Temple University London Study Abroad Fall 2010

When I walked into my house after a full day of traveling from London’s Heathrow Airport to Newark International Airport, my brother turned to me and asked, “How was London?” I replied, “It was… Umm…” How was I supposed to sum up the best experience of my life in mere words?

I looked at my parents who were also waiting for my answer, “It was… perfect.” Perfection is the only word I can use to describe my semester-long experience in London.  I could not have asked for a better experience, or even imagine a better experience. 

My first piece of advice regarding studying abroad is short and sweet: DO IT. Study abroad. Take out the loans, make up any missing credits in the future, if it’s offered by your university take up the opportunity. Every day was an amazing experience of its own. Even the days where I was caught in the quintessential London rain without an umbrella or rain boots were perfect memories. I could write a novel about my best experiences while abroad but I’ll refrain from taking up an entire month of your time. Here’s a list of my Top 10 Experiences Abroad, in no particular order.

1. Traveling While Abroad

Traveling within Europe is cheap! Being able to explore an entire continent is an amazing experience. I was lucky enough to travel while abroad; my favorite place I visited was Santorini, Greece. For any Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants fans, Santorini is the beautiful island where Lena goes and stays with her grandparents. This island was unreal. It was heaven. My friends and I rented ATV’s and drove around the island, went to the beach, swam in the Aegean Sea, and ate delicious Greek food (personal recommendations: Baklava and Moussaka).

 

Me and my friends in Santorini

2. London Fashion Week. As a part of my study abroad program, we had the opportunity to intern with a British company. My internship was at a newspaper called the Daily Express in the fashion section. I started work the week of London Fashion Week and got to attend three fashion shows. Not only was it exciting but it was on my 20th birthday! Talk about a fantastic birthday present. Plus, I sat across from shoe designer Jimmy Choo at one of the shows and Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, walked by me at the end of the day.

 

3. Pub Culture. Pubs are the ultimate hangout in London. There’s one on every block… at least. Kind of like Starbucks in New York City… they’re all over. My favorite drink to get was a Snakebite… half cider, half beer and a little blackcurrant simple syrup. It’s delicious.

So many snakebites, so little time.

4. British sweets. Stopping at a convenience store or a vending machine for candy bars or cookies wasn’t exactly a rare occurrence for me and my friends on our way to a pub, club, or bar. British candy is so good. Cadbury chocolate blows Hershey chocolate out of the water. My candy recommendations are Crunchie Bars and Aero Bars. My favorite cookies were called Digestives. I know, the name doesn’t sound too appealing, but their delicious, chocolatey and amazing.

5. Oxford University. I felt like I was in Harry Potter. Oxford was a short bus ride from London and looked like a Harry Potter movie set. I went into Christ Church where the Great Hall scenes were filmed. The town and college are beautiful and definitely worth the short bus ride.

The real Great Hall! (above)

Harry Potter Movie Still? Nope, I took it!

6. The Betsy Smith Pub. This is definitely the best-decorated pub I went to in London. It was a fantasy-themed pub with scented wallpaper, fun house mirrors, and alcoholic beverages served in teapots. It was a perfect mix of the best of my childhood and the best of my adulthood.

7. Tinie Tempah. Don’t even get me started on Tinie Tempah. He is one of London’s most popular rappers. His songs are so much fun and could be guaranteed to be played at any club on any given night of the week. His first US single, Written in the Stars, is just starting to become popular here. Listen to it, you’ll become obsessed.

 

8. Primark. Primark is like Forever21 except cheaper, bigger, and chicer. My super-trendy supervisors at my internship all shopped at Primark and always looked like a million bucks. My go-to cardigan came from Primark. It cost me 4 pounds which equals out to be 6 dollars. Deal? I think so.

 

9. Thames Festival. The Thames Festival was along the River Thames in London’s South Bank, arguably, one of the most beautiful areas of London. Big Ben, Parliament, and The London Eye all inhabit this area. The Thames Festival happens every year in early September. There were tons of Londoners out and about celebrating. It’s an outdoors arts festival with vendors of all types along the river and a beautiful fireworks show over the River Thames.

10. Brick Lane. If you’re looking for delicious curry, go to Brick Lane. I had the best curry of my life at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on this marvelous street. At night, Brick Lane turns into a crazy hotspot. Never have I ever seen so many drunk people stumbling down the street on a typical Friday night.

I had the time of my life in London. Thanks to the people in the program, the amazing city, and the opportunity that was too good to pass up. I'll say it again and again... study abroad. You won't regret it.

Editor's note: Jillian is our awesome former intern who made a return appearance to share this post with us. Thanks, Jillian!