are (as far as I know) only two power outlets in the Blue Bar area.

Address: Belvedere Road London SE1 8XX

Hours: Mon-Sun: 10AM-11PM

Travel time: 3 minutes by walk


  • Charge your laptop before coming!!
  • Check for any events that might be going on to avoid crowds and performance noises.

Southbank Centre

4) Wellcome Library

One of my favorite places to study in London, not only because there are enough power outlets for everyone, but because of its studious atmosphere. There is also a cafe downstairs on the ground level that you can use for coffee breaks. One interesting policy about the library is that you cannot take your own bag into the library. Instead, you can either leave your bag in a locker that’s located on the same floor as the library (for £1) OR you can use the free cloak room on the first floor. They will give you a clear plastic bag where you can put whatever you need to study and then you store away your bag with the security. I also haven’t found a working wifi here…

Address: 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE

Hours: Mon-Wed, Fri: 10AM-6PM, Thurs: 10AM-8PM, Sat: 10AM-4PM, Sun: CLOSED

Travel time: 20 minutes by bus


  • Take only what you need to since you’ll be transferring your bag contents to a plastic bag they give you.
  • There is Euston Square tube stop (tube ride 20 minutes), but try to take the bus instead of the tube to see what’s around the area (the bus route goes down Kingsway)


Look Mum No Hands

5) Look Mum, No Hands!

This is the place that was frequently recommended online as a place to study, so I had to check it out. The place is part bicycle shop and part coffee shop/restaurant. I was a little overwhelmed at first by number of people there, but no worries—there are seats for everyone. One thing to note is that they take credit cards only for purchases above 5 pounds, so make sure you have cash if you are interested in getting just a cup of coffee or tea. One disadvantage is that they say they have free wifi, but you can’t seem to find it. The lady next to me got onto their wifi but then got kicked out of it 30 minutes later. Hmmm…so it’s not a free wifi after all.

Address: 49 Old St, London EC1V 9HX (located right next to Timberyard)

Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30AM-10PM, Sat 8:30-10PM, Sun 9AM-10PM

Prices: Similar to Timberyard—coffee and teas are usually around £3 and pastries are £3 or above. They also serve breakfast and lunch that ranges from £7-10.

Travel time: 20-25 minutes by bus Suggestions:

Avoid busy lunch hours. I suggest coming in after 1PM instead of coming early at 9AM, just so you don’t have to deal with staff members telling you to move to another space to make room for people coming here for lunch, because they will tell you to move.

Look Mum No Hands Collage

6) Kings College Franklin-Willkins Building

Franklin-Wilkins Building is convenient place to study because it is so close to Conway Hall and the facility is great. I have use the library inside the building a couple of times, later to learn that only students of King’s College or its affiliated school are allowed to use it (without King’s ID, you buzz in and the front desk staff will open the gate for you). If they are nice, they will let you in. Otherwise, use any of the seating areas in the building instead. I like to study in the cafeteria area that is just across from the library and there are lot of power outlets by each of the tables. Upon entering the building, just don’t forget to sign in and don’t mention anything about being a visitor—the security will not care but just pretend you are a King’s College student.

Address: Stamford Street, Lambeth, London SE1 8WA

Hours: M-F 8:30AM-1AM, Saturday-Sunday 10AM-1AM (Library) (check website for updated hours)

Travel time: 2 minute walk–it’s the building right next to Conway Hall!

King's College


7) Starbucks *on Kings Way

Alright, despite how nice and cute the independent coffee shops are, a lot of them are located in East End area where you have to take a bus for at least 15 minutes. If you just want a close coffee shop, not to be cliché, but Starbucks is perhaps one of the best places to get some work done. I am specifically recommending Starbucks located on King’s Way because I find this location to be more student-friendly than the two locations on Strand. For starters, the place is more spacious and possibly because it is located near LSE, it feels more like a sit-in and study place rather than “let’s chat over coffee and hot chocolate” like the ones on busy Strand.

Address: (Right across from Wasabi)

Hours: M-F 6AM-9PM, 8AM-7PM

Travel time: 10-15 minute walk

Inside Starbucks


– Da Som Kim (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

You can view the full blog post (with extra pictures) at Travel &

Images©Da Som Kim. All rights reserved.