Exchange Diaries: A Visit To London

By Cole Meagher (ArtSci ’14)

I decided to do a bit of travelling this past weekend and took a trip to ‘Foggy ol London’. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing, and I took the redeye bus down from Glasgow to London to visit Stonehenge with a buddy and then explore London solo.

I got down to London just in time to catch the charter to Stonehenge. Normally I’m only interested in art or monuments if it has a function to go along with its beauty or awesomeness – think buildings, cars and nature. So when we got to Stonehenge I was really taken a back; I’m not saying that I went out and bought an “I heart Stonehenge” shirt, but it was a surprisingly fun experience. They bring you out in the plains of Salisbury and in the middle of what might seem like nowhere, which boasted a massive ancient monument. All in all, it was worth checking out.

As for the rest of the weekend I was on my own. This was something I was both looking forward to and a bit nervous for. I wasn’t sure what would come with travelling a foreign city. The mentality I decided to take for the weekend was that it would be a good learning experience and a chance for me to grow. I looked into what touristy things I might do, what shopping and what restaurants I would want to hit up. However no matter how much I prepared, I still managed to get lost and had to ask for directions (shamelessly) a number of times. In the end, I made it to my hostel, the recommended Fish and Chips spot and the big London attractions, like the Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. On paper it was a success and along with checking off my to do list it was also a great experience being on my own.

What I enjoyed most about London wasn’t about the food or the famous landmarks; it was the times where my itinerary was purposely left blank. Both Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon I left big chunks in my schedule just to wander. This was great for a few reasons:
1. I was able to get a much better grasp of the layout of the city by physically walking from place to place.
2. It was a good chance to let my mind wander.
3. I was able to spend a whole morning walking through Hyde Park and checking into other areas of the city I might have left unturned – like Kingly Street.

While I’ll admit that London isn’t a city that can be fully explored in a weekend, I had a really good time. I learned that I can travel on my own (something I am sure many have learned well before I have) and I learned that it’s REALLY hard to sleep on a night bus. With respect to the city I feel like I have just been given but one chip out of a bag of London brand potato chips (a.k.a. crisps here in the UK.). I’ve left wanting more and have discovered the extent of how much there is to see and do here.

I will come back to London a few more times this semester and there are still a couple of other cities I’d like to check out, not to mention my own backyard (Glasgow) as well. I just need to plan my trips accordingly with the limited time I have here.

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