Letters from London: Exploring the city

Marcos Briggiler is a sophomore in the McKelvey School of Engineering studying abroad this summer as part of the Summer in London program offered through Washington University in St. Louis and CIEE. In this blog series, he'll share his experiences in and out of the classroom. In this post, learn more about Briggiler's experience living and touring in London.

Along with their studies, Summer in London participants got to visit historic and cultural landmarks throughout Europe including Stonehenge. Submitted photo

Living independently for a month in London has had its perks and difficulties. Figuring out food has been difficult at times, and staring at each other indecisively as we try to decide where to go next in this overwhelming city is also not super fun. And yet, having the freedom to do whatever we want has been so much fun and a great time for all of us.

It's important to acknowledge the organization's great programming. CIEE, the company that manages our study-abroad experience, has put together a well-thought out month for us. We have been to Kew Gardens, a beautiful and expansive park. We have had tea time at the British Museum, which has an amazing collection. We drove up to Stonehenge — no description needed — and Bath, one of the Roman cities in Britain. We've even been to Oslo, Norway for a day!

However, no matter how many trips and tours CIEE plans for us, it won't nearly be enough to really see London in full. A lot is on us, and I think we've done a pretty good job at going that extra mile to explore! We took a day trip to Oxford because, why not? First day here, we all walked around Regents Park, one of the biggest green spaces in London, for a couple hours. We have roamed multiple different markets, each having our own favorite stands.

There is a market a few blocks away from our class that we religiously visit for lunch on Thursdays. My favorite has been a pasta station where I get gnocchi and lasagna, while my friend has, without fail, gotten a burger made of wild boar each week.

A couple of us signed up for a morning yoga session at Sky Gardens, one of the skyscrapers of London with a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Waking up in time to leave by 5:30 a.m. was certainly rough but paid off in the end.

I have the whole city to explore, and I have loved walking. I've been logging in the double digits for miles walked a day pretty consistently. And when I am tired, the unlimited Oyster Card (the pass to enter the Tube) is very easy to use and lets me get anywhere in this huge city pretty quickly.

For our last two weekends in London, we are planning on going to Brighton Beach and trying to wrap up any final tourist things we have not done.

In the end, the most important thing is taking advantage of the opportunity you have and putting yourself out there. I've had the most fun when I've just started talking to people — whether it be on the Tube or on the street. An older Spanish man, who helped me with directions, spoke to me about how he missed his kids. A Mexican vendor at Camden Market told me the best Latinx hot spots in the city. And an older British lady brushed me aside in the most polite way I have ever experienced as I asked her how to get to the British Museum.

Be sure to check out Briggiler's next post, Letters from London: Wish you were here, for advice on how to get the most out of the London study-abroad experience. To learn more about the Summer in London study-abroad program, contact Melanie Osborn, senior assistant dean for Engineering Study Abroad, at osborn@wustl.edu.