Upon returning from Scotland this past weekend, I felt my perspective shift. Maybe it’s because this week are my midterms, and it’s really hit me how little time I have left. I suddenly feel much more motivated to make the best of my remaining time here. Time is going by so fast, and I don’t want to have any regrets. So, here are the things in London and beyond that I am taking advantage of in this final half of my term:
1. Street markets: London and pretty much every town I’ve encountered in Europe has so many huge, wonderful markets! Both indoors and outdoors, local vendors sell clothing, accessories, delicious food, books, homemade arts and crafts, and more. It’s a great way to support small businesses, get cool souvenirs for your friends and family, and learn about the local community. They also run year-round, unlike many markets back in the U.S.
2. Shows: West End theatre tickets here are much cheaper than Broadway shows, so I’ve already gone to two musicals (Heathers and But I’m A Cheerleader) and just booked tickets to Mamma Mia! I also subscribed to a London-based newsletter that offers discounted show tickets to students and I plan to take advantage of that before I leave.
3. Christmas festivities: I personally don’t celebrate Christmas, but London is known to be especially magical during the holiday season and the events have already begun, so I’m quickly getting into the spirit. There are light festivals, holiday markets, ice sculpture installations, Christmas concerts, and so much more that I just can’t miss out on.
4. Good food: I’m going through all the British snacks I can get at the grocery store. This week, it was Jaffa Cakes. I’m also determined to take advantage of the better-quality chocolate and tea Europe has to offer and try all the foods here that I can’t necessarily get back home, such as sticky toffee pudding, biscuits and clotted cream, and top-notch baked goods.
I’m starting to realize how much I’ve grown into a more independent, adventurous person as a result of my time here. There is so much to see and do in a big city, and so much of the world that I have yet to discover. Despite living near Boston, this is not a mindset I have back home and I would like to change that when I return in the spring. I’ll be busier with work and extracurricular commitments, of course, but I want to put a conscious effort into exploring Boston and Cambridge more, and taking day trips to cute towns in the New England area when I can.
I’ve also learned how to make time for myself. Prior to coming here, I was always busy and never took real breaks. But with being abroad, I have fewer commitments and am able to figure out all the ways I can relax. I’ve cooked and baked, gone sightseeing, visited local bookstores, and booked tickets to shows and events I found interesting. Taking breaks is about doing things for your own fulfillment and no one else’s. It’s about putting yourself first, which can be so hard to do in our day-to-day lives when we are busy with obligations to so many other people. I really hope to bring this perspective to Wellesley when I return and continue to find time for myself, as I have here.
Pictured: my visit to Camden Market, the halal English breakfast I made with my Muslim friend here!