By: Lindsey Gray
The London Eye. Notre Dame Cathedral. Big Ben. Now what do all of these have in common? They are all checked off my bucket list on sites to see as I just returned from a study abroad trip in London and Paris. Visiting these two cities was a great opportunity offered by the Kelley School of Business that allowed me to see other parts of the world, and I’m here to tell you all about them.
Now I would love to tell you about every minute of every hour of every day, but then this would be a never ending blog post. But to give you an idea, we did what almost any tourist would do: visit all of the famous tourist sites.
The London Eye gave us a preview of what we would be seeing that week. Then of course we had to go see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and the absolutely breathtaking Windsor Castle (the Queen was actually walking somewhere throughout the castle while we were). Along the way, we were able to see the famous telephone booths and double-decker buses that some of us only dream of seeing. Finally, what we were really there for, were two different business institutions. While I was only able to go to Student Upstarts, it was still awesome to see their perspective on how business is conducted in London. A little background on Student Upstarts is they invest in the ideas and companies of up-and-coming student entrepreneurs. While we were there, they also gave us insights on how their culture is different from the States.
Now the reason I wasn’t able to go to Lloyd’s, which was our second business visit, was because of messed up schedules. Instead, I went to the Harry Potter tour and all I have to say is wow. In London, our tour guide, British Eric, would point out different sites where Harry Potter was filmed, such as Diagon Alley and Millennium Bridge, which in case you don’t know is in the Half-Blood Prince. And guess what, I stood in the Great Hall. Yes! We opened the golden doors and, surprisingly, it’s not as big as you would think. Then we walked into what was pretty much a warehouse of everything you could imagine from Harry Potter: Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, and the Weasley House. It’s all there. Once we walked outside, we saw the chess pieces from the Sorcerer’s Stone — the Philosopher’s Stone as the English know it — and the flying car. Oh, and if you ever get the chance to try butterbeer, make sure it’s cold. If you ever make it to London, make sure that this is on one of your sites to see.
Now if you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love London. I love the accents. I know we all wish deep down that we could have one, or at least I do. I spent that week trying to master it. I love the different language. Yes, they speak English, but they use different words than us Americans. For example, do not ask them where the bathroom is, they will stare at you wondering what you are talking about. Instead, you simply ask them where the toilets are. Then, they have “give way”, which means yield, and “lift”, which is another word for an elevator. Finally, I love how the city of London never sleeps. People are always on the move and not in the mood for small talk. Especially in Piccadilly Circus, which is the Times Square of London, there are lights, people, and action everywhere. I love it.
Now the day we had to leave London was definitely a sad day. But I was in no way ready to go home, so I was happy that for some of us, our trip continued. Thursday morning a group of us hopped on a train and traveled to Paris, France. And again, we were just like any other tourists visiting sites that I had only dreamed of seeing: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, the Love Lock Bridge, Notre Dame Cathedral. All of them are checked off my list. Now I’m going to be honest in saying that Paris was not my favorite spot in the world. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many different and wonderful sites to see, but it was definitely a good thing that Paris was only a two-day stop.
Well that’s it. There is a very short summary of my study abroad spring break trip of 2014. I hope you were able to get a feel for all of the wonderful things I was able to see. I would never trade any of it. The friendships, the memories, and the beauty of another part of the world. I hope you all get the chance to travel to London one day. I know I’ll be going again.