London, oh London!

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London for me was the only city I wanted, and applied to go on exchange to. I knew that if I didn’t get accepted into a university here, I wasn’t going to go ahead with an exchange experience. It was all or nothing when it came to this city, and I’m glad I got the chance to study abroad here!

The first thing I want to mention about London, is that it takes a lot for people to be shocked, or show any significant reaction to things happening around them. The Tube is probably the best example of this, and the fact that 10 students with whiskers drawn on themselves, barely raised an eyebrow, is a testament to this!

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The second thing I should mention about London, is that the weather sucks! It was snowing when I got here in January, and it was even snowing a few days ago (in April!). Despite the mere presence of snow, if a few centimetres of it builds up, the city seems to close down. We were all pleasantly surprised when one afternoon our classes were cancelled due to ‘adverse weather conditions’, yet there was barely any snow on the footpaths outside. But outside of London, things were a completely different story. We were luckily enough to visit Wales for the weekend with fellow exchange students, and it was amazing to see so much fresh and untouched snow.

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Despite the chilly weather here, there were many other things that more than make up for it. One of those is undoubtedly the shopping! London is definitely the place to be when it comes to retail therapy, and there is nowhere better to live near, than Oxford Street. Being a shopaholic, I find myself here between 3-4 times a week, and it’s getting to a stage where I’m geniually panicking about how I’m taking everything back home! I normally don’t adopt the term ‘YOLO’, but when it comes to shopping, anything goes, and I find myself chanting ‘YOLO’ before every purchase.

Most people are familiar with the popular UK High Street brands, such as H&M, Topshop, River Island and Zara, and although these stores are amazing, it’s the boutique and luxury department stores such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Liberty, that really impressed me. The sheer decadence of the outside displays, and the beauty of the interiors of these buildings are really intoxicating! I can barely afford anything significant in these stores, but that doesn’t stop me from dressing up, and acting like I can! On many occasions I’ve put on my best clothes, and spent hours in these stores. It had even got to a point where I was familiar with their stock, and would test out the shop assistant’s knowledge about what was available or not. I’m laughing at my antics now, but in the moment, it felt like the right thing to do. I mean, if it was me who got to work around all these designer goods, I’d know them as well as my own wardrobe!

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Now before I get carried away with more shopping talk, I should probably mention something about my university here in London. I’m studying at the University of Westminster, and their Business campus is probably the most centrally located university campus in London! We are literally right opposite the Madame Tussauds museum, and I can see directly into Regents Park (and Primrose Hill) from my kitchen window. I was lucky enough to get a room on campus, and on the 17th floor of our accommodation building at that. To say I have an enviable view from my bedroom is probably a bit of an understatement, as I can pretty much see all the way to Wembley Arena from my window. As part of one of my assessments, I actually had to produce a video promoting the university, and this campus in particular. You can see the university (and my view) for yourself in the video below.

I’ve also been posting videos on YouTube for over a year now, and although a majority of my video posts are fashion related, going on exchange has provided me with a chance to ‘vlog’ all my travels as well. A lot of my viewers really enjoy seeing footage I’ve taken around London, and other countries I’m visiting, and it is also a really great way for me to capture all my memories of this trip. One of my favourite ‘vlogs’, is the one I put together for my week in Amsterdam.

Other than shopping, and travelling, I’ve also had the opportunity to make a lot of new friends! I was pretty lucky that there were around 10 of us from UTS coming to London, so there was never a moment that I felt alone! We’ve all been looking out for each other in the last few months, and I can defintely see myself keeping in touch with everyone when we get back. But aside from my Australian friends, I’ve also made friends from the United States, London, France, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, China, and even Finland! Everyone is so lovely here, and I am really going to miss seeing these people on such a regular basis.

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But I guess all good things come to an end, and the end of my trip is very near! I just hope I have as much fun as I’ve currently been having, for the remainder of my time in London. I absolutely cannot wait to come back to London in the future, so it’s definitely not goodbye forever – only for now!

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Salil Kumar

University of Technology Sydney/University of Westminster

One thought on “London, oh London!

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