London, first things first

So, it has taken over a month to get around to creating a post about the grad student experience offered by London partly out of paralysing procrastination and partly because I’ve felt the need to have a little bit of credible experience of the city and overcome my prejudices about London. In short, I’ve tried to develop to a measured perspective and acquire a taste of this city. If anything, London is certainly an acquired taste.

London has never really been this blogger’s favourite destinations. Apart from a few areas of this city, it has always seemed a bit less structured and less gorgeous than the beloved City of Lights. The cultural differences seemed to be stark and weighed in the favour of Paris. Yet, each and every French person that I’ve spoken to who lives here – perhaps evidently – prefers London to Paris hands down They find it to be more dynamic, less stifled by the pressure to conform – and an all round more exciting place to live.

The first things that I’ve personally developed gratitude for about this city included these few things listed below, in no particular order (counting from number 16 seeing as I only listed 15 reasons to be grateful for the London/Paris grad student experience earlier in the year):

#16 St. Paul’s Cathedral on a Sunday Night

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It is quite a remarkable, intricately detailed structure whose highlights become

evident in the absence of the sun’s glare and  under the intentional spotlight of the cathedral’s outer lighting.  I’ve enjoyed taking early Sunday evening walks up to the cathedral and discovering new details of it with every visit.

#17 The Counter at The Delaunay , 55 Aldwych,  WC2B 488

This warm, inviting café has become a favourite spot in the city to re-center, find a reasonably priced cup of coffee and get some reading done. The ambience is described as ‘Grand European’ on the cafés website. Elegant and inviting also come to mind.

Link to website here 

#18  Foyles Bookstore, 113-119 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0EB

Loved  discovering this bookstore and its beautifully rich range of books. It is certainly worth a visit!

#19 British Library and Bookshop, 96 Euston Rd,  NW1 2DB

Not too far from St Pancras Station, this is a great place to get some research done on London and the rest of the country. There is also an interesting bookshop from which to pick up a broad selection of books that coer  genres that one may not easily retrieve from more ‘mainstream’ retailers.  It is also a great place to pick up small gifts and souvenirs.

#20 Southwark Cathedral

An interesting gothic structure which took shape in the 13th Century, it is a fascinating work of architecture to see in this part of the world.  More intriguing, however, is its history that incorporates figures including William Shakespeare,John Harvard (founder of Harvard University) and important figures in the Church of England’s history (including  Lancelot Andrewes, poet and clergyman,  who is buried there). It is certainly worthwhile to see.

#21 Music at Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral also hosts various events,  including free concerts. What won this blogger over was walking into the Cathedral to a majestic interpretation of Handel’s Hornpipe from Water Music, performed on organ.   It was in summary, other worldly, and introduced me to a little universe of musicians, poets and artists who use the church as a space for expression.  At the cathedral, a quarterly “what’s on” guide lists some of the events that are hosted and available to the public.

#22  Lincoln’s Inn Fields

For those rare moments of sunshine, the largest public square in London  has been a fantastic place to sit down to ready-made sandwiches while feeling guilt-ridden about fit joggers and tennis players who pass by to remind one about the need to exercise. Love it.

#23 NHS

All students that intend to be in the UK for six months or more have access to universal health coverage under NHS.  This may not always be efficient but it surely is great to have access to free health care, thanks to the generosity of our host UK society – one can only be grateful for that!

#24 Westminster Abbey

This was one of the first places  I visited and it was a worthwhile undertaking. For those open to religious rites,  you certainly will not get Church of England ritual  performed more exquisitely than at the Abbey.

#25 French Connections, Eurostar and idBus

If one books in advance, the cost of travel to and from London (to Paris, that is) is not at all that  high). The length of the trip is just about 2 and a half hours via Eurostar, the train. This is a convenient option to have.  One finds, after a while, that London can perhaps be appreciated in measured doses. Paris is a perfect antidote to too much of London, and thankfully there is Eurostar take one to Paris in no time at all.

For those with a bit more time on their hands, idBus, a bus service operating  from Paris to a number of destinations across Europe, is a great option. It comes with wifi and plugs on board and is accessible at student friendly prices even at the last minute! In warmer weather, it is also a chance for an 8 or 9 hour bus ride that provides a few glimpses of  Northern French countryside.

<p><a href=”″>SNCF iDBUS</a> from <a href=””>Emakina.EU</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

websites  for bookings and information:

Eurostar: click here

idBus: click here

#26 Thai Café and Restaurant, 22 Charlwood Street, SW1V 2DY

It is not always easy to find eateries that care much for students, so, it was great discovering “Thai Café and Restaurant”, not too far from Victoria Station as a reasonably priced restaurant that also offers respectable food. There is also a 10 percent discount on take away orders picked up from the restaurant.  Carpeted floors and tables covered with table cloth also adds a bit more dignity to the cash strapped student experience of eating out.

For these and many more reasons to come, I have become grateful for the  graduate experience offered by  London!

The Grateful graduate Project 2013 is a personal challenge to list 365 reasons be grateful for related to the graduate student experience offered by Paris and London