London breaks stereotype with art and food


Courtesy of Tess Brock

It is no secret that Billikens love studying abroad. Each year, many students pack their bags for an adventure and learning in a new country. Since SLU has a campus in Madrid, most students lean toward that option. However, there are other equally exciting destinations. If you are an art lover, you should consider London. This booming English city is a cultural capital of Europe. I have been able to experience a handful of the endless artistic activities this city has to offer for the past four months.

First off, the food in London is beyond imagination. You may think Londoners only eat pub food like fish and chips, but that’s just a  stereotype. In a city of over eight million people, different cultures  converge to make great dishes. London’s wide variety of markets are the perfect places to get a taste of all the foods. Dozens of markets are open every day of the week, where one  can try foods from all over the world. Borough, Camden, and Portobello are just a few options of markets that offer a variety of foods, from mushroom pate to black truffle tortellini. Brick Lane Market is a personal favorite of mine. Under a large tent, vendors offer different cuisines from all over the world. One  can get  Chinese pork dumplings, Indian curry or Egyptian street food. The food is authentic and made fresh. The markets here are a unique fusion of English and ethnic cultures, and you will not be able to experience that anywhere else.

After filling one’s  stomach, one  can take a look at London’s thriving art scene. The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, off Trafalgar Square, offer a wide range of breathtaking portraits, paintings and sculptures. The Tate Modern houses some of the best modern art in the world. The Serpentine Galleries, in Hyde Park, have held exhibitions for some of the most important figures in contemporary art. I have spent hours walking through these galleries and failed to see everything. These museums  give one  a chance to take a break from the world and simply enjoy art. The best part: enjoying these exhibits does not come at a high price. All these museums are free to the public.

If strolling through galleries is not a favorite past time, one  can dive into London’s music scene. I saw Grammy -winner Sam Smith give a powerful performance at a sold-out show at Brixton Academy. Also, I saw an up-and-coming English band, Catfish and the Bottlemen, rock out at O2 Academy Birmingham. Music lovers can catch a show in  any genre of music. London has everything: folk music, jazz bands and open mic nights. Each show is personal, lively and fun.

I have had the most incredible time abroad. From food to galleries to music, I have been able to see art and culture from all over the world without leaving the city. If studying abroad is still on the horizon, keep London in mind. This city  offers something new and exciting every day, in the art world and beyond.

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