Touched Down In London Town: Not Goodbye, Just See You Later

On March 4th, Boston University Global Programs sent an email, giving students in Europe the option to leave their programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was completely optional, and I, of course, did not want to leave. I had no idea that one week later, I would be boarding a plane back to the United States.

However, with this in mind, it became clear that our time left in London was limited and at any moment, the program could be cancelled or borders could be closed. This meant it was time to seize the day!

With Boston University’s spring break approaching, many of my friends were planning to visit London. This was something I had been excited about months prior, but unfortunately, some people decided not to come, because they did not want to risk getting sick or stuck in London. 

So what did this mean for my final week in London? Go big or literally … go home. Since many of my weekends were spent traveling, this was the perfect opportunity to get my last taste of London and check some activities off of my bucket list. 

Underground bar in Camden

My “BU friends and study abroad” crossover episode was a lot of fun. I got to experience some of the things I’d been holding off on doing in London, with some of my favorite people!

My friend, Anmol, was interning for a marketing company in Camden, so he had many connections to restaurants throughout London. This meant fun, after-work hangouts almost every night. One night, we went to an underground bar, “The Bolt Hole,” for its opening night! Because of Anmol’s connection, we got several bottles of free champagne, cocktails at a two-for-one price, and lots of hors d’oeuvres. Another night, we played half-off digital pong and got three-pound dumplings in Camden. His internship came with many perks that I was also lucky enough to enjoy!

Digital pong in Camden

Another night, we went to The Alchemist with some of my friends that were visiting. This bar is known for its funky and unique cocktails. 

Bubble Bath cocktail at The Alchemist

My last Friday in London was spent walking from Fortnum and Mason to Harrods, and then to some of London’s many parks and gardens. I even bought the London street art that now hangs in my bedroom.

A garden in London
London street art

For dinner, we went to 14 Hills. This restaurant has a great view of London Bridge and a fun treehouse set-up inside. We had a delicious meal with champagne, and I unexpectedly ordered a cocktail that came with an air bubble on top? I wasn’t expecting it but it was quite a fun surprise!

14 Hills restaurant
A cocktail … with an air bubble?
The view from 14 Hills

Over the weekend, we went on the London Eye… Not just the regular experience, but the champagne experience. Originally, we had planned to get the discounted student tickets, but they were all sold out for the weekend. Since we knew our abroad experience was coming to a close, we thought, why not upgrade to the champagne experience? I have no regrets. 

Champagne Experience at the London Eye
On the London Eye with my friends
Top of the London Eye
The view of London

Before leaving the area, I stopped in “Shrek’s Adventure,” which is a Shrek-themed amusement park. I might be 21 years old, but I have no shame in admitting that Shrek is still one of my favorite movies to this day. While I wanted to go through the park, I soon realized that almost everyone else entering was a young child, so I opted to just visit the gift shop. Of course, I had to buy a Shrek mug to bring home!

Shrek’s Adventure

The day before I left London, I went to dinner at Aster, a restaurant that my friend found and thought looked good. She was right — all of the food was really good and I, again, unexpectedly ordered a cool drink. That’s a win in my book!

Drinks at Aster
Food at Aster

After, my friends visiting from my sorority, Sigma Kappa, and I met up and went to Ballie Ballerson — a bar with two massive ball pits. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to go into a ball pit during a pandemic, but we had fun while we were there. Afterward, we hopped around to some other fun spots in Shoreditch and met up with other friends along the way.

Ballie Ballerson

The next day would be my last day in London. While I didn’t know it at the time, I did know by this point that my time in London was coming to a close. My internship’s office had gone fully remote, as they too were realizing the worsening degree of the pandemic. I talked to my mom in the morning, who suggested I book a flight home for the following Sunday. I was reluctant at first, since I had no desire to leave London, but I realized that she was right. We booked a flight and she recommended that I purchase an extra, small suitcase to pack all of the souvenirs and belongings that I had collected while traveling. My roommate and I headed to TK Maxx (yes, it’s TK and not TJ in London!) on Kensington High Street and bought suitcases to prepare for our inevitable early departure.

We went about our day as usual and went out with my friends at night. While we were out, at around 1 a.m., we started receiving calls from our parents who were worried about our return home as President Trump announced border closures for the EU. Suddenly, our night went from amazing to the worst possible scenario. Within 24 hours, my friends and I would be on a flight back home to the U.S., and our abroad program would be cancelled.

Luckily, my aunt had stocked up on British Airways points and was able to book me an upcoming flight home, directly from London Heathrow to BWI in Baltimore, Maryland. I was in denial the whole time while packing. I’m still not sure it has fully hit me that I went from South Kensington to Baltimore in such a short time period, and I’ve been home for almost 50 days now. 

Of course, I am disappointed that my abroad experience was cut short. I had to cancel trips to Berlin, Barcelona, and Greece, which I was really looking forward to. But, I’m trying to see the best out of it. Now, I have the opportunity to travel around Europe when the pandemic is over, and not have to worry about the pressures of an internship and coursework. I made lifelong friendships that I likely would not have made otherwise. I got to travel to new cities and experience living in a foreign country … and I made some of the greatest memories in just a short two months. 

I wouldn’t trade my experience abroad for the world (pun slightly intended), and I’m so thankful for all the people and places that have made such a strong impact on me. My abroad experience isn’t over, it’s just slightly delayed, like all of my return flights to London!

See you later, London

Channing Capacchione, Study Abroad Correspondent

Channing Capacchione is a Junior at Boston University in the College of Communication
studying Advertising and minoring in Sociology. Currently, she is studying abroad in London as
she completes courses and an internship. She loves to try the best restaurants, shop around the city, explore the coolest neighborhoods, and find cheeky travel tips! Keep up with Channing as she takes on London and more during her semester abroad.

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