12/29/13

Guest Writer: Emilie Shane

Photo Credit:Xiaoxuan Chappell

My experience of London in the festive season
by Emilie Shane

It’s Christmas time! Though weirdly for London, today is the first day that the weather has felt even remotely like December. Up until today it has been totally mild, cold but with blue skies and puffy clouds, making for some beautiful sunsets. Today however, was ICY and foggy. Today I totally couldn’t tell whether the smoke in the air was from my friend’s menthol ciggie or her actual breath. Normally I hate the cold but it has helped encourage festive vibes, which is always wonderful.
Living in London is great, but it’s not, as Caelan gushed when we were chatting earlier, “like a Charles Dickens novel” (haha) I actually live in southeast London, where things don’t quite match the quintessentially British image most people have when they imagine the city. My place is grittier, has more attitude, and I like it that way. HOWEVER I’m not far from the iconic sights and “properness” everyone associates with the city- just a few days ago some friends and I watched the sun set behind Big Ben from the south bank, and the Monday before that my uni friends and I hitched a free ride in a private pod on the London Eye. Our friend Jenny works there. We have connections (hair flip). It was nighttime and the light inside the pod was a dim blue and it felt like our own little club for the 40-minute ride. Being a tourist in your own city is the bestest.
As much as some may like to hype it up, Christmas shopping on Oxford Street (London’s main shopping street) is NOT a pleasant experience for anyone involved. Huge crowds of people mid-week just makes NO sense. Last week I was there out of necessity because there were a few specific presents I had to pick up from Selfridges, but I’ve since decided to stay away from that part of town until at least February. Scratch that, staying away FOREVER sounds like a better plan. One of the best things, however, about living in London at this time of year is all the craft markets and fairs. At the end of November a friend and I checked out a Christmas market in the village hall of Blackheath, which happens to be the last Victorian village in all of London. A very cute place. It was mostly gifts with older citizens in mind but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. Although quite a tourist trap, the festive market along the Southbank was enjoyable. I’m not even ashamed to admit I’ve been there twice in the last week. Hot churros! Bratwurst sausages! Hot roasted chestnuts! Christmas time!

As uni is winding down and there’s been all this free time to just hang out, I’ve been trying all the gorgeous coffee in the beautiful shops my area has to offer- the famous Monmouth coffee, where my friends spotted Gemma Arterton the other day, is just a 20 minute bus ride from my house. Last week I had my first cup of coffee from Allpress, which I think started up in New Zealand, spread to Australia, and since then has become a major hype around their roastery cafe I went to in Shoreditch, East London. Best fucking flat whites ever.
Of course with Christmas coming up there is an abundance of free alcohol around… one night last week everyone on my Media program was invited to our building’s roof terrace for drinks and pretty London views. My University is a little bit out of central London, so we can see the Canary Wharf buildings and the Shard from where we are. Today was the last lecture of the semester, so our Professor treated us to pints from the Student’s Union bar. Meeting new people around this time is always a plus too. This first semester has gone so fast, so slowing down and rocking up to the Christmas social events has been a great way to get chatting to the people on my program I hadn’t yet had a chance to meet. So that’s a roundup of what my last few weeks have been filled with, as a student in London. I have just one more week in the city until I go back to my family home for the rest of the holidays, so I’m cramming everything into these last few days- it’s going to be a mental one. Merry Christmas!
Camera provided by: Celia Cottonchin

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Emilie is an 18-year-old first year Media and Communications student studying in London. She has a (very) small online presence with the work she’s done so far on emilieshane.blogspot.co.uk

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