Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Briana M. - London, England - Spring 2012

Well, since my first official class in London was today, I decided it would be appropriate to finally start my blog. I would like to start off by saying:
At the end of class today my professor told everyone in my class that our assignment for next week was to go out and drink 6 pints of beer. He also told us what drugs not to take if we go to Amsterdam.
I can probably assure you that not all English professors will be this cool but so far it looks like I've lucked out.
So far I have spent two weeks in London, which is a week longer than anyone else in my program. I do recommend coming early and getting started on all of the sights and places you really want to go to. I will advise, however, to be careful where you stay. Youth hostels are inexpensive and are usually placed in locations that allow you to get to the rest of the city very easily. However, they are cheap and you have to keep that in mind at all times. You get what you pay for.
London itself is amazing. If you love cities, this is the place for you. It's larger than Chicago and I may even argue that it's larger than New York. There are so many different places to see and to go to.
Don't get too carried away with being legal and always look out for the things you put in your pockets. My phone got stolen on New Year's Eve.
Go out to eat in London at least a few times, even if a meal plan is provided for you. The food here is fantastic, especially the Indian food. And you must try the fish and chips. When you're finished, DON'T ask for the bill. English people don't understand that. When you want to pay, you ask for the check. This is a very good thing to know unless you want to sit in a restaurant for a really long time with nothing to do. And you have to ask for it, don't assume they will bring it to you. It's the English way to eat slow and have good conversation. The waiters and waitresses don't want to make you feel rushed.
The tube lines are very easy to figure out. The Metropolitan is the worst because that is the line where all of the older trains run. The bus routes are harder to figure out and it takes practice considering after about 5:00pm it switches to a night bus schedule. It's ok once you get the hang of it.
Learn military time when you come to London. It will be very useful.
Visiting Oxford Street and Camden Market is a must. These two places are where all of the main shopping is and their fun as hell to go to.
And lastly for this post, everything in London is VERY expensive!!! If you want to do extra things and travel and buy things and go out at night save a LOT of money!!!!!!


Anonymous Christine M said...

Hey Briana! I'm glad to know the tube is easy to figure out! I've been scared I will get lost on it. I'm planning on studying abroad this summer in London doing and internship instead of taking classes so I definitely need to figure out all the ways I can get to my job.

Do you have any other places you recommend seeing? I have a few in mind and I know my program also goes on a few field trips as well.

As far as cell phones go, did you bring your own or buy it there? Do you know a good place to purchase a phone in London?


10:58 AM  
Anonymous Briana said...

Hey Christine! I'm glad to hear you're thinking about an internship. What program are you going through? I'm surprised your program is going to just let you do an internship instead of an internship and classes! That's so much easier!

The tube is really easy! You can pick up one little tube map and it shoes every single stop. Google Maps for the UK is also a great resource to find your way around!

As for places to see....London has plenty. I haven't traveled out of London the whole time I've been here because I'm always going to someplace new in the city. I recommend all of the markets you can possibly go to. All of them are great! My favorite is Camden. I obviously have to say you must see Parliament. It's where I work. :P And since you'll be here in the fall when the weather is still kind of warm, try to go to as many parks as you can. They're beautiful!

For a phone, I recommend leaving yours at home, especially if it's a smart phone and is very valuable. When you get here, go to the Carphone Warehouse as soon as you can and get a phone. It's scary having to go without one for a bit but a lot of smart phones just get stolen and unless you get an international plan, which is expensive, you have to go through a lot of trouble to get it unlocked so you can use it in the UK. There are Carphone Warehouses everywhere in London. The people that work there are really nice and will set you up with a pay as you go phone for whatever you want to use it for (you can get international minutes or free texts, all kinds of stuff).

Wow. That was long! Sorry! Ha. But I hope it helped!

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Rachel M said...

Hey Briana, What would you recommend bringing and what would you recommend buying when we get there, besides the phone? Like should we bring bed sheets, toiletries, school supplies, etc?

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Christine M said...

Thanks Briana! That was extremely helpful. I'm actually going in the summer so it will be warmer out which is good for touring.

Can you pick up a tube map in the airport? Or is there somewhere I can get one here before I leave? I'm going through IES abroad for my internship. We have one class to take along with our internship, but the class projects and homework seem to be based off of the work I do at my internship. What kind of work do you do you at Parliment?

Also, Is the Carphone place somewhat close to Heathrow? I'm sure I will want to get that set up right away!


8:35 PM  
Anonymous Briana said...

Rachel M: It depends a lot on the program you are going through. With my program, I ended up not having to buy any sheets. Usually you do have to. I suggest checking with your programs for sure. If you need to buy sheets, buy them here in London. There a few different places to find them. I suggest British Home Stores.

As for anything else, buy it here in London! You're going to want space in your suit case to bring things back with you and you can find everything you need right here in London. You really don't want to have a lot of heavy luggage with you when you get into the city and need to find transportation (tube, taxi, bus..).

If you're anything like me, and love to shop, then don't bring a whole lot of clothes or bring clothes you don't mind throwing out and replacing with things you buy in London. I've bought A LOT of clothes here in London so far because I love to shop and can't resist.

Hope that helps a bit.

Christine: Heathrow is basically by nothing. It's kind of out in the middle of no where. You might be able to find a tube map at the airport. I didn't check when I got it. I used Google Maps UK before I even left the States to get directions to where I was going. I picked up a tube map later at a little tourist shop. You can find them almost anywhere.

You won't find any Carphone Warehouses until you get into the city but like I said, they're everywhere. There are also other pay as you go phone places such as Orange, O2, and Vodaphone to name a few.

In Parliament, I do a lot of different stuff. Mostly I do case work and respond to constituents' concerns. I also write up reports for my MP and attend some meetings. It really varies. Do you have your internship placement yet?

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Christine M said...

Thanks! Yeah I think I might see if some travel agencies here have some if not I can always print one out from google. How far is it then from Heathrow to London? I don't have my internship placement yet. I recently revised my UK resume& CV so IES is currently sending it around. My interviews take place the first week of April. I'm getting nervous already!

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Christine M said...

I forgot to add something. Do you have any tips regarding working in London? How are things different from working there vs. working in the US?

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Angela M. said...

Do you have any recommendations for picking classes? It probably varies by school, but for you was there a chance of getting the classes you initially wanted, or at least think is interesting/helpful for your degree?

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Briana said...

It depends on where you are staying in London. London is very big so the time to Heathrow to where ever you're staying really differs. For picking classes, just pick whatever you will think will be interesting and make sure it transfers for something and you're not wasting your time. And yes, there is a chance of getting what you wanted. I got all of the classes I picked out.

When it comes to working in the UK, don't be scared when people curse in the work place. It's a common thing here. And if they're nice they will ask you out to drinks after work. And if you have a placement that is anything like mine, make sure you watch you're spelling. They speak British English not American English. The spelling and the words ARE different. Don't be afraid to ask for help, either.

Sorry for the late reply guys. I just now got done going through finals and finishing my internship.

2:02 PM  

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