If you’ve already made the decision to study abroad at the FSU London campus, then you’ve already made one amazing, life-changing decision. In order to help your good decision streak continue, below is some advice regarding your time there. Everyone will have a different London experience but following these simple tips will assist you in getting the most of your time, whether that’s a month or a fall semester.
1. Plan ahead
Let’s start practical. If you plan ahead you can get the most out of your experience abroad. There are only so many weekends that you have free and if you want to travel outside of London, keep and eye on plane tickets (maybe even before you get to London) to get the best price. You might feel like you have tons of time at first, but you don’t want to get to your last week and realize there are still tons of things on your must-do list. Plan ahead to ensure that you cross everything off of your list and leave London feeling accomplished.
2. Boots and Sainsbury’s are your friend
FSU’s location in London is the envy of the city- yes being central to many big areas of town and directly adjacent to the British Museum and to Oxford Street is cool, but I’m talking about the fact that you have a Boots (pharmacy), Sainsbury’s (grocery store), and Barclay’s (bank) all on the block over. Count your blessings and take advantage of your good fortune!
3. Use your resources!
The FSU study center provides Time Out magazines. Use them. They’ll let you know what is happening in the area each month and it’s London so there are always big things going on.
4. Explore local markets
Visiting a market in London is a must, no matter how short your stay there is, particularly either Shoreditch or Camden. Each offers a plethora of dining options including many diverse foreign foods (after all London is a true mixing pot.) When in Shoreditch make sure to check out Brick Lane, Dinerama, and other cool finds like the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for a little history.
5. Go on organized field trips
You paid for the excursions that FSU organizes. Don’t throw away your money/a possible Instagram opportunity at a historic manor or garden/an experience in London.
6. Movie premieres
London is star-studded and that’s something you can take advantage of, if you’re into that. It’s pretty easy to look up movie premieres happening in London online, and if you get there early enough you just might meet one of your favorite celebs. Just try to look less nervous in your selfie than I did when I met Evan Peters at the X-Men premiere.
7. Go to Wales
FSU’s program offers a trip to Preseli Venture in Wales. It’s an extra charge but was one of my favorite weekends abroad. If you’re any kind of outdoorsy or adventurous you will want to reserve a weekend for this. How else will you ever be able to boast that you cliff-dived in Wales?
8. Have a beer
There is no cultural equivalent to a pub in America. Make sure to explore a few pubs while in London, and you just might find that you go back every afternoon to mingle with the locals as they stop on their way home from work for a pint.
9. Attend the theater
London is renowned for its theaters and the incredible productions they put on. Check out what shows are running while you’re there (you’ll have plenty of options) and see at least one!
10. Go to parks
London has a lot of tall buildings and busy roads, but it has a vast collection of parks too. If you want to check out a park but aren’t sure how to do it, you can rent bikes at Hyde Park, see a play at Regent’s park’s open air theater, or watch a stunning sunrise over the city from Primrose Hill.
11. Go to church
When in one of the biggest cities in the world, take advantage of every opportunity and experience the culture from as many perspectives as possible. Hillson, hosts a fun, lively, contemporary Sunday service in the Dominion Theater around the corner from the study center. Or go to a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral for an unforgettable Sunday morning.
12. Appreciate your classes
Yes, you are taking classes as an FSU student while you’re abroad. But these classes often improve your experience in London rather than hinder it. Many of the teachers incorporate tours and other information about London that you wouldn’t get to experience on a regular vacation there.
13. Do everything once
When you return to America, people are going to ask you about your trip. You never know what story to tell you’re missing out on by turning down an invitation to do something/anything. Do as much as possible, and never, ever say no to something so that you can stay at the study center and do laundry, even if the laundry room is empty and I know that it’s tempting.