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 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.

Video Blog: Greece (October 2014) by Bailey Scales

Posted on November 13, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Bailey Scales, an LUP student this semester made a video blog of her trip to Greece.  Bailey said: 

“This video was made to capture some of the memories and moments from a weekend trip to Thessaloniki and Nea Potidea on Halkidiki Peninsula. We spent a lot of time walking the promenade along the Agean Sea and taking in the views from the top of the White Tower. There is a special guest appearance by a stray dog who we named Mykonos or Myko for short… Greece definitely ranks among my favorite places in the world.”

To view Bailey’s video, please follow this link:



Posted on November 11, 2014 in Places to Visit, Rector Outings by Emily

The Stour at Canterbury by Mark WheadonThe city of Canterbury lies just over fifty miles southeast of London, nestled beyond the Kentish North Downs. It is a charming cathedral city, still ringed by its medieval walls and very much dominated by its medieval days of splendour. Today it is also a university town and hub for foreign students learning English. On a Saturday afternoon the town will be bustling with tourists and locals alike, making it a perfect time for a visit.

Canterbury made its name with St Augustine – of Canterbury, that is, not Hippo. Augustine was sent to Kent in 597 by Pope Gregory the Great on a mission to evangelize the pagan Anglo Saxons. Augustine founded a monastery in Canterbury that remained influential throughout the middle ages. Only ruins remain today and the opening hours are limited, but if you’re interested in the early spread of Christianity to England then this is a must-see and understandably has been designated one of Canterbury’s three world heritage sites.

DSCF2918 by Fabian SchlenzThere’s no question, however, that the principal landmark of the city is its cathedral. Although hugely impressive in architectural terms, its history as a site of pilgrimage is what has made Canterbury so famous. In 1170, knights in service to Henry II entered the cathedral and murdered the then archbishop, Thomas Becket. Becket and Henry II had been in a long-running struggle concerning the powers of Church and state. Henry had supposedly cried out in frustration, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” and the knights had taken it upon themselves to solve the problem. Becket’s murder sent shockwaves around the kingdom – and Christendom – and before long Canterbury had become a major pilgrimage destination as countless people descended on Becket’s tomb in the cathedral to seek his intercession. Where Santiago de Compostela had its ‘camino’ walking routes, Canterbury too had its pilgrims’ ways. Becket’s remains were conserved in a magnificent shrine within the cathedral and to this day you can see where the stone steps have been worn down by pilgrim after pilgrim approaching the shrine on their knees. Two centuries later after the archbishop’s death, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales testified to the ongoing attraction of Canterbury as he based his stories on a group of pilgrims travelling from Southwark to Canterbury. The shrine was destroyed at the Reformation and today the spot is marked only by a simple candle. Elsewhere in the cathedral you can see the site where Thomas was murdered and where, in 1982, in a major moment for Catholic-Anglican relations, Pope John Paul II prayed together with the archbishop of Canterbury.

There is much to see in Canterbury, as it also boasts a thriving modern city centre amidst the medieval trappings. Given its diverse offerings and relatively short distance from London, Canterbury makes for a lovely day out. Whether your interests are religious, historical, literary, or just looking for a nice day out and perhaps a browse through the shops, Canterbury can be just the place to while away the day.

- Josh

Images: Mark Wheadon via Compfight cc and fabianonline via Compfight cc

Vienna: Where the Wurst is the Best

Posted on October 30, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries by Emily

The second part of our trip brought us to beautiful Vienna. We arrived on Sunday night and immediately met up with Steve Martinelli, who as you’re probably starting to realize is a common character in many of my study abroad stories. He’s studying abroad in Vienna, and took me and my travel group to a quality Wurst Stand, where we got some Kasekrainer, which is like your standard wurst but stuffed with little pockets of melty cheese. Needless to say it was amazing.


The next day we started out strong by going to the top of St. Stephen’s Church, which gave us a great view of the city.


From there we did some more sightseeing, and ended up at the Schonbrunn Palace, which was also quite magnificent. That’s where Franz Josef I did a lot of his Empire-Ruling and Epic Moustache-Growing.


We got to see a little bit more of him at the Imperial War Museum, where there was a special exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. At the same museum I also found the very car that Franz Ferdinand was riding in when he was assassinated. It is important to note that one should not touch this vehicle, and that if one accidentally (or purposely) touches (or nearly touches) said vehicle, the alarm will go off and an imposing Austrian security guard will follow you into every room you enter for the next hour. Don’t ask me how I know this.

The next day we went to the Albertina Museum, which was absolutely extraordinary. I got to see pieces from legendary artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Andy Warhol. Pretty moving stuff. That evening, to really hammer home the whole “Look at me, I’m super cultured” motif, we went to see a ballet at the Vienna Opera House. Their orchestra was phenomenal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.


On one occasion, we found ourselves at an authentic Viennese cafe where our waitress spoke no english. My very limited knowledge of the German language had allowed me to get a table and order what promised to be a delicious cake, but when the waitress returned and started speaking to me in german things got out of hand in a real hurry. After a good deal of frustration and charades, it was apparent that they had run out of my selection, and I had to order something else. Needless to say, it all ended up working out quite well for me in the end, when I was presented with a delicious chocolate crepe-type dish.
Vienna was definitely one of my favorite places we visited. The food was great, the people were friendly, and every single building was beautiful. And I still have dreams about the Kasekrainer.
- Stephen Seitz (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)
View Stephen’s blog Seitz Set on London
Images ©Stephen Seitz

Half Term, Part Trois

Posted on October 29, 2014 in Competition Winners, LUP Fall 14, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries by Emily

Upon waking up on this gray Saturday morning, I told Kathleen that if we held on tightly enough to the lampposts, no one could drag us back to real life. We could stay in Paris forever, eating macarons and drinking champagne until we drifted into sleep every night. Write brilliant prose and poetry in the gardens, spend our days floating through museums and boutiques, walking through the light rain quickly enough to keep our baguettes from getting too damp. And wake up every morning to our morning-after music, of course… there’s something wonderful about soft accordion music to accompany a croissant at breakfast.

And yet… London was calling. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Thursday morning began like every other Paris morning– Kathleen’s storm or fire sounds subsided, and gave way to Tracy Chapman or whatever other kind of “morning-after” music Kathleen and I laughed ourselves into picking. We had a mission on this crisp fall morning: to find the best crepes in Paris.

Half the battle was won, though; we had the name of the cafe that was reputed to have the best crepes. Le Petit Josselin, in Montparnasse (which is on a small street lined with about 20 other crêperies.) We had to traverse half the city in our walk there, and when we finally arrived at noon, we wound up having to wait outside for a table (as the tiny cafe could only hold about a tight 35 people at a time.) But, undeterred, we waited patiently, pouring over the menu (which comprised about 40 different crepes, both savory and sweet, a few salades, and enough tea, coffee, and alcohol to please the British army.

Our wait was worth it. We popped a bottle of the restaurant’s homemade cider and ordered crepes laid heavily with spinach, goat cheese, and cream. And when they appeared in front of us, massive and dripping off the plates, we knew we were in for the best food we had had the entire trip.


The best part? This was just part one of lunch.  We each ordered a sweet crepe to finish off our day– Kathleen with one overflowing with homemade chocolate sauce, mine bursting with homemade almond paste and pears, and Kathleen’s mother… well, the waitress lit hers on fire and began spooning rum over the coconut ice cream and liquid chocolate filled pastry.  By the time the fire burned out, half the rum had crystalized over the crepe, and the other half was running down the crepe and soaking through the bottom.

Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our desserts.

We hopped around the area, popping into different shops in the area, picked up handmade leather journals and cards that we passed. Kathleen and I had talked about reading in a park in Paris since the beginning of the term, so we wandered back to the Latin Quarter, passing the Sorbonne and ducking into Luxembourg Gardens to pass the time.

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Stephen’s Green may still be my favorite green in the world, but Luxembourg Gardens now vies with it for my favorite park in the world. I pulled my blazer tighter as the cool autumn breeze rustled through the changing leaves, and I realized that it was the first time Europe truly felt in the midst of fall.

Not that I mind the 60-degree weather we’ve had in London at all. But there’s something enchanting about autumn. Then again, what isn’t enchanting about Paris? The impeccably dressed children, who point out every single thing that fascinates them while running through the park in front of us; the wafting aroma of baguettes around every corner; the buildings, which are art in themselves; and the parks with their lazy fountains, which are home to toy boats that weave slowly through the nearly still water in the cool fall breeze.

I of course forgot my book back at the flat. But I didn’t mind at all; I was perfectly content merely sitting and watching for an hour. I watched the families, the lovers, the trees and the boats, and took in as much of Paris as I could.

We strolled around the gardens for a bit more, and right before leaving the garden, I found the fountain that I have sitting still on the wall of my room back home: The Medici Fountain. The photographer was right; it is perhaps the most gorgeous spot in Paris. And tucked away from sight, so much so that the crowds that fill Luxembourg Gardens seem to have forgotten about it. Making it even more perfect.


We spent the rest of our afternoon ducking into boulangeries and patisseries, boutiques and paperies. A walk along Boulevard Saint-Germaine, and a duck into an alley entirely dedicated to food, had us salivating. So much so, that we decided to do dinner at the flat.

We were also still a bit full of crepe :-)

We found a shop with olive and eggplant tapenades so delicious that we moaned, and wound up getting half our dinner there without any intention of doing so. Oliver and Co. provided the olive oil, the boulangerie on the Île Saint-Louis provided the bread and macarons, and the grocery provided the dates and other antipasti delicacies.

We were very happy returning to our flat to partake in excellent food. With excellent French music, of course.

Since our first full day there, Kathleen, her mother and I had finished our day with a French movie. Well, “French” movie. Midnight in Paris was Monday night, Chocolat was Tuesday night, Moulin Rouge was Wednesday night, and we had no choice but to adopt Ratatouille for Thursday night :-)

Although, I still have only seen half of it. My family FaceTimed me right in the middle… but I was more than happy to skip the rest of the movie and talk to my perfect moronic siblings (relax, they’re my favorite people in the world. And we’re taking over the world one day, so you better love them as much as I do.)

But… by Friday, we still had not seen the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe. Champs-Élysées. So… the only reasonable thing was to fit them all into one last, marathon day.

We started off on Boulevard Saint-Germaine again, and back into that alley we’d found the day before. To La Jacobine… where we again had crepes. In the words of my dear friend and flatmate Glory: “Can’t stop won’t stop.”

I couldn’t resist popping into the different shops along Saint-Germaine, even though I won’t be buying anything from them until I am, well, not a student on a student budget. But the saleswomen still loved our company, and I fell in love with their clothes. In fact, I was occupied enough to not mind the cold wind as it whipped along the streets, as it slashed across my face while I walked by all the government buildings and National Assembly, even as it led us to one of the prettiest streets in Paris:


Gorgeous, no?  But of course, no one else was looking at those buildings. Because in the backyard of those highly established households is a small piece of art that half the world dreams about seeing.


Small is perhaps an understatement.

But I will say, it’s something to see. Pictures don’t do it justice; it’s beautiful.

Eiffel Tower: Check.

Arc de Triomphe: … one fast walk past embassies and tree-lined streets later… Check.


And a stroll (frolic) down the Champs-Élysées… Check :-)

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We did hop into some stores for shopping. But, shamelessly, Kathleen and I’s favorite store on the strand was Ladurée. The best way to describe Ladurée is the Sugarplum Kingdom manifested. A fairytale land full of macarons, chocolates, tarts, pastries, and every other delectable sweet known to the French. The line to get into the boutique was easily 100 people long, but again, we didn’t mind. Because what awaited us inside was so, so worth the time.

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And these are just the tarts. I was too busy ordering macarons and chocolates when we passed those…

We feasted on our macarons in Starbucks across the street (because macarons go excellently with cappuccinos,) and then walked down the rest of the grand shopping mecca, until we were back at the Seine and the Tuilerie Gardens in front of the Louvre. We made an executive decision not to see the inside of the Louvre (we had too many other things to enjoy in Paris.) But I suppose that will require a trip back to Paris…

Still, the Tuilerie Gardens are gorgeous. And we couldn’t go Paris and not at least walk by the Louvre. The light rain was perfect as we drifted through, admiring the statues and modern art that seemed to overflow from the Louvre not 100 meters away. Paris knows how to do gardens.

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The rain followed us, perhaps comforted us, as we walked back along the Rue de Rivoli one last time. “You know… I think we’ve been in every single big Parisian store,” Kathleen said to no one in particular. And as we looked around… we had. 100 stores in 5 days? Check.

We had one last vegetarian / vegan / gluten-free restaurant picked out, Cafe Ginger, for our last meal. We headed to Bastille, determined to find it. And upon finding it… we found it closed.


Of course, our last meal had to be falafels and hummus. Nothing else would be fitting :-)

We stopped at King Falafel’s Palace… but don’t let the name deter you. It was a few steps from our flat, and actually very nice. Modern. Amazingly delicious. Almost good enough to send us into food comas for the night… but as it was our last night in Paris, we needed something sweet too. Hello, Lindt and Côte d’Or Praline chocolate.

Two movies were in order that night: Something’s Gotta Give (because it ends in Paris,) and Because I Said So (because we were all a bit drunk on red wine and needed some Mandy Moore and Diane Keaton, although I’m more partial to the former.)

None of us wanted to go to bed. But by 2AM, we had all found our way to bed, the sounds of fire and a storm seeping slowly into the room from Kathleen’s phone. “I don’t want to go back to work,” I said softly. “…Me neither,” Kathleen replied even softer. “I mean, two 15 page papers and a 20 page paper? WHY.”

*Our conversation turned loud and a bit explicit fairly quickly*

But as we strolled through our neighborhood one last time Saturday morning, before our taxi came to take us to Gare du Nord, we took in Paris one last time. And realized that maybe it wasn’t the place to stay indefinitely.

“Paris is enchanting,” Kathleen said, to which I replied, “Entirely so.”

“But it’s the kind of enchanting that you couldn’t live indefinitely in. You couldn’t work here. In fact, you couldn’t live here full time unless you were literally an artist or a writer.”

“It wouldn’t keep its charm. It’s like living in Miami,” I said, brushing my finger along the stones in the wall of the building passing us. “Sooner or later, you have to return to real life. But a life that feels like home, not a fairy tale.”

We silenced, stopped, and looked at the city in front of us. In all it’s beauty, and for all the times in my life that I’d visit it… it wasn’t home.

Flying back across the Channel, pulling to a halt in St. Pancras, and seeing London again… that felt like home.

Sitting on the Victoria line headed back to Waterloo… that felt like home.

Paris is my favorite pastime, but London is home.

Besides, I fit a London personality much more closely. I’m staunchly mannered, a bit distant, take Burberry over an oversized Chloe coat any day, and quite like being a hurry sometimes. It feels more purposeful.

Au Revoir, Paris. I’ll certainly be back to kill time again. But I’m in the mood for a purpose right now.

- Claire Rembecki (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

View Claire’s blog Trying London For Size.

Images ©Claire Rembecki.  All rights reserved.

Half Term, Part Two

Posted on October 28, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

The slogan for this week: “We’re in no hurry.”

Paris is a city that takes its time. While nothing in the city makes sense, its people couldn’t care less. The public toilets require 5 minutes to clean themselves between each user– Parisians are happy to wait. None of the streets are straight or flat– Parisians are happy to wander. The line to get into any museum, or any good crêperie or patisserie, is enough to make most tourists look for somewhere else to go. But Parisians know that the wait will be worthwhile.

And as for any meal… well, if you want a quick bite merely to sustain yourselves, Paris isn’t the city for you. Londoners eat to sustain themselves; Parisians eat to enjoy themselves. To socialize. To lose themselves in the best food in the world. And every meal takes two hours, minimum.

No, Parisians are in no hurry. But they do everything with deliberate flair, including waiting. And Kathleen, her mother, and I, are more than happy to wait with the Parisians.

After all, we’re relaxing this week. We’re in no hurry.

Little did we know that our lack of hurry, and our desire to veer away from the masses of tourists and lose ourselves in the twisting cobblestone streets of Paris, would give us some of the best stories of the term.

Tuesday morning (late, late morning,) after we pulled ourselves away from our beds, we headed toward the Seine. And turned into some alleys. And found an absolutely adorable vegetarian restaurant (one of the very, very few in Paris, who find any abnormal diet irrational.) But because the food was amazing, they have flocks of locals vying for the very few tables. And you have to love a restaurant that has vines hanging from the staircase.

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After enough soy and mushroom burgers, seitan, and ratatouille to satisfy Kathleen and I’s vegetarian selves, we wandered back toward the Seine, stopping at Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, all the green bookshelves along the Seine, and every spot that had too gorgeous a view to walk right through without a moment of appreciation. I may or may not have inadvertently caused people walking behind me to crash into me a few times… but I had to stop abruptly to catch the perfect pictures.  The tourists grumbled when they crashed into me. The Parisians merely smiled and excused themselves.


The Musee d’Orsay wasn’t far, and I knew that was the place I most wanted to go while in Paris.  So, we hopped into the hour-long line for the museum, undaunted by the wait in front of us.

It of course started violently raining about five minutes into our wait.  Rather suddenly, as rain tends to happen in Paris. And Parisians, on irrational deliberate principle, don’t carry umbrellas.  Meaning that I made friends in line, because my umbrella was big enough to barely cover the French mother and two kids in front of me.  We even managed to have a conversation in broken English and French :-)

Luckily, the rain left nearly as quickly as it came, and the sun was out for long enough to start drying our umbrellas before we made it into the museum.  We headed straight to the top floor for cappuccinos (our umbrellas may have mostly dried, but we were still soaked,) and, without knowing it at the time, the view:

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Wandering somewhat aimlessly has its benefits :-)

I can’t show much about the museum, as pictures weren’t allowed inside at all. But I can tell you: I think it will remain my favorite museum.  It focuses entirely on the 1880s – early 1900s, meaning that the impressionists and neoimpressionists — Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh — all have a home in d’Orsay.  The impressionists are my favorite; I spent hours drifting through the museum, almost dancing by the Degas and floating slowly in front of Monet’s landscapes and Renoir’s scenes of Paris.

And the views themselves are art– if anything, go to the museum to see the Right Bank from the other side of the Seine. But really, go to see all the art, the paintings and sketches and decor and sculptures.  It’s entirely worth the line.

We didn’t leave until closing time, and spent the night wandering slowly through the boutiques in our neighborhood (and to get falafels… even those are heavenly in Paris.)

Wednesday was a day of shopping until we dropped, walking to the Canal St. Martin (which is beautiful in the autumn,) finding our way to Helmut Newcake (the first entire gluten-free bakery in Paris,) traversing the 10th Arrondissement, and climbing the mount of Montmartre.  All the way to the top, in fact… bonjour, Sacre Coeur.


Once again, the visit to the Cathedral is worth it, if only for the view of Paris from the top (but the Cathedral itself is absolutely gorgeous inside. Much brighter than Notre Dame. Perhaps a bit happier :-) )

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We couldn’t climb all the way to Montmartre and not explore the neighborhood of bohemian revolution.  I love the 18th Arrondissement; the streets wind into each other, the buildings teeter gracefully and gloriously atop their hills, and an entirely unexpected treasure is always hidden right around the corner. Like dozens of fun boutiques, with goods all handmade in Paris.

Or streets that make you want to stay lost for weeks.

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Or a centuries old cemetery, one that requires an hour just to find the entrance.  But entirely worth the hour, because Emilie Zola, Degas, and so many philosophers and artists now call it their eternal home.  The lanes of the cemetery even look like neighborhood streets… in a rather creepy but entirely tasteful Parisian way.  But of course, only Paris would execute death with flair and finesse.

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And perhaps the best part of my day… The Moulin Rogue. Shoutout, Ms. Alex Dorton.


Indeed, I love the movie. And could not contain my smile upon finding it. My smile was so large, in fact, that I’m fairly certain I made the people around me uncomfortable.  So much for contagious happiness… but I’ll happily keep it to myself if my surroundings insist ;-)

We finally wandered back home for dinner, at yet another amazing vegetarian restaurant not far from our flat.  I don’t know if I can say I truly lived until I had tasted a homemade quinoa burger with a heavenly mushroom cream sauce drizzled over the top… but only the French could pull off a meal so good it made me think my life was complete upon partaking in it.

Perhaps no one has truly lived until they’ve been to Paris, though.

- Claire Rembecki (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

View Claire’s blog Trying London For Size.

Images ©Claire Rembecki.  All rights reserved.




Northern England Photo Essay

Posted on October 16, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, LUP Outings, Places to Visit, Student voice by Emily

From the windswept, quiet shores of the holy isle of Lindisfarne to the grand, sweeping halls of York Minster, this trip to visit the north of England and see where Christianity first developed and grew in Britain opened my eyes to the history of our Catholic faith on this island. Though each of the ruins and cathedrals we visited were grand, beautiful, and imposing in their own right, it was only once I learned of the history behind each of them that I was able to appreciate how amazing they truly are.


Ruins of the Lindisfarne PrioryThe ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory stand stark against the seemingly endless coast of the island. Looking at the stone walls and precariously towering arches, it almost seems possible that they might crumble overhead at any moment. It was here in 635 that Aidan, one of the first Christian missionaries in England, built his priory, and here that St Cuthbert, who travelled England to spread the word of Christianity, was Bishop. Though all that is left of now of the Lindisfarne Priory is crumbled walls, the presence of the men of faith who lived in Lindisfarne is still very much there, creating an intimate religious experience for pilgrims like myself.


What I was most struck by when we visited Durham Cathedral was how well they had integrated the ancient and the modern in this nearly thousand-year-old building. As our tour guide took us around the Cathedral, he showed us the first stone roof, the first flying buttresses, and the first examples of Gothic-style arches in a European church, which clearly showed how old the Cathedral truly is. He then pointed out a stained glass window installed in 2012 with an almost impressionistic depiction of the Last Supper, a modern statue of Mary that used facial features of ethnicities from around the world to create a truly international Mother of God, and an ongoing Lego recreation of the Cathedral, examples of the modernity that still lives and breathes there. In spite of its age, Durham Cathedral is far from being stuck in the past and is continuing to transform and be a part of modern culture and Christianity in England.

Durham CathedralLego recreation of Durham Cathedral


Fountains AbbeyThe allure of Fountains Abbey does not only come from its history as a religious institution but also what happened there after it was abandoned following the Reformation. The Abbey was not destroyed right away, but instead was systematically torn down beginning years later after being sold to a merchant. The lands surrounding the ruins were then turned into beautifully kept gardens during the Victorian period and Fountains Abbey soon became the second most visited tourist attraction in England, falling behind only London. I think what I loved most about visiting Fountains Abbey was the fact that I had never heard of it before, which is quite astounding considering its incredible history. Therefore, everything I learned was entirely new and exciting and only increased my enjoyment at exploring the Abbey.


York Minster

Though each of the ruins and cathedrals we visited on the trip were affected by the Reformation and Anglicanism, it was in York Minster that I felt their effects most. We attended Evensong in York Minster, the Anglican form of Evening Prayer. As a lifelong Catholic, it was a very interesting experience. In that beautiful and grand cathedral, with the angelic sound of the choir echoing, I could see why Anglicans found Evensong an incredible experience of faith. It was different than most of the Catholic Masses and prayer services to which I have been. Experiencing this form of prayer which was very new to me caused me to reflect on the changes that York Minster underwent in becoming an Anglican cathedral after it was first built as a Catholic one. Outwardly York Minster still seems very Catholic: it is grand and ornate and very similar to Catholic cathedrals. Just as York Minster still echoes its Catholic history, Anglicanism is not so different from Catholicism and we even said the same Creed during Evensong that we as Catholics profess every week during Mass. However, there are subtle differences between the two and I could feel them during Evensong. Reflecting on the history of Catholicism and Anglicanism in England made me enjoy this new service even more.


St. Margaret ClitherowWhen we learned about the martyr St. Margaret Clitherow, I thought even more on the relationship between Catholicism and Anglicanism. St. Margaret was martyred in the sixteenth century during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. She was accused of harboring a Catholic priest and sentenced to be crushed to death after refusing to plea in an effort to protect her children, friends, and neighbors who were also practicing Catholics. The Reformation was a terrible time for Catholics in England, as their churches were destroyed or converted to the Church of England, they were forced to give up their faiths, and those who refused became martyrs when they were executed as traitors. Tensions between Catholicism and Anglicanism would remain for years following, even after Catholicism was finally made legal once again. King Henry VIII forever changed Catholicism in England, and though we are no longer living in an age when people like St. Margaret Clitherow can be executed for their Catholic faith, we cannot deny the effects it has had.


This trip to the north of England to explore the roots and history of Christianity in Great Britain was very enlightening. I feel I learned a lot about the monks who once ministered there, the people who worshipped, the great lords who built soaring cathedrals, and the faithful who were affected by the Reformation. As I attend Mass and celebrate my own Catholic faith here in London each Sunday, I shall remember them and what they went through and the marks in time they left behind for us to discover.


- Alexandra Bohnsack (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Images ©Alexandra Bohnsack, all rights reserved.

It’s Brighter in Brighton

Posted on September 29, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Places to Visit, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Though London is quickly becoming my favorite city in the world, sometimes a girl has to clear her head and escape the city limits.  There are only so many rush hour tube rides one can take before going insane, after all.  Perhaps, if said girl is lucky, her escape can be to go see the ocean, because there is something so incredibly calming, perhaps nostalgic, about seeing waves lap up on the beach and a straight horizon of brilliant blue water.

Indeed, it was incredibly calming when my alarm went off at 8:00, when my comforter fell on one of my sleeping flatmates, when the fire alarm went off for the umpteenth time this trip and literally no one paid any attention, and when my flatmates and I barreled down the halls of our building to catch our train :-)

But but but… whatever stress may or may not have been incurred was immediately wiped away by the ocean smell as soon as we descended onto the platform in Brighton.

And then, when we saw this:

Brighton Beach

Ah yes, hello Brighton.

London has a very distinct atmosphere: it’s hurried, proper, somehow both elegant and bohemian, and a perfectly molded splash of hundreds of cultures all coming together to form a gorgeous city.  It’s inspiring, and it encourages its people to jump headfirst into life and into the streets and into the night and into anything they might be doing.

And while that’s fantastic… sometimes you don’t want to always be jumping.

Brighton is the counter to London. You don’t jump into the city; you can gradually coast into it. There is no rush, no need to ponder thousands of years of history or culture or the arts.  You merely need to embrace your day, take in the sun, and relax as you intentionally lose your way around the city.

The best places my friends and I found to lose ourselves:



1) The Lanes, which are adorable, tiny stone streets of shops and galleries, and the occasional phenomenal tea shop or cafe. And Kathleen’s overalls (of which she is VERY proud,) fit in perfectly. As did her and Olivia’s flower crowns… of which they are also incredibly proud.




2) Brighton Pier, which conveniently has a NuNu (I loved Teletubbies as a kid, no judgement) and perfect places to reenact Titanic (thank you Harriet and Kathleen, for being so beautiful you brought Olivia and I to tears.) The pier also has carnival rides and a fun arcade… but we were enjoying the sun too much to partake.



3) Wai Kika Moo Kau, the best vegetarian / vegan restaurant I’ve ever visited, and which made my friends’ and my day, because, confession time, there is no end to my love for hummus, falafels, halloumi, or anything else on the heavenly plate they set in front of me.



4) The walk aside the Royal Pavillion… because you don’t feel like you’re in England at all.


5) And of course, the beach.  Even with it’s freezing water. Even with the rocks. Even with the British sun, which is perpetually silver, and prompted Kathleen to say “Oh look the moon is already out,” at 2PM, to which I replied “Nope love that’s the sun,” and I still got a sunburn.

I will not publish anything incriminating, so I will not tell if you if any of my flatmates decided to embark upon a swim in her knickers.

You only study abroad once ;-)

- Claire Rembecki (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Photos ©Claire Rembecki

Check out Claire’s blog Trying London for Size



Posted on September 16, 2014 in LUP Fall 14, Rector Outings, Student Blog Competition Entries, Student voice by Emily

Cambridge Station by Sarah RobisonThis past weekend I had the absolutely pleasure of going back to Cambridge, England, where my family lived for two years when I was 8 years old. It was the first time I had been back since we moved away 11 years ago. The strange feeling of flashbacks mixed with pure joy mixed with this weird sensation of feeling like I was living in a dream truly is just indescribable. As I was walking through the streets that I had walked through 11 years before as a little girl, I could not stop smiling and thanking God for His countless blessings and for bringing me back full circle to where I lived when my biggest worry was being made fun of for my American accent.

Cambridge Midget by Sarah RobisonIt’s funny how every tiny problem always seems like such a huge deal at the time. And then, when we look back, we recognize that God holds all time and eternity in the palm of His hand. A tweet that I read this morning put it perfectly: You don’t need to know what tomorrow holds. All you need to know is the One who holds tomorrow.

My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time period where worry and planning have taken over the pleasurable, day-to-day blessings that are so small and so beautiful. I have the honor of getting to spend my Thursday afternoons at a school in a city outside London with 120 students who are all diagnosed with some form of autism. One little girl, named Treasure, drew me a picture on my first day of class of four little hearts in the middle of the page. When I asked her why she drew it for me, she said “Simple. Cause I love you.” And all I could think about in that moment was Jesus.

That is the exact response that I believe He would say to us if we were to ask him questions about our future, about what we should do, who we should be, what graduate school we should go to, how we will ever possibly be able to pay off our student loans, the list goes on and on. I really believe that He would just hold us in His arms, smile and say “It’s simple Sarah. I love you.” These worries are microscopic at most when it comes to the God who created everything that was and is and is to come. He holds your heart and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Cambridge by Sarah RobisonIt really is amazing the perspective you can gain from going back to a place where you lived as a young child and haven’t been back to since. In a way, it just felt so strange to be walking around the same place but 11 years later, with more than half of my life having been passed by since then. But in a truly beautiful and incredible way it just made me feel so much love from Jesus in a way that I have never felt before. My roommate’s binder has Exodus 14:14 written on it and I wish we could constantly remind ourselves of this over and over again when worry seems to creep into our lives: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Thank You, Jesus, for your countless blessings that you pour out on our lives day after day, hour after hour. We are undeserving and we are in love with You. Save us, Savior of the world, for by Your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

- Sarah Robison (London Undergraduate Program, Fall 2014)

Check out Sarah’s blog Remaining Unstained

Photos ©Sarah Robison

The London Design Festival

Posted on September 11, 2014 in Festivals, London, Things to do by Emily

Giant Chess, Trafalgar Square, London Design Festival 2009 by Chris BeckettThe London Design Festival begins this weekend and is a weeklong event celebrating London as a design capital of the world, bringing together the international creative community.  Whether you have an invested interest in art and design or contemporary living, or like me simply enjoy perusing quirky and unusual homeware and planning for that not-yet-attainable dream house, it’s definitely worth a visit!

What can I see?

The festival is principally made up of photography, art, and furniture exhibitions and installations, but there are also pop-up shops and studios, open-studio days, a chance to peruse current and new ranges in already-existing design shops, film screenings, panel discussion, and more!  If you’re a budding designer and want to know how to get into the design industry, make sure you check out the range of careers talks and workshops (including Graphics Weekend and Café SMUG), where you can get expert advice on matters such as jobs and portfolios.

There’s too much to choose from!

The London Design Festival includes so many events, some ticketed and some free, that it’s impossible to see it all.  After trawling the website, here are some interesting venues and events:

The Victoria and Albert Museum – the V&A has several installations, exhibitions, and displays going on throughout the festival (and beyond), including tours, workshops aimed specifically at young people this year’s main collection: Wedding Dress 1775-2014.  Graphics Weekend (mentioned above) will also take place at the museum, as well as Shakespeare 450 events.

Harrods – this year, Harrods is introducing a design trail, Harrods Is Design, showcasing exclusive global launches, such as Zaha Hadid’s debut homeware collection.  Hadid famously designed many buildings, including the ultra-modern London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics and the spectacular Roca London Gallery.  There’s nowhere better for window shopping and dreaming than Harrods!

The Living Installation – at this event, designers have a day to create a “space” using resources they can find on the high street and in the markets of Deptford.  Head on over and see what treasures the designers can find around and how they can turn them into something innovative and creative!

WikiHouse v4.0 – have you ever wanted to see a digitally printed house?  Now you can!  The house will be assembled outside The Building Centre during the Design Festival and there will be daily tours and evening events.  If you take along your smartphone, you can even connect to the WikiHouse WIFI and play around with the lighting and ventilation in the house!

Endless Stairs at the Tate Modern by Dave PearceTradeshows – the big showcases of the Design Festival are designjunction with designers and traders spanning four floors, and my personal favorite, Tent London (both from £8 entry).  Tent is now in its eighth year and has a variety of furniture, accessories, homeware, prints, and more on display.  Last year I enjoyed testing out a swinging dining table and chair set by Duffy London, and although most items were very pricey, just talking to the designers and dreaming of the ultimate home was worth it!

Also worth mentioning are the John Lewis 150 Years exhibition at the Design Museum, and meet the designers at Oxo Tower Wharf.  If you just want a good area to wonder around and browse, Shoreditch and Brixton tend to have a lot going on during the festival.

For more information on The London Design Festival, including times and prices, see the website.

- Emily (Communications and Planning Specialist)

Images by Chris Beckett and Dave Pearce under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic