Getting Oriented with London

Carolyn Fales University of Westminster, England


September 17, 2014

Wow. It’s been a week since I’ve been here and my time is already flying by. I arrived safely off the plane, albeit a little groggy. As much as I tried to sleep on the flight I managed to not get any rest. We trekked through customs and found our way to the Arcadia staff members who helped us get our stuff to coaches that carried us and our luggage to our new temporary homes in Crawford Notch.

We spent three days in Crawford Notch for Arcadia orientation. On our first full day they gave us maps and free transportation cards and sent us out to explore on our own. Getting around London is extremely easy with the busses and the tube, we may have gotten lost a couple of times, but its all helped us learn in the end. We saw The Monument, the Tower Bridge, and the beautiful red ceramic poppies outside of the Tower of London.

The Monument is exactly that, a tall monument that commemorates the Great Fire of London. To get to the top you have to pay four pounds and walk 311 steps of a winding staircase. The view from the top is incredible. After going there we walked the Thames to get closer to the Tower Bridge.

It was on this walk we noticed the ceramic poppies and read up on what they were for. There is one poppy for each solider from the UK, Australia, and the Common Wealth that was killed during the Great War. The sight is truly breathtaking; it will eventually hold 888,246 poppies. I know I’ll definitely be back here because I want to take a tour inside. We then walked over the Tower of London Bridge, and it was even cooler up close.

The remaining days of Arcadia orientation involved a lot of presentations that taught us about Britishness and what to expect from our British educations. We learned the different words that the British use for tired, thank you, and pants (knackered, ta, and trouser, respectively). They also showed us how the British grade. In the UK a 75 out of 100 is an A – it’s quite strange. British education is also a lot more independent as there are only a few exams and you are expected to do a lot of outside self teaching and reading. Nights in Crawford Notch were full of exploring the local pubs; we found this really cool one called Betsey Trotwood where I had a delicious steak pie with mashed potatoes.

My Single SuiteOn Saturday, we packed back into our suitcases and got on coaches again to travel to our residence halls for the rest of the semester. My single room is space efficient to say the least. The cabinets are all packed in and my bathroom could be best described as one you would find on an airplane. Let’s just say the toilet, sink, and shower are all right next to each other. I unpacked and put up lots of pictures on the wall, as I always do, to remind me of home, Quinnipiac, and camp.

My neighborhood is called Marleybone, and it’s the cutest thing. All of the flats have huge window baskets of flowers and beautiful brick. There are a lot of little shops, restaurants, and pubs that are close. My friend Angela and I got our first full English breakfast at a cute café called Coco Momo. Then we ventured on to Primark to pick up bedding, towels, and other necessities for living. Primark is massive and so cheap, but it’s absolutely insane on the inside, especially with so many other students moving into the area. We got what we needed and lugged it back to our rooms, which was quite the workout.

The past few days I’ve just been figuring out the area and gathering the things that I need. I went to Hyde Park and ended up seeing Buckingham Palace as well, I’ll of course be going back for a tour and hopefully to see the changing of the guard. Yesterday I went to the British Museum, which is massive and has the most beautiful architecture of any museum I’ve ever seen, and it’s free! We walked through rooms upon rooms of art, statues, pottery, and even watches from every area of the world, it was incredible.

This week is also the University of Westminster’s orientation week. I thought this would mean scheduled activities for us everyday but it turns out we just had a lengthy study abroad meeting Monday that covered most of the basics and then today I had an advisor appointment to straighten out my schedule. Otherwise we just have free time to explore and settle in.

It’s safe to say London is wonderful so far. I’ve started a bucket list of things I want to do here because there’s just so much I need to cover. I’m excited for classes to start and to begin booking all of my travel. Cheers for now!


England Orientation