– DIScovering London –
Before I delve into the awesome time that the 23 of us Medical Practice and Policy students had this past week, I wanted to share with the readers at home two recurrent challenges to writing these weekly posts. 1) Transitioning back and forth between unique writing styles (i.e. formatting research papers for immunology one day to coming up with catchy slogans for these posts the next) has been more difficult than anticipated. 2) It is has been nearly impossible to condense the monumental amount of information I would like to share and yet, still do justice to all the neat and new experiences my friends, host family, and I have had during the past several months.
Since this is the first time I have traveled throughout Europe, I have felt a profound need to share nearly every aspect of my time here and interestingly enough, our Week-Long Study Tour in London was no exception. Amid these obstacles, I hope you enjoy!
Intertwining our fascinating and inspiring academic visits to places such as Oxford University, Queen Mary University, Cancer Research UK, and a local general practice clinic called ‘Surbiton Health Centre,’ we also took part in a number of more leisurely tours and activities around the city, exploring both the main tourist attractions as well as the hidden gems. If you are curious to read more about our handful of insightful academic visits, I highly recommend reading Salmaan’s engaging article: HERE.
Here is a short list of some of the neat attractions and culturally significant areas you might have the opportunity to see during your study tour in London, all of which I highly recommend checking out:
Hyde Park & Buckingham Palace
Shortly after touching down at Heathrow Airport and checking into our hotel in South Kensington, our Medical Practice and Policy class set off to tour popular tourist attractions by bike! Unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth II was unable to greet us upon our arrival as she was at Windsor Castle, her other place of residence. Hyde Park, where Peter Pan was written and based off of, is also an excellent place to go for a walk/run or simply to feed the ducks.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Whether if you have read the 1000-page mystery novels, watched the movie, seen the TV shows, or have picked up a magnifying glass at one point or another, spending a few hours walking through the residence at 221b Baker Street is an opportunity that is hard to pass up.
Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station
For all those Harry Potter fans out there, I highly recommend allocating some time to see St. Pancras and Kings Cross Station. Just across the street from each other, these two massive train stations are right out of J.K.Rowling’s imaginative depictions of young witches and wizards all convening between platforms 9 and 10.
Big Ben and The London Eye
Our class trip to the top of Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, The London Eye, was probably my favorite part our Week-Long Study Tour. Seeing the entire city lit up at night was absolutely breathtaking and a great way to end the day. With the time spent high above the ground on the London Eye and far below the ground on The Tube, it almost seems like we were rarely at sea level!
The Cabinet War Rooms
Touring this historic underground complex where high-ranking British officials and military commanders led the war effort gave us all a much greater understanding of the significance of WWII and the impact that the Blitz had on London and its people. Additionally, here are a few amusing quotes that we came across made famous by Winston Churchill:
- “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
- “I am easily satisfied with the very best.”
- “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
- “This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”
The British Museum
One could undoubtedly spend an entire day getting lost in the ancient artifacts and treasures housed at the British Museum. Since we were sadly short on time, our exploration of the different exhibits was guided by our prioritization of the most prominent pieces: Cleopatra and the Rosetta Stone. This rightfully-renowned museum will easily be one of the first places I return to when visiting the UK again in the near future.
The Tower Bridge
Along with taking the ‘Tube’ and having an afternoon cup of tea at a local café, walking along the River Thames to the Tower Bridge is essential when visiting London for the first time.
Famous for its diverse selection of curry houses and unique installations of expressive graffiti art, this cultural center in eastern London is home to immigrants from across the globe and has a neat combination of the old and the new regardless of which side street you choose to walk down. Our tour of Brick Lane also included how the area was made infamous by the actions of Jack the Ripper nearly 150 years ago.
And when in doubt, “Mind the Gap”
(Or should I say, “Se Upp för avståndet mellan vagn och plattform”)