Exploring (Part) of Hyde Park and Bus Tour of London

Day 3 in London

We had orientation part two at Imperial College at 10 a.m. on Saturday. While at orientation, they told us more about our classes and internships that we would be taking part in during our time in London.

The academic expectations were primarily the same as they are back home which will hopefully make for an easy transition studying abroad. Meanwhile, our classes are each three hours long which will be quite different from home. Luckily, they told us that instructors will use London as a classroom and there will be many in-class field trips where we will go out in London for half of our class instead of being stuck in a room for three hours.

We can expect to be notified about our internship placement anytime from now until about February 18th which is quite a long time away. Then, there are two days set aside in February as our mandatory internship interview days that we are not allowed to make any travel plans for.

After the orientation, I walked to Hyde Park with my new friends Annie and Allie to explore. Hyde Park is about a 15 minute walk from where I’m living in Manson Place, and is a huge, beautiful space to go to to escape the city. There are so many pathways, dogs are allowed off leash and run freely,and there are birds everywhere near the water. The birds aren’t afraid of humans, and I’m not fond of them, so I won’t be going near the ponds again anytime soon…

We mainly stayed to the southwest side of Hyde Park and made our way over to Kensington Palace where Prince William and Duchess Kate live. It is absolutely beautiful. They have a very pretty walkway on the side of the palace facing Hyde Park and inside is a gift shop, cafe and an area where they regularly give tours of the palace. We walked through the gift shop and cafe which were both very busy.

We continued walking through Hyde Park for a bit, then headed out toward High Street to walk through some shops and then took the tube back home.

Later that evening, we had the FIE welcome dinner at 6 p.m. at Imperial College. They served food and drinks and had a few tables set up for clubs and activities for us to join while studying here. They didn’t have anything too exciting though which was a bit disappointing.

After making a quick stop at home, Allie and I left to go on a quick little adventure. Most of our flat was either going out to the pubs and clubs later that night or staying in, and we didn’t want to do either, so we took the tube from Gloucester Station to Westminster. After walking out of the station, we were immediately greeted by a huge, glowing Big-Ben. It looked incredible lit up at night. We walked on and found ourselves on a bridge over the River Thames. Looking across, we were able to see the London Eye brightly lit up as well as the County Hotel. It was really pretty. It had begun to rain so we made our way back to the tube and back home. It was a fun spontaneous adventure to end our day!

Day 4 in London

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, everyone in our flat got up to take a coach bus tour of London. It was really cool to finally see more of London above ground and have a tour guide telling us more about the history of everything we saw as we drove by buildings and monuments.

Our first actual stop on the bus was at Buckingham Palace. The driver gave us a little bit of time to get out and walk to the front gates. We saw some of the guards and the giant ornate doors at the front of the palace. We didn’t have much time so we snapped a few photos then headed back to the bus.

The next stop was made at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It. Was. Huge. There is a shopping mall across from the cathedral and our driver told us to go to the top floor via the lift in the shopping center for a great view. We did and we were not disappointed. The roof of the building gave a spectacular view of the cathedral as well as the entire skyline of London. It was amazing.

We then continued on the bus tour until eventually the driver dropped us off in Westminster near Big Ben. Later in the day, we were scheduled for a tour of the Houses Parliament, but we had time to walk around a bit and get some lunch before then.

We were walking through Westminster looking at all the buildings and shops. As we were doing so, we passed the building where the Prime Minister lives which is guarded by two guards on horses which drew a big crowd. We continued on until we found a cute little pub to have lunch at. As we were in a highly touristy area, the pub looked like it catered to Americans but also seemed pretty British so it drew us in.

After lunch, we only had a bit more time so we kept walking to Trafalgar Square. A lot of people were out taking photos and exploring the square like us. We spent some time doing that, then headed back down the road we had come down and headed toward the Houses of Parliament for our 3 p.m. tour.

We went through security and then picked up our headphones and audio players for our unguided audio tour of the Houses of Parliament. The trip was required for one of our key courses, British Life and Cultures, so despite it being an audio tour, we really had to pay attention. I wish it had been a real guide who took us through though. The halls and rooms were extremely grand, but also incredibly cold. It was cool to learn more about the history of England’s government though!

We left the Houses of Parliament after the tour and took the tube back to Manson Place. I was exhausted from the day. Most people were hanging around looking to plan trips to other countries for the weekends, looking at the excursions FIE offers that will open up today to sign up for and taking photos off their cameras.

Later in the night, I went to Imperial College Bar with some people from my flat. The bar was pretty nice and I got a lemonade. It wasn’t what I was expecting though as they seem to really like their fizzy drinks here, I think it was made with sparkling water…Guess I will just have to stick to water now. We met some other students there that were also from FIE which was cool. It was interesting to look around though as regular Imperial College students were also at the bar. Being that most of the FIE students are American, it was easy to pick them out as we seem to be much louder and more obnoxious than the Brits here.

After that it was back home to Manson Place for me as I was exhausted from an extremely long day.

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