Yesterday was one of the best days I have experienced in London thus far. My roommates and I went to the River Thames for the Thames’ Festival and Erin’s birthday, and spent the entire day visiting vendors, taking pictures and finishing off with the Night Carnival and a great fireworks show. It was a magnificent day with great friends, food and entertainment, and I am absolutely delighted that the City of London would provide such an amazing event at a gorgeous locale. It was a fantastic last night before beginning classes today, might I add. I am taking three classes, including one Elon-only general studies course called Traveling Through Time Along the Thames, British Politics, and British Culture and Visual Media. I’ve only been to the Elon GST, which seems unbelievable so far, but the other courses seem extremely interesting and unique and I know I’ll love them.
As part of the summer-to-fall transition, the sun seems to be receding to make way for that notorious London weather, as there has been a quick turnaround from warm and sunny to cool and cloudy. Not that I am complaining, as this creates optimal walking weather, meaning I can move quickly and comfortably to all of the sights I'd like to see within my local area. I went with a couple of my roommates for a walk through Kensington Gardens, and found beautiful spots that would have remained undiscovered had we not made a few wrong turns in search of the Peter Pan statue located at Hyde Park. We never did find Peter Pan, but we were certainly not disappointed by what we did find. That’s something I have learned about London: you may have a plan to go to one location, but there are countless branches and aspects to that one particular place that are nearly impossible to cover in a single visit. For example, if you decide to go to Buckingham Palace, you would probably expect to simply go through a few rooms and leave satisfied having visited a prestigious and famous venue. However, you may not realize that there are dozens of galleries, exhibits and separate galleries and exhibits within those. You simply need to remember that you will see what you came to see, and if there’s more, you can see it later on. That’s all there is to it! My adviser at Elon told me to go to London and just get lost. At first, I thought, “Are you crazy?! I’ll be in a foreign country!” But now I see what she meant. Getting lost means finding places you would never think about, and stumbling upon cute little cafes, bars, shops and markets allows you to see where the locals like to go to relax and enjoy themselves, and discovering these leads to discovering where the true culture and personality of a city lies.