1) No Language Barrier
Since I've moved to Iceland, I have been hard at work learning Icelandic. For some reason, I keep wanting to speak Spanish and my Google translate app is automatically translating Icelandic to Spanish, so I've started brushing up on that as well. With three languages bouncing around my brain, I fondly recall the days when I lived in London and needed only to speak English. There is no language barrier here, presuming that your native language is English. If not, then there is no better place to perfect your English. I could see how this could be seen as a detriment, if improving a second or third language is a priority for your time abroad. However, London is so multi-cultural that you can find ample opportunities to work on another language. Also, I took advantage of the travel opportunities and brushed up on Spanish during trips to Spain and even started learning Italian during my multiple trips to that country. Plus, there is always British slang to learn! I remember how confused I was when my flat mate mentioned, "fairy liquid" (dish washing soap) and I had no idea that "fancy dress" meant "costume" until I had lived there for four months.
2) There is Always Something to Do
If you find yourself bored in London, it is your own fault. London always has something going on from festivals to temporary exhibits at museums to markets to special events to well, anything really! I lived in London for ten months so I fully experienced what London has to offer in all seasons, my favourite of which was Christmastime (for the amazing markets and decorations.)
3) Europe is Easily (and Cheaply) Accessible
Using apps like SkyScanner, it is easy to find inexpensive flights to almost anywhere in Europe on budget airlines like RyanAir, EasyJet, and Aer Lingus. Within two-three hours you can be virtually anywhere in Europe from Reykjavik to Dublin to Prague to Rome to Barcelona to Berlin. My flights to places like Rome, Prague, and Barcelona were under $20.
4) Great Location for Day Trips
Of course there is more the England (and the UK) than just London. Fortunately, London is well-placed for day-trips to plenty of worthwhile towns. It's actually faster to get to Brighton than it is to get from one side of London to the other! I'm working on a post about the best day trips from London, but until then add Brighton, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, and Stratford-upon-Avon to your list.
5) Amazing Public Transportation
When I lived in London, I was annoyed if I had to wait more than three minutes for the tube or the bus. Now that I live in Reykjavik, I'm excited if there is a bus coming in around ten minutes. There are also NationalExpress coaches and various rail lines to get throughout the rest of England and beyond to the UK. I took a train to Edinburgh twice and the RailandSail from Northern Ireland back to London.
6) Geographically Large
Each week, I discovered a new neighbourhood. There is no shortage of places to explore, each with their own distinct feel. My favourite was always Shoreditch, but I've been told that "Hackney is now more hipster than Shoreditch and Shoreditch is now like west London" so I will have to check that out next time I visit. Feeling posh? Check out South Kensington. Want to crowd around on London's busiest shopping street? Then visit Oxford Circus. Want to go north? Camden Town is a good choice. How about south? Greenwich is lovely.
7) Museums are Free
Rather than paying an expensive fee and spending all day reading every single wall tag in the museum, the museums in London are free and easy to nip in and out of. My favourite museums are the Victoria and Albert, British Museum, and the National Library. Be sure to visit all three!
8) International Capital
London is considered the international capital of the world. Here people from all the world's cultures and nations live alongside each other, resulting in a cultural flourishing. When you live in London, you aren't just experiencing England, but rather the whole world.
9) A Different Education System
There was a time last spring when I no longer felt like I was studying abroad, but rather that I had become a local when I was in London and a traveller when I was wandering around in Europe. People at home often asked if I studied at all. Yes, actually! I had to brush up on my Middle English and learn Old English, the latter of which actually inspired me to take my senior literature seminar at my university back in the states in Anglo Saxon and Medieval literature. Furthermore, it has been helpful in learning Icelandic as two letters in the Old English alphabet did not survive to modern English, but are present in the Icelandic alphabet. Anyway, it is worthwhile to learn how another country's education system works. I personally appreciated the elimination of busy work, less contact hours, and more freedom in essay writing in the British education system. However, only having two or three papers count for my entire grade was stressful.
10) British Accents
Need I say more? Okay, just kidding (sort of!) But everything sounds more interesting, intelligent, and amusing with a British accent.
Have you studied abroad in London? Comment below with any reasons you would add to this list.
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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