Winter break is fast approaching. For some people, that means going home or taking a vacation. For others, it’s staying here in London and balancing rest with studying for January exams. If you’re in the latter group, it can be hard to be away from family during the holidays, whether you celebrate them or not. It’s important to make sure you don’t spend too much time holed up in your accommodation and that you still take full advantage of the city around you.
When I had to do January exams, I found that my study methods became more effective when I balanced time spent revising with outings around the city. Here are a few of my recommendations on things you can do around the city if you’re alone, although if a friend is around, bring them along too.
Christmas light tours
One of the most special things about London during this time of year is the Christmas displays. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, the lights are too pretty to pass up. One good route to walk is down Oxford Street, then down Bond Street. All the designer brands on Bond Street compete with their storefront decorations, and they all play to win. Another must-see display is Carnaby Street and Regent Street. Many of these displays are close to campus, so taking a walk as a break from study is an easy to see them.
Skate Lates at Somerset House
Very near to campus is Somerset House, who, every year, puts up an ice rink in their courtyard. They even have a little bar area on the side of the rink for hot chocolate and champagne. I make sure to go every winter; I love skating and they make it even more fun by playing music and colour-changing lights. I’ve gone by myself and with others. Both experiences are fun, and the location couldn’t be more convenient. Just remember to check your bag at their Bag Drop because they don’t allow you to bring one on the ice!
Of course, during Christmas time London has several Christmas markets across the city: Southbank, Covent Garden, Christmas by the River at Tower Bridge…. The list goes on and on. Christmas markets are fun and spirited. Everyone is in a good mood, and there’s a lot of food and gifts to look at. Besides that, there are all the regular markets that London has too. I personally really enjoy the Saturday market in Duke of York Square in Chelsea or the Sunday flower market on Columbia Road. Tip: if you go to the flower market towards end of day, you can still get some beautiful bunches for cheaper as the sellers try to part with leftover bouquets.
Getting Back to Nature
If you want to connect more with nature on your study breaks, I highly recommend Kew Gardens. It’s easy to get to with the Tube and there’s so much to explore. You can spend a lot of time just walking through the whole space and getting away from the noise of the city to re-centre yourself. The gardens have a number of cafés and eating places, but the area of Richmond also has a lot of shops and restaurants. Before going, you should always check if there are any special exhibits going on. Most recently, Kew Gardens installed a Japanese garden and pagoda. There’s also Christmas at Kew, where the gardens light up, but as this is quite popular, tickets might be hard to come by.
These are all things you can enjoy by yourself without feeling lonely. Hopefully, they will brighten up your school break if you aren’t going home. Also, keep in mind that a lot of students may choose to stay in London over the break, so if you do start to feel lonely, you should reach out to others and share these activities with them.