My name is Jennifer Bratton and I am a senior Mathematics Secondary Education major (who happens to be graduating in less than 40 days…not that I’m counting or anything). Last May, I got on a plane with a group of ESU students to go spend a week and a half in London, England. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Naturally, whenever I have travel plans, I look up the best places to go in the area. In London, there’s the obvious must-sees: Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Globe, etc.
On top of my list of locations that many tourists on the web recommended to me through different blog posts and reviews, I wanted to find places where the locals would be. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I would run into people from the UK everywhere I went, but I wanted to truly submerge myself in the culture as much as I could during my short visit.
Instead of searching “best places to go when traveling to London” I started searching “best places for locals to go in London” and discovered places I had never even heard of.
What really stuck out to me during my research was the markets. I ended up going to four different markets during my visit: The Portobello Market and Borough Market (both full of tourists) and Brick Lane Market and Columbia Street Flower Market (both full of locals). I enjoyed all the markets, but being surrounded by the Londoners…hearing casual conversation about school and work and going to different shows in London…it was a unique experience.
During my stay I also slipped into small, local pubs that had their own unique menu. At one of the pubs, I was with a group from ESU that met with a group of people that live in London. We ended up hanging out hours after dinner, talking about each other’s countries and learning each other’s slang. I definitely learned things that I would never have learned from a tour guide in London.
My point is, when I was studying abroad, seeing all the places you want to see as a tourist (I am not ashamed of how much I gushed over Big Ben) was amazing but so was seeing places I immediately loved as a temporary local. It greatly expanded my experience and what I took away from it.
There’s not a day that goes by that I miss being in London! I cannot wait to go back someday and cannot thank Emporia State enough for the experience of a lifetime.
Jennifer Bratton, United Kingdom