Life in London: final goodbye

Last week I flew back to my all-time favourite city to write my final exam. Since my semester already ended at the end of March and my last exam was planned 2 months later, I decided to go home in between. The exam was for my Labour law course, a quite interesting one since both UK and EU law were discussed and a lot of recent developments have taken place in this area. I had plenty of time to mentally prepare myself for it and when exam day finally arrived, I felt totally ready for it. After the 2.15 hours of intense writing, I was finished and felt relieved. From that moment on, it was time to enjoy my remaining days in the city to the max!

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City trip Edinburgh

Having conquered a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list, being the capital city of Scotland and attracting more than 2 million visitors every year, Edinburgh is a city which can’t be left out of your bucket-list when traveling in the UK. I visited this magical city for 3 days in February during my exchange. The timespan was perfect to see the highlights and to get a glimpse of the Scottish culture. Since the city isn’t that big and a lot of sights are situated in the same area, it was very easy to explore it by foot. It’s time to share the highlights, activities and nice places to eat with you guys!

To do:

1. Climb the Artur’s Seat

This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Artur’s Seat, a vulcano hill, is part of Holyrood Park and is situated very close to the city. By climbing this mountain, you’ll get incredible views of the city on your way up. There are different hiking routes which lead you to the top. Since my friend and I were in for a challenge, we decided to choose the adventurous path. It was quite steepy at some points, so I do recommend to wear good shoes! We did the hike late in the afternoon, so we were able to see the sunset. This resulted in some stunning views…

IMG_9803IMG_97692. A stroll through Royal Mile

This buzzing street is situated in Edinburgh’s Old Town and the most important one of the city. It connects Hollyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. Here you’ll probably spot the most tourists, since the main street and the smaller side-streets are full of souvenir shops. Cashmere, shortbread and whisky are the main staple items to buy here.

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 3. Edinburgh Castle

This castle is a must-see sight in the city (it’s almost impossible to miss it, since it’s situated on a hill in the centre of Edinburgh!). Most parts of the castle are built in the 17th century and it functioned for a long time as a residence of the Royal family. Various museums and other sights are housed here. Since I didn’t had time to go inside, we decided to walk to the entrance and stroll around in the area, which was already very impressive.

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4. Visit the biggest whisky collection in the world and do a tasting session in the Scotch Whiskey Experience.

5. Shop till you drop in Princess Street.

6. Watch an awesome Scottish comedy show at night.

 To eat:

1. A full Scottish Breakfast at Loudens

Eating a big, hearty and traditional breakfast in the UK was still on my bucket-list, so we decided to go for it in Edinburgh. Loudens is a big, bright and busy cafe, where they serve amazing breakfast and lunch (Egg dishes are their speciality). I ordered the real deal, and as I healthy foodie I must say it was quite ok!   

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2. A hearty and healthy lunch at Milk Cafe

I was definitely in my happy place once I took a look at the menu-card in this cosy cafe: so many healthy and mouth-watering options! After a long and hard decision, I ordered the pumpkin salad with falafel and flatbread. It was the best.

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3. Mediterranean dinner at Laila’s Bistro

After a long search for food, we stumbled upon this little gem in Cockburn Street. I love the Mediterranean cuisine since they usually use a lot of veggies and fresh products. I ordered the grilled salmon filet with various vegetables & rice. The dish was well-made and the staff was very friendly. 

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Lots of love, Manisha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Erasmus-exchange experience

 

Wow. It’s still hard to believe those 3 months in London passed by so quickly, but it feels good to be back in Holland again. The moment I arrived home Sunday night and entered my room, everything felt a bit unfamiliar to me. I was so used to my room in London that I really needed to adapt my mind-set. Also, the fact that I lived in a buzzing world city abroad and in a quite peaceful village at home was a striking difference. I have to accept the fact that I won’t be able to see world-famous sights every day anymore and the possibilities are a bit more limited here. However, focusing on the advantages helps overcoming all this: my family and friends are the number 1 reason why I will always return to Holland with a smile. I can’t wait to spend quality time again with all my loved ones.

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Doing the Erasmus-exchange was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m sure almost everyone who has done the same can relate to this. It was such an amazing experience to go into the deep, to live and study abroad in a new city and to get in touch with new people from all around the world. Besides that, I definitely learned more about myself within those 3 months. Once you start living in a country where you’ve never been or only a few times and you don’t know anyone, you’ll truly challenge yourself by figuring out your way of life. No one is there to keep an eye on you, so all the choices you make are up to you. I started noticing certain things about myself I never realized before, and that was really eye opening for me. The beginning is always the hardest part: I missed my family, certain things were unfamiliar to me and I had to make new friends. The latter wasn’t a problem at all, because almost all exchange-students were in the exact same situation as me. This is definitely one of the most fun parts of being on an exchange: since no one knows anyone yet, you’re more open to meet new people and willing to become friends more quickly.

It was a really unique experience to study at a different University. The education system, teaching methods and facilities were all quite new to me, which made my time at Queen Mary University of London definitely an interesting one. The University has a campus in Mile End, where all my lectures and seminars were taught. One of the features I liked the most: the international atmosphere. I’ve never seen so many students with different nationalities in one institution. There was no clear majority, which was the reason why I felt at home very easily. This multi-cultural feature is reflected by the large number of societies (a quite popular phenomenon at my University); almost every big country has its own.

IMG_0326Besides following lectures and other obligatory tasks, I had plenty of time to explore the city. Within a short period of time, I visited most parts of the city and I felt like I needed to look beyond its borders. I planned a day-trip to Stonehenge & Bath, a city-trip to Cambridge, a day-trip to Cambridge and I visited Dover (blog posts about all these places are coming soon!). It was great to discover what the UK has got to offer, apart from its capital city.

All in all, this exchange was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far. I returned home with new friendships and wonderful memories. For everyone who is contemplating studying or working abroad, I’ll only encourage you to go for it!

Lots of love, Manisha

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