Sometimes when you stay somewhere for too long you forget that life is still going on elsewhere. This has happened to me at university (St Andrews, which we affectionately call the bubble) but perhaps more so this year being in a completely different country.

Being at home at Christmas is one of the most important things for my family so after 4 months in Nantes I finally got on that plane London Bound...

It takes a long time to get used to living somewhere and I was finally able to navigate my way around Nantes successfully and just as I was getting comfortable it was time to upticks and head home for just over a week.

It sounds really cliché but London is so different to any other cities I have visited or lived in so this post is a thank you to what will always be my favourite city.

  1. The minute I landed in London, I was greeted by its amazing multicultural population. People say you don't truly appreciate something until it is gone which for me is completely true of multiculturalism. I have always grown up being surrounded by people coming from all different cultures, religions, social backgrounds etc. I feel that it has made me a much more rounded person. As a language student, I am always meeting new people and on my year abroad I am living with people of all nationalities. Yesterday evening, for example, I was learning about the Korean war from a South Korean, something which I was never taught in school. This however, is a micro example, London is a macro and that I am grateful for.
  2. The transport. When you live in London, the tube is a pain. Having to get the train at 9am in the morning is a nightmare. One of the reasons I chose not to study in London was because the thought of taking the train home from lectures at 5pm would paralyse me with fear. However, what we often forget as Londoners is the connections. I was able to get all the way from London Gatwick to my home without requiring the chauffeuring services of my parents. In St Andrews, I would have to get a bus to another city or find my way to Edinburgh before I could even think about getting to London. London transport is an amazing thing and yes it can be expensive but at least the option is there so thanks for that.
  3. The food. One of my colleagues here in France refers to me as the "gourmand". I love trying new foods. At St. Andrews we are limited to Nandos , Blackhorn (a burger place) and some rather expensive restaurants. When I'm away, I miss my Wagamama, Leon, McDonalds even. These are only basic chains in London and beyond that there are some amazing independent restaurants which vary in price that gives you an option for practically any kind of food you want. On Christmas eve, my family and I ate at Chiquitos where my sister and I shared the most amazing Cod Mango Salad. That reminds me, I must try and get a recipe for that...
  4. The out out. Mickey Flanagan, the comedian in Live at the Apollo says that there is a difference between being out and being out out. I would definitely agree with that. Being out in London can just be a walk to the shops but going out out is what makes London so special. Whatever kind of night out you are looking for, there is something for you. This year for New Years eve my friends and I decided we wanted to have a more social night out. We didn't want a club like atmosphere and we definitely didn't want to be in the city centre (see point 2 for why). We settled on a pub/bar in Hackney called Pub on the Park. Although my geography in London is appalling, I would make an awful tour guide, we eventually found our way to the pub. It was a really cute pub with a large outside area with external heaters. There were also 2 rooms with 2 different DJs playing all different types of music. The actual new year countdown was not the most organised thing in the world but the evening was perfect. I could hear what people were saying to me, have a not too pricey vodka lemonade and ring in the new year in a completely different way than I had before. So thanks girls and thanks London for that.
  5. The shopping. I think this will come out as I post more but I love shopping. I often use it as a form of relaxing and I am beginning to accept that I can be a good kind person but still be incredibly materialistic. Whenever I go back to London I make sure that there is a day for shopping. Last year when I returned home for Christmas I was only home for 2 and a half days and I still set aside boxing day for the sales. Okay maybe I do have a problem. The point I'm trying to make is that there is no end to the kind of things you can shop for. One of my favourite areas to shop is Spitalfields. There are some amazing boutiques there: Bailey Nelson, Cos, Anthropologie etc. Sometimes window shopping is all I can afford but window shopping in London is one of the most satisfying things you can do and I am so lucky that I am so close to some amazing boutiques and I am not confined to the realms of online shopping. For me it is just not the same.

So there are my 5 favourite things about London and I am sure that there are many many more but I will be here all day if I think about them all. The one thing that seems to stand out is the notion of "there is something for everyone".  Are there any other Londoners about? What are your favourite things about the capital?

 

A bientôt x

Published by Ciara Munnelly