On Sunday I went to a cafe called ‘Ziferblat’ close to Old Street station, it’s not very new but it’s also not very busy. It’s inside a flat just off Shoreditch High Street and you ring a buzzer to get in.
So I haven’t blogged in a while. Since late November and December I was writing lots and lots of essays and exam papers. (Luckily I chose courses I already knew a little bit about, so I had an easy time – I recommend this to everyone going on a year abroad!)
For Christmas and New Year I came back to England with an American friend I met in Prague, Katie. I said that I would show her around London and true to my word, we spent the first 3 days back in the capital. And we didn’t see (or taste) everything. I immediately decided the best thing to do was to get the sight-seeing out of the way, once that was done I showed her some of my favourite coffee shops and food places. I managed to put on more weight in London over those 3 days than I did in the first term in Prague. We got cinnamon buns at the Nordic Bakery, burgers at Honest Burgers, cheese fries at Meatliquor, Vietnamese pho at Camden’s Thanh Binh, huevos rancheros at The Diner and coffee at my favourite place on Brick Lane, Full Stop. And that’s not everything we ate.
The rest of the holidays we spent in Northampton with my parents, Oxford for a day trip and Windsor for another day trip. But we mostly watched a lot of TV and films and I finally finished watching the entire Breaking Bad series (omg).
Here’s some of my pictures from my break:
London has a rival: Budapest. Everything I love about London, I found in the capital of Hungary. Great coffee (including flat whites), a ton of vintage clothing shops, houmous, restaurants that do brunch, the use of Time Out, and beautiful huge city parks. I’m in love.
So you’re moving to London to start university, you’ve made a great choice! London is the best city to go to university in in the UK. Why? Because we have everything bigger and better than the rest of the country. Ok, I’m being a little biased and big headed. But going to university in London is a lot different to going anywhere else in the country. Not necessarily in a bad way, but there’s something about London that makes it really weird to go to university in.
First of all, unlike any other large sized town or city, the university isn’t the only thing going for it. Mostly because we have about 40 different universities in one city. Hardly any of them are campus based. Meaning your whole uni life can be spread across the city. And unlike places like Sheffield or Warwick, people don’t just go to London for uni. People travel to London from all over the world for tourism, to work, to live, and they don’t immediately think: “university”. Time and time again I have heard Northern family members say: “Why didn’t you go to Manchester to study? Manchester is a student city.” What does that mean, “student city”? Because to me that means there’s nothing else to do except study.
That’s why in my first year I didn’t feel like London offered the real student experience, whatever that is. Whenever I spoke to my friends from school in the holidays who went to other places in the country to study, they always asked: “What is London like?” But I really wondered what it was like to not study there. (They have this thing called “carnage”. What the hell is that?) To me, their uni experience sounded like living in a tiny village. Everyone you met was a student and when you went to the shops, everyone was a student. The only people you met in clubs were other students and when you met a local, they hated you because you were a student. And during uni holidays, the place was like a ghost town. You were stuck having to live on rubbish food from chain restaurants like Nandos and drinking bad filter coffee from the student union because no one had heard of a ‘skinny latte’, let alone been into a Starbucks. Yeah ok, point made. But that’s what I first worried about when I was a fresher in London. I worried I wasn’t getting the “real deal”. Maybe I didn’t, but I think I got better.
Here’s some of my tips on how to make the most out of freshers in London, so you don’t feel too left out…..
Last week I went to Somerset House to see Pretty In Pink on a large screen outdoors. I’m a huge fan of John Hughes/Molly Ringwald partnerships, so as soon as I got wind of the Pretty In Pink showing as part of Film 4’s summer screening, I immediately snapped up a ticket.
Pretty In Pink is about as cool 80s as you can get. Yeah, ok, ‘cool 80s’ sounds like an oxymoron, but this film is every hipsters dream. Not only because the way the ‘cool’ students dress – with blazers, bowties, coloured waistcoats and raybans – but the soundtrack makes it like the (500) Days of Summer of its time. And don’t get me started on the scene where Jon Cryer pretends to be Otis Redding and starts miming and dancing to ‘Try a Little Tenderness’.
Last week my friend treated me to an afternoon tea at Sketch for my 20th birthday (yes, I’m officially no longer a teenager *sob*). As you may be able tell from my blog, I love any excuse to post pictures of cute looking food, and especially cakes, so I thought I’d share some of the pictures I took.
So this is probably going to be one of my last posts from London for about a year. In September I will be moving to Prague and studying history as an Erasmus student at Charles University. I’m really excited about living in a new city and having the opportunity to experience a new culture in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But I’m also very sad to be leaving London behind. In my first year everyone said that your first year was for getting to know your university campus and your second year was when you got to know the real London. This was definitely true for me. After my second year I now feel like I know all the really cool places to eat, drink and hang about and I’m no longer terrified to go a bit further out of Central London to try somewhere new.
Here’s some of the things I am really going to miss about London:
Super cheap, fresh and friendly service, Honest Burgers definitely lives up to its name. Having now established a second restaurant in Soho, the original Brixton burger restaurant is bringing great prices and great food to Central London.
Mr Brainwash opened his first ever solo UK exhibition in London on Sunday 5th August.
Whilst walking from Holborn I came across the exhibition unexpectedly, which was drawing mass crowds in from TCR area.
For tourists, the exhibition has a very British feel with pictures of the Queen, the Olympics, Union Jacks, painted model horses, iconic photos of Kate Moss made into pop art and a model London black cab.