An American in London

Hello everyone! My name is Lauren and I will be taking over the Miss L Fire blog for the next few weeks! I am a 3rd year business student at the University of Florida with a desire to someday combine my skills in marketing, social media, and communication with my passion for fashion. I have been living in London since May of this year on a study abroad trip through my university, and as part of my program, I have been given the amazing opportunity to intern for Miss L Fire! I have always dreamed of traveling to London, so when I heard about this chance to study AND intern in London for the summer, I jumped on it! I thought that having a job with a daily commute and all would make me feel more immersed into British life, rather than simply being a tourist, and I was absolutely right. Miss L Fire has spoken to me about how they frequently receive questions regarding things to do and see in London, so I figured I would take the time to introduce myself and share my perspective, as an American college student who has recently moved to the UK.
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I have been living in London for just about 8 weeks now and I can say with full certainty that my experience here has exceeded all expectations. I think I worry my family by saying this but I really could see myself living here for an extended period of time. I love British accents, I love drinking tea, I love the laid-back attitude in the work place, I love the fashion, and overall, I just really love the lifestyle here. While I have been in London, I have done many touristy activities that are written up in the books, some that I've enjoyed and some that I visited mainly to check off the bucket list. However, I've also been to quite a few places that are not as well known or may not be on the top of your list if you were traveling to London for just a week or so. Of course, when coming to London, you must go to places such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The Tower of London, The British Museum, and Westminster Abbey, but here is my list of must-sees in London...

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Attractions

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Throughout my many years in school, I have learned a great deal about Shakespeare - his great comedies and tragedies, as well as his upbringing in Stratford-upon-Avon. So, when coming to London, I (encouraged by my theatre-enthused friend, Iara) figured I should see the site where these famous plays took place. Although I learned through my tour that the place that I visited was actually the third construction of the Globe Theatre, it was still such a cool experience to learn about the history of theatre culture and Shakespeare’s works in the location where they took place!

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Kensington Palace

When you come to London, you will probably want to go to high tea to have the British experience of afternoon tea time, and when you do research, you may become overwhelmed to find that there are many, many places that offer this experience. Throughout my time in London, I have had high tea at a few different places and my favorite by far was at Kensington Palace. Kensington Palace is a must-see in itself as it has been a home to the British Royal Family since the 17th century. While it still is the home of several members of royalty, it also has staterooms that are open to the public and an exhibit on Princess Diana, as Kensington Palace was her home until her tragic death. But besides the palace, the tea room, called The Orangery, is beautifully decorated, you will feel like royalty yourself! The tea and food was delicious, and unlike other high teas, you have the option of ordering of the a la carte menu as well. Additionally, the walk to Kensington Palace is truly a pleasure as it is located amidst Kensington Gardens, which is so beautiful it practically feels like a fairy land.

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The Shard

Named for its shape which is similar to that of a shard of glass, I believe The Shard is one of the best ways to see a breath-taking view of London from above. When I went, it was an experience in itself going up 72 floors to the open-air observation deck of the skyscraper and taking in the views, but you can also expand your experience by visting The Shard’s restaurants and bars located on the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd floors.

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Fuller’s Brewery

London is known for its pubs, and what better way to get a feel for the pub culture than going to a London brewery which was founded in 1845 and now owns and operates 380 pubs throughout England! Through my university course called British Life in Business, I got the opportunity to take a tour of the pub and learn about exactly how Fuller’s beer is created, and I even got an exclusive tasting of many of the beers they brew! The tour was an extremely enjoyable learning experience that really gave me a flavor for a part of London culture. I’m even starting to like beer (a little bit)!

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Parks

Regent's Park

London is known to have tons of green space and many beautiful parks, but Regent’s Park should be at the top of your list! The park is huge so you could really spend as long as you would like walking around. The inner-most part of the park, known as Queen Mary’s Garden, is definitely the highlight of the park as it is almost perfectly groomed and covered in beautiful flowers in many different colors. This park would be great for families with kids as there is a full playground with swings and all, but would also be great for dog owners, people wanting to exercise, or really anyone looking for a peaceful place to spend the afternoon.

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Markets

Borough Market

Conveniently located near London bridge, Borough Market is one of the oldest and best markets in London. From fresh produce to a tasty street food lunch like grilled cheese or pad thai, Borough market will definitely meet all your food and drink needs! There is a huge variety of different meal options that are very reasonably priced, and the glass-enclosed seating area is picturesque. If you want to see the beauty and fun of a typical London market, Borough market is the place to go!

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Scoop

When getting off at the South Kensington tube stop, it’s truly hard for me to walk past Scoop without almost going in! This gelato shop, which is close to my flat, is a definite favorite among all my friends! Scoop is a place we can always go to catch up and, of course, eat some delicious, creamy gelato with various toppings in fun cones that are covered in sprinkles.