Ryan, our Digital Marketing Specialist, spent a week in London ahead of our first ever Professional Placements in London program. This summer, we will be running two six-week pilot programs in London, England in May and July. The goal is for our candidates to gain valuable career experience in a field of their interest while experiencing life and culture in one of the world’s premier cities. Here is his account of his experience:
Day I in London, Thursday: I was met at London Heathrow in the early afternoon by the airport pick-up service enlisted to pick up our Professional Placements in London (PPIL) candidates. It couldn’t have been a smoother process. Immediately after baggage claim, I was able to spot my driver (the white board sign on it with my name definitely helped). The ride was a brisk 45 minutes or so made more enjoyable by my friendly driver, a pleasant man from Sri Lanka. During the drive, he even swung by and pointed out David and Victoria Beckham’s house. Not long after, we pulled up to my housing for the week located in Notting Hill (yes, the neighborhood made famous by the film of the same name starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant).
After checking in and getting settled in my room, I was immediately off to familiarize myself with what would be my surroundings for the next week. My first objective was to locate Notting Hill Gate, the nearest tube or underground station. Trust me, getting to know the tube and various lines traversing about the city will make your life a lot easier while in London. Upon arriving at Notting Hill Gate (only a 5 minute walk from housing), it was time to purchase and load up an Oyster card. Oyster cards are what you will use for the tube and bus systems; there are many different plans you can purchase depending on how long you will be in London. In my case, I purchased a 7-day pass allowing me to use my card on any tube/ bus for 7 days. At the tube station, I also made sure to grab a tube map. Your Oyster Card and tube map will be your best friend for the duration of your time in London. I can guarantee it.
After picking up your Oyster Card, if your plan allows as mine did, I recommend finding a place you want to go to and practicing navigating the tube, transfers, etc. In my case, I chose to head to the Picadilly Circus/Soho/Chinatown area. In my opinion, London is the most masterfully planned city as far as ease in navigating throughout the city, especially in Zones 1 and 2. They really make it easy with ample stops, stations, and lines. Once you get the hang of the tube, it will almost become second nature to you… That is if you have any sort of experience traveling or finding your way around big cities. If not, just practice visiting other areas in the city… Areas that require you to transfer lines if you can. You’ll be a pro in no time!
After ensuring I was comfortable with the tube, I decided to head back to Notting Hill and explore the surrounding area on foot. This is a good idea to do especially if you’ll be staying in one area for any extended period of time. Scope out where food options are, banks/ATMs, pharmacy, market, coffee shop, and anything else you need. Luckily, all this exists in Notting Hill! Once I got the lay of the land so to speak, I wandered around the surrounding neighborhoods on foot; Hyde Park, Kensington, Holland Park, and Kensington Gardens before finally making it back to Notting Hill. This wrapped up a lengthy and tiresome travel day and first day in London.
Day II in London, Friday: Friday morning I was picked up from my accommodation at Bowden Court by Charlotte, our London Director of Programs. We wanted to run through a sample orientation and all of the introductions our PPIL candidates will experience upon their arrival in London. I have to say, all of our candidates are in great hands with Charlotte. Her knowledge of the city and culture is expansive and will be a great resource for candidates if they need it… Not only with the city but their placements as well. After wrapping up business matters, I was lucky enough to have Charlotte take me around the city for a bit. Our first stop was an amazing restaurant/ bar in nearby Kensington called The Churchill Arms. This place is exactly how anyone would envision an English restaurant from the outside and inside decor, but it was actually an authentic Thai restaurant! This was a pleasant surprise. This is just one example of the kind of hidden gems to be discovered throughout the city.
Next, we took a quick bus ride to Knightsbridge to walk down to the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. On the way, we passed the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. You could easily spend a day hopping between these three FREE museums which are all within a stone’s throw away from each other. After passing these museums we arrived at the Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. This is an extremely affluent area with some of the most expensive flats in London. It was amazing to see all the prime real estate in this area. At the end of this tour of Kensington/Chelsea, my time with Charlotte had ended. It was time to head back to Notting Hill. For dinner, I took advantage of the meals included at Bowden Court (breakfast, dinner during the week; breakfast, lunch on weekends). I’m not going to lie to you, the food was ok. It definitely isn’t disgusting but wasn’t amazing either… but then again, London isn’t exactly known for its fine dining or unique cuisine. Regardless, the option to take advantage of a free meal is a great thing to have in your back pocket. After dinner, jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks. Depending on what time you get into London and how much you managed to sleep coming across the pond, jet lag will surely be a factor at some point so be prepared!
So in summary, my main takeaways from my first few days in London… Pick up your Oyster Card, get to know the tube, and you’ll hear it the entire time you’re there but MIND THE GAP!
Be on the lookout for my next entry where I recap what I did over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) in London. Cheers!
Digital Marketing Specialist, Adelante Abroad