My time in London (for now… ’cause you BET I’ll be back ASAP) is rapidly coming to an end, which breaks my heart a little more every time I think about it. I know that this is the place I want to live for the rest of my life, but what scares me is how there is absolutely no guarantee of that happening. Sure, I can work as hard as possible but there’s always a chance that things won’t work out, or that they won’t work out for many, many years. I guess I’ll just have to stay optimistic, work hard and never take no for an answer, though. London is my favorite place in the entire world (yes, even over Colorado), so here are some of the things I’ll miss the most about it.
1. The Camden Market
Many a weekend have consisted of trips to the Camden Market, which was basically the backyard (or “garden,” to be more British) of our flat. While it does get overwhelming at times, nothing will ever beat the amazing vibe of this place. The food stands, the crazy shops, the whole lively atmosphere is something I will miss greatly. This was one of the first places we went when we got to London, and I’ll never forget my first trip to Cyberdog or my first time eating that amazing vegan ice cream at Cookies and Scream. It’s extremely sad that gentrification (I’m looking at you, KERB) has plagued even this amazing market, but this will still forever be one of my favourite places. The weekend market culture is one of my favourite things about London, too, because we just don’t really seem to have it in America to the extent that we do here.
2. The food
Pot Noodle’s Bombay Bad Boy, Jammie Dodgers, Jaffa Cakes, Indian food galore, Falafel stands on every street corner (King of Falafel and Chicken King in Camden are the best drunk foods ever, mmm)- these have all made up a large portion of my diet over here (not the healthiest, but who’s judging?). Maybe I’ll even miss Pret (probably not). I will definitely enjoy having some proper iced coffee back in the States, though! Oh, and Mexican food! Margaritas!!! Mexican food here seriously sucks. Nothing like a giant, cheap marg to get the night started!
3. Hampstead *swoons*
This is by far my most favourite part of London. (And not just because Harry Styles lives there, okay!!) Seriously though, it is obviously very posh but I just love the calm, neighborhoody vibe of Hampstead, even though it’s still located in the middle of London. I love how crazy Camden Town is right in the middle of the very serene Hampstead and Primrose Hill. One of my favourite things to do after work or on the weekends is to just go wander around Hampstead and get coffee and then sit on Parliament Hill and marvel at the amazing view. Parklife is truly the best life, and Hampstead is truly the best place.
4. The feeling of constant excitement
Life is awesome, but I don’t think it’s quite common to wake up every single day with a heart full of joy and delight, knowing that every day is going to bring something uniquely amazing. (Okay, maybe some people are like this every day, but I’m definitely not.) Obviously living in a culture so different from my own brings excitement by itself, but London is just so chock full of people to meet, things to be discovered and adventures to be had that you can’t not wake up every morning feeling a bit like it’s Christmas morning.
5. The street art
London has taught me to constantly be looking around. I feel like when most people walk down the street they don’t really look around them. But one of the best things about London is that it is basically covered in street art, especially in places like Camden and Shoreditch. Seriously, street art isn’t just on walls- it’s on top of buildings, on spit-out gum on the streets and in nooks and crannies in which you would never even think to look. There have been multiple instances when I have gotten lost or walked behind a random building only to be surprised by a beautiful hidden mural. It is also constantly changing, so you really never know what to expect. Since we’ve lived here the buildings around us have already changed probably at least five times. I have never been in a city with so much street art, and I will miss it terribly.
6. Richard’s class
Mizzou is great, don’t get me wrong, but if all classes were taught like our professor Richard’s then I think everyone would enjoy school. Sure, classes can’t be all field trips to see street art and ride boats down the Thames, but I love how our class is taught interactively and is kept very interesting by being extremely hands-on. It doesn’t hurt that Richard is, like, the coolest guy ever, either. Or the fact that we have watched One Direction videos as part of class.
7. Evening runs in Primrose Hill
Almost every evening after work, I go running around the Primrose Hill area, which is a mere 10-minute walk from our flat. It’s such a nice, calm place, so close yet so different from the crazy area in Camden in where we live. This is definitely one of my favourite parts of London, and nothing is more relaxing than listening to my music while running past the beautiful colourful houses and around the gorgeous park. Living in a flat with 4 other girls (and sleeping mere inches away from my roommate) can be trying at times, so my alone time in Primrose Hill is really lovely.
8. Pub culture
I have yet to find a pub in the States that anywhere near rivals any of the ones I’ve visited in London. (Maybe that’s because I just turned 21, but who cares.) Pub culture is such a unique and influential part of English culture, and lemme tell you, I have thoroughly been enjoying it.
9. Being able to walk along the river and see Big Ben/the Eye/the Tower Bridge whenever I please
I will never, ever get sick of this. Every single time I see Big Ben my heart still skips a beat, and I know it will be that way for the rest of my life. Living so close to such an iconic, beautiful landmark that kind of stands for everything I ever dreamed of during my childhood provides an indescribable feeling.
8. The feeling of really, truly being home
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again- I’ve wanted to live in London since I was about six years old. While I’m sure that over the years I’ve hyped it up in my mind, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so at home somewhere before (okay, Mizzou is a close second). While many parts of living in a big, busy city are uncomfortable, it really is London’s imperfections and little quirks that make it so perfect to me. London is so much more than red phone booths and the royal family and afternoon tea- it has really just become my home.
9. Lone exploring
While I’m definitely a very social person, sometimes the greatest adventures are made by randomly deciding to spend a day by yourself, doing whatever you want and going wherever you want. I love having a bit of a set plan in mind of where I’ll be going/what I’ll be doing that day, but the best part of this is getting lost and discovering new things that you never would have before. I can’t even count how any times I’ve found awesome new coffee shops or dope street art or hidden parks around the city just by popping in my headphones, jumping on the tube and exploring wherever my heart desires. Lone trips can be quite nice too, like when I visited Hampton Court Palace on my own.
10. The history and culture
Everything here is just so, so old. We just don’t have that in America, so getting to visit buildings that are thousands of years older than our country even is is truly incredible. I have been obsessed with the architecture here, as well. I think if I was better at math I would have been an architect. Maybe. The culture here is also just one of my favourite things in the entire world. I will never not be obsessed with British music, films, TV shows, foods, etc. My entire life has been spent as a wannabe-Brit and I will gladly continue with that pretense.
Things I WON’T miss:
- The Mornington Crescent tube station. Yeah, that’s basically it. (It has become a running joke on our trip how much we hate this station… it’s another Camden station and no one ever uses it except on Sundays when the Camden Town station is closed. So yeah, it’s irrelevant and awful.) Oh, and I won’t miss Oxford Circus or Primark, either. Yuck.