November 3rd, 2018: returning to London from winter break, Heathrow Airport.
“And what are your reasons for entry into the UK?”
“I’m studying at King’s College London! I’m returning from a weekend trip.”
“Ah, American I see. Are you studying abroad?”
“Yes, sir, just for the semester.”
“That’s lovely, and you’re studying right on the Strand? What a cool spot, you’re quite lucky. Welcome home.”
The border control officer was right: I’m quite lucky to call London my home for this semester. Outside of my classes, I’ve kept myself busy by being a tourist and playing for the King’s BUCS women’s tennis team.
Because I play tennis for my home university, I hoped to continue playing competitively while at King’s as well. Through weekly practices, matches against other UK universities, and Wednesday night socials at Dover Castle Bar, I’ve become part of a new tennis family. The team is incredibly friendly and inclusive, and I’ve fully embraced the UCL-King’s rivalry (King’s is on fire, UCL is terrified!).
On the other hand, I’ve figured out a few of my favorite spots in London. First, the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie building, more formally known as 20 Fenchurch Street. The garden itself is beautiful; adorned with greenery. What elevates it (literally) is the fact that it is on the 38th floor of the skyscraper, and overlooks the Shard, the London Tower below, the Thames, and just generally most of central London. Second, living on Guy’s campus was dangerous, but only because it was within a five minute walk from Borough Market. The market was always bright and busy with over one hundred food stalls featuring dishes from all over. As an avid donut and coffee fan, Bread Ahead Donuts and Monmouth Coffee Company hold a special place in my heart. Also notable are Brindisa (amazing chorizo sandwiches) and La Tua Pasta (delicious fresh pasta for just five pounds).
All in all, I’ve had an incredible time making new friends, learning new team traditions, and exploring what London has to offer!