Hi friends! If you’ve read my past entries than welcome back! If you’re just starting off then hello- my name is Samantha Wilkerson and I am currently on the USF in London trip. I am posting my experiences during my trip as well as my tips and recommendations for anyone who is thinking about going on the trip next year. This is my third and final full week here in London. This week was pretty packed full of activities and excursions around London, a lot of which was just me and a couple of friends trying to make the most of our time before we had to focus on our projects. There were several times this week that we visited Camden Market, one of the most popular shopping markets in London. Not only was it huge and full of all different kinds of shops, but surprisingly the prices weren’t horrible and if you thought they were, you could usually bargain with the dealer to get the price down a couple bucks. If you’re looking for unique gifts to bring home for friends and families than this is definitely the place; there were so many venders that you are bound to find something that you want. (P.S. If you do go to Camden Market, around the corner is a delicious ice cream shop called Treatz, they have a brownie sundae that is INCREDIBLE!). My Britishness class went to St. Paul’s Cathedral (I had also gone during the London Pass weekend), there are three different levels above the ground inside that you can climb to. If you are able to climb stairs I would definitely recommend going, not only are the pictures amazing, but it is also really validating in a way to be able to go up all the stairs (beware there are hundreds in order to reach the top and the stairwell is tight, especially with a large group of people going at the same time). If you are unable to go up the stairs there is an elevator that goes up to one of the viewing galleries, although I would recommend calling ahead to see if the elevator is operating or needs maintenance. This week was also the week of my Britishness essay exam, which I was extremely nervous for but in retrospect I don’t think it was actually that bad. After my exam my other class, Criminal Minds, had an excursion to Clink Prison, which is like a story-telling experience going through the history and importance of the Clink Prison to history. There was also an optional lunch at another prison where prisoners actually cook the food, it is the program that was created by the famous chef Gordan Ramsey, you can look it up on youtube if you want to see how it was started. I chose not to go because it was kind of expensive but the people who did go told me that it was a really unique and interesting experience (they said the food was pretty good as well). This weekend was the big group excursions and I was put into the Dover Castle group, and let me just say that it was truly incredible. The Castle itself was beautiful but in my opinion the truly gorgeous sights came from the White Cliffs walk. We didn’t really get a lot of time at the Cliffs so that is one thing that I recommended to my teacher be changed so that you have more time to actually walk and enjoy the views.
My tip for this would be to remember to buy mementos for this trip; there were several times when I wanted to buy something buy I was concerned for the prices. When we went to Camden Market I saw an elephant necklace and I was going back and forth on whether I should buy it, and I am so grateful that my friend eventually convinced me to buy it because I truly would have regretted not buying something to remember my time.